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2 years, 3 months ago 274

I was having an very interesting conversation with a photographer several days ago and something he said has continued to ring in my ears. He said, ” I see so much good work, I just wonder why bother, I will never be that good!”  I know how he feels, but I’ve got and answer to “why bother!”  First let me set the stage by saying that he is certainly right about the wealth of great work today.  I have favorite photographers just like everyone else, let me share the work of some of my “photographic” heroes and then let me continue this train of thought.


You’ve just been exposed to the work of  five photographers whose work I love and try to emulate.  Will I ever be as good as any of them at these kinds of work?  Truthfully, that is not the relevant question.  The relevant question is, “am I enjoying working hard to get better?”  If your hobby or passion makes you miserable, stop doing it, pick a new hobby!  Let me share five ways to get better at photography and enjoy it more in the process!


(1.)  Remember this is a journey, not a destination.  Instead of worrying about how good others are, think about what you can learn from them and how you can work to improve your own images.  Take full advantage of the people, places and conditions you can enjoy.  Soak in the joy of just holding a camera in your hand, and attempting capturing all the beauty God has made!


(2.)  Celebrate the success of others.  It does not make you any better to down grade them or their work..  Nothing kills creativity and vision worse than being blinded by envy for what others have accomplished.  True joy is when you appreciate what others have done, and aspire to do so well yourself!  Be thankful for those that inspire you.  In all honesty, they have probably earned it with hard work, are you following that example?


(3.)  Find your passion and then work it.  If you love flowers, shoot flowers, if you love airplanes, photograph airplanes!  You will never find real photographic succes trying to photograph things that simply do not interest you.  An understanding of your subject will open your eyes to see  much more deeply, and find the most creative ways to capture your subjects. 


(4.)  Don’t be afraid to experiment!  The great advantage to the digital age is we can shoot, look at what we’ve captured, and still have the chance to try it again in a different way, all while standing right in front of the subject!   That’s a luxury we never had with film.  We learn by trying, observing, and trying again. Keep working the scene!  There are no short cuts to experience!


(5.)  Have fun!  I’ve reached and age that if it’s not fun, I’m not all that interested in it!  The love of photography should be a time of great joy for you.  The people and places, the experiences, and the joy of learning should make you happy, if it doesn’t, maybe this is not the hobby for you.


I’m celebrating my 44th year of being a working photographer, and at this point in my life,  I have only one photographic goal; “to be better tomorrow than I am today, and love every minute of the journey!”  If I can do that it won’t matter how many great photographers there are in the world!




the pilgrim


P.S.  Did you notice how many times I used the word “work”,  that might be a tip!

2 years, 3 months ago 4

Jeremiah 29:11     New Living Translation (NLT)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.


Few words from scripture are more comforting than these in Jeremiah.  Some times our lives can get tough and we need the assurances that this passage brings!  Let me break it down;


1.  The Lord states that He has plans for us.  We are not out on some unscripted adventure with nothing for certain!  The King of all kings has a plan for you, yes you, not just humanity, not the just the church but YOU!!!!


2.  They are plans for your good and they do not contain disaster!  Isn’t it incredible that He is looking out for your good, and protecting you from calamity!  He is the only one that can protect you and bless you, and He wants to!


3.  He has a future planned for you, filled with hope.  He knows the future, He know your needs today, and tomorrow and He will meet them!


What is our responsibility in all of this?   To accept Him, and believe in Him, and to trust Him.  To seek to know His will for our lives, and be obedient to His instructions. To love others as He has loved us.


I love when a plan comes together, especially when it is His plan!!!




the pilgrim

2 years, 3 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, 3 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).