Be Careful What You Vote For


Today the center-right French Republicans have chosen the harder right of the two candidates to offer up to contest Marine Le Pen, if you assume as I do that the chances of the left to make it to a runoff next April are vanishingly small. François Fillon is an earthquake, I think, for socialisty France, in that their center right has chosen its most supply-side, trickle down candidate as their country’s best hope against the Le Pen scourge.

I’d say, with Brexit, Trump and Fillon, we see a trend. Three longish articles for you, first on next weekend’s Italian referendum, in which polls indicate a lurch toward populism.

After that, in March it’s the Netherlands’ turn.

And finally, it may not be too bold a prediction that by next autumn, Angela Merkel’s time may be past. You heard it here first.

The face of the western democracies this time next year is taking shape and I’m not sure how well we’ll get through it.

MOD Women

While Michelle Flournoy has apparently taken her name out of the running for U.S. Defense Secretary, it’s worth noting that there are currently five female Defense Ministers in NATO: Italy’s Roberta Pinotti, Albania’s Mimi Kodheli, Germany’s Ursula von der Leyen, Norway’s Ine Marie Eriksen Soreide and Jeanine Hennis-Plasshaert of the Netherlands. That’s a record.

There are also female Defense Ministers in South Africa, Montenegro, Ecuador, Kenya, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Guinea-Bissau.

Wednesday HDRs – Trains

HDR processing seems to work well on things that take you places, so today here are six trains. The top two are from Havana, the middle two are Finnish trains, one from the town of Kouvola, the other a tourist train along Helsinki’s waterfront, the fifth train is from the platform in Spiez, Switzerland and at bottom, it’s a city tram in Milan, Italy.

All were tonemapped in Photomatix and finished in various versions of Photoshop with various iterations of Nik software. Click any to see a bigger version, and here are about 500 HDR photos from

One other thing, just a reminder: may look and act a little strange over the next week or two as we move to a new format. Please be gentle as we work out the bugs.







Ten Places of Worship – Wednesday HDRs

Enjoy these HDRs of churches in Ethiopia, Italy, Lithuania, Panama, Cuba, Latvia and on St. Helena Island. Click any of them to make them much bigger. There are almost 400 more HDRs in the HDR Gallery at

The first two are from St. James Church, the oldest Anglican church in the southern hemisphere, St. Helena Island, South Atlantic Ocean:



These next two are from the Riga Cathedral, Riga, Latvia:



Here is the Catedral de la Virgen María de la Concepción Inmaculada de La Habana, Havana, Cuba:


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Wednesday HDR – Across the Tiber River, Before and After

Here's an example of turning a typically dreadful tourist snapshot into something you might hang on to.

You can't help the weather, and this was a pleasant enough day, but with a high overcast that washed out colors.


I'm always snapping away (ask Mirja) and if there's a body of water I'll be shooting across it. In this case, it's the Tiber River near the Vatican. It's one of those shots you skip through on your computer, and never look at again. But with a lot of spare time over the next winter, I went back to see if any of those Italy shots were salvageable.

You start by re-exposing the camera raw original + and – several stops. Then save each as a tiff, and then combine and process to suit you in Photomatix, and finish in Photoshop with the help of Nik filters. Up close, it looks like I used a tree bark texture over the whole thing, too. The result? Well, it beats the original:


Click the photos to A/B larger versions. There are 390 HDRs in the HDR Gallery at

Wednesday HDR – En Route to Miami Version

As we head south today, I leave you with an HDR I cooked up one rainy cold winter day, in front of the wood stove at the studio. This one is from somewhere up on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo.

Shot with a Nikon D-700, processed with PhotoMatix, Nik filters and Photoshop CS5. And a texture added. Click to make it much bigger. And see 365 more HDR photos here, at