Topaz Adjust trial

I’m using a rainy Saturday morning to experiment with a Photoshop plug-in called Topaz Adjust.

You can accomplish a number of effects with this plug-in. It is especially good at generating the extreme contrast, almost illustrated, hyper-sharp look. Seems fairly comparable to another plug-in that has been available longer, Lucis Pro. The main difference is that the latter costs $600 and needs a hardware dongle to use. The Topaz plug-in is $49.

Here’s another one. A photo of James’ from earlier this year. The before looked like this:

The Topaz version looks like this:

Might be a little “overcooked,” but it’s a neat effect. The only other thing I did to this photo is I created a mask of the background and added some lens blur for more depth of field.

One more:

August Madaket Sunset in HDR


Obviously, James has lost his previously hand-me-down dSLR. Fortunately my 11-16mm extreme wide angle zoom lens survived Bill.

Sunday, 0800, Tsunami…RIP Nikon D90

Went back out this am to see the largest waves of our hurricane. As Hurricanes go, Bill has left no mark on the island, save the swells. Minimal rain or wind. But the surf is huge.

sand from Bill
bill waves

Back at Cisco, one stop down from the Bluff, as expected, the dune carvings are gone. Here’s all that is left.


Standing on the dune entrance, watching waves for about 20 minutes, several waves came up to the dunes. But while taking pictures, I noticed a series of larger waves heading to shore. The largest completely surprised me, crashing against the dune wall, rushing over the dunes, knocking me down and dragging me down to the beach. Me. Camera. Camera backpack. Blackberry.

last picture

This was the wave that killed my Nikon D90 and 18-200 VR zoom lens; 300 feet or so off-shore. Last picture I took.

I’m going to miss that camera. It could be a lot worse.

Johnny Depp’s boat in town

Depp’s boat is at the Boat Basin; a 156-foot yacht called the VaJoLiRoJa (the first two letters of everyone’s name in his family, and is pronounced something like “The Jolly Roger”). No news on whether Captain Jack is aboard, but it’s a beautiful, classy-looking boat.


Saturday, 1300, 8.5 ft, 16 sec


Surfin U.S.A. (2001 Digital Remaster) – The Beach Boys

Saturday, 0800, 7.5 ft, 16 sec


Cisco Dune Carvings

I went out to see the swells on the leading edge of Hurricane Bill and ended up looking the other way. Someone has carved primitive-looking sand masks into the eroding Cisco Beach dune wall. They look great. And, with the way the waves are hitting already, they will not be there long. So, for the sake of posterity:


Wild Animal Safari

Pine Mountain, Georgia has a drive-thru zoo: Wild Animal Safari. It’s been there for years. Over the years I’ve seen signs for it and, like the various alligator parks in Central Florida and Cherokee Indian dance shows in Gatlinburg, TN, I’ve driven by them without much thought. This past week I loaded into a gas-hogging SUV with my father, brother-in-law, seven kids, and five large bags of Safari Chow.

This place is crazy. I don’t think it would be legal in Massachusetts. After buying tickets and being warned that you drive your vehicle through the park at your own risk, you enter the gates of a 200-acre park, with a 3.5 mile winding one-lane road, over hills and around a small lake with water the color of Georgia red clay. As soon as you enter the gates, hoards of large animals line up to stick their heads inside your vehicle and to bless you with Holy Slobber. In exchange for chunks of food. Animals like the Yakatusi, the Nilgai, the Rhea, the Black Buck Antelope, the Watusi, and the North American Elk. Lots of Elk.

One memory the kids will never forget is when the three-story Giraffe stuck its head into our vehicle, allowing them to pet its head, dripped about one cup of spit onto my head, and then took an entire bag of our food, eating it, bag and all, and dropping a few pieces to the flock of ostriches at its feet.

The park also has Bear, Wolves, Hyena, Tigers and Ligers (one of the rare cases of a Tiger-Lion hybrid in captivity, sounds like a big zookeeper Oops to me). But these are, fortunately in a separate walk-through and properly caged part of the park.

Here are some pictures from the park, and if you’re ever in West Central Georgia, and need a little Giraffe Hair Gel, find this place.

Carley at Nina and Papa’s

Red Oak Covered Bridge

In visiting family in Meriwether County, Georgia this past weekend, I made several memorable finds. One was the Red Oak Covered Bridge in Imlac, Georgia.

This is a town of about 6, give or take 2. You sneeze while driving through, not only do you miss it, you miss the next town too. But there is a well-marked turn called Covered Bridge Road, and that made me want to explore. I do not think of Madison County covered bridges when I think of this section of rural Georgia. But not far away from Hwy 85E, running between Manchester, GA and the southern suburbs of Atlanta, this side road narrows to a 12-15-foot wide one lane road and you come up on a massive, plain-looking covered bridge built in the 1840′s by freed slave Horace King, and standing strong enough today that you can still drive through it and over the wood pier that leaves the covered part of the bridge. It is Georgia’s oldest, standing covered bridge, and its longest, and, likely, it’s sturdiest.

Horace King is the story here, a story that began in 1807 in South Carolina, where he was born a slave; his ethnic heritage was a mixture of African-American, Native American and white.

His second owner was John Godwin, an entrepreneur who studied bridge building with some of the leading New England experts of the times.

In the 1830s, Godwin moved to West Georgia, where bridge builders were needed, especially to help open up the Chattahoochee Valley region. Though King was technically Godwin’s “property,” in reality, King functioned more as Godwin’s junior partner.

Together, they built the first bridge across the Chattahoochee connecting Columbus with Phenix City, Alabama (then known as Girard). The 560-foot-long covered bridge was crucial to the development of the region.

In the early 1840s, a catastrophic flood washed he bridge down the river. Columbus officials were anxious to get a new bridge, so they awarded the contract to Godwin, who had given them the highest bid but the earliest completion date.

King was credited by historians with making the project successful. He salvaged pieces of the old bridge and helped build the new one before the deadline.

It was this kind of cooperation that led Godwin to give King his legal freedom in 1846. The Alabama Legislature, likely influenced by an important legislator who was a business associate of Godwin and King, passed a bill making King’s freedom official.

It is also likely that Godwin’s failing finances and ill health contributed to the timing of his decision to make King a free man. Godwin wanted to ensure that King could not be considered part of his estate that could be claimed by creditors.

bridge inside

Godwin died in 1849, setting the stage for a remarkable tribute from King. Over Godwin’s grave in Phenix City, King erected an ornate headstone, for which he paid as much as $1,000, an incredible sum in those times. The inscription on the headstone reads, “This stone was placed here by Horace King in lasting remembrance of the love and gratitude he felt for his friend and former master.”

As a newly independent businessman, King moved about the South building covered bridges in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. He also built homes, commercial buildings, a state hospital in Alabama, and a three-story textile mill that still stands near Columbus.

But it is his bridges that seem to have captured people’s hearts, and of the several bridges King built in Georgia, this is the only one remains in use today.

© 2009 ackdoc - Greg Hinson, MD 508/325-9981 Purchasing help RSS feed