Saturday, May 14, 2011


That is one of the most dreaded words used in this area.  The SE Arizona desert is an accident waiting to burn until the monsoon season starts in July.  We are already over 20% below our normal rainfall. 

7710 - Wildfire in Chiricahua Mtns
This picture is from the Sulphur Springs Valley in Elfrida, AZ looking at the Chiricauchua Mountains (close to Portal, AZ)  where the Horseshoe #2 fire has been burning since last Sunday.  Winds (with gusts up to 50 mph) have been helping the fire.  Only in the last couple of days has the weather been more cooperative for the firefighters allowing the tankers to drop retardant trying to knock the fire down.
It takes a special kind of firefighter to go up into the very rough terrain and fight a fire, one tree at a time.


UPDATE 05/29/2011:  The fire is still raging and has consumed over 60,000 acres.  


Friday, April 22, 2011

A Big Thanks

Just want to thank Jim and Jeannine  for inviting the the Elfrida Photo Group into their home for last weeks meeting.  Jim taught us how measure our photos and frames and cut double mats to fit these measurements. As we all took turns we snacked on chip and dips.  After the workshop Jeannine and George fed us a great dinner of hamburgers, coleslaw, beans,and all the fix-ins. Desert was cookies and fluff.

New Followers

We would like to say "Welcome"  to John and Ellen from Evil Empire State of NY (I am still a Red Sox fan) and thank you for your gracious comments.  Actually the camera was sitting on the table and the cat was pushing the release button.  Darn critter wanted more cat food for being helpful but I accused him of trying to upstage me and making my camera smell like fish.

We would also like to welcome Ticia to our followers of the greatest photo blog.  Just my


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Flying Horse?


One of the facets of life that is hard to display in a still photograph is motion.  Yes, we can blur the photo to represent motion or catch the subject with hair flying out or in the process of motion.



Here I have captured the marvel of the unknown.  A flying horse.  He is not touching the earth, his tail is pointing back and he has just launched for an afternoon flight.  Hey, I can have moments of grandeur.  Getting back to the serious side of photography, photos of animals, whether wild or pets, always make great pictures.  Telephoto lens help capture the subject when they are at a distance and not paying attention to the photographer.  This is especially a very good idea when taking pictures of wild animals, such as a pack of wolves or a mother bear with cubs.  And asking the mother bear to sign a model release form is another bad idea.  Maybe not too bad, though, as it weeds out the wacko photographers and helps clean the human gene pool.  Back to the photos…..


Above….the subject is starting to raise off the ground.  Only one of his landing gear is still touching the runway.  Below I have captured the subject as he plays with the food dish.  The older, more sophisticated horse can only watch as the “kid” plays.



Alas, I should say…..

“That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.”


Monday, April 18, 2011

Making a Slide Show & Saving in DVD Format

The discussion came up at our last meeting about making a slide show in Windows 7 and saving the final show in a DVD format so it can be played in any DVD player.

I used the Windows Live Movie Maker as this program allows for making of videos and/or still photos to make a slide show. A word to the wise….generally, these cannot be used as a “For Sale” item if you are using copyright material, music as an example. Same applies if the photos are someone else’s artistic work but I find making a DVD for sending to family members a good way to let them see my world.

Okay, that being said, let’s talk about the assembly of the Mk-1, Mod-2 Acme Jungle Gym…..ooops, wrong program. Trying again I suggest you preselect your photographs and put them in email size (640 X 480 pixels) and copy them into a folder. That way they are easy to find and upload into the movie maker. With friends and family the watermark is an optional item. My brother would sell me out in a minute….no, only kidding but he’ll never know as he is yet to come into the electronic age. He, like our mother, believes the microwave oven is high tech stuff.

 Picture #1

 Picture #2

For this demo, I have selected 3 web (email) sized photos. These are uploaded into the Windows Live Movie Maker by clicking on the “Add videos and photos’ icon. (See Picture #1 and Picture #2)

 Picture #3

You will see the pictures in the box on the right side (See Picture #3) and they will play starting at the top left and across to the right. Next to the Add videos/photos you will see the “Add music” icon. This can be used to add any MP3 file for background music. Another option would be to use a microphone and add your own interpretation of the photos. I am not going into the use of music or audio as that is something you can experiment with on your own. The next set of icons (Movie Themes) control how each photo comes into and leaves the viewing screen (fade, roll off, etc.).

Picture #4

Once you have all the photos you want to use, have selected background audio/music, and have selected the Movie Themes you are ready to save your project. This is done the same way as any file or folder, generally with a “Save Project As” command so you can name the video. (See Picture #4) This menu is in the upper left with a “down” pointer. Once we have saved our project, then we can make the DVD for playing on other DVD players.

Picture #5

On right side of the menu bar for Windows Live Movie Maker we have another save selection. (See Picture #5) This is labeled “Save Movie” which has the subcommand of “Burn DVD”. The burn DVD command will transform the files into a DVD format and once completed with the burn, you should be able to play the burnt copy in a standard DVD player. Do not test it in another computer as this will read the original format of the files and show you the slideshow. Try the DVD in a “stand-alone” DVD player.

One other note of interest. I used a DVD+R to burn the slideshow. DVD+R disks do not normally require a “finalize” command as they will do this function automatically. I did not try to burn a copy in the DVD-R format.


Screen captures made using  Screenhunter 5.1 Free

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Windows 7 Tips, Tricks & Misc. Info–Giddy-Up, Faster, Faster

To speedup any computer through the years was to simply add more RAM (random access memory) to the computer.  Adding RAM called for you to purchase a circuit card, sometimes a matched pair and open up the case on the computer.  Today, that is still the case, so to speak.  Physical RAM (now called SDRAM) is still the best way to add flexibility and processing speed to a computer. 

But Windows 7 gives us another option.  If you have a USB thumb drive that is equal to/or up to twice the amount of RAM you have installed in the computer, then you may be able to use the thumb drive as extended memory.   Preparing the thumb drives for use, you should first make sure there are no files you need on the drive, plug it into the USB port and right click on it’s icon in Computer.  Select and run Ready Boost to speed up your data handling.  If Ready Boost will not run with the thumb drive you have, then you will need a newer thumb drive.  Not EVERY thumb drive will work.  Remember your RAM is temporary memory and whatever you have not saved when you turn off the computer, goes away.  The thumb drive normally is like a hard drive in that it saves the data it contains but NOT WHEN USED AS RAM MEMORY.  This is just one way to help speed up file handling by your computer.

NOTE:  If your computer has slots for reading camera memory cards/sticks, you can use most camera memory cards and accomplish higher speeds as discussed above.

Another improvement was to run the Disk Defragmentation (Defrag).  Vista and Windows 7 are quite similar except Windows 7 has the fat trimmed out of the OS letting it run much faster than Vista.  Defrag would take “fragmented” files and rearrange the file to be in one location.  You no longer have to defrag in Windows 7 because the computer does it automatically if the computer is idle.

As always, there will be more to come on this blog concerning Windows.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Out of Focus??

Problem: I want to take a picture with everything in focus. The camera seems to cause the background and/or foreground to be blurred.

This is fairly easy to correct but you must know how your particular camera looks at your target. The main culprit is simply manual or correct mode selection to control of the depth of field. Another controlling factor is your autofocus settings. Most cameras have several modes which use different symbols to show you where the camera is looking for the focus. The closer the subject is to the camera, the camera will give you a limited depth of field and blurred images in front and behind the subject. If you are using a zoom lens, lower the magnification of the lens making the object seem farther away will give you a more open depth of field.

Depth of Field is one of the key tools of a photographer and a thorough understanding of it is essential. Pictures of landscapes with wide-angle lens will normally give you an open depth of field or infinite focus. Setting the depth of field to a limited focal range is desirable when taking photos of objects between the camera and the horizon. This brings the object into sharp focus and blurs the background to lead the eye to the subject of the photograph.

The camera lens f/stop (aperture) setting controls the opening of the camera shutter. The f/stop can be looked at as a math fraction. (Example: 1/2 is larger than 1/4. f/2 is a larger aperture opening than f/4) f/22 is about the smallest you will find for digital photography unless you are a profession making all them big bucks. Okay, how does this fit in with the subject?? Your f/stop is the key element to setting up depth of field. Controlling depth of field is easiest if you are using a DSLR camera. Of course, you are saying, “….but I own a point-and-shoot camera!!” Again, I say you MUST know your camera. Read that owner’s manual because most have various modes controlling the lens aperture in priority or a manual mode so you can select both aperture and exposure time.

Ray added on 04/02/2011:

NOTE:  As my wife would say....The Mississippi River flows clearer than what you just wrote!!!  Okay, so I'm going to "revamp" or "rewrite" this article using my skills of confusion and aberration of facts. ("Just give me the facts, m'am.")

Ray O’Neal

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Windows 7: Questions, Tips and Other Help

Note that I did not write up an article on Windows 7.  Guess everyone was happy and the computers were behaving so no questions were asked.

Ray O'Neal

I've Been Mooned

Last Saturday (March 19th) the moon was at it's closest point to earth and was also a full moon which is the rare part.  This event will not occur for another 20 years.  So it was off to take a picture of the moon rise and hopefully catch the moon between the mountain peaks.

This was the result after trying a few "free-handed" shots.  (Where did I put that tripod, dear?) Use of a tripod is always highly recommended when taking low light photos.  And yes, this photo is "photoshopped" (manipulated)  because it had the light reflecting inside the lens.  This causes a "pentagon" shaped glob of light that is quite distracting to the viewer.

Earlier in the day, the Tumbleweed Photo Group held an Art & Photography show.  Sales were not as good as we could have hoped for but the economy is still not in the greatest shape.  We did, however,  have several people stop and look which is vital to name recognition with the public.

Ray O'Neal

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Adding Signatures to Windows Live Mail (2011)

Tired of typing in your name after your hard efforts of writing your email???  Want a way to refer people to our blog site?  Want a way for people to remember who you are??? (Hey, Judy!!!  Remember me??)

Adding signatures is an easy and painless (almost) by simply following my clear, concise instructions. First, let's open Windows Live Mail (2011).

In the upper left corner of the Inbox you will see an icon with a down arrow on it.  (Directly above the Email message icon).  Click on that button and select Options and then Mail.  This will open the Options box.  Click on the Signatures tab.

 From the Signatures tab you can select two ways to add your signature for your outgoing emails.  First is the easiest.  Click on the "New" button and select Text in the Edit Signature box. 

Click on the Advanced button and place a check in the box beside the applicable email address.  Now you simply type in your signature as you want it to appear at the bottom of your emails.  After you have typed in the address, CHECK THE "ADD SIGNATURES TO ALL OUTGOING MESSAGES".  You also have an option to add your signature at the bottom of any Replies or Forwards.  Your choice. Finally click "Apply" and then "OK".
 The other way to add a signature file is to make a text file (.TXT) of your signature.  Then you can use the "Browse" button to find the file after you have clicked on "Advanced" and selected the applicable email address.

If you have multiple email addresses you must use the "Advanced" button and select the email address prior to  selecting "Browse" by the Edit Signatures box.  You can have different signatures for each account and you can have multiple signatures for EACH account.

The one disadvantage with using Windows Live Mail (2011) is you cannot change the font or color of your signature.  Other email programs you may use HTML or various fonts setup in text files.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Windows 7 Tips & Hints -- System Repair Disc

Windows 7 is a very stable OS (Operating System) but even in the best of times, your OS may go on vacation without leaving you a forwarding address.  (That's a joke, son....)  One of the first steps that you should perform on a NEW computer is to make the System Repair Disk.  This is a boot disk that can save you money should your computer decide not to boot up.

The System Repair Disk can be burnt to a CD or DVD.  The key thing to remember is to protect the disk as this can save you a trip to the Computer Store or to your computer guru (me).  If you have never made a repair disk, don't is never too late.

Windows 7 has a built-in tool that will create the repair disk  Simply follow these directions:

#1.  Click on the Windows 7 Start/Programs icon.  You will see a search text box toward the bottom of the screen.

#2 Type in "system repair" and "Create a System Repair Disk" appears at the top of the screen.

Click on the "Create a System Repair Disk and follow the prompts to make the disk.  Of course, you should have a CD or DVD ready to burn.  Make sure you label your disk and place it in a safe place when done.  That's it....a very simple, quick tip from the Guru of Photography, Computers, and Little Green Bugs your kids like to eat.

Next time I will discuss creating a system image disk.  Just think, you are on your way to computer independence and great photography.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Meeting Schedule, Shows and Other Things of Varying Interest

Tumbleweed Art Show & Sale
The Tumbleweed Photo Group is having an Art Show on March 19, 2011.  The show hours will be from 8:00am to 3:00pm and  will be located in Sunsites, AZ.  We would appreciate as many entries from our members as possible. 

Douglas -- Cinco de Mayo Hot Air Balloon Festival (April 29th - May 1st)
The Cochise County Fair Association is sponsoring the First Annual Hot Air Balloon Festival.  There will be reenactments of the Mexican victory over the French in the battle of Puebla of 1862 and other festivities during the weekend.  The centerpiece of the weekend is the balloon rides scheduled to take place at daybreak on Saturday and Sunday mornings, weather permitting.  There will also be an evening "glow" event, a favorite for photographers, when the balloons will remain aglow creating an awesome spectacle.  For further information, see the Cochise County Corner in The Voice In The Desert, March 2011 edition.

The Elfrida Art Center, Inc. Takes To The Streets
The Elfrida Art Center, Inc. is having their 6th Annual May Judged Show & Sale on Saturday, May 7th.  There will be vendor’s putting booths between the Art Center and Noel’s Market along Hwy 191.  Special dining at the Longhorn Steakhouse will be from 5pm to 8pm followed by a dance.  Any members wishing to enter the show for photography judging, please email me for the submission forms and rules for entry.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Goldfinch Alighting

This picture was taken from our dining room window of the thistle feeder.

I really like the way that the light is coming through the wings as he is flying to the thistle bag.


Using Blogger

 The following instructions are for members of the Tumbleweed Photo Group. This will be the discussion item at the meeting on February 28, 2011.  Note we will be using the Blogger tools only for this discussion.  Another program (LiveWriter 2011) is available but the posting of the blog is just slightly different.

 To start, first go to or open the TPG blog as shown above. ( You will see the “Sign In” on the dark blue bar all the way to the right. Click on the “Sign In”.

Screen

This where we sign in or you go to this screen to make your own blogs. Put the official sign-in in the Email box. ( Next, put in the password. That was sent to everyone under separate email. I do monitor the blog so if unidentified posts start appearing, then I will change the PW. Once you have both entries, click on the [Sign in] button.

Blog Dashboard

The dashboard is where you find lots of interesting things, like how to really mess up a blog, etc. (NO, just kidding. There is nothing that cannot be fixed if you hit the wrong item. I bought protection insurance from the Mafia Insurance Company through their agent, Shorty Slabmaker. He says he will take care of any problems.)

The key item here is the blue tab...New Post. Select it.

Future Reference: After you have finished your blog entry and SAVED then uploaded it, you may find an error caused by dumb fingers. Those are the ones that don't follow the brain and type whatever they want. You can go into the Edit function where you will see your post title. Select edit on the same line as your post and make you changes....don't forget to resave the post. Then post the corrected entry to the site.

The Blog Word Processor

This is the screen that causes most people to quit posting in blogs. The blog's word processor is one of those dumb programs that doesn't always do what you tell it to do. Screaming at the computer won't help, you must type in the words. Really the word part of the processor is not difficult. You will notice the “standard” icons for spell check, bold, italic, colors, etc. But we are what??? A Photography Group??? So we will want to add pictures. This is no small feat (or feet??). After the last line of typing, hit the [ENTER] key a couple of times so the photo will not slide up into your typing.

Add Pictures Screen

Click on the “Picture” icon in the word processor and you will get the “add images” screen above. Don't panic.......yet. There is a [Choose Files] button at the top. Click on that (with the mouse, of course) and you will get the Picture directory (or My Pictures). Find the image you want to put on the blog, select it and it will “open” on the Add Images page (small photo). To use this picture, simply select “UPLOAD” on the left side of the screen. Little things start whirring around the screen....ooops, that was a fly. Once it is uploaded you will see it on the word processor screen.

Mastering the blog entries and putting pictures on the blog takes practice and repetition is the best teacher.

  Word Processor with Picture Entered

Once you select the upload, the screen will return you to the word processor. It simply places the picture in the blog with the Medium size selected.

Changing Size and Location of the Picture

Click on the picture with the mouse once and it will “highlight” and give you the picture menu at the bottom of the picture. Select any changes you want. Note, if you want to move the picture further down the page, put the cursor at the bottom of the display and hit [ENTER] key several times. You can then drag the picture further down the blog page.

You can add more typing under the photo by moving the cursor below the picture. Remember to SAVE when you are done and click on the [PREVIEW] button at the bottom of the word processor. This will open a page and show you what the blog entry will look like once published. Close the preview screen, make any changes you want (but remember to resave after every change) and then PUBLISH. You can then go on the Internet and see the blog entry.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Windows 7 Question of the Week

The following is a problem from Judy about the picture properties.  In Vista she could open a photograph and get all the properties down the right side of the display.  She thought this was also possible in Windows 7 but couldn't find it.

HA!!!  Tough!!!  You want me to expose my expertise about the wonderful world of computers???  I am the one that had to beg Santa for a hard drive because my old dependable died.  And he came through except the hard drive said for Mac’s only.  I know he hates me but I did finally get what I needed by holding one of the elves hostage.

Back to the subject. (Did I tell you that I have good short-term memory?)  Yes, you can have the properties displayed in Windows 7 as you had previously in Vista.

First way is to select the picture you want using Windows Explorer.  In this case (as shown in the following example) the properties are listed below the photograph at the bottom of your display.

This is simply selecting the photograph you want to view.  Some of the properties may be hidden but if you “mouse-over” the little blue down pointer that my arrow is pointing at, you will get a double-arrow (up-down).  Click the double-arrow and drag the properties up.

The next two methods are using software.  One is available with Windows 7 and is similar to Picasa in it’s use.  This is the Windows Live Photo Gallery and if it is not listed in your “All Programs” display, you can download it at Windows Live! ( or go to and click on “Downloads”.)

Per the above sample you can see the properties (Information) for the photo in the right column which is most likely what Judy had seen previously.  Again most of the properties may be hidden but using the mouse you can find the double-arrow and drag the Information window up the screen.

Finally there is Picasa3.  This is a good viewing program yet others maintain that it is a good editing program.  My only warning is to remember it only saves in JPG format which compresses the file losing data each time it is saved.  The data is the clarity of the photo so in order to maintain a crisp, clear reprint you will have to go smaller and smaller.  Pin head photography ain’t popular yet.

You can see the properties listed on the right side of the display once you have highlighted a file.  (Note the blue outline of the photo to show it is selected.)

So there you have it.  Mister Computer Guru has come through again.  I know I’m good!  Just remember that Windows 7 is still new to me so it may take a couple days to get an answer to tough questions, such as, how do I turn off my computer?  or why doesn’t the monitor work when I have it plugged into the wall power (but no cable to the computer)?  The Great Guru can answer all……except for Macintosh.  (Sorry)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Schedule Information for Meetings and Shows

There will NOT be a meeting on Monday, February 21, 2011 in observance of Presidents Day.  Our next scheduled meeting will be on Monday, February 28th.

The Double Adobe Quilt Club will be having an Arts & Crafts show on Saturday, March 5th.  We have had some discussion on the show but the final decision to attend or not will depend on the weather as we will setup outside. The show is located in Double Adobe in the old elementary school.  Contact Ray or Jean if you are interested.

The Tumbleweed Photo Group is having a show on March 19, 2011.  The show hours will be from 8:00am to 3:00pm.  This show will be located in Sunsites, AZ and we would appreciate as many entries from our members as possible. 

The Elfrida Art Center, Inc. is having their 6th Annual May Judged Show & Sale on Saturday, May 7th.  There will be vendor’s putting booths between the Art Center and Noel’s Market.  Special dining at the Longhorn Steakhouse will be from 5pm to 8pm followed by a dance.  Any members wishing to enter, please email me for the submission forms and rules for entry.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Editing In My Picasa Dark Room

I had a great time at our photo group on Monday. Yesterday I spent some time in my dark room, trying some of the things we did in group.  So here are some of my before and after photographs.  Please give me your feedback and let me know which ones I should print to sell.
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Taken at the UT. AZ. border.
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Lake Arrowhead.
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DO YOU SEE THE S ?  The falls were all take on the road from Arrowhead to San Fran. It was rainy and waterfalls were everywhere along the highway.
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The edited one is what I saw when I took the photograph.
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This one is my favorite! The flowers were captured near San Francisco. 
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The ocean photographs were taken at Pebble Beach in CA. This rock was bigger then my fist and was free to move but would not come out of the larger rock out cropping.

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This was also taken on the CA. coast.