Snow on October 14? Only in Minnesota.

There is a significant amount of snow here in the Twin Cities today, with snow continuing to accumulate in winter-like amounts. While I never wanted the summer to end this year, I was a little surprised to find I actually found the snow beautiful and peaceful this morning, rather than it being a harbinger of the most unbearable season.

This photo was taken on my deck with a Motorola Moto G6 smartphone.

Red berries contrast with frosty snow

Lots of Walking at Wild River State Park

I made my way to Center City, Minnesota, today to check out Wild River State Park, located along the St. Croix River. I was there with my mom and our puggles, Pugsley and Missy. Unfortunately, there weren’t many good photo opportunities, as the park is mostly just a paved walking path in the woods (reportedly three miles long). Still, though, the woods were beautiful, and there were at least some opportunities to get up close to the St. Croix River.

My mom and Pugsley and Missy
My mom and Pugsley and Missy
A lodge with a wood-burning fireplace and indoor bathrooms
Going down a steep path to the St. Croix River
The St. Croix River

My First Outing With the Canon EOS R

For my first “real” photos taken with the Canon EOS R, I visited the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska, Minnesota. Since I’m a student at the University of Minnesota and it is part of that university, all I need to do is show my student ID and I get in for free. I’ll try to make it there at least once more before winter. It’s probably the best place for photography in my hometown.

Trees at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
Lake and trees
A wooden bridge
Paper birch trees
Paper birch bark

My First Photos Taken With the Canon EOS R

These are my first photos taken with the Canon EOS R and 24-105mm f/4L IS lens. I took these photos on Tuesday, October 9, 2018, and, as I edit this post one day later, they are still the only two photos I’ve taken with this camera. I had a test in Abnormal Psychology today (October 10, my 30th birthday!) at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities (where I’m an undergraduate English major), and so because of this test, my birthday, my workload for tomorrow, and my schedule on Friday, it might not be until this weekend that I’m able to get some more photos with this camera.

Note that these photos were taken in poor lighting and at a high ISO, but the image quality looks fantastic!

Taken with a Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS lens at 105mm
Taken with Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS lens at 24mm

Canon EOS R Unboxing

I got my Canon EOS R with 24-105mm f/4L IS lens kit from Adorama today. The cameras were supposed to ship today, but Adorama sent the cameras a day early, so I got it today, the earliest anyone who wasn’t chosen to receive a pre-production model (journalists) could get it. I had pre-preordered this camera within minutes of it becoming available on September 12, 2018.

In an earlier post, I said I would be getting the Nikon Z6. I decided not to go through with this for two reasons: (1) I was several days late for the pre-order and would likely be waiting until the end of November or much longer to receive it; and (2) after seeing Canon release their own offering for mirrorless, I decided now was the time to switch to Canon (like most pros already have). Because both companies were coming out with new mounts, I thought I might as well switch now before I got invested in Nikon again.

Here are some photos I took of the unboxing. See my next post for my first photos taken with the Canon EOS R.

Shipping box from Adorama
Canon EOS R box
Manual and accessories
Unwrapped Canon EOS R body and Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS lens
Ready for action!

Velma Visits the Mystery Machine

My mom’s employer is having a Halloween office party this year in which her department dresses up as the cast of Scooby-Doo. She gets to be Velma.

We also just learned that a car collector at the AutoMotorPlex (garage car condos) in Chanhassen, located several blocks from my house, has a Mystery Machine. And it was on display this Saturday. This was perfect timing, so we walked over there, and my mom got photos dressed up as Velma.

Velma and the Mystery Machine
Velma and the Mystery Machine (with Pugsley as Scooby-Doo)
See the resemblance?
The owner of this Mystery Machine apparently collects other things. He also has a Batmobile.
Information about this Mystery Machine

My First (or Second) Photo Taken With the Motorola Moto G6

I got my Motorola Moto G6 last week, a replacement for my year-old Samsung smartphone, which really was as bad as they come. I was very impressed with the quality of the Moto G6, which seems as nice or nicer than the iPhones I used to use (up to the iPhone 6). I love the cameras on the iPhones, but they just became too expensive.

Today, I got around to testing out the camera on the Moto G6, after seeing a brooding sky while walking one of my dogs. Here is the second photo I took with the camera, the first being the same scene but with a more crooked horizon. The photo (taken in Chanhassen, Minnesota) was edited in Corel AfterShot Pro 3 with the Perfectly Clear function.

Prairie by Chanhassen High School

After a Long, Rainy Day

It was a long, rainy afternoon. It started raining today between my two Monday classes at the U and lasted until about 6 p.m. I took these photos shortly after the rain stopped in Chanhassen, Minnesota.

My house
Brody, a golden retriever
Prairie grass
Another shot of prairie grass

I’m Switching Back to JPEG

I recently posted about getting a new photo-editing program for my Linux computer called Corel AfterShot Pro 3. At the same time, I announced I was switching to RAW. I said the RAW photos I edited “show significant improvements over the original files, especially because of the way [the software] eliminated blown-out highlights.” In retrospect, while there were some improvements to the photos, they were very minor. In addition, blown-out highlights are a problem that is probably best corrected by getting a proper exposure in the first place. Whatever benefit I’d get from being able to recover some highlight detail, overall, is minimal.

I’ve found a better solution: shooting in JPEG and using Corel AfterShot Pro 3’s Perfectly Clear feature.

Some background: I had known about Athentech’s Perfectly Clear Photoshop plugin for years. Photographer Ken Rockwell often praised the plugin (now also a standalone program) and used it for almost every photo he posted to his site. I thought it was strange when I first started using Corel AfterShot Pro 3 and saw “Perfectly Clear” was one of the features; I thought Corel just used the same name. But apparently Athentech licenses Perfectly Clear (at least the basic version) to Corel as well as companies like SmugMug and Hallmark. This was great news!

I believe I used Perfectly Clear on every photo I took in my last post. But I was still using RAW, which wasn’t necessary (the files take up way more space — in addition to being proprietary with an uncertain future compatibility). Because Perfectly Clear works on JPEG images as well as RAW images, I can now switch back to JPEG in confidence.

Whether you use Linux or Windows or Mac, I recommend using Perfectly Clear to touch up your photos quickly and effectively.

Minnesota Renaissance Festival 2018

There was perfect weather this Saturday for the Minnesota Renaissance Festival (located in Shakopee). I went there with my mom and our puggles, who had a fun time donning their necklaces.

The line to get in went on…

Line to get into the Minnesota Renaissance Festival

and on…

Line to get into the Minnesota Renaissance Festival

and on.

Line to get into the Minnesota Renaissance Festival

But once we made it through the line (including getting our dogs checked in), all was well.

My mom holds a goblet of mead
Sir Elsworthy’s Cheese Curds and assorted vendors
Tuey Wilson, comic stunt juggler
Pottery
Celestial Windz wind chimes
Pugsley wearing his necklace, which was purchased at the Festival a previous year
Pugsley and Missy meet royalty
Missy wearing her necklace
A kid riding on a camel (with elephants in the background)
Vegetable Justice. This used to be my favorite part of the festival.
Acting like a chicken with The Wacky Chickens