Category : Uncategorized

8 years, 1 month ago 0

Tomorrow I will be on the road to Nashville to help take part in doing a video presentation in Ricky Skagg’s studio. I thought I would get ahead. I hope to share some fun stuff from there.

I mentioned “Bear” Bryant in a blog the other day, this is a priceless story about him, it has a great moral, enjoy!

At a Touchdown Club meeting many years before his death, Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant told the following story.

I had just been named the new head coach at Alabama and was off in my old car down in South Alabama recruiting a prospect who was supposed to have been a pretty good player and I was havin’ trouble finding the place.. Getting hungry I spied an old cinder block building with a small sign out front that simply said “Restaurant.”
I pull up, go in and every head in the place turns to stare at me. Seems I’m the only white fella in the place. But the food smelled good so I skip a table and go up to a cement bar and sit. A big ole man in a tee shirt and cap comes over and says, “What do you need?” I told him I needed lunch and what did they have today? He says, “You probably won’t like it here, today we’re having chitlins, collared greens and black eyed peas with cornbread. I’ll bet you don’t even know what chitlins (small intestines of hogs prepared as food in the deep South) are, do you?” I looked him square in the eye and said, “I’m from Arkansas, I’ve probably eaten a mile of them. Sounds like I’m in the right place. “They all smiled as he left to serve me up a big plate. When he comes back he says, “You ain’t from around here then?”

I explain I’m the new football coach up in Tuscaloosa at the University and I’m here to find whatever that boy’s name was and he says, yeah I’ve heard of him, he’s supposed to be pretty good. And he gives me directions to the school so I can meet him and his coach.
As I’m paying up to leave, I remember my manners and leave a tip, not too big to be flashy, but a good one and he told me lunch was on him, but I told him for a lunch that good, I felt I should pay.

The big man asked me if I had a photograph or something he could hang up to show I’d been there. I was so new that I didn’t have any yet. It really wasn’t that big a thing back then to be asked for, but I took a napkin and wrote his name and address on it and told him I’d get him one.
I met the kid I was lookin’ for later that afternoon and I don’t remember his name, but do remember I didn’t think much of him when I met him. I had wasted a day, or so I thought.
When I got back to Tuscaloosa late that night, I took that napkin from my shirt pocket and put it under my keys so I wouldn’t forget it. Back then I was excited that anybody would want a picture of me. The next day we found a picture and I wrote on it, “Thanks for the best lunch I’ve ever had.”

Now let’s go a whole buncha years down the road. Now we have black players at Alabama and I’m back down in that part of the country scouting an offensive lineman we sure needed. Y’all remember, (and I forget the name, but it’s not important to the story), well anyway, he’s got two friends going to Auburn and he tells me he’s got his heart set on Auburn too, so I leave empty handed and go on see some others while I’m down there.

Two days later, I’m in my office in Tuscaloosa and the phone rings and it’s this kid who just turned me down, and he says, “Coach, do you still want me at Alabama?” And I said, “Yes I sure do.” And he says OK, he’ll come. And I say, “Well son, what changed your mind?” And he said, “When my grandpa found out that I had a chance to play for you and said no, he pitched a fit and told me I wasn’t going nowhere but Alabama, and wasn’t playing for nobody but you. He thinks a lot of you and has ever since y’all met.” Well, I didn’t know his granddad from Adam’s housecat so I asked him who his granddaddy was and he said, “You probably don’t remember him, but you ate in his restaurant your first year at Alabama and you sent him a picture that he’s had hung in that place ever since. That picture’s his pride and joy and he still tells everybody about the day that Bear Bryant came in and had chitlins with him.”
“My grandpa said that when you left there, he never expected you to remember him or to send him that picture, but you kept your word to him and to Grandpa, that’s everything. He said you could teach me more than football and I had to play for a man like you, so I guess I’m going to.”

I was floored. But I learned that the lessons my mama taught me were always right. It don’t cost nuthin’ to be nice. It don’t cost nuthin’ to do the right thing most of the time, and it costs a lot to lose your good name by breakin’ your word to someone.

When I went back to sign that boy, I looked up his Grandpa and he’s still running that place, but it looks a lot better now; and he didn’t have chitlins that day, but he had some ribs that woulda made Dreamland proud and I made sure I posed for a lot of pictures; and don’t think I didn’t leave some new ones for him, too, along with a signed football.
I made it clear to all my assistants to keep this story and these lessons in mind when they’re out on the road. If you don’t remember anything else from me, remember this. It really doesn’t cost anything to be nice, and the rewards can be unimaginable.

~ Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant ~

Editor’s Note: Coach Bryant was in the presence of these few gentlemen for only minutes, and he defined himself for life. Regardless of our profession, we do define ourselves by how we treat others, and how we behave in the presence of others, and most of the time, we have only minutes or seconds to leave a lasting impression. We can be rude, crude, arrogant, cantankerous, or we can be nice. Nice is always a better choice. I like what Stephen Grellet, French/American religious leader (1773-1855) said, “I expect to pass through the world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness I can show to any creature, let me do it now.. Let me not defer it, for I shall not pass this way again.”

the pilgrim

P.S. Now you know why I so proudly showed you my signed football, just like the old man and his picture of Coach Bryant, it is one of my most prized possessions. I’m so proud to say I got to visit with him for over and hour in his office. I got this story from our dear friend, Richard Small.

Thank you Lord, for letting me meet such interesting people.

8 years, 1 month ago 0

I had a nightmare last night, one that I’ve had a number of times before. I was preparing to do an
AV presentation, and things were not working, the projector was not bright enough, the screen was too small for the size audience, the cords were not connecting properly, and I was in a panic. It was almost time for the show to start and I was not ready. I got up and talked to Sherelene over breakfast about the dream, one that I’ve had many times before. She said it was a “fear of failure”. I would like to reject her insight, but I know she is right.

Over the weekend I watched the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony. One of the players inducted was the legendary Jerry Rice. Jerry Rice is without question the greatest receiver to ever play the game. His statistics will probably never be matched or exceeded. In his acceptance speech he said that his success was almost entirely because of his fear of failure. He just didn’t want to let his father, his mother, his coaches and his fans down. He was driven to perfection by the need for their acceptance.

I plead guilty. You probably do too. We all desire to be accepted and needed, and the world tells us that if we do not exceed the standard we will not get that acceptance. The truth is we can never be beautiful or handsome enough, or thin enough, or smart enough, or talented enough, or outstanding enough to command the love and acceptance from others that we need and desire.

There is an answer. We already have all the validation we need, but we sometimes fail to know it.
Jesus died for you and I. He loves us so much, just as we are, that He was willing to accept the punishment for everything we ever did wrong. He took our criticism and He suffered our pain of not being accepted. He took up our case and accepted all the downsides of being us. Then He died so that we would be spared the ultimate punishment of sin, death.

When He rose from the dead, He brought us back to life with Him. He gave us the fresh start we need. Now you and I are completely accepted and loved. We don’t have to earn it, it is a gift. We are now free to be the best that we can be, not to gain acceptance, but to celebrate the completeness of the life we have been given. Praise God!!!!!!!

In real life, I don’t worry about the cables connecting or the projector being bright enough. I make reasonable preparation, and then I trust Him with the rest. In my waking hours, the worst fears of my dreams don’t happen. What does happen is feeling of peace and joy, a sense of things being good and secure. That is what it feels like to walk side by side with Him………

John 15:1-8 (New Living Translation)
   “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

Today’s Prayer: Father, please keep me close to you so that I may bear your fruit.

The Fruit of the Spirit: Galatians 5:22

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.

the pilgrim

*Photo note: Old house in North Carolina, D700, 24-70 AFS lens.

8 years, 1 month ago 0

Maybe an even more important question is, what is your treasure? We all have those things that we value most in life. Sometimes we stash them away in a bank lot box, sometimes cleverly hidden in our homes. But what do we treasure? I’m afraid way too often we treasure the wrong things.
There is nothing wrong with acquiring financial wealth. One of Christ’s best friends while on earth was a very rich man, Lazarus. His wealth did not keep him from being dear to Jesus heart. The important distinction is to know that it was not because of his wealth, that Jesus loved him.

No matter how successful you become and how much wealth you amass, that will not be why you are loved. Many years ago, I had the honor of interviewing the late, great, Paul “Bear” Bryant for a magazine article. The legendary coach was everything you would have expected him to be. At the end of the interview I had a favorite question that I asked many famous people, I thought the way it was answered revealed a great deal about the person being interviewed. The question was simple, “How would you like to be remembered?” Coach Bryant gave a wonderful answer, “The people of football, the other coaches, and players, and my own players have all been wonderful friends to me, I hope that I will be remembered as half as good a friend to them, as they have been to me.”

That answer reveals a lot. Many people think of themselves as legends, Bear Bryant surely was, and still is! Coach Bryant’s accomplishments were considerable, but his emphasis was on others not himself and his accomplishments. I would like to believe that’s exactly why he was so successful, his life was directed outwardly

Coach Bryant was like a lot of successful people in that he amassed a great deal of personal wealth, but what he valued most was relationships. Money is fine, someone once said, money can’t bring you happiness, but it can sure make you a lot more comfortable in your misery. I’m sure that’s true, I’m even more sure that what does bring happiness is loving, and being loved.

God is love. Read that again, God IS love. It doesn’t say, God Loves, it says He “is” love. The love that God has for us is well beyond our comprehension. His love is far greater and deeper than we can understand. Now listen carefully, you’re about to find out just how wealthy you really are…… If love is the greatest of all the gifts, if Love is far more important than money or gold, then
those that have the most love are the most wealthy. Well, God loves you with a love far greater than any other. Since you posses this love, you have the most valuable thing in existence.

Now, how much does your family love you? How much do your friends love you? How many acquaintances have a real love and respect for you? The most important question is, how much do you love and show your love for them? The answer to the last question will determine the answer to the first three………..

the pilgrim

*Photo note: Antique National cash register, photographed in a store in Sante Fe, NM. Nikon D2x camera with the Nikkor 70-200 AFS VR lens set at F8.

8 years, 1 month ago 0

As a photographer I’ve spent way too much time thinking about how to carry my gear, 40 years actually. As a member of the Bag-of-the-Month Club, I’ve owned and tried literally hundreds of bags, slings, packs and rolling cases. I have some opinions, well founded, in trial and error. Please allow me to share some thoughts.

First: Decide how much you need, and
can carry. I have a three lens package
too the right. Nikkor 17-35 AFS f 2.8.
Nikkor 24-70 AFS f 2.8, and the
Nikkor 70-300 AFS VR. One body
usually the D700. A second body as
a back-up is stored away just in case,
but is not carried often. I’ve found
that I can do virtually 95% of my
shooting with this package. Of course
I own a large selection of other lenses
but most are collectors items or back
ups, or specialized lenses like the 200mm Micro Nikkor, and Nikkor 85mm f 1.4.

Second: Decide how you will be working. For general assignment work I carry the system above
it is my “go to” set of gear. I’ve found the easiest way to carry it is a Pro Speed Belt system by Think Tank shown at the top. It takes the weight of my shoulders, and after shoulder surgery that’s a good thing! It’s also very easy to work in the field with everything close at hand. If you have to move fast, which I seldom do anymore, all your gear is with you and not on the ground.

Third: If you have to carry more gear and
have the back health to do it, a back pack
is the way to go. The one I’m very partial
to is the Lowpro Mini-Trekker. I’ve used
these for many years and find them to be
just right to carry a body, four lenses and
some other accessories. Fully loaded it
still can be kept to around 20 pounds and
it has a good strap system and opens and
is easy to work out of. This pack and the
others shown in this blog are all from
very reputable bag makers. Lowepro,
Think Tank, and Maxpedition are all very
well made and I’ve virtually never had a
failure with any of these brands. I’m sure
there are lots of other good ones out there
but over the years these three brands
have proven to be the top of the mark for
quality of materials, and construction.
They are also some of the most thoughtful
designs that really work in the real world.
That really matters…….

Fourth: When doing travel photography the rules change, the name of the game here is don’t
carry anymore weight that you really need to. Travel should be fun and taking too much gear
and trying to carry too much weight will ruin the experience.

While on a trip to Disney
World with my family
I met a man on one of
the shuttle buses using
a very interesting bag.
We started talking and
it turned out he was
a dealer for Maxpedition
bags. They are a
leading manufacturer
of Military spec bags
that have been adopt-
ed by hunters and the
outdoors community.
This bag, the Maxpedition
Jumbo Versipack, is
actually designed to carry
a 9mm pistol and water bottle and other items. Mine is the S-Type (left side carry) The water bottle holder, holds by 70-300 perfectly and the D90 with the Nikkor 16-85 AFS VR lens fits perfectly in the main compartment, which by-the-way is very water resistant, (Those two lenses give me continuous coverage from 24mm to 450mm.) Numerous pockets are perfect for extra batteries, cable release, and other important accessories. The construction is military tough, and the build quality second to none. The cost is very reasonable, considering what you get, the bag above with all the extra attachments was around $160. Best of all it is the most comfortable across the shoulder bag I’ve ever carried. Just for the record, my other two favorite shoulder bags are the Think Tank Speed Racer and the Lowepro Stealth Reporter 400AW.

Fifth: Getting on an airplane is another story all together. To get through airports you need wheels and a bag that can withstand being placed in the pink tag section under the plane on smaller commuter jets! My two favorites are the Lowepro Pro Runner x450 AW (right) and the
Think Tank Airport
Security 2.0 (left).
Both are very well
designed and can
carry a lot of gear
with the help of
substantial wheels.
The Think Tank can
carry more but
gets heavier, so
they are both used
depending on
what kind of trip
it will be, and how
much I need to
carry. They can
both carry my go
to system plus a
laptop, hard drives,
cables, and lots of
other gear.

So there it is, just because this is my system doesn’t mean you need to adopt it, but consider the methodology I follow as you make your own decisions about how to carry your gear. By the way, if your 30 years old and just love carrying a 80 lb, back pack, I can only say, I’m envious…….

The reason for all this concern about picking the right gear and packing it right, is to stop thinking about the gear and start thinking about, “PHOTOGRAPHY”………….

My prayer for you is that you will spend a weekend with your family and loved ones wrapped in their love. Whether you know it or not, you’re already wrapped in God’s love. His love for you,
and concern for your life is constant.


the pilgrim

My bag wall, about half of my current bags, and this does not include 6 Pelican cases and 5 Lightware shipping cases and hundreds of pouches, and small gear containers……

It’s a madness, but it goes with the territory…………..

* Note: My Versipack is the left hand carry side, it usually comes right side, the link below show the S-Type (left hand carry). Mine is Khaki, many other colors are available.
* But remember, if you don’t want your gear stolen, try not to make the bag stand out too much.

*Photo note: Example shots above, all shot with a Nikon D3s at ISO 1,600. Lenses used; Nikkor 35mm f2 AF, 55mm AF Micro Nikkor, 50mm AFS G f1.4 lenses. Very early overcast, window light. All images shot at f16.