This morning

After being abruptly roused at 4:30 AM from a not-long-enough sleep by a “flash/boomer” directly overhead, I reluctantly got out of bed to check if there had been a power outage.

Thankfully, NOT!

Rain poured down loudly against the windows, accompanied by continual flashes of lightning and rumbles of thunder.

Later, the morning looked like this:

Not a hint of the thirteen story Farcroft building just a block and a half away...

Not a hint of the thirteen story Farcroft building just a block and a half away…


...nor the highrise of downtown Evanston!

…nor the highrise of downtown Evanston!

I walked in what had by then become a light rain to the bus shelter…

...where this was the view of Loyola Park, and proceeded to my appointment--which I eventually found had been cancelled.

…where this was the view of Loyola Park, and proceeded to my appointment–which I eventually found had been cancelled.

Lots of flooding in and around Chicago this morning–five or so inches of rain made for a hellish commute, with many underpasses holding several feet of water…and a few cars!

While walking back home (the rain had stopped and I need the exercise!), puddles were everywhere, such as this one, where heavy equipment is parked:


Closer to home, even the  Daffodils suffered the effects of the heavy downpours:


Poor, sodden little things!

‘Playing’ with Surface Blur and Radial Blur in ‘Slushy Puddles’

I took some shots of slushy puddles last week and was a bit unhappy with the exposures. For the most part, I shoot with the setting on ‘Automatic’, so it’s my own fault when I have to spend extra time in Photoshop (TM)…not that that’s a bad thing, of course, because I love to ‘play’, yet it can become time-consuming.

Here are the originals…see what I mean?

Really poor exposure...and I don't know why!

Really poor exposure…and I don’t know why!

This one delivered a very sickly, greenish cast...UGH!

This one delivered a very sickly, greenish cast…UGH!

This wasn't bad, as I really like the reflections, but it needed work, too!

This wasn’t bad, as I really like the reflections, but it needed work, too!

So, I set about my task, adjusting Shadows and Highlights first, then Levels, and applying pretty heavy Brightness and Contrast.  There was still the off-color factor, and no amount of Selective Color attempts could get these three shots anywhere near to matching!

“Time for black and white!”, I said aloud, then poured some more coffee and settled in.  After clicking Desaturate, then adjusting the Blacks, Neutrals, and Whites in Selective Color, I experienced more pleasure by the moment.  Toggling back and forth among the three now-B/Ws, they still didn’t have that ‘certain something’ that would make them a bit more appealing.  I walked away…and poured more coffee!

I ran each through Distort/Lens Correction to get a bit of Vignetting, which I normally do in very small increments, as it can get out of hand, and was still not ‘there’!  I tried a low Gaussian Blur after using Sharpen Edges (twice!)…that didn’t cut it at all!  That’s when I began experimenting with the other Blurs, none of which I had used previously…and you guessed it!  I found the perfect combination in Surface Blur and Radial Blur!

Playing with the settings in Surface Blur was something I had never done, so I poured more coffee and settled in again!  Here are the results of this ‘3 cup playtime’:

Slushy Puddle-1

Slushy Puddle-2

Slushy Puddle-3

The settings I finally used in Surface Blur were “5” and “Threshold at 32”, then utilized Radial Blur, with settings at “3” and “Zoom”,placing the center point for the sharpest area in a different spot for each image.

I was extremely pleased with the outcome and, as they say, “That was that!”

A walk in the lovely s…

…no, it was a walk in the lovely RAIN!

It sure doesn’t feel as though Christmas is only ten days away here in Chicago. Temps were low 40s (F), and we’ve had only that trace of snow over a month ago! I stopped before the corner to take some shots of traffic light puddles!










These were pretty much the only ‘cheerful’ lighting I saw in my two-mile walk…apparently people in the neighborhood are ‘skimping’ on Christmas decorations this year (no wonder, considering the economy is really in the dumps!).