Thursday, March 28, 2013




Woke up this morning & found myself back in the blogging saddle again.  I like when that happens:))


Local folks have told us April is the nicest month in Arizona & we are beginning to see & experience that every day now as our surroundings continue to turn greener.  Desert flowers are beginning their blooms & many cacti are growing out new shoots, blooms & pads.  Our Mesquite trees are coming in with some of the prettiest lime green leaves.  Small purple & green flowers hug the ground.  And of course there are the weeds.  Lots of them & this is basically our first experience with weeds.  Common solution here is to spray so that is what I have been doing.  



Would liked to have stayed a few weeks longer to watch the Spring weather evolve more but our health insurance runs out on the 16th & my Uncle Harry is having surgery a few days after & we need to be home for that.  We also need to allow time for any unforeseen border fiascos importing our Sunseeker as well.  We are beginning to make arrangements to have our water turned off next week, garbage pick-up discontinued as well.  We will turn our own electricity off after draining our hot water tank.  Aside from our yearly $750 taxes it only costs us $9 a month to maintain our Congress house from the time we leave until we return.  Sure wished we had the same situation back in Bayfield where we pay a monthly lease whether we are there or not.  And then there’s the annoying water testing bill every month plus heat & electricity etc.  Maybe we should be looking at totally winterizing our place next winter.  Heating costs turned out to be high this winter despite having our thermostat turned low.  Or maybe we should just be selling it & finding a place of our own with no monthly fees……..


DSC_0031 DSC_0032 


Reader Phil had a few comment questions about my use of flash in some of my photos.  I do use my flash a fair bit & it all depends on the lighting.  Too much natural lighting or not enough lighting altogether.  We all know the  common use of a flash in poor lighting situations & how it improves those difficult conditions but many don’t understand why a camera flash would be used on bright sunny days.  The use of a flash on a sunny bright day has a name & it’s called ‘fill in flash’.  Fill in flash seems to work best on sunny days if your photographing people.  Especially people facing the sun with hats on.  If the sun is high in the sky hats can throw deep shadows across someone’s face.  A small puff of light from a camera flash can bring a persons face out of those shadows. Flashes on cameras, flashes on stands & regular photo lights are used in pretty all those high fashion outdoor model shoots you see.  No shadows on those girls faces & yet it’s a bright sunny day.  No dark eyes, no shadows under a nose, etc.  Same with outdoor scenes in movies.  Movie lights are used on the close up scenes to highlight the actors.  That kind of lighting was used to perfection in many old black & white movies years ago.  We’ve all seen photos of friends at the beach on sun drenched days lined up for a photo with a big blue sky behind them & an ocean to boot.  Many times the sun is high casting hat shadows across people’s faces causing them to be dark.  Move in closer & use your fill in flash to puff away those shadows & you will likely have yourself a very professional looking photo because that’s how the pros do it.  They carefully paint their subjects with light.


If your reasonably close to a bird & it’s on a branch with a bright sky behind it the automatic light meter in your camera will set the exposure based on the overall dominate brightness & your bird will come out looking very dark.  Pop your flash up & let that puff of light reach the bird. (if your close enough)  Your background will be naturally exposed & that puff of light on your bird can make it’s colors stand out.  Most flashes nowadays have sensors telling it how much light to put out.  Dark room = big flash to fill the room with light.  Bright sunny day = small flash to fill in a few shadows.  Fill in flash can also be used very creatively for flowers on a dark forest floor or on a single object in a room etc.   



One of the ways I get those deeper rich colors in my photos is to slightly underexpose my photos.  That means they are going to come out a little darker than most people’s photos.  I have all my cameras tweaked to automatically do that.  I much prefer to work with an underexposed photo as opposed to an overexposed photo.  Overexposed meaning the photo is very bright.  I do not like bright photos with washed out colors.  With my cameras set to slightly underexpose it also means the majority of photos I take inside a room require a flash as well.  My camera settings require just an extra little puff of light into darkened corners.


Had another question about Wednesday’s 2 Cardinal photos in my post.  Yes, both photos were taken about a minute apart  & are 2 different Cardinals on our walk Wednesday morning.  No color enhancement was used on either photo.  Only thing I did was crop & lighten each photo & do some re-touching to get rid of dust spots.  Below are the before & after results…………….

DSC_8939 DSC_8939 DSC_8944 DSC_8944 


The above photos are a good example of an old, controversial, & always on-going debate in photography about whether to leave photos alone or enhance the image.  In my early 35mm days my thinking was to leave a photo alone.  After all, wasn’t that just the way the eye saw it.  Boy, did I have a lot to learn & one of the those early learning curves was simply no, that is not how the eye saw it.  That is how the camera saw it.  Back in those days we never had control over our finished photos.  A perfect stranger sitting in a small dark room many miles away was the person who had control over our photos in those days.  Many inexperienced printers ruined many good prints for people.  Of course the person who originally took the photo always thought it was their fault but in many cases that was not the case.  But, I’m getting off topic here a bit.  I will try & remember to write a post about that era of 35mm photos another time.  I worked in & managed a One Hour Photo Shop in Stratford Ontario for a few years & spent many countless hours printing countless thousands of people’s photos so it is an area I have some experience & knowledge in.  But, more about all that another time.  Now, where was I……Oh yes.


Going to try & keep this short because I have posted about all this many times before & I don’t want to bug people with repetition.  When you look at the before Cardinal bird photos above, you have a choice.  You can drop those two ‘before’ pics in your blog & leave it at that or you can take a little time to understand your photo program & improve those ‘before’ pics.  If you are technology challenged like me I strongly suggest you use Google’s free PICASA 3.9. photo editing program.  I have talked about how to improve your photos using Picasa before.  Today I would like to take a different approach.



When we write our posts we all take time to write it the best way we know how.  Spelling mistakes are checked, sentences re-written, topics varied etc.  etc.  In a nutshell….we do the best we can with our writings before we hit the Publish button.  Why would we not do the same with our photos.  Photos are every bit as important to the majority of bloggers as the written word is.  That old saying, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ is so very true.  We try to make our words the best we can so why not try to make our photos the best we can.   Words & photos go hand in hand & especially out here in the RV blogging world with so many people traveling to so many picturesque locations.


Guess the bottom line I’m getting at is this…….if you are an RV’er you already have chosen a great lifestyle.  You have invested money in the best RV you can afford to get out there in this great wonderfully scenic land & see as much of it as you can see.  If you want to retain as many of those scenic memories as possible, you need to get yourself a quality camera, you need to learn how to use that camera & you need to learn how to use a photo editing program if you intend to visually share your travels with others & keep those memories alive for yourself.  And, that is what most RV Bloggers do.  They share not only their written words but their visual images as well.  Just as you wouldn’t settle for second rate writing, why settle for second rate photos either when you don’t have to.  In the whole history of photography it has never been easier than right now for the ordinary person to take good photos & make them great photos.  With today’s techno age & digitalization we all have complete creative & quality control over our own photos.  Take the time to be the best you can be, not only with your writing, but your photos as well.  Your readers & fellow Bloggers will very much appreciate that. 



I welcome any photo questions.  I’m certainly not a pro but I do have a little bit of photo experience & am always willing to try & help someone if the questions aren’t too hard or too technical……….:))


And Karyn Lee had a question in which she asks…."Are you going to get a Bayfield sticker for the new Motorhome like you had on the old one”?  We have been asking ourselves the same question.  I do like the idea of Canadian flag decals front & back & we’ll have to do a little more thinking about whether to put our Bayfield Logos back on.  Doggy paw prints & all:))


AND A WORD OF CAUTION…… During a routine check & scan of our computer by MICROSOFT SECURITY ESSENTIALS this morning MSE came across two virus’s in our computer.  One was the Win 32 Trojan.  Our MSE program  successfully removed both threats.  Ran a MALWAREBYTES scan as well & it found 3 more Trojans & eliminated them.  There has been a substantial increase in Spam lately plus more email scams & virus’s flooding into everyone’s computer & email boxes.  Do not open any emails & especially links from people you do not know & be very careful of emails coming from people you do know.  Unbeknownst to them their accounts may have been hacked.  We don’t send out a lot of emails here at the Bunch but don’t open anything coming from us with a suspicious subject line like re: or fwd:  Watch for spelling mistakes or poor grammar.  If you have anti-virus software on your computer… a scan NOW.  Might want to have a look at this site as well……MALWARE REMOVAL GUIDE FOR WINDOWS.  And remember, if in doubt about anything…..don’t open it!! 



GROANER’S CORNER:((  John brought his new colleague, Peter, home for dinner. As they arrived at the door his wife rushed up, threw her arms around John and kissed him passionately.  "My goodness", said Peter, "and how long have you been married?"  "22 years", replied John.
"You must have a fantastic marriage if your wife greets you like that after all those years."  "Don't be fooled! She only does it to make the dog jealous."

- Tourists see the world, travelers experience it.
- Home is where your pet is:))
- "If having a soul means being able to feel
love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals
are better off than a lot of humans."
(James Herriot)
- The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails -William Arthur Ward
- The only thing better than right now will someday be the memories of right now...AL.
- It is not so much having nothing to do as it is not having the interest to do something....AL.


  1. AMAZING! All that info and it's free! I'm glad you woke up in a good blogging mode! A happy Al leads to happiness for lots of other people.

  2. Thanks for the tutorial. It's very helpful. Now I just have to find out how I set the under exposure.

    You're so right, you can always brighten up the dark ones, but once they're burned out your screwed.


  3. Thanks for the tips, can't wait to see a few more spring time desert photos!

  4. Al, thank you for sharing the information on the Picasa 3.9. I can't wait to use it. I only started photography last year and I am having so much fun with it. I love editing pictures and seeing what I can do with them. If you don't mind and you have the time would you mind doing a blog on getting birds in flight. I love your bird photos where they are flying. I have tried to get a hummingbird in flight but they have all turned out badly. Or if you have done a blog on it I can look it up if you know which archive for me to look. I thank you in advance. Take care.

  5. My vision has gotten to be so weird that I don't enjoy taking photos any more, much less editing them. But I enjoy looking at good photos in the blogs.

  6. Powerful post Al. I feel like a sinner in church. My blog will get better. My blog will get better. I will again try Picasa..
    I see you have the same feelings we have about an expensive North home and a cheap to keep South home. We plan to stay on course until it is not practical anymore.
    Did you really post a picture of my enemy, Mr Woodpecker? I have had problems with them everywhere I lived in this lifetime. My friend sends me happy woodpecker emails, I send him happy squirrel responses.
    Glad to see you are back.

  7. Thanks Al! I am new at photography.....will certainly try the Pacasa 3.9. I have a Nikon 3100 and a 18 -300 lens. I am saving money for a new lens to better capture the birds....I love your bird pictures!

    Again, thanks for the info....

  8. I keep trying. I think I understand what you are saying about the flash. Sounds like something I need to practice.

  9. I always appreciate your photography tips, thanks! Right now I'm just using the MS Office Picture Manager but I will be looking in to Picasa. Thanks again for writing such a thoughtful and informative blog!

  10. Al, as much as you use that camera with the dust in the optical system, wouldn't it be prudent to get someone to clean it out? I know you were going to go buy a new one and just not use the dirty one anymore but that hasn't happened.... I know how these things work though.... get it cleaned and it will break the next day.... Who knows.......?

  11. Always appreciate your photo tips. ESPECIALLY good groaner tonight!!

  12. Thanks for the fill in flash tip! Now I am anxious to try it. Makes a lot of sense. Glad you shared.