Google Nik Photo Editing Collection Now FREE!

Texting Trio. Santiago, Chile, 2016
Texting Trio. Santiago, Chile, 2016 (I thought they might all have been downloading the Google Nik Collection, but there is no mobile device version. So, maybe they were downloading Google-Nik’s Snapseed instead, eh?)

 

Yep, FREE. Gratis. At no cost to you.

So, what you had to pay $149.00 for just last month is now being passed out to all comers at no charge. This unusual move makes me wonder if Google is really going to invest any effort into future upgrades and improvements. Time will tell, I propose.

If you are interested–and you might as well be at the current price point–just go to the Google Nik Collection website to check it out.

The Collection includes the following applications:

Analog Efex Pro (for old classic camera, lens, and film imitation effects)

Dfine (for noise reduction)

Silver Efex Pro (for B&W conversions)

Color Efex Pro (many different color effects, styles, adjustments)

Viveza (to adjust color and tonality)

Sharpener Pro (for input and output sharpening)

HDR Efex Pro (for, you guessed it, various HDR effects, from the good, to the bad, to the ugly)

Some additional Google Nik observations…

–This suite can apparently be used in stand-alone mode but is not really designed that way. You’ll have to spend some private time with Ms. Google to work out this option–I can’t help you as I use these applications via Photoshop as host.

–Downloading the bunch is worth it just to get the most excellent Silver Efex Pro. I use this for my black and white conversions almost exclusively (as I did in the above image) and many photogs agree it is one of the best. (You can certainly come close with Photoshop, Lightroom, or Elements, but it is more difficult to do.)

Color Effects Pro has a “Tonal Contrast” preset (with several sub options) that I use quite often for my color images.

–The only other applications I use are Analog Efex (only occasionally for messing around with wet plate and retro camera simulations) and HDR Efex (on a very, very rare instance).

–All of these applications allow an almost infinite number of alternative adjustments and options once you have selected a preset as a starting point.

–All of these applications are fairly intuitive and are easy to learn by simply playing around with presets and sliders. The Google Nik website linked above (as well as YouTube) is full of help videos if you need further assistance.

La Voz del Pueblo (Voice of the People)

The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls.” –Simon and Garfunkle

A few local examples from around the Mendoza metro area…

 

Some good advice here, maybe?

TV, Facebook, Wake Up! Mendoza, Argentina, 2016
TV, Facebook, Wake Up! Mendoza, Argentina, 2016

 

This next one could be roughly translated, “To be a fan of the local Godoy Cruz soccer club is to live a constant party.” Bodeguero also can mean the person in charge of a winery as was the original sponsor-founder of this football club (Antonio Tomba)–some double meaning going on there. Godoy Cruz is the only Mendoza-area soccer team to have made it into the First Division (the Big Leagues) in Argentina, so they now play River Plate, Boca Juniors, and the other big money powerhouses of this soccer-mad country:

Ser Bodeguero. Godoy Cruz, Mendoza, Argentina, 2016
Ser Bodeguero. Godoy Cruz, Mendoza, Argentina, 2016

 

From an impulsive Eric Clapton fan and likely guitar novice:

Clapton is God. Mendoza, Argentina, 2016
Clapton is God. Mendoza, Argentina, 2016

 

This one could apply directly to those photographers who constantly fret about the Rule of Thirds:

Fuck the Rules. Mendoza, Argentina, 2016
Fuck the Rules. Mendoza, Argentina, 2016

 

The caption below this moving street portrait read (translated), “Not submissive, not devout…but Free, Beautiful, and Crazy!”

Ni Sumisa. Mendoza, Argentina, 2016
Ni Sumisa. Mendoza, Argentina, 2016

 

Hmmm…one might want to take this piece of advice with a small block of sea salt, depending of course on the country in which you live:

Destroy Your Country. Mendoza, Argentina, 2016
Destroy Your Country. Mendoza, Argentina, 2016

 

The following is related to the impact of the “Dirty War” with its human rights violations and thousands of desaparecidos. The idea is, “Build memories, defend memories, walk with the memories, share the memories, and defend the memories…Maintain a focused gaze”:

Sostener La Mirada. Mendoza, Argentina, 2016
Sostener La Mirada. Mendoza, Argentina, 2016

 

This is certainly a very current theme in the USA and in Europe: “They gift us fear so as to sell us security.”

Miedo y Seguridad. Mendoza, Argentina, 2016
Miedo y Seguridad. Mendoza, Argentina, 2016

 

“To refuse an abortion if your life is in danger is a crime.”

El Aborto. Mendoza, Argentina, 2016
El Aborto. Mendoza, Argentina, 2016

 

This confused me initially until I realized that Néstor Chávez was not an individual. Instead, this refers to Argentine ex-President Néstor Kirchner and the ex-President of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez (both now deceased). The quote is roughly, “Great patriotism lives within its people.”

Néstor Chávez. Mendoza, Argentina, 2016
Néstor Chávez. Mendoza, Argentina, 2016

 

Finally, I am not sure about the meaning here, but I liked the extraterrestrial look of this little blue guy:

El Hombre Azul, Parque Central. Mendoza, Argentina, 2016
El Hombre Azul, Parque Central. Mendoza, Argentina, 2016

40th Anniversary of Argentina’s Military Coup

Remembering. Mendoza, Argentina, 2016
Remembering. Mendoza, Argentina, 2016

 

[For the translation of the sign above: Read on past the break. For the translation of the sign just below: 40 Years Since the Genocidal Coup; No to Impunity Yesterday and Today“]

There have been a number of military interventions in Argentina, the one on March 24, 1976, however, was arguably the worst.

At the time, ironically, it was actually something a lot of Argentines wanted–both on the political left and the right.

40 Years Ago. Mendoza, Argentina, March 24, 2016
40 Years Ago. Mendoza, Argentina, March 24, 2016

In fact, some say a large majority of the population was in favor of military intervention. Indeed, the United States government supported the coup, mainly with the view of keeping the country out of the hands of the scary leftists–think USA v. USSR Cold War context.

By 1976, it was obvious Juan Perón’s widow and the current President, Isabel (the third wife, not Evita), was incapable of governing. The country was in chaos with a mini guerrilla war flaring up…bombings…assassinations…kidnappings…evil deeds committed by both sides.

The conventional wisdom at the time was that the military would intervene, quickly establish some order in the country, then set up a mechanism to return the nation back to elections and democracy–all within short order.

Well, it didn’t quite turn out that way.

Instead, this “National Reorganization Process” (you may know it as the “Dirty War“) lasted until 1983. During those seven-plus years, somewhere between 9,000 and 30,000 people were abducted, tortured, and “disappeared”. Incredibly, some were thrown, drugged but still alive, from military transport aircraft into the sea. Pregnant captives were kept alive until their babies were born–then the babies were adopted by government officials and military families.

It was the 1982 Falklands (Malvinas) War debacle that finally forced out the military junta.

Now, March 24 in Argentina is a National Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice.

Yesterday’s National Day of Remembrance here in Mendoza brought out thousands to the city center for the demonstration parade.

Here are a few images of the event, along with explanatory comments. Click here to read on and treat yourself to the photographs.

Paro en Mendoza (Work Stoppage in Mendoza)

This has been a regular thing for years in Argentina…a paro, or strike, by some sector of the work force or even university students.

If it is one thing that Argentines are vocal about (other than fútbol) it is their government–generally, how bad, how un-transparent, and how corrupt it is. When things get too bad, out come those affected with their signs, their drums, the loudspeakers, and maybe even pots and pans (caserolazo) to bang together for a little extra emphasis.

In this case (yesterday), the teachers of the Province of Mendoza were on strike, complaining of various changes to salary policies and how absences would affect their pay, and so on–all changes that seem to have been made by the provincial legislature without much input from the teachers.

The government, for its part, say they are trying to make the system more efficient and reduce costs.

The riot police were out, just in case, but that sounds way over-dramatic as they were most likely passing the time drinking mate. It was all quite peaceful.

 

The noisy march from the Legislature to the Casa de Gobierno. The flag had to have been a good half a kilometer long:

Paro, #1. March 21, 2016, Mendoza Argentina
Paro, #1. March 21, 2016, Mendoza Argentina

 

The crowd then assembled at the Casa de Gobierno to express their demands:

Paro, #2. March 21, 2016, Mendoza Argentina
Paro, #2. March 21, 2016, Mendoza Argentina

 

Paro, #3. March 21, 2016, Mendoza Argentina
Paro, #3. March 21, 2016, Mendoza Argentina

 

The gathering and speeches continued the next day at the provincial legislature building:

Paro, #6. Mendoza, Argentina, 2016
Paro, #6. March 22, 2016, Mendoza, Argentina

Asfáltico (Urban Art in Mendoza, Argentina)

Asfáltico, #2. Zona Casa del Gobierno, Mendoza, Argentina, 2016
Asfáltico, #2. Zona Casa del Gobierno, Mendoza, Argentina, 2016

 

I am working on connecting up and doing a photo shoot with these six artists from Mendoza, Argentina. Their work is spectacular–the above is the mere tippy tip of the creative iceberg they float throughout the city.

Stand by over the next couple of weeks for a blog post with plenty of photographs of the six in action along with their best street mural examples from the Mendoza area.

In the meantime, here is a nice video interview with them that will give you a small taste of what they do and their philosophy…oh, I guess you’ll need to understand Spanish with an Argentine flavor to get it all, but at least you can see some of their artwork:

 

Also, here is a link to their Facebook page.

Overseas Viewpoints

Pig's Heads for Soup! Mercado Central, Mendoza, Argentine, 2016
Pig’s Heads for Soup! Mercado Central, Mendoza, Argentine, 2016

 

Since I am out of my country temporarily, and in constant conversation with foreigners, I have been reminded of a blog post I have had sitting in draft form for some time. It might be time to post it!

Here ya go…

I was part of a conversation the other day with a number of foreign folks who are in the U.S. of A. for a variety of circumstances. Most had been here for a number of months or even years for reasons of schooling and work, and they hailed from Europe, the Far East, and the Americas.

Here are some interesting tidbits (I have smoothed out some of the grammar errors, filled things in from my notes, and edited a bit as English is not their native language). Click here to read what they said.