Strange Arizona Weather

Things can happen that are just “jaw-dropping” when you finally get the details of what created a picture, or an image. Sometimes even pictures make it a little hard to believe, but it happened.

This was taken (the day after the storm passage) on September 18, 2014, in Benson, Arizona, 40 miles east of Tucson. There was a bad storm west of Mexico but instead of heading west as normal, it turned almost straight north in its travel. It came up the “Gulf of California” between the Baja peninsula and the Mexico mainland. As it neared the upper end of the water, it turned east and aimed at Tucson, with high winds and a lot of rain. Weather forecasters said that we could expect from 3 to 8 inches of rain from this one storm over 2 or 3 days. Remember that part of not really believing I mentioned earlier? It happened.

As it turned out, Benson wasn’t hit to hard, but the damage on a larger scale is very large with bridge washouts and road closures. The main storm actually split with much of it going east towards El Paso or west towards Phoenix, (hitting Tucson as it went through).

The next morning after the major rainfall and winds, there was just a light mist in the air and it created many pictures of unusual scenes. I have seen these, while I was growing up in the Portland, Oregon area, but never here. See the water droplets clinging to the grass?

DSCF1203The next picture shows what the grass in the field looks like. You can clearly see the seed pods with the seeds ready to drop. Those are Mesquite trees in the upper background, so there is no mistake where it is.

DSCF1210As the day is progressing towards the afternoon, the sun is trying to break through the gray skies and while the temperatures are failing to be “normal”, they still will be expected to reach the 80 degree mark. I doubt if it will reach that high, but maybe .

DSCF1212It doesn’t really show, but the sky in this picture is a very solid gray overcast. Temperatures at 9:00 were around 72, very comfortable. Well, so much for the major storm that came by, dropped in and said “hello” in the way it does best.

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Starting Veggies In Water

We’re in the dead of summer (mid-July) here in Southern Arizona and lots of signs of starts and events to show it. Take for example, the cantaloupe vine with its first blossom making its presence (earlier photo).

DSCF1091Or how about a nice red flower to perk up your day.

Best -- July 2014

But that’s not what I wanta chat about today. I heard that you could do something with a normal household food, something that’s available year round.



You’re right, but for those folks that did try to identify it, it’s the butt end of a celery heart that is cut and is soaking in water. This is a picture of the new growth after about three weeks. The first week it showed no growth at all, but it didn’t turn brown so I just kept it wet and waited. The second week started to show some very tiny growth coming right out of the center. The fourth week is what you see above.

Start by cutting off the root end as shown below, (leaving about a half inch or so, and using the butt end), you have to do nothing but put it in water. I covered with cool tap water up to where I had cut, but left the top open to get air. We then put the dish in window to catch the afternoon sun. The upper part we cleaned with clear cold tap water and anticipated putting a lot of teeth marks in them.

It’s now outside in a pot, but not looking too good today – we shall see. I thought about calling a celery doctor, but decided against that – besides, I think one would be kinda hard to find but if I did fine one, I rather imagine it would be a little expensive. Oh well —– anyway —-

With all the other possibilities, I wanted to see what else would happen with a different veggie. The choice is big, but the most obvious was what was in the veggie bin in the refrigerator. The only choice I had was something that might work – a carrot end. I also had some other stuff, but the carrot was my next attempt. I know it will not be planted in the garden except maybe to see what kind of green vegetation it creates. (Wonder what the butt end of a large dry onion would do).


Well, back to the mundane. This is just over 2 weeks since I cut it and put it in water. There are lots of white roots showing up with the green on top, so maybe not too long it will join the celery and give one another company.

Try one or two things on your own, just to see what happens. You might get a surprise. Just keep a record of what you do with the camera and notes to remind youself later. After all, that what this blog is about – making a series of pictures to tell a story, and adding the word picture to complete the mental image for your reader. Most folks remember what they see over what they read. (I think that’s right).

(Note: the one planted outside – is now an “isn’t”. It did’nt grow — Oh well — )

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The “Eyes” Do Say Things

I know that you’ve heard of the expression “people can talk with their eyes” so I won’t try to explain it with words, but rather explain myself with pictures. The theory here is that pictures become great training aids if you use them right. The pictures by themselves could be rather bland, but once the point is explained, it becomes very clear. Let me show you — In this picture : This lady is doing a lot of talking with her eyes. I see admiration, honor, integrity, respect and a lot of love. The eyes are telling a story. You probably wouldn’t understand unless you knew the rest of the story, and this could come with a lot of words, but it would be much easier with a picture that was not edited. New_1_DSCF0943 This picture: New_2_DSCF0943 You can see that she is looking at someone pretty special. This is her mother and she is recovering from a major operation. (I am very happy to say that she is recovering nicely and should enjoy a lot years of excellent health as a result of the success.) Now you can see the reason the first picture shows so much emotion. The two pictures with the written explanation does complete the story. Yes, the names, times, dates and all that stuff is very important but only to those that know and are either family or close friends. It could be your daughter and yourself in the picture, but the expressions will be the same, if you just look for it. Oh Yes, the second picture also shows need for a further word picture. While we are chatting about pictures, never edit the pictures while in the camera. Just don’t do it – EVER! Be patient and download to your computer to get a much bigger picture. You never know what is hidden in those smaller photos – you could have some great surprises !!!

(update – Unfortunately, the pretty ladies mother passed after a long illness.  Our prayers go out to her and her family – CRC)Biscuit2010Kid1

Can you readily see the happiness in this young lad’s eyes ?

KidsWithPuppiesWhat about this picture? See happiness in these eyes? In both of the pictures above, they become pretty apparent. The younger sets, both the children and animals are pretty well self – defining. My point in all this is that you have to see the picture and try to understand its meaning. Generally this will come in the first glance, but if you slow down and really look, you will see a lot more. By the way, the first two pictures were taken with a: Blog #29 A

Fujifilm FinePix HS30EXR Digital Camera (My opinion, you don’t have to have a camera with a 2 foot long lens to get great pictures.)

But the other two above were taken with one of those little pocket cameras about the size of the palm of your hand. You know which ones I mean. Pictures from old computer 449 This picture is one taken with our first original digital camera we had. It was taken in 2008, long before today’s technology, and no, I don’t remember what the make of the camera was. It is proof that good memory pictures seldom come from expensive cameras. For “other than professional” pictures, just about any digital camera will take fine photos. I always try to take a bunch, pick the best and dump the rest. I don’t always succeed, but I do get some very good memory pictures.

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Interesting Pictures of Color Contrast —

It can be very interesting to seek out color contrast, but you’ll get a big surprise if you intentionally work to find those contrasts, but even more-so, you will probably get an enormous surprise at the magical pictures you get.  Look at this one (below).  It was taken from an upper deck looking in the back yard of a home in Portland, Oregon.  Try and name all the various colors found in this picture.

 Pictures from old computer 409

Challenging, isn’t it?  This picture was taken in late April or early May in Portland, Oregon.  Unfortunately, I don’t have more exacting details, but it really doesn’t diminish the beauty of the photo.

Pictures from old computer 077

This example (above) of color contrast is of a totally different subject, but the principal is the same – color contrast makes fine pictures.  This was taken on the Oregon coast and of a small stream or brook with the bubbling waters working their way towards the ocean.  There was color all around me.

Pictures from old computer 431 Color contract in above picture isn’t quite as vivid or intense, but none the less, it is pronounced and interesting.  This was taken on the Pacific Ocean Oregon beach.  You can see the driftwood on the bottom of the picture.

Pictures from old computer 080There is a lot more stark color contrast in the above picture, but also, in the upper right corner there is something interesting in the construction of the building.  Also, on the left side, the green tree shows a lot of color of the northwest.

Pictures from old computer 405This picture has very little color contrast, but it vividly shows the rainbow against the dark raincloud in the background.  My wife caught this picture while we were in California.

 Now, the big surprise – not one of these pictures was taken with a camera that any professional photographer would even consider.  It was one of those little flat cameras you can carry in your pocket or the ladies can drop in their purse.  It’s proof that you don’t need a camera with a two-foot long lens just to make fantastic memories.  These pictures could very easily be taken from some of the cell phones available today.

 These pictures are fine for memories when you add the written word to enhance the memories and explain at least something about it.  They would also make fine memories for gifts, especially if you add a mutual friend or two.  I’m thinking of those cubes made for holding photos, or maybe a calendar or booklet made for gifts.  After all, memories are memories.

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Explain Your “Not So Good” Picture If You Intend To Keep It

Getting pictures can be fairly easy according to many – just point and shoot – but wait a minute —- ain’t that simple my friend.

What was the weather at the time, where was the sun, who (if any) is in the picture to show size contrast, and what’s the occasion – you did write it down, didn’t you?  It’s important to have that information if you are creating memories.  Let me explain.


OK, it’s a picture, and I admit it, not a very good one, but why did I take it?  Well, I was trying to capture the feeling that the mountain had a hat of fog/low clouds on it.  This is a pretty rare picture, because it’s in south-east Arizona.  I did put the date in the picture but all it implies is that it was in January, still quite unusual for this area.  Sometimes here, the clouds are more in the air with the gap of air showing either rain or verga (rain that does not reach the ground, it evaporates before it gets there).  This was a late afternoon picture and a blunder is no known figure size to use as a comparison.  Now the picture shows more interest, but still not good enough to keep.  It’s a bust with no memory value.

If you’re using photos for a broadcast situation such as some kind of a weekly or monthly news-letter, study what you want to write about and concentrate on those photos.

Let’s say that you want to start something about foods with some of the different ways to fix or prepare.  I’ve heard that “you eat with your eyes first”, and I believe it.  If it looks like, well, ugh, you just aren’t about to put it in your mouth.  It has to have that special “eye appeal” before you even start.

That’s easy, right?  Wrong !!  photography of food usually is very complex.  It looks great in that bowl, the steam coming up. Pretty dish or bowl, and your senses are confused because the nose is working overtime — that stuff is just begging for teeth marks.

The lighting has to be almost perfect, the angle you shoot is critical such as what you see, or maybe straight down – how to shoot.  Watch the background as well.  A heavily flowered print is a no-no, steals details from the picture.

New_1_Patagonia Grill - Sept 18 - Shea BD - 1

This picture pretty well tells the complete story, but not for memories.  True, it shows food being cooked, but it doesn’t say anything about a birthday day at the lake for a young lady, nothing about the potato salad that went with it, or the cupcakes mom made for everyone.  I didn’t even have the date on it, but I know it was in 2010.  One mistake, I should have used a flash to get rid of the shadows of being under a tree in the shade, but otherwise —-

Food shots must have a signature to stress the event if possible.  The above shot of the meat on the grill says a lot without words, and in that sense it is a good picture, but if you were to shoot a bowl of green beans in the kitchen, be careful.  Preferably use a light colored bowl on a white background and using the green beans as the main color of the photo.  If you can, drop a pat of butter on it just before you shoot, so you can show the butter sizzling and melting.  Keep the serving small —– big bowls lose the emphasis for some reason.

If it isn’t what you want, maybe a big spoon beside the bowl would be a good prop so try it both ways.  Even a hand on the spoon would make a nice effect, so try that as well.  Make sure the bowl is clean.  Spills of any kind, crumbs in the shot, all have a very bad effect.  Shoot all around the bowl, use different angles, and most important, make sure the food is fresh.  The camera won’t lie for you.

One of the best pieces of advice I could use is take lots of pictures.  They cost nothing with the digital camera, so use lots of shots.  Keep the best, dump the rest.

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When to Use a Telephoto Lens:

I just read an article about using a “Telephoto” lens, or that option on many of the newer cameras, and I have to tell you that I was just not impressed.

Apparently, the author was not a lover of the telephoto because he (or she) felt it lost quality by the “zoom-in” feature of the lens – but for memory pictures, it will become one of the biggest assets you can have, and it’s for free (on the newer cameras).  Let me explain my ideas and justification for the way I feel.

 Suppose you’re trying to get a picture of the movie theater you went to as a kid, but you just can’t get the right angle or some other problem with the “point and shoot” you’re faced with.  The best angle seems to be out in the middle of the street with cars going both ways, and it just isn’t the best idea you had at that moment.  Maybe try getting across the street and changing the angle a bit, then use the telephoto.  Don’t get too close, just closer.  You might even consider going across the street from an upper story office window above the store, – worth asking, and you just might get a lot better picture looking down.

 When you get the picture on your computer, then is the time to clip and change.  Take a dozen or more pictures with the idea I have been saying all along –  save the best and dump the rest.  You’re using a digital camera, so those extra shots cost nothing and you just might get an award winning shot.  If it’s that great, try selling the shot (after you get the written permission from the owner).

Pine cone

Remember this shot?  I was well above it overlooking a lake, maybe 50 feet from the tree.  I wanted the pine cone.

New_1_Pine cone

 Yes, this is the pine cone from the previous picture.  First I used the telephoto, then did the clipping in the computer.  This is the end result.

 This is another example of using the telephoto and clipping on the computer.  The person taking the picture was standing at the end of the table.  She used the telephoto but I also used the computer to clip and center.

me -

 Taking pictures of animals can be tricky at best.  Most animals have a personality, and if possible you want to get some of that personality in the picture.  That is a large part of a memory picture, the personality of the animal.  So to start with —baby-cat

“Image courtesy of [stay2gether] /”.

 Please understand that Cats own people, not the other way around.  Some will pose, but just only so long – then it’s bye-bye.  You need to stalk a cat, catch them when they least expect it, their “camera guard” is down.  It’s gonna take patience on your part, and being ready is part of the formula, so have the camera in your hand and be ready.  Kittens are great subjects because they don’t have a clue of the above, but they learn early.

 Dogs are just the reverse – spend a little time playing with the dog, especially a puppy, and you will hopefully be set for some great action shots. Make sure the dog has been brushed and groomed well.  Be sure to check the little doggy’s eyes.


“Image courtesy of [Tina Phillips] /”.

 What about getting a picture of a horse?   Horses get the same training as the cat when it comes to being camera shy.  Oh sure, they can be bribed with an apple, or maybe a carrot, but for the most part, they run to the other side of the pasture, turn around and laugh – or whinny – (snicker for us city folks)  – whichever!


“Image courtesy of [Tina Phillips] /”.

Remember, the horse is over a half-ton big and sometimes even that can be an under-statement.  If you really believe that you are gonna push that horse to do something it doesn’t really want to do, well, no comment.  Let’s just say that you have an education coming, hopefully the easy way where you don’t get hurt.  When getting a good picture of a horse, you need someone to act as a handler – someone that is well acquainted with horses and knows what to do, and when.  Some horses are naturally calm or well trained, but some aren‘t very trusting and you should treat these animals with a lot of respect.  Never walk behind a horse because he will kick if he thinks you are a threat.  I think it goes without saying that you never make a loud noise, even the flash of the camera can be bad; you just don’t know.  Ask the owner of the horse if he can be petted and where.  It does break the “stranger” sense and helps with that foreign smell (yes, that’s you).

 OK, with that out of the way, look over the animal.  If possible, make sure he is fairly clean, no dust here and there.  Many animals love to roll in the dirt and mud, and will pick up things that destroy the picture.  Even check the eyes to make sure they are clean and free of things that hang on.  Take a bottle of fly spray (you did ask for permission, didn’t you) because your final picture will be ruined if you have flies buzzing around, landing here and there.  Did the mane and tail get brushed so there are no knots or other irregulars hanging around?  You might ask the owner if he can use a nicer looking halter for the pictures.

 Use all the common sense things, such as checking to get the best background for the shots.  It’s always nice when you can get a fitting background, but on a city street you have to infer that it is in a parade or other function.  A stack of empty boxes, or maybe the farm tractor, maybe just a big pile of junk (i.e. an old rusty car) just can’t be a very good background. 

Just use some common sense.  The side of the barn, or maybe some trees make a good pick.  Never use the hay stack, food and pictures don’t mix, unless you intend to study the eating habits of a hungry horse. 

 For light, use the morning or afternoon sun.  The natural light makes the coat actually shine a lot more, and you can contend with a few shadows.  Again, never use the flash; you could have a very frightened animal to contend with.  Again if it’s a horse, half a ton of moving and fighting flesh is nothing to contend with.  Cats have very long claws that can get your attention very quickly.  You might have memories you would rather not have.

Ears are an important part of the animal, and a general rule is to catch the ears pointing up.    Ask the owner what sound would be best as animals are normally trained to do certain things at certain sound signals.  (I.E. a clucking or kissing sound normally will signal the horse to start moving.)  Maybe just snapping your fingers will work.

 Always assume that the animal will move, no matter what so be prepared.  Use the dual shutter release to get rid of the shutter lag on all the new digital cameras.  Don’t position your body to get hurt if the animal uses the tail and takes a swipe at a fly or some other distractgion. 

 Avoid distortion at all costs.  It’’s best if you can get some feet away and use the zoom feature.  By now, you should already be using the zoom for this reason anyway, but it’s more important here.  Sometimes the animal will move into a perfect position and you have the picture without having to reposition yourself.   Just keep taking lots of shots.  Even if you shoot 50, the odds of getting this kind of picture are you will get only one or two “keepers”.

Break the habit of  taking just a couple pictures in one place with one pose.  Move around, get some close in and some out with a couple mid-distance for variety.  You will never know which ones will be good and the others not so good.

Just remember, getting pictures can be fairly easy according to many – just point and shoot – but wait a minute —- it just ain’t that simple my friend.  Try to plan ahead —


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Favorite Season Memory Pictures

I think my most favorite pictures are of the fall and spring seasons.  They offer the promise of life in the springtime with all the new greenery, new animal life, and that special feeling on your skin when you step outside without a coat on.  Fall colors offer the promise of rest for nature with all the gorgeous colors that God always gives us, and the breath of cooler air and hopefully the easing off of the humidity.

Spring: Early Snow Pea PlantYes, I’ve used these pictures before.  The one above is of a snow pea about a half inch high from last spring, and I can assure you, it gave us some very tasty little explosions of sweetness most of the spring.  It was a great promise of life from its earliest stage.  I believe this was the third day of peeking out of the ground.

 Blog #14 AHere we have mom checking in and probably showing affection to a newborn.  The tip is to try and show some personal feeling or maybe stirring a memory in your pictures.  I find it very touching.


Blog 7 D

Be aware of what’s around you.  Try to capture some water or maybe snow on the mountain side, maybe a new spring flower if its springtime.  Maybe there is a field of clover or fresh grass or alfalfa (be sure to get something else, such as grandpa looking over his crop with that big white cloud in the background).  How about that small thunderstorm in the background — just be aware of what’s around you and have your camera ready.

Sunrise or Sunsets:

Blog #30 - G

Nuff said ??  I used a flash on this shot to show the tree.  I think it’s different, and I like it.  There is more in the picture than just a red cloud.


SC  b-4 Thanksgiving at Ron & Debs

This was taken in South Carolina the day before Thanksgiving day,  2013.


People make great special interest subjects.  Try to get your pictures as close to the face as possible.  Who cares what pair of pants or shirt grandpa is wearing; you want to remember his face.  Don’t let him face you though, have him turn at least 45 degrees, then turn his head to face you.  (You too, grandma or also the younger sets).  Look at pictures in magazines and copy what the professionals do.  They do it for a reason.

Don’t forget to make a log with all the information.  Names of folks and places, date and times, whatever information is necessary to expand on that memory.

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