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2 years, 2 months ago 12

Some of the only existing actual Boone Trace path still visible in Levi Jackson State Park near London, Kentucky.


Yesterday my son Wesley and I joined a new friend to go on an amazing adventure, we went back in time. Please let me share an amazing story with you.


In 1750 a new nation was about to be born.  Settlers had established a life in what would come to be America.  The desire to move further west and explore and settle our new home was rising up.  There was one big obstacle, the mountain chain we know as the Appalachians.  These high rugged mountains preventing and easy path west, especially with horses and wagons.  In 1750 Dr. Thomas Walker found a gap in the mountains, and a way was now available for settlers to move west, but only a handful did for the next 25 years.  Why?  The fear of the wilderness.  The fear was well founded, the new world across those mountains was populated with indians, wildlife, and thick foreboding forests, and wild lands.  In 1775,  just one year before we could break free from England and become a young nation, Daniel Boone and 30 axmen marked a trail through the Cumberland Gap and then up through Kentucky to what would be established as Fort Boonesboro, more trails would follow, the Wilderness Road and Skaggs Trace, but it was that first little road, The Boone Trace that would, forever change history, and open the west to settlement.  Daniel Boone marked his trail along existing Bison paths (Bison are commonly called Buffalo, but there are actually no American Buffalo, only Bison), these trails usually followed a water source and much later as the nation expanded the early rail lines followed usually very close to the original trails of the early explorers.  We owe everything that has establish west of the Eastern Mountains to one explorer and the little road he marked, The Boone Trace! Just 17 years after Daniel Boone’s marking the Trace, Kentucky became a state, and over 200,000 people had come through the Gap and up the Trace to start the first settlements of the west, in Kentucky.


Yesterday, Dr John Fox a noted Lexington Physician led Wes and I on a unforgettable journey over the original route of the Boone Trace. The trace is visible as it was in the 1770s in only a few spots, but the track is very well established do to the ground breaking research and mapping of man named  Neal Hammon.  Neal visited the county courthouses all along the route of the trace an used land maps, and other records to convert actual location to USGS maps (United States Geological Survey). He is considered one of the foremost authorities on the actual routes of the trace.  Even in the location where the actual path cannot be identified, a very close approximation of the trace can be made from other historical data.  A number of Kentuckians are leading the charge to place the Boone Trace back in it’s rightful place in history and locate as much of the trace as possible.  Dr. John Fox is one of the principle members of that group and his tireless effort to map and learn through research and personal interviews with people in all the area where the trace passed through, is establishing a new history record for the trace.


So how did I get involved?  As a two times survivor of cancer, Dr. Fox is one of my doctors.  A month or so back, during an appointment, we started to talk about photography and when he realized I’ve been doing it professionally for over four decades he asked if I might be interested in making some images for a project he was involved in.  When I attend the University of Kentucky in the mid 60′s one of my minors was in history and i’d had the pleasure of taking Kentucky history from the late dean of Kentucky historians, Dr. Thomas Clark.  I was vaguely familiar with the trace from my college class.  I say vaguely, because as I have often joked. my college career was well documented in the film Animal House in which John Belushi played a role based on me!  Well that was a long time ago and I’m not the same guy, but then that’s another story entirely!  So back to the point, I was all in and wanted to take part in helping this important project, my son Wesley is a professional surveyor working of the Sate of Kentucky and he also has a great interest in history especially as it pertains to our state.  I also wanted to do this to show some of Nikon’s terrific technology.  I used the D800 with the GP-1 so we could geo tag every shooting location to be able to return in different seasons, weather, and light to capture the key spots along the near 150 mile trace as it winds in and out of existing roads .   It will be a massive project that will take years, but I’m thrilled to aid in this important effort.


From a photographic perspective the weather and light for the journey couldn’t have been much worse, deep blue skies and super high contrast light, but I still want to share some of the images from the days shoot.  I hope you catch the excitement I feel about this wonderful journey from these images!


This plaque near Flat Lick, Kentucky states better than any just how important the Boone Trace was to the Western movement.


It is known that the Boone Trace came up through this deep valley near Barbourville, Kentucky.


This rail line of the CSX Railway, formerly the L&N Railway, is built right along the original Boone Trace.


This painting by David Wright depicts Daniel Boone with settlers traveling through the Cumberland Gap.


Below one of the great people we met who shared their knowledge with us about the trace.  Mr. & Mrs. Steve Patton live across the road from the exact location of the original Boone Trace,  Steve is pictured below.  Great folks like the Pattons made the day’s adventure a delight.


Several stone markers were place along the trace and they serve as  a constant reminder of he exact path location as civilization has grown up around them.  The journey was visually exciting for sure, but more so it helped me to regain a place of my state in the history of the entire country.


To make the point of the significance and importance of the Boone Trace I asked Wes, in the car, while traveling, who was the second man to set foot on the moon, he wasn’t sure, and that”s the point, the first is the one we remember and it seems so amazing that that man, Neal Armstrong died on the morning after I asked Wes that question, He was an American Hero and so was Daniel Boone, because he was the first to blaze a path through the Gap that led to the settlement of America!

A blessed,




One of the stone markers that mark the Trace.


…..and finally our new friend and fellow explorer of our history, and the Boone Trace, Dr. John Fox, now just John to us!



2 years, 2 months ago 3

Scott Kelby has “It’s Free Stuff Thursday!”, so I thought I might institute, (occasionally), Fun Fridays!  I’ve  often said that I’ve never been more excited about photography than I am today. What excites me the most is how much we an do to “improve” our photographs, post capture.  Now before I get into this, some of you may not be very enthusiastic about making these kinds of changes to an image, if so, you are welcome to leave now and come back on another day.  I certainly don’t want to upset you, If manipulating images with Photoshop, or Nik filters or Topaz is not a part of what you would do, good for you, stick by your convictions, just don’t tell the rest of us that we shouldn’t!  Photography is an art form determined by each individual artist. So if you are into this, or even curious read on!!


While shooting in New Orleans I came upon this young man cleaning the side walk with a hose and water. I was shooting with one of my favorite point and shoot compact cameras.  I’ve found that you an do great street shooting when the camera doesn’t look imposing.  As far as your subjects know, you’re just another tourist snapping pictures!!  So below is the original image before I cleaned it up in Photoshop with Content Aware.


As you can see the image is a little messy and doesn’t have much pop!  The shot at the top is the same image cleaned up, and then with some added saturation, and then with Nik Color Efex 3.0 Tonal Contrast filter applied.  Since, to me, the shot is timeless, what if we created an old photograph with Nik Silver Efex Pro 2.0? The shot below is with the Sepia filter.



O.K. let’s take it even further by making an Old Photo with the Nik Color Efex 3.0 “Old Photo” filter!


O.K. this is fun, got it, Fun Friday!!  I couldn’t possibly do this without trying Glamour Glow, one of my favorite digital filters from Nik Color Efex 3.0.  The saturation is increased and it exhibits a nice glow that only Glamour Glow can produce, at least for me!



I love this one and the Tonal Contrast, but since we’ve gone this far why not go into Topaz and see what the gritty filter, Spicify does for us!


I could go on, but I hope I’ve made my point.  You can take a simply, o.k. image that has potential and give it new life with some of these great filters.  Give it a try, you might like it!


Before we go off for the weekend let me share this morning’s devotional on the In Touch Website by Dr. Charles Stanley, this is really good, be blessed!


the pilgrim



Set Apart for God


Romans 12:1-3



When a person places his faith in Jesus Christ, he becomes a new believer, and he is sanctified–that is, set apart for God’s purpose. Unlike salvation, which takes place in a single moment, sanctification is a lifelong process. We who are followers of the Savior should be letting the Holy Spirit control our lives. If that is the case, we are currently being sanctified, regardless of what we may feel or how our actions appear to others. In other words, we are progressively maturing in our faith.



And if we are progressing, we must be working our way toward something. The apostle Paul explained the Christian’s mission: “For those whom [God] foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29). A believer’s character, conduct, and conversation should be reflections of Jesus, who lives within. On our own, we’d place too much emphasis on behavior and get caught up with following rules and rituals that look Christian without truly reflecting Christ. But God has given each believer His Spirit as a teacher and guide. The Spirit works to transform our minds and hearts so that we are markedly different from our unsaved peers. When we allow the Spirit to control us, we speak and act in accordance with our true identity: God’s sons and daughters.



Our Father wants His children to be living examples of who He is. He doesn’t expect perfection–He knows we can’t be totally sinless in our human body. But He shows us how to think and act so we may “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which [we] have been called” (Eph. 4:1).



2 years, 3 months ago 2

* Before I get into today’s post, let me take  moment to thank Scott Kelby and Brad Moore for allowing me to share some thoughts this morning on Scott’s blog.  Scott certainly gets a lot of hits every day and I am honored that he would let me use his fantastic out reach to share these thoughts, and get the word out about His Light Workshops, please drop by his blog today and check it out!!!


Now, after the two recent posts on mega pixles I got a lot of questions by email and it led to further thoughts.  I am sure the people that wrote won’t mind me sharing their questions and my answers with you!


Tyler wrote;  ”I have a D90 and plan to replace it and don’t know if I should get the more affordable D7000 or spring for a D800?  I do mostly nature, close-ups and travel photography.  I own the 10-24 and a 18-200 lens.”


Tyler, the D7000 would be perfect for you, it is a big step up from the D90, which was already a great camera, which-by the-way, I would keep as a back up camera!    If you go the D8oo route, you will have to start over buying new FX lenses, while your DX lenses would work they would not take advantage of the D800′s full frame sensor.  For now, for what you do, the D7000 is a great choice!  I was recently asked how good the D7000 was at high ISO.  To my shock while reviewing some old shots from Old Car City, I mistakenly had left the camera on ISO 4000 !!!!  I’ll let you judge the results in the HDR shot below! 



Shaun wrote; “I’ve really enjoyed your posts on mega-pixels, I have a question, if I bought a D800 or D4 and the 24-120 AF-s Vr f4 lens that I see you use a lot,  before I make the jump, how would  it compare to my D7000 and my 16-85 AF-S VR lens?  The cost difference is significant!?”


Shaun the difference is a matter of degrees, and the use you will put it to.  If you plan to make very large prints, (over 24X36), and shoot in low light and must often shoot wide open, the edge will go to the D800 and 24-120.  If you usually stop down a stop or two and don’t do a great deal of available light work, you already have a great combination now!


Ellen wrote, ” I see that Nikon just released a new 24-85 and I had been considering the 24-70 f 2.8 how do they compare?


Ellen I have not had the chance to shoot the new lens extensively, just a few quick snaps, which was enough to see it is very sharp.  The 24-70 f 2.8 is legendarily sharp but costs three times as much, I think the decision would come down to budget, I suspect you would be thrilled with either one.


Brad wrote; “When I look at your images on the blog they all look great, even the point and shoot ones, how much does the camera and lens really matter?”


Brad, thanks, however the photographer makes the image, not the camera!  Having said that, for me cameras are a very personal decision, how much do you want to carry?   Is a D4 too big, is a point and shoot not big enough?  Can I afford a $6,000. dollar camera body or is a $1,200. more in line with my budget.  One thing is for sure, if you buy any good camera and lens and you work very hard learning how to get the most out of it, you can make images that will be astounding.  The bad news is that as your skill level grows you will want, and probably need, better cameras and lenses!


Linda wrote; ” If you had to, could you make all your images for the rest of your life with a $500. point and shoot camera?”


Linda, If I had to, I could,  but I’m glad I don’t have to!  The shot below is why I think I could.



John wrote; “Is it true that almost all lenses are equally sharp when stopped down to F8 or f11?”


John, the short answer is yes.  Of course there are exceptions and “all” is a big word, but for the most part most lenses are very sharp at the mid range aperture settings.  All of this is assuming holding the camera steady or even better working  off a tripod, if you don’t do that, no lens is going to give sharp results!



Ron wrote; “You mentioned that you carry a mini tripod, what kind??”


Ron, mine is a set of Kirk Mini pod legs and the Really Right Stuff BH-30 Compact ballhead with LR


Faith quote of the day:


God, the sovereign ruler of this universe, is in control of your life. Don’t make the mistake of thinking He isn’t, simply because He does not operate according to your will and schedule. If you read your Bible and meditate on it, you will find genuine strength in His promises.






2 years, 3 months ago 7

I’ve been thinking about something for a long time, and I wanted to share a thought.  Every time I go through an airport I see lots of service men  and women shipping, or coming home.  I try to walk up to everyone I see in uniform and say, “thank you for your service!”  When we are enjoying the freedom of our country I know that freedom was not purchased without a price, a great price.  I can’t imagine how difficult it is to go to Iraq or Afghanistan and endure the conditions they face.  I want them to  know I deeply appreciate their sacrifice for me, and my family.


This past weekend while up in Roanoke,  Sherelene and I went over to visit some of her family and  her Uncle Earl, a World War II veteran. He took us to the D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia.  Like all war memorials it was hallowed ground and I was deeply moved by being there and thinking about how many men gave their lives for our freedom.  It saddens me when so  many Americans do not show appreciation for our service men and women.  I understand being opposed to war, I don’t think any man or woman that has ever experienced combat, is in favor of war!  In spite of our fears, these men and woman keep doing their duty to God and Country.  I just wanted to take a moment today and say thank you.


Blessed to be free,


the pilgrim