Sublime Light Landscape Photography: Blog en-us (C) Sublime Light Landscape Photography (Sublime Light Landscape Photography) Tue, 12 Sep 2017 20:16:00 GMT Tue, 12 Sep 2017 20:16:00 GMT Sublime Light Landscape Photography: Blog 115 120 How to Secure a Home PC Against Malware: Updated This is an update to my previous post, based upon changes in the market and the products.    I removed Malwarebytes v2 and CryptoPrevent v8. I added Microsoft Bitlocker drive encryption and OpenDNS Umbrella Prosumer.  I also added some additional Microsoft Windows 10 hardening actions.


There are now 8 Actions to secure a Windows 10 PC from malware, up from 6.  These 8 Actions will make a Windows 10 PC almost unhackable.



1. Browser (Isolation) Sandbox.  A browser sandbox, properly configured, prevents malware from downloading from your browser to your PC.  The best option for home users, by far, is paid Sandboxie.   Sandboxie needs to patch about one vulnerability per year, compared to hundreds of vulnerabilities per year for Firefox, Chrome, IE11, and Microsoft Edge browsers.   Configure Sandboxie to force Chrome and IE11 to run inside of Sandboxie.  $75 for 5 lifetime Sandboxie licenses


2. Antivirus (AV).  I recommend Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus.  It tests comparably to the best AVs tested by AV-Test, AV-Comparatives, MRG Effitas, PC Magazine, and NSS Labs.  However, it easily has the lowest (best) attack surface of any consumer AV, thus making it my AV of choice over other good performers.  Webroot is free if you have an Ally Bank savings account

  • Good Alternatives: Norton Security Deluxe (price varies, ~$40/year/5 PCs), Trend Micro Maximium Security (price varies, ~$40/year/5 PCs)

  • Avoid: Most of the rest.  Especially avoid any Chinese, Russian, or Eastern European AV, which may include hostile government backdoor trojans

  • Interesting Options Not Yet Tried: Cylance Protect (managed, which means the provider configures it).  $60/year/PC


3. On-Demand Malware Detection.  I use Sophos HitmanPro (free).  I no longer use Malwarebytes as they have sunset v2, and v3 is not very good.  I also use Norton Power Eraser (also free)  


4. Software Restriction Policy / Anti-Executable.  Blue Ridge Networks AppGuard is easily the best option here.  There have not yet been confirmed bypasses of (infections due to) AppGuard.  $30/year/PC


5. Operating System Hardening (free).  Microsoft Windows has a lot of native programs, settings, and functions that the average home user does not use nor need, and that make Windows (more) insecure.  I turn most of these off or disable them.  Hardening is a key way to improve email security if you use Microsoft Outlook.  Key hardening items:

  • Accounts: Work from a Standard User account.  Use an Administrator account only for software installations and updates.  Set User Account Control to "Always Notify"

  • App Installation Setting: Only install apps from the Windows Store (after all program installation is finished)
  • Microsoft Office: ActiveX Settings: Disable all controls w/o notification.  Macros: Disable with notification.   Block RTF files

  • Group Policy Objects (GPO): Disable AutoPlay/AutoRun, Desktop Gadgets, 16-Bit Apps, Application Compatibility Engine, Remote Desktop Connections, LLMNR, Remote Shell Access.  Turn off Live Tiles.  Force GPO Refresh

    • GPO can be edited in Windows 10 Pro, but not in Windows 10 Home

  • Windows Registry: Disable Windows Script Host, WPad (partial), Elevation for Unsigned Executables.  Mitigate DLL Hijacking.  Block Untrusted Fonts.  Outlook: Block 600 file extensions, Force OST Path, Hide OLE Objects

  • Computer Properties: Enable DEP

  • Windows Features: Disable Powershell 2.0 and SMB v1

  • Windows Firewall: Block Regsvr32.dll outbound

  • Network Adapters: Disable all services except IPv4 

  • DNS Setting: Set to OpenDNS -, for the PC's LAN and WLAN adapters 

  • Chronically Vulnerable Programs: Uninstall / never install Skype, Adobe Reader, Java, any Java-based programs, Microsoft Silverlight, and any Bittorrent clients.  If you don't really need it, don't install it

  • PDF Management: Force PDF files to open in Chrome, and force Chrome to run inside of Sandboxie

  • Other Hardening Steps: We have many additional hardening changes, but the ones outlined should be pretty good for most home users


6. Encryption.  Use Microsoft Bitlocker (free) to encrypt all data drives


7. DNS Security.  Use OpenDNS Umbrella Prosumer ($20 per year / 3 devices) to encrypt and enforce DNS.  This is primarily used for travel computers, to prevent Man-in-the-Middle attacks from compromised wi-fi hotspots


8. Patching.  Patch (update) all programs once per month



Each software program requires a good configuration.  Sandboxie and Blue Ridge Networks AppGuard, in particular, have complex configuration options. 


However, these eight actions, in combination, make it almost impossible for your PC to be hacked or to be infected.


I’ll cover home network (firewall and router) and Internet of Things (IOT) security in a future post.




PS: Don't buy Lenovo or other Chinese company PCs.  Buy Dell (preferred) or HP,  for which the Chinese government is less likely to be able to install malware at the factory.  In case you've not figured this out, the Chinese are not our friends.  They are our enemies 


(Sublime Light Landscape Photography) computer cybersecurity endpoint malware pc security Tue, 12 Sep 2017 20:13:54 GMT
Purcell Mountain Aerials: Paintings from Photos I used Topaz Simplify to create a few "paintings" from the Purcell Mountains aerial photos.  The only slider used was "Simplify Size", which was set to 0.25 to 0.40, depending on the photo.  To see more paintings from the Purcell Mountains aerial photos, go to our Purcell Mountains - British Columbia gallery, and scroll to near the end.





(Sublime Light Landscape Photography) aerial british columbia bugaboos canada paintings purcell mountains topaz simplify Wed, 23 Aug 2017 15:45:00 GMT
More Purcell Mountains Aerials  

I've been slowly processing the open-window aerial photography tour photos of the Purcell Mountains.  These were hand-held on a Nikon D800E (no stabilization), shot at ISO 1600 (moderate noise), 1/2000 second shutter speed.  Almost all of them are quite sharp.  1/2000 seems to be my workhorse shutter speed for handheld aerials.  Most were underexposed by 1-2 stops, which was fixed in post-processing.  These settings were a trade-off between sharpness (shutter speed), noise (ISO), and exposure.  I preferred to underexpose while getting a sharp photo with manageable noise.


I used DxO Optics Pro's Prime Noise reduction algorithm, which is head and shoulders above all the other noise reduction algorithms I've used.  Settings (in the Advanced Menu) were Luminance = 0, Chrominance = 10 or 20 (10% or 20% of of maximum).   


Here are some of the latest processed photos.  Great flight.  See more in our Purcell Mountains - British Columbia Gallery.







(Sublime Light Landscape Photography) aerial british columbia bugaboos canada purcell mountains Fri, 18 Aug 2017 14:06:14 GMT
2017 Canadian Rockies Expedition: Ended Early due to Wildfires and Smoke  

I cut short my 2017 Canadian Rockies expedition due to the wildfires and the smoke, and headed home on August 4.  I had experienced six straight days of moderate to heavy smoke.  See my previous post.  The scores of British Columbia wildfires were not abating.  The weather forecast indicated at least 8-9 days of heat and sun before any significant rains that might wash the smoke out of the air.  I drove ~300 miles north to south; the entire drive was smoky.  There seemed to be no place to go.  Would some days be clear until my planned return on Aug 24?  Probably.  But my best guess was one quarter or fewer of the days.  Meanwhile, my costs to stay in the Canadian Rockies mounted because I was not backpacking.  And, I would have simply expended unnecessary energy and gasoline driving around.  I decided that August probably was not going to be a good month to do photography in the Canadian Rockies.


On the positive side, I did get to do a very scenic open-window aerial photography flight of the Purcell Mountains, during which I took 700 frames.  I also did two days day-hiking in Kananaskis Country and a night of astrophotography; both were gorgeous.  In all, I took 1100 frames.


It's a very bad wildfire season.  I am concerned for Canada, for the world, and for mankind.





(Sublime Light Landscape Photography) aerial astrophotography banff british columbia bugaboos canada canadian rockies deforestation ecological disaster jasper kananaskis mountains over-population peter lougheed provincial park pine beetle purcell mountains wildfires Mon, 07 Aug 2017 13:05:29 GMT
2017 Canadian Rockies Expedition: Smoky Update  

Well, yesterday was supposed to be the start of my 4-night Brazeau (Jasper NP) backpacking trip.   I prepared my backpack, drove to the trailhead, and decided not to go.  After all the planning and prep I did for this trip, that decision did not come lightly.  Simple reason: the smoke in the air.  It was moderately smoky at the trailhead, and Jasper had been moderately to heavily smoky for the previous 3 days.  I could "clearly" see the haze obscuring trees only 1/4 mile away.  Mountains ~3 miles away showed no color, just shadows.  


Yes, I could have done the backpacking trip.  But for me, carrying a 38 lb (12 lb camera gear) backpack for 50 miles up and down a few thousand feet is worth it only if I have a good chance of coming back with spectacular photos where the beauty of the landscape can be clearly seen.  I'll shoot in foggy or rainy weather, but smoke obscures details and color, the two things I value most in the photos that I take.  August 1 was the only day I could start the Brazeau: the backcountry campground permits sell out months in advance.  I couldn't just wait a day to see if it would get clear.  It was go or no go.


It is August 2.  I've not shot any photos since the night of July 28, so 5 days down-time and counting.   The forecast for the next two weeks is for mostly sunny weather and for very little (almost no) rain.  I would normally love such a forecast.  But little rain means low probability that the smoke will be washed from the air.  Unless the wind changes from westerly to northerly, I expect the smoke to continue to blow in from wildfires west of the park.   The high heat and dry conditions means that new wildfires are likely.  From time to time the smoke clears somewhat to a light haze for 1-3 hours, but it is impossible to predict, and it has been rare.  British Columbia has air quality advisories out for most of the province.  This morning my car was coated in soot.


Banff National Park called me today to tell me that they cancelled the permit for my 2nd backpacking trip, to Egypt Lake, due to the Verdant Creek wildfire which is only a few miles away from Egypt Lake.  I probably would not have gone on that one anyhow due to the smoke, but now it is fait accompli.  0 for 2.  The road back into the parks from Radium Hot Springs, my current location, is now closed due to that wildfire.


I pray for the people and the environment of British Columbia who are struggling with this record wildfire season.


To see what this area is like when it is clear, here are three more photos from my aerial photography flight over the Purcell Mountains.  Seems I was lucky to have a clear day when I did the flight on July 25.






(Sublime Light Landscape Photography) aerial british bugaboos canada columbia mountains purcell smoke wildfires Wed, 02 Aug 2017 16:20:41 GMT
Wither Jasper National Park.....Wither Mankind?  

As I drove toward Jasper town in Jasper National Park yesterday morning, my heart sank.  About 20-25% of the trees visible from the road are brown / copper in color, and they are dead or dying.  It was not like this at all on that road when Kathy and I visited Jasper NP in 2014.  Banff and Kananaskis are mostly unaffected....right now.  And this is going to get worse, I think.  Much worse.  As Jasper National Park goes, so goes mankind?   Unfortunately, probably "yes", unless we act quickly, and it might already be too late.


The culprit is the the mountain pine beetle, which, due to warmer temperatures (global warming, it seems, caused by mankind), is running rampant in the Rocky Mountains in the USA and in Canada.  It only took a year or two for the pine beetles to kill off 20-25% of the trees in Jasper.  What suppresses the pine beetle is extended winter temperatures of -40 F.  That is no longer occurring in the Rocky Mountains, and the ugly results have been tree browning, die-off, wildfires, and deforestation.  The pine beetle is estimated to have already killed 50% of lodgepole pines in the province of British Columbia.  No one has yet been able to effectively control the pine beetle, despite some claims to the contrary.  Those dead trees are infernos waiting to happen, and those dead trees no longer scrub the air of the immense amount of CO2 that humans are pumping into the air.  Those dead trees are contributing to a record wildfire season in British Columbia, which has resulted in smoke in Banff and Jasper at a high level for an extended period.   That the dead trees and the wildfire smoke are impacting, and now, probably will somewhat ruin, my landscape photography expedition is just a small "inconvenience" in the greater scheme of things.   Those trees, and that awe-inspiring beauty, will not recover within my lifetime.  The bigger issue, however, is what this means for mankind. This is, in my lay opinion (albeit a Ph.D in Chemical Engineering), an ecological disaster.  


As I type this blog post from Jasper town, I can barely see a ridge line about a mile away due to the smoke, and the sky has an eerie red hue mid-day.  


The sad reality, and I've believed this for some time, is that the Earth cannot support, sustainably over millenia (thousands of years), the current world population of 7.5 billion people at anything close to the current standard of living.   Due to CO2 warming, some areas of the Earth are hitting daytime high temperatures of 134 F.  That number is going to move higher.  Plants cannot live sustainably in such an environment, and we need plants for humans to be able to live.  Yes, some might call me a Malthusian, but I will be proven right.  Only morons and fools take the other side of this argument.  We've been "lucky" as a species so far.  My guess, at maximum, is that the Earth can support about 500 Million (M) to maybe 1 billion (B) people, at the current standard of living (some poor, some rich), over many millenia, and only if we are smart about it.  What does this mean for the future? It is not bright.


* With 100 M people in the world, people could be free.  With 500 M, 1 B, or 7.5 B people, people can no longer be free....not if we want to persist as a species.  With this many people on the planet, people cannot be free to have all the children that they want.  They cannot be free to drive gasoline-powered cars when and where they wish.   They cannot be free to fly to work and to places like Jasper National Park whenever they wish

* The deforestation and warming will eventually (soon?) cause the world's crops to crash.  People will starve, and nations will likely go to war to attempt (in vain) to feed their people, and so further harming, or even destroying, what is left of the environment

* To get control of population growth and out-of-control resource consumption, there may be an attempt to form one world government.  It's probably the only way to get our current (politically warring) nations to cooperate on survival of the species.  Depopulation, population control, and rationing, and perhaps other, more radical actions, will ensue.   


Why has it gotten to the point where we now need to save the planet and humanity?  What is it about us as a species that led to this?  Are we truly any different from a virus or a pine beetle that reproduces until it consumes its food supply (the Earth's environment, in mankind's case)?  So far, the record says "no".  Will enough people agree to change soon enough?  History suggests "no"..  I look askance on our Congress, and our political parties, and left-wing political agendas poorly disguised as news (e.g. CNN, Washington Post, Politico,....all of them trash), and Earth's nations, warring (politically) with each other over power and resources.  I look askance on the Chinese and the Russians and their plans for world domination and for war.  Meanwhile, the world slowly cooks.  Perhaps mankind, in aggregate, is not deserving. 


Saving the planet and mankind is going to mean very tough choices for everyone.


Food for thought for me.  Food for thought for you.  What will you do?  Will you change?  Fast enough?






(Sublime Light Landscape Photography) deforestation ecological disaster over-population pine beetle Sun, 30 Jul 2017 20:20:33 GMT
2017 Canadian Rockies Expedition: A Night of Astrophotography  

I decided to forego lodging and tenting the night of July 28 to do astrophotography while transitioning from Kananaskis Country to Jasper town in Jasper National Park.   The main reason was that the moon was in the waxing crescent phase, which means that with each successive day for the next 10 or so days, the moon will be getting brighter and will last longer in the night-time sky.  Since I prefer no moon (aka "new moon"), it was time.


I was concerned about the smoke (from wildfires elsewhere in British Columbia) in Banff and Jasper national parks: would it impact my astrophotography?  The answer was "not really" because although the smoke was and is thick enough to create a very strong haze during the day, it was not thick enough to scatter light that noticeably at night.


I stayed up most of the night.  Although sunset was at 9:45 pm and sunrise was at 6:10 am, it did not really get "dark" until about 11 pm, and I noticed light in the sky (which made the Milky Way much less distinct) as early as 4 am.   By 4 am, even with two extra large coffees, I was knackere,d and so pulled into a nearby campground to take a nap.


It was a truly beautiful night.  The Milky Way was very distinct to the "naked eye".  I shot the Bow Glacier, Peyto Lake, Athabasca Glacier, and other points of interest between Bow Lake and the Athabasca Glacier area.  I processed a few photos.  The best compositions will be panoramas that require stitching...I probably won't process those until 2018 or later.





The last one is the Athabasca Glacier located at near the boundary of Banff and Jasper National Parks.


Hope you like them





(Sublime Light Landscape Photography) astrophotography banff canada canadian rockies jasper Sun, 30 Jul 2017 19:18:54 GMT
2017 Canadian Rockies Expedition: Kananaskis Country  

I spent 2 1/2 days in Kananaskis Country.  I think it is prettier and more accessible than Banff National Park.  The trail to Rae Lake was "The Sound of Music" in terms of beauty (That comparison probably dated me.  Ouch).  I also did the trail to Rawson Lake.  And while Banff was shrouded in smoke from nearby wildfires, I was fortunate that the Kananaskis area was mostly smoke-free.  Kananaskis is gorgeous, and in the right light, a sort of electric green.  


It was uncharacteristically hot: highs in the mid-80s.  That meant I did only one hike a day, early in the morning.  I can climb 2000' when it is 85 F, but I am really a cold-weather hiker, and these days I often pass on large climbs in hot weather.  Below are two photos that I processed, both from the trail to Rae Lake.



Hope you like them.





(Sublime Light Landscape Photography) canada canadian rockies kananaskis mountains peter lougheed provincial park Sun, 30 Jul 2017 19:02:54 GMT
2017 Canadian Rockies Expedition: Aerial Tour of the Purcell Mountains  

Day 1 of my 2017 Canadian Rockies tour started off very well: I did a 2-hour open-window aerial photography tour with Kootenay Lake Aviation in Nelson, BC.  We flew over the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Provincial Park and Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park.  There were two visible forest fires, but luckily the smoke was not widely dispersing, so we were able to go around the fires.   I shot 700 frames in all, albeit many with a lot of overlap.  I assessed about 10 photos: all were sharp.  Looks like a good flight.  Extraordinarily spectacular scenery. 


My Airbnb host for the first two nights (Bram in Windermere, BC) kindly let me know of a bald eagle nest 1/2 mile from his house.  I drove over to take a look, and just as I pulled up, "Mom and Dad" flew in with food for the eaglets, dropped it off, had a minor "disagreement", and then left in search of more food.  Pretty cool.


I developed two photso from the flight, just as samples:




Hope you like them.





(Sublime Light Landscape Photography) aerial british columbia bugaboos canada purcell mountains Wed, 26 Jul 2017 03:19:50 GMT
Terry Heath: Truly Extraordinary  

Family caregivers can be unsung heroes.  Their extraordinary labors and sacrifices are known to only themselves and to a few close family members.  I’d like to recognize a truly extraordinary caregiver: my sister, Terry Heath.


Terry has been a nurse by profession for about 30 years.  She used to be an emergency room nurse, and now is a Case Manager at a hospital in Jackson, MI.  She also has, for more than a decade, labored long and hard to care for and to keep my Grandmother (who passed this year in her 90's) and my Mother alive. 


She has visited, assessed symptoms and sicknesses, arranged for meds, and orchestrated scores of doctor visits and hospital runs.  She has fiercely advocated for family members with hospitals, doctors, nurses, and insurance, nursing, and hospice companies.  She has stayed up all night, lost countless hours of sleep, given tough love to, and held the hands of our ill family members to try to comfort them.   Not 5 times, nor 10 times, nor 50 times, but literally, hundreds of times over the past decade and more.  Hundreds.  Of.  Times.    Imagine that.  This year, in addition to working a full-time job as a Case Manager, she has labored almost full-time in a 2nd, unpaid job to help care for my Mother who is battling stage 4 cancer.  She has made extraordinary sacrifices.   



Terry exemplifies all that is best about the nursing profession. 

Terry – You are no longer unsung.  The word is out.  You are Truly Extraordinary.  For all that you have done for our parents and grandparents, thank you.




(Sublime Light Landscape Photography) terry heath Fri, 21 Jul 2017 15:08:26 GMT
2017 Canadian Rockies Landscape Photography Expedition  

I’m looking forward to a month long Canadian Rockies landscape photography “expedition”, which I have been planning since December, and doing hill-training since April.


The basic itinerary:


  • Scenic flight of the Purcell Mountains doing open-window aerial photography
  • 3 days day-hiking in Kananaskis Country
  • Backpacking: 4 Trips
    • Brazeau (Jasper NP): 5 days, 4 nights.  Tent
    • Egypt Lake (Banff NP): 4 days, 3 nights.  Tent.
    • Berg Lake (Mt. Robson PP): 4 days, 3 nights.  Tent
    • Tonquin (Jasper NP): 4 days, 3 nights.  ACC Cabin
  • Day-hikes in Jasper NP, and reprovisioning / recuperation days in Jasper town in between backpacking trips
  • 3-4 full nights astrophotography


For the first time, prior to one of these expeditions, I’ve done hill training.  I've done up to 2300’, 6.5 miles with a 33 lb backpack in as little as 3 hours.  My biggest day should be 2800’, 13 miles, with a 35 lb backpack.  Now that I am in my mid-50s, my legs were telling I could not just “get up and go” as I have done in the past.  I tend to do photography extensively on the trail, so 13 miles can take 9-12 hours with all the stop-and-go. 



I did a similar Canadian Rockies expedition in 2014, with Kathy joining me for part of that trip.  This time will simply be different locations, different trails.



I have done Berg Lake before, but am going back because on my first trip, it rained most of the time and the cloud ceiling was low.  I am hoping for better weather this time.   



I will be on my own the entire time.  There are risks, as there always are.  Chief risks on my mind are falling, wildfires, lightning strikes, drowning, and grizzlies.  I’ll do my best to manage them.  Last year in Denali was the first year I started taking bear spray and a Delorme emergency personal locator beacon.  I will be doing so again on this trip.    These trips do wear me down physically.  I'll do as much as I can.



I'm ratcheting down my solo backpacking no-go and bug-out criteria: If there are nearby wildfires or smoke from distant wildfires (shuts down my photography), or forecasted lightning storms or high rains for any given backpacking trip, I won't go or I will bug-out.


Right now, the Egypt Lake backcountry is closed due to a nearby wildfire.  It looks to be a challenging summer for landscape photography due to the many British Columbia wildfires.



If all goes well, I hope to return with hundreds of beautiful photos of Canada’s magnificent landscapes.


Wish me Godspeed.




(Sublime Light Landscape Photography) astrophotography banff berg lake brazeau canada canadian rockies egypt lake jasper kananaskis mountains mt. robson tonquin Wed, 19 Jul 2017 19:06:45 GMT
Milky Way Rising over Capitol Reef National Park  

For our photography jaunt last spring in Utah, we did astrophotography in various locations of Capitol Reef National Park.  This was our final image of of the final night, from a location near the entrance to Capitol Gorge.  It is a 22-frame, 254 megapixel stitch from a 35mm lens.


A great way to end an outstanding trip.  Hope you like it.


Jeff and Kathy


(Sublime Light Landscape Photography) astrophotography capitol reef capitol reef national park desert milky way utah Tue, 18 Jul 2017 15:32:11 GMT
Smoking: It's a Hell of a Thing  

My parents and my sister smoked almost all of their lives.  I never smoked.  My Father passed away from the complications of lung cancer.  My Mother is now battling her own lung cancer.  I will tell you this: Smoking is a hell of a thing.


  • It’s a hell of a thing, as a child, to constantly have bronchitis and respiratory infections due to the smoking
  • It’s a hell of a thing, as a child, to always lay on the floor, or, to retreat to your bedroom, as the only ways to escape the constant thick cloud of smoke in the house, because you cannot breathe due to your allergy to the smoke
  • It’s a hell of a thing, as a child, to reason, plead, and beg, to no avail, with your parents to stop smoking, because you know what the future holds for them if they continue to smoke
  • It’s a hell of a thing that your parents’ constant smoking sickens your fiancée, who later becomes your wife.  It’s a hell of a thing, after visiting your parents with your wife, to have to bag and wash your clothes to remove the stench of the smoke
  • It’s a hell of a thing, as an adult, to reason, plead, and beg for months with your parents to keep their house smoke-free for just the time that you visit them -- for not only your health, but also for your wife’s health, and yet they refuse.  Then, with disappointment and determination, you tell them that you will no longer visit them at their house, but you also say that they are always welcome to visit you at your smoke-free house.  In their anger, they reply that they will never visit you again.  And so, you don’t talk for 20 years
  • It’s a hell of thing, much, much later, to watch your Father and your Mother tethered to an oxygen machine just so they can breathe
  • It’s a hell of a thing when your Father is diagnosed with Stage 3 lung cancer
  • It’s a hell of a thing to spend days, literally scores of hours, doing clinical research to find the best doctors and the best treatment options for your Father (and later your Mother), for something that was so very avoidable.  And it was all to no avail; he suffered very badly and withered away
  • It’s a hell of a thing to half-carry your 230 lb Father (I’m 180 lb) to bed on the last day of his life, four weeks after your 3rd major knee surgery, because no one else could do it, and then to watch him die that night due to the cancer
  • It’s a hell of a thing when your Mother is diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer, and her hip breaks two days later because the lung cancer had already spread to and wasted her hip and leg bones
  • It's a hell of a thing to see your Mother struggle to breathe on a bipap and to struggle to live after hip replacement surgery.  You shed a tear, because you know what it feels like to suffocate to the point of death.  You've done it before
  • It’s a hell of a thing to hold your Mother’s hand in the hospital, to try to comfort her, as she cries out in agony from the unsuccessful hip surgery meant to mitigate the pain of her bone cancer
  • It's a hell of a thing to cancel all your plans, and to relocate to another state for 3 months, to help take care of your stricken Mother. Yet, you had this easy.  Your sister has been doing this for about 8 months
  • It’s a hell of a thing to arrange for and accompany your now wheelchair-bound Mother to scores of radiation and immunotherapy treatments, and to hospital admissions for infections and pneumonia, all of the while watching her weaken
  • It's a hell of a thing to realize that you might also get lung cancer in the future, after spending 20 years in your parents smoke-filled home


This is just a small glimpse of what smoking has done to me, and I never smoked.


Smoking is legal because this is a free country.  Tell me this: How free was I to not have to go through this?  I don't feel free.  When someone smokes for themself, they are not the only person who pays a steep price.


Smoking.  Smoking has plagued me for 55 years.  Smoking is not a hell of a thing.  Smoking is Hell. 


If you smoke, and if there is anybody in this world that you love: a son, a daughter, a husband, a wife, a brother or a sister, a parent….then please, stop smoking…..if not for you, then for them.  Nobody should have to go through this.




(Sublime Light Landscape Photography) smoking Sat, 15 Jul 2017 16:44:45 GMT
The Promise of Morning at Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah I like this photo because it shows the sky transition between morning and night.  There is the beginning of a sunrise on the left, and there is the still-visible Milky Way on the right.  Kathy and I shared this truly gorgeous morning.





(Sublime Light Landscape Photography) astrophotography canyon dead horse point dead horse point state park desert milky way utah Wed, 12 Jul 2017 12:30:08 GMT
The Milky Way "Flowing Into" Skyline Arch, Arches National Park  

Last year's trip to Utah was one of our best astrophotography shoots to date.  On that 2-week trip, Kathy and I spent 3-4 nights, dusk until dawn, walking around the desert and shooting the stars and the Milky Way in Arches, Zion, and Capitol Reef National Parks.


This is one of my favorite photos from that trip.  The Milky Way was rising, and as we looked for night-time compositions, I was able to find a spot where the Milky Way appeared to flow into Skyline Arch.  This photo is a composite of 25 stitched photos from a 35mm lens, so it shows a huge amount of sky and a lateral ground distance of probably more than a mile.  The visible Milky Way distance in the shot is probably about 10,000 light-years, give or take.  The stars at the top of the photo were approximately straight up.   


The Milky Way "Flowing Into" Skyline Arch, Arches National Park


Hope you like it





(Sublime Light Landscape Photography) arches arches national park astrophotography milky way utah Tue, 04 Jul 2017 22:18:53 GMT
My Favorite Astrophotography Photos to Date  

I really, really like astrophotography.  But it has some drawbacks: you are out are most or all of the night, so it is really hard on sleep.  The photos are time-consuming to set up and take, so if I come away with 5 really good ones in a night, that is pretty good.  They require good timing and a lot of research: when will the moon be up?  is it clear?  which way will the Milky Way be, and when?  I usually need to do at least two trips: the first one is to scout the location during the day so I know exactly where I want to be.  Plus, for the most part, there is one major angle: the Milky Way.  I am trying other angles, however, like moonlight, reflections, obstructed views, people in the landscape at night, and so on.  Some people do it way better than me.  Paul Zizka comes to mind.  


I've been using a 35mm lens, which is probably double the focal length that I should use.  That causes me to take a lot of frames and stitch them together, increasing the degree of difficulty.  The resultant shots, however, are very large: 70-100 megapixels or more.


With all this said, below are some of my favorite astrophotography photos taken to date:


Kolor stitching | 23 pictures | Size: 29799 x 24906 | Lens: Standard | RMS: 2.37 | FOV: 237.51 x 79.07 ~ 33.92 | Projection: Cylindrical | Color: LDR |

This photos was taken at Bryce Canyon National Park.  When the Milky Way is low in the sky, it looks curved.  I like this photo because I (finally) got the curve of the Milky Way, plus it was silhouetted (partially obstructed) by trees.   I hope to take more photos like this.





These two photos were taken at Heart Lake in Adirondack (State) Park.  They are some of my very few astrophotography reflection photos.  



This photo was taken looking south toward Monument Valley, in southern Utah.


This photo was taken at Snow Canyon State Park in Utah.  There was just enough light from a distant town to reflect off the underside of the clouds.  



This is Mt. Assiniboine, Canada.  I hiked 20 miles alone over two days, in prime grizzly habitat, to get in position to take this photo.  A clear night was not guaranteed.


This vertical panorama was taken in Canyonlands National Park.  It is the result of about 15 stitched photos.  





(Sublime Light Landscape Photography) astrophotography milky way star reflections Tue, 25 Apr 2017 15:15:00 GMT
My Favorite Forest Photos  

I love shooting vistas and panoramas  of wide open spaces .  More intimate photos, like macros and forest-only (ie. no streams) shots, just don't appeal as much to me.  I don't really know why.  I will shoot forest shots, but in my opinion, they are quite difficult to do well.  It's probably due to the lack of a clear subject.   Plus, there are just a lot of forests that are just not photogenic to me.  By "forest shots", I mean those shots taken "in the forest", not those taken from "above the forest", which I do all of the time.   I like being in the forest, but a lot of them are just not that pretty.  That means, to make a forest shot interesting, it (probably) needs to be about the patterns, the colors, the contrasts, the simplicity or cleanliness, the rarity of the forest, or some seeming story that can be inferred from the composition.


Here are some of my favorite forest photo shots, along with why I like them:


The photo above is from the Kepler Track in New Zealand.  What makes it work, IMO, are the mossy trees and rocks (rarity and patterns), the color saturation, the tilt of the trees, the very limited sight distance, and the cleanliness of the trail.  Add to that my memory (story) of that magnificent landscape, and I like it.  


The photo above is from Nelson Lakes National Park, New Zealand.   New Zealand has probably the most interesting forests that I have seen.  The bark and the moss provide contrast.  It is an unusual forest (rarity).  There is no subject other than the colors, the contrast, and the patterns.  But in sum, it works.


This forest in Michigan's Upper Peninsula works due to the contrasting birch, the patterns, and the color saturation of the forest green.


This forest in Shenandoah National Park works due to the unusual moss and fog (rarity), and the resultant color saturation.


I like this shot from Shenandoah National Park due to the backlit trees with sunbeams (rarity).  I purposefully moved so that the trees blocked the sun, so that the sunbeams were more clearly defined.


This photo, also from Shenandoah National Park, work due to the saturated ferns (color, patterns), and the moss on the distant trees (rarity), plus the cleanliness of the scene.


I like this very old shot of trees in Redwood National Park due to its rarity, cleanliness, and the color saturation.


Kolor stitching | 9 pictures | Size: 18047 x 11803 | Lens: Standard | RMS: 3.36 | FOV: 137.69 x 75.95 ~ 20.30 | Projection: Mercator | Color: LDR |

I like this shot in Lolo National Forest for its rarity (I have not not done many winter trips, plus the partial "snow ghosts"), plus the simplicity of almost no color: the photo has mostly white and unsaturated darks.






(Sublime Light Landscape Photography) forest Tue, 18 Apr 2017 14:15:00 GMT
"Undiscovered" Gem: Michigan's Upper Peninsula  

Kathy and I are Michigan natives, now living in North Carolina.  Lots of reasons: warmer weather, higher quality lifestyle, less traffic,.... We grew up south of Detroit, and we did visit Michigan's Upper Peninsula while we lived in Michigan.  But only once, and only for a handful of days.  In 2013, I was looking for an out-of-the-way fall color destination where we could avoid the crowds associated with Vermont, New Hampshire, and Acadia National Park.  My search led me back to my home state.


Michigan's Upper Peninsula, especially the northwest portion of it, is surprisingly (to me) photogenic.   The best areas, in my opinion, are


Below are some of my favorite photos of these areas from our 2013 trip.  To see more, visit our Michigan Gallery.  


The sun rises over Lake of the Clouds, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park


Sunset from a beach at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore


Council Lake


The area above Bond Falls


Presque Isle Falls



Birch forest, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore


Lake south of Munising


Go in the fall to escape the bugs.  The summer flies and mosquitoes can be truly miserable.  While we missed peak color...we were early, and then high winds took down the leaves, we still felt it was both very scenic and productive.  





(Sublime Light Landscape Photography) michigan upper peninsula Tue, 11 Apr 2017 13:45:00 GMT
Photo Gem: Ke'e Beach, Kauai  

Kauai is a landscape photographer's dream: Na Pali Coast, spectacular beaches, tropical sunrises and sunsets, Waimea Canyon,...the list goes on and on.  Something that is truly unique is the wave action at Ke'e Beach in the winter when the surf is high.  Just off the beach are some cliffs.  The high waves come rolling in, hit the vertical cliffs, and then those waves bounce back and go the other way back out to sea.  Those bounced waves hit the incoming waves, and the result is spectacular "constructive interference".  I've had the pleasure of being at Ke'e Beach on several occasions of high surf.  Maybe these waves occur elsewhere in the world, but I've only seen them at Ke'e Beach.  You can photograph them from the main beach, or get closer via an unofficial "herd" path.  










(Sublime Light Landscape Photography) beach kauai waves Tue, 04 Apr 2017 13:15:00 GMT
The Story Behind the Photo: Ontario Sunrise  

Last year, Kathy and I toured northern Ontario for fall color.  Pukaskwa National Park, and Algonquin, Killarney, and Lake Superior Provincial Parks.  If you want to get away from it all, and avoid the fall color crowds in the USA, may I humbly suggest northern Ontario.  Mile after mile of nothing but forests.  Wow.


One morning, our goal (OK, my goal) was to get to a trailhead at sunrise.  We were on the road driving to the trailhead, and got to watch a truly exquisite sunrise start to develop through the trees.  There was mile after mile of trees, so there was no place to get a clearing to photograph the sunrise.  Then, we passed a house on the side of the road.  The house had a pretty large clearing that offered a good view of the sun lighting up the underside of the clouds.


In general, I don't do a lot of photography off of main roads.  I don't do much shooting over houses or yards.  Perhaps I've turned into a little bit of a landscape photo snob.....I want my photos to be taken deep into a hike and way off of the road.   



Kathy was much smarter than that.  She wanted to stop.  We stopped and she happily started taking photos of this exquisite sunrise.  I watched her do that for a couple of minutes, and then decided that the sunrise was too good to pass up.  It really was.  It was one of the best sunrises I've seen in a couple of years.




(Sublime Light Landscape Photography) ontario sunrise Tue, 28 Mar 2017 15:15:00 GMT