Saturday, December 26, 2009




And as another Christmas slides into the history books I breath a smiling sigh of relief & close the book on another season.  We talked this morning about heading off somewhere on a day trip but just didn't get it pulled to-gether.  Stayed on the ranch just relaxing & catching some rays.  Kelly spent time on the computer looking at real estate properties & prices in & around the Tucson area & I cleaned up some donkey do-do's in the corral.  Them there donkeys sure do do-do a lot!!



Ever wonder how a herd of mosquitoes could hold back a truck??  Check Barneys, OLD FAT MAN'S ADVENTURES:))

Have been asked about that Christmas collage I put to-gether Christmas Eve & posted in the blog.  We had a few strings of chili lights plus a 40' section of rope lighting that we picked up really cheap at Wal-Mart a few days ago.  Kelly strung the lights in an apple tree beside the motorhome in the afternoon.  Plugged them in when it got dark & while sitting in my chair looking out the window I had myself an idea.  Took a few pictures through the screened window & by focusing on the screen itself & not the lights I was able to get that crosshair look with the out of focus lights in the background.  Slipped outside & took a few more unfocused & focused pictures.  Two of them in the collage actually have the night's half moon in them.  A few photos with the rig in the background completed the project.  Opened up my Picasa Editing program, did some cropping, enhanced some colors, threw in a couple special effects & clicked on the Collage button.  A bit of photo re-organizing in there & it was done.  In hindsight I wished I had thought to put our blogsite profile photos in as well.  Oh well, there's always next year.



Ray had an interesting post on his Monday's QCC blog about photo manipulation & that kinda got me to thinking.  I'm sure there are two schools of thought on this & it boils down to the age old question of, what is art & where & how is it done??  I think there are very few professional photographers out there who do not run their fine photos through their very professional photo programs.  These people are making a living with their photographs & it's an extremely competitive field.  You have got to be the best of the best & if photos have to be enhanced & manipulated to reach the final end product for sale, then so be it & that is what is done.  But, that's the professional guys so we'll leave all that wrangling to them.



Having worked in the photo finishing business for awhile back in the mid 80's I understand a few things about enhancing & manipulating prints because I had to do it almost every day for people.  Now, I'm going back a few years before the digital age when everything was done on film.  Mainly 35mm, 126, & 110 film formats.  I worked for & managed a one hour photo finishing store in Stratford, Ontario.  I spent many countless hours sitting at one end of a large photo processing machine printing thousands & thousands of people's films day after day.  Most of it was 35mm.  If the processing chemicals in either the film or paper processing machines wasn't exactly correct it effected the quality of the prints in the end.  Could be as subtle as a color shift on the cyan or magenta side giving the prints a cool or warmer look than was actually the case when the person took the picture therefore unintentionally manipulating the prints color.  If the color print filters in the printer were not calibrated correctly each & every morning the prints once again were going to be 'off!!'  

 DSC_5048 DSC_5050


The printing machine itself was programmed to automatically adjust for each & every negative but in the end it's just a machine & that final decision as the film negative passed in front of the person doing the printing could be overridden by the printer person.  As I sat there hour after hour I would have to make snap decisions on each & every negative whether to override the machine or let it go.  As long as the negative was correctly exposed the machine did a great job but if a light or dark negative popped into the frame carrier I generally overrode the machine to try & compensate for the over exposed or underexpose negative.  In other words I manipulated a lot of prints everyday to make them look as good as I possible could.  Sometimes at the counter when people were picking up their prints they might comment on a particular picture saying how nice it turned out.  They didn't realize that in effect they had over or underexposed it but the person at the printer had caught the mistake & corrected it making it acceptable.



Out of habit I work with every photo I take.  I crop a bit here, I enhance a color there, add some contrast for a darker effect, maybe add some yellow to warm up a sunset, or put a hint of color into a cloudy gray sky.  The camera cannot exactly reproduce the colors your eye sees.  Many times looking at a sunset I am seeing subtle shades & shadows.  I am seeing either soft or brilliant colors & hues.  Quite often when I load those photos into my computer I am not seeing exactly what I really saw & so begins the work of remembering that photo how I actually saw it.   The free Picasa Photo Editing program although not at the level of the expensive professional photo programs does a fine job for folks like myself who are not professionals but want their photos to look as good as they can with as little work as possible.  You can bring those dull colors to life, add a soft focus, give it a black & white effect or use any of a couple dozen other enhancements.  No, you can't put Aunt Sally's head on Uncle Charlie's masculine frame or drop the grandkids into a dogsled at the North Pole but you can, with a little bit of work, make your photos look a whole lot better.  Picasa is so perfectly suited to the blogger crowd for sure & if you enjoy seeing this beautiful world through a cameral like I do then you will take the time to reproduce your photos the same way I do:))


GROANER'S CORNER:((  I've often wondered why Kamikaze pilots ever bothered to wear helmets!!



The only thing better than right now will someday be the memories of right now....AL.


  1. Years ago I had a cross screen filter, that gave some really nice effects to things that shimmered or sparkled. Never thought about the screen door though. In the black and white days, we used to print with the enlarger, using our hands to interrupt the light in the over exposed areas to bring up the under exposed parts. Also we would use our breath to warm the developer on areas of the print to make it develop quicker than the cool parts. I'm afraid those tricks are lost forever in this digital world.

  2. A lady I didn't know ask me at out Christmas eve party if I would take a picture of here and her husband, I said sure. After I took the picture I said "where do I look at it and see if its any good"? Oh you don't she said,,,thats FILM!!!!
    WOW,,,,I told her that was unheard of... She tried to explain "WHY" to me, but I just rolled my eyes and went on taking digitals. UNREAL!!

    Great Blog Al, I love your pictures. I'm gona have to spend more time on mine in Picasa, I can see that.
    Happy new year!!
    Oh, and you will love the CLAW!!!

  3. Those tricks may be lost, but they are returned ten-fold in Picasa and the medium-priced (but tough to learn) Adobe Photoshop Elements. I've nearly given up Elements, although for certain changes it's very handy. I've said before, and I'll say it again -- your photo, to be effective, has to return the feeling, emotion, impression YOU felt at the moment you pushed the shutter button. You just said the same thing in our own wonderful fashion! Keep a'fixin' 'em!

  4. Hi Al & Kelly... Glad your Christmas dinner was so wonderful with Jerry & Suzy... We are hoping to meet a few of our fellow bloggers come this next year... Great information on the photos and how to achieve what you want... Thanks! Have a fun filled day and travel safely wherever you go!
    Happy New Year

  5. Looks like Kelly and friends were having a doggone good time. We really need to look into the Picassa photo editing. Just haven't taken the time yet. Love your photos all the time. Take care, enjoy the sunshine.

  6. Interesting blog Al. I enjoyed reading about the old film developing days. It sure is a lot more fun now being able to see our pics right away and then to play around with them using Picasa.

  7. Ya, ya, ya. Another bunch of so-so pictures. YA KNOW I'M NOT SERIOUS AL!!! Just jealous of that zoom lens. One thing I forgot to mention in that post is a very logical question? Why would professional photographers spend over $800 on Adobe Printshop and not use it? The pro's know a good program when they see one.

    Picasa is a very good simple-to-use program for a quick fix on your photos. Want to do more than Picasa? You don't have to spend a single dollar...well maybe a bunch of dollars....NO, kidding again. Guess I woke up on the silly side of the bed. Anyway, two excellent programs are GIMP ( and PaintDotNet ( Both programs are Open Source programs meaning they give you free license to use, distribute, and modify the program (if you are a programmer). Both have excellent help sections to explain and give examples of "How-to-do" photographic manipulations. These programs are FREE...yes, send $19.95 for your free program...zap! It was the cat on my lap that typed that. The programs have several "plug-ins" you can download and install....again, FREE. There is a learning curve but starting with the easy functions you should be an expert in 5 to 10 years.