As promised, here are pictures of our pruning adventures. Only the "after" pictures though - sorry.
So, if you don't know much about pruning, allow me to tell you a little bit about it.
First, you want to prune trees annully, starting when they are pretty small, so they don't get out of control and the tree can focus on maybe 7-8 good, solid branches on which to really produce good fruit. (This advice works with lilac bushes, too.) Otherwise, the tree doesn't know where to focus and you may get hundreds of tiny little apples or fruit that are hard to do much with. Ever had that happen? (I have.)
Next, you want the branches to have room to move and grow with a couple of inches between each one.
This example looks cluttered in the picture, but in real life, it looks pretty good. Boy, you should have seen it before its makeover. This is a COMPLETELY different tree. It has what is called a "central leader" type of pruning where you allow a solid central branch to grow and produce.
This tree also had a serious makeover. You want to make your branches relatively low, so you can stand on the ground and pick your fruit. You don't really want to make ladder fruit trees. That is no fun at all. So, if the branches branch out (like below) you will have more success. Plus the sun can more easily reach and nurture the entire tree.
This is the "vase" method where you basically cut out the center of the tree so the sun can easily access all of the tree and its fruit.
Here is a close-up of an example branch. You look for opportunities to branch out from the tree and cut out the ones that go straight up or down. See where it kind of looks like a hook of some sort? That is what you want.
Confession: Our trees were a little out of control because I haven't lived here very long and I am just learning. I knew trees need pruning, but didn't know how to go about it. It is possible to get them back in control, but it may take us some time.
Thank goodness for good friends and willing teachers!