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
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 was my favorite part of the festival when I was younger
Acting like a chicken with The Wacky Chickens

My First RAW Photos

The following are the first photos I’ve edited in RAW on a Linux machine. These aren’t the first photos I’ve taken in RAW, mind you (that would be this photo I took last year of the same subject and edited in Adobe Photoshop on a Mac), but these are the first RAW photos I’ve edited in a Linux environment. I used the program Corel AfterShot Pro 3 (notable for being Linux software that costs money) — an application I decided to purchase after comparing it with free, open-source Linux RAW photo editors (namely darktable and RawTherapee). The other two programs I mentioned are also probably great applications, but I just liked the features of AfterShot Pro 3 more, especially the auto commands.

I was having trouble installing the application, which I believe was caused by trying to download and install the file AfterShotPro3.deb instead of AfterShotPro3-system-Qt.deb on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. While I was waiting for responses to my forum post in Ubuntu Forums, I decided to take some RAW photos near my house at the National Weather Service’s forecast office in Chanhassen, Minnesota. That way, I’d have some photos to edit after receiving help on how to install the application.

Here are three photos I took at the forecast office today and briefly edited in AfterShot Pro 3. I am just learning how to edit RAW photos, having only done so a few times, so my first attempts may not be that great. But I think they still show significant improvements over the original files, especially because of the way it eliminated blown-out highlights.

Doppler radar at the National Weather Service’s forecast office in Chanhassen, Minnesota
Close-up of the Doppler radar
A tree stands against the backdrop of a moody sky

I’m Selling My Old Nikon DSLR Lenses

By the end of this year, I’m upgrading to a new Nikon camera system: the Z Series Mirrorless Camera System. This morning, I listed four Nikon DSLR lenses on eBay that I’d accumulated over the last 13 years.

You see, DSLRs are about to become obsolete because of newer mirrorless cameras, which offer numerous advantages. In the words of photographer and former engineer Ken Rockwell, “This is [a] huge milestone for Nikon that happens only once every couple of decades… This is the biggest thing Nikon’s done in this millennium.”

Well, I was basically sold after I read that. The camera I pre-ordered was the Nikon Z6, the cheaper of the two mirrorless cameras Nikon introduced just last week. My only wish is that I had visited Ken Rockwell’s site or Digital Photography Review before yesterday. I did at least place my pre-order through Adorama shortly after reading Ken Rockwell’s updates yesterday, meaning I was just four days late. The Nikon Z6 won’t ship until late November at the soonest. According to the person I spoke with over the phone from Adorama, more than 300 people had already placed pre-orders for the Nikon Z6 kit with Nikon 24-70mm f/4 S lens. I’ll be lucky if I get the camera and lens in 2018, but many more will be waiting until at least 2020 because demand will be sky-high.

I did, however, decide to keep my Nikon D3300 DSLR (I also have a Nikon D50 and D90) and 18-200mm VR lens, so I will still be able to take photos until I get the new camera.

Below are the four lenses I listed on eBay today. They were taken in poor lighting so they’re a bit grainy.

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G
Nikon AF Nikkor 24mm f/2.8D
Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D
Nikon AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 12-24mm f/4G IF-ED

Attendance Record Set for First Day of Minnesota State Fair

The Minnesota State Fair, also known as “The Great Minnesota Get-Together,” is the most popular state fair by daily attendance in the United States. The State Fair of Texas has a larger total annual attendance, but that’s only because it lasts much longer.

I was there for the opening day this year in St. Paul, hoping that it would set a new first-day attendance record, and it did. On Thursday, August, 23, 2018, a new record of 122,695 attendees was set. The previous record of 119,145 was set in 2010. But the all-time daily attendance for the fair is 260,374, set on the final Saturday in 2016.

You might notice I’m posting this update two days after this record-setting date, on Saturday instead of Thursday. That’s because I upgraded to Ubuntu 18.04 LTS from 16.04 LTS last week. But the update (which I did within Software Updater in the OS) did not work when I wanted to upload the photo on Thursday, and I ended up having to do a clean install this morning (which only took a little over an hour). I did end up losing the original JPEGs of all my photos that I started putting on this computer earlier this year, but that doesn’t matter all that much because I keep large versions of the best files on this site. At least now I know that whenever I upgrade Ubuntu, I should back up everything and then do a clean install of the OS.

Here’s a crowd shot I took on Thursday.

A new first-day attendance record was set at the Minnesota State Fair on August 23, 2018

Parley Lake Winery’s 4th Annual Grape Stomp

Today, I visited Parley Lake Winery in Waconia, Minnesota, for their 4th Annual Grape Stomp.

Three competitors trying to stomp the most grape juice
Spectators watching the grape stompers
A competitor’s feet right after stomping on grapes
Grapes, ready to get stomped on

A ‘Trip’ to Minneopa Falls

My mom and I visited Minneopa State Park (located near Mankato, Minnesota) today with our puggles. The park contains Minneopa Falls, which is what we went there to see. Unfortunately, my mom tripped on the way to the falls, causing her to get scraped and covered with mud. Such is the case when walking in flimsy sandals with a large bag and two dogs pulling on you. Nevertheless, my mom looks good in the photo below, and it was certainly a fun adventure for us and the dogs.

Minneopa Falls
My mom and puggles in front of Minneopa Falls
Minneopa Falls