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2 months ago 22


October 21, 1970  -  Alone in a dark hospital waiting room I was on my knees, my eyes were filled with tears, my hands were shaking, I was about to become a father.  I cried out to God that my unborn child would be healthy, that Sherelene would be o.k., but most of all, that He would make me what I knew I would have to be to be, a father to this new life.  If you judge the answer of that prayer by my son, William Scott Fortney, He certainly did much more than answer my prayer!


This is the first of three blog entries I will be doing, one for each of my children, in honor of Father’s Day.  What makes a father’s worth is how his children turn out, if for no other reason, I have been a very successful man.  The occasion of this entry is an award given to Scott.  Awards are nice, they make a statement, but what matters more is why we are singled out to be honored.  Earlier this week Scott was presented with a wonderful award that signifies who he is.  The award is called the Legendary Caregiver Award presented annually to only three members of the over 3,500 staff of the Baptist Hospital professional caregivers.  What makes the award all the more special is that those considered must have been nominated by their patients and co-workers, those that truly know them best.  I just read in a wonderful  book just a few days ago, and in it a famous pastor said it was his desire that, “Those who respect me most are those that know me best.”  Those that know my son best are those that respect him the most.  To know Scott, is to know; integrity, honor, compassion, grace, dedication, honesty, sacrifice, and love.  My son embodies all the qualities I prayed he would not only have, but exhibit to others, ever day of his life.  Apparently the people he serves, and that work alongside of him, know the man I prayed he would be.


I could not be more proud of Scott, and his wonderful family, Diane, and my grandchildren, Hannah and Ben.   I’ve watched Scott raise his children along with Diane and I’ve seen what wonderful parents they are, and what that love has brought forth.


A father hopes and prays that his children will be not only be what God wants them to be, but to know Him.   I’m so proud of Scott’s faith as a father and a man.  He has brought up his children to know what is the most important things in life and he is a loving brother to Wes and Catherine.


Saturday night I will be with him to celebrate Hannah’s high school graduation and  I know I will be so proud of Hannah and the young woman she has become.  A father’s work is never done, even when our children go off an start  their own lives, we lift them in prayer and serve as a counselor and partner through out their lives. I don’t think any man is truly ready to be what we have to be as a father, but I know God has placed his  hand on my life and lifted me into the position I must hold, He has done the same for Scott.



So, Scott, I am so very proud of you, I never had a moment of fear that you wouldn’t become the man you are today.  Thank you for teaching me so many lessons along the way and helping me be the father I needed to be to you, Wes, and Catherine.  You’ve made being your father a pleasure, an honor and a privilege.  I love you son.


You’ve blessed my life,






2 months ago 7

I get emails……  Whenever I do a  few days of gear entries I get two kinds of emails, “l love it, do more!!!!” and “I’m sick of gear blog entries!”  It’s o.k., no hard feelings, I understand, some folks love to talk gear, others don’t,  I take no offense!  I write articles about gear, because;  ( a.) it’s my blog, and ( b. ) I do like to talk gear, I’ve been doing it for a long, long time!  I do however agree with the statement in one email I got, the person quoted,  ”How much of difference does it make anyway!!!???” Truthfully, very little!  I’m shooting my best images in 45 years, but I could just as well be shooting them with a Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax, Leica, etc, etc,!   I just like what I’m shooting now, that’s all….


We need cameras to make photographs, though art work in the form of images can be made with other devices.  Lynn Rogers makes wonderful images with a flatbed scanner.  It is however impossible to image everything with a scanner!  Yes cameras matter, and lenses and tripods and accessories, but not as much as you might think.  When I lecture I love to share an image and shock people with the technical details of t he image!


This image which I’m very happy with in all technical terms, was made with a Nikon P5000 Coolpix camera, a sub $500. point an shoot.  I’m fond of saying treat any camera like a “real” camera and it will give “real” results!


I think what I’m saying is that what Rod Planck said many years ago still holds true today, “Technique trumps equipment every time!”  So on that point I can fully agree with the gear heads and the don’t care for gear talk folks, in a sense you’re both right!  Whatever you use, use it to full advantage, have fun, and enjoy the craft!




the pilgrim

2 months ago 13


Since Catherine Martin asked about the Fuji X100s I thought I might go forward with a little more about this extraordinary camera.  While the X100s has many wonderful features and performance parameters that makes it special, it not so much what it is capable of that makes me enjoy it, but what it makes me capable of!


The cameras doesn’t call attention to itself, it allows you to be in the moment and see and quickly capture that moment.  The image below is one of my favorites because of how much I love and appreciate the subject, and it would not have been captured if I had been struggling with controls when it happened.  It’s my partner in His Light, Jim Begley in old Baptist Missionary church in Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.




This shot was a much more studied image off the tripod in Canonsburg Park, during last years Nashville event.  This monochrome shows the extreme quality of the 23mm lens on the X100s.



It’s the “always have it with you camera!”.  When Jim took me to visit a famous glass blowing artist he knew in Danville, Kentucky, I didn’t even take a “serious” camera.  I was wowed by his work and with the help of the X100s was able to carefully pull off some available light hand held work!



……..and another!



I’m an admitted “texture addict”, I see it everywhere I go, and when you can have a small compact camera capable of capturing it, well, that is a good thing!



When Jack Graham and I did a workshop out in Death Valley we visited the Rhyolite Mines Ghost Town, and I stumbled on some “Freaky” art, just had to shoot it, the monochrome out of the X100s was stunning!



At our lunch stop we had a surprise guest for our outdoor lunch, a burrow, gotta have a camera ready!  X100s!



How about capturing your friends in the field like Ted Thelin in Death Valley!  The X100s is a great “photograph your friends” camera!




The 35mm equiv. lens on the X100s is limiting at a place like Bad Water in Death Valley, but still very usable as evidenced below.



Sometimes when the light is magic at Zabriskie Point in Death Valley and all you have with you is the X100s, you just have to make do!



It’s more versatile than you would think, has quality to spare, and is my constant companion!



Want the tech info on it?  Read the DP Review article linked below!  They gave it their Gold Award 83% score, among the highest ever!




the pilgrim


There you go Catherine!



2 months ago 31


If this is “My” perfect system how does that help you???!!!  Well, building a system is all about knowing who you are, what you like to shoot, and what suits you!  I’ve been working on my system for the last 45 years, and it has changed many, many, many times, call me fickle, but every change was because I learned something!  Since this is a teaching moment, let me walk you through the process:


1.  List the kinds of subjects you shoot.  If you shoot sports, or NASCAR, or dangerous reptiles, you’re going to need very specialized gear.  If you are a travel photographer you will want to have a smaller, lighter system, or if  you shoot nature you will want a system with a wide range of lens focal lengths and close-up gear!  Get the point, first step is;  know thyself!


2.  Decide what brand you prefer. Let’s face it there is a lot of great stuff out there, and it is all different in some ways, my advice is pick the size camera you like (small – medium – large) and then pick the one that feels the best in your hands!  Read up on the lens system and see what other, more experienced shooters, are saying about the quality of the glass.  Read the test reports and see what people think of the brand.  Read a lot and average out what you’re hearing!!!!  Run your own tests too, it’s easy now that you can rent gear!


3.  Determine how much you want to carry and how you are going to work with your system?  If you’re young and strong you may love carrying a 70 lb. back pack full of gear.  Then again if you’re almost seventy and seen better days,  maybe not so much!  If you are going to carry a lot of stuff, or if you can’t, you need a plan!!!  I’ve got a plan, more on that later!


4.  Make a reasonable estimate of your budget.  Let’s face it, “almost” no one can buy it all, and even if you could, re-read point three.  Once you know what you can afford you can make better choices.  Keep in mind that the more you spend does not always mean the more you will get!  There are some gear with high value out there.


So my “current” perfect system is listed below, and then some images on how I pack  it!


“My” Ultimate System


Fuji X-T1 body with battery pack RRS “L” bracket

Fuji X-T1 body with battery pack RRS “L” bracket  (to be added soon)

Fuji X-E2 body with battery pack RRS “L” bracket/grip

Fuji X100s camera with 23mm f 2  RRS “L” bracket and grip


Rokinon 8mm Fisheye f 2.8 lens   (12mm Fisheye)

Fuji 10-24 f 4 OIS                (15-36)       72mm polarizer

Fuji 14 f 2.8                           (21mm)      62mm polarizer

Fuji 23 f 1.4                           (35mm)      62mm polarizer

Fuji 35 f 1.4                           (52mm)      52mm polarizer

Fuji 56 f 1.2                           (85mm)      62mm polarizer

Fuji 60 f 2.4                           (90mm)      39mm polarizer

Fuji 18-55 f 2.8-4 OIS         (27-83)        58mm polarizer

Fuji 55-200 f 3.5-4.8 OIS   (82-300)     62mm polarizer


  • Possible Future Additions:


  • 16mm f 1.4                          (24)
  • 16-55 f 2.8 OIS WR        (24-84)
  • 50-135 f 2.8 OIS WR     (75-210)
  • 120-400 f ? OIS WR       (180-600)


Fuji EF-X80 flash


Nikon Manual Lenses:

200mm Micro Nikkor f 4 IF AF     (300mm f 4)

Nikon 200mm f 4 AI-S                     (300mm f 4)

Nikon 400mm f 3.5 IF-ED AI-S     (600mm f 3.5)

Nikon TC-14B Tele-converter


Close-Up Lenses:

Nikon 3T Diopter  (52mm)

Nikon 4T Diopter  (52mm)

Nikon 5T Diopter  (62mm)

Nikon 6T Diopter  (62mm)

Raynox DCR-150    (Variable)

Raynox DCR-250    (Variable)

Canon 250D Diopter   (58mm)

Canon 500D Diopter   (77mm)


Singh Ray  Neutral Density  5 Stop  -  10 Stop  -  15 Stop   (77mm)

Singh Ray  Color Intensifier  -  Tony Sweet Soft Ray  -  I-Ray  (77mm)

Singh Ray  Split Neutral Density Soft 2 & 3 stops




In a Guru Gear Kiboko 22L back pack,  (now discontinued but replaced with newer better version of the same basic bag), I carry my extra bodies, shown above, Fuji X-Pro 1 (soon to be replaced with a second X-T1) and my wonderful Fuji X100s.  a Micro Nikkor 200mm lens and hood, and a 200mm f 4 moderate telephoto manual focus lens (happens to be wonderful for close-up work with diopters.)





In the other lift side of the bag is my long lens, a mint condition Nikon 400mm f 3.5 (one of Nikon’s best long lenses ever).  Now it’s manual focus, so for action it is a bear, but anything that sits still, which defines most of what I shoot, it is superlative! It is smaller and lighter than almost any current lens in it range and on the Fuji, because it is a APS-C sensor this lens, is are you ready for this, a 600mm f 3.5 equivalent!



This is the MindShift Gear Filter Hive filled with ND filters and other various specialty filters.  I got it at Outdoor Photo Gear, great place to pickup all those things you can never find!


Shot at the top of the page is my entire main Fuji system in a Think Tank Airport Essentials back pack, love that pack, and it holds all the “essentials” perfectly!


So I know what I shoot, what I can carry,  (yes I don’t carry all this at once, I put it in the back of my FJ and then fill up a tiny Think Tank Retrospective 5 shoulder bag, (for walking around)  If I need something else, I know where it is!  Affordability?  I have recycled a ton of gear purchased in the past that people still want, thus, money for the newest stuff!




the pilgrim