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2 years, 11 months ago 7

Photography is problem solving and sometimes we get fortunate and find just the right answer to our photographic problems, here are some of my favorites!


1. The Fuji X100s.  I’ve looked for years for a camera that was easy to carry, really well made, and produced stunning images.  I’ve used a lot of cameras that I really liked, but they all were lacking one thing or another.  The other problem was even the very best ones just didn’t allow me to shoot higher than ISO 800 without pretty bad noises.  Then I discovered the Fuji X system and the X100s.  It has become my constant companion, my carry everywhere, shoot anything camera, and the images?  Stunning +++   It has also re-ignited my love for Black and White, which it does wonderfully!   I got mine at Dury’s Camera in Nashville, I enhanced it with a Wapiti  Elk skin strap, a Really Right Stuff L bracket and grip,  (all my cameras have their excellent L brackets), and a Lensmate Thumb rest, and a Lensmate bayonet lens hood.



2.  The Sennheiser MKE 400.  I don’t shoot very much video, but whenI do this is the “steal” in the portable microphone world.  At less than $300. it works very well.  I got mine at the AV house called Sweetwater.   



3.  Singh Ray Filters. My bag has a dozen of these gems.  Bob Singh is a true genius and his array of filters is amazing.  His polarizers are among the only ones that are completely neutral, so they will not leave a color cast as many do!  I have a great collection of his great creations  



4.  Delkin Memory Cards.  I’ve used Delkin cards and their other products for years and I’ve never had a bad card!  If you’ve used a bunch of brands like I have,  you know just how astounding that is!  They’re fast and reliable!  I carry them in a shockproof, waterproof, Pelican case from B&H!



5.  Zeiss Lens Wipes.  In the eyeglass department of  Walmarts you will find one of the best solutions to cleaning eyepieces, LCD screens,  and lenses.  These wipes are sealed and have just the right amount of alcohol for a perfect clean!  Not pictured bu a big part of my system are a handful of micro fiber cloths, Ilike the Tiger Cloth from Kinetronics!



6.  The Firefly blower, and Photographic Solutions cleaning supplies.  The Firefly blower is a great way to clean dust from sensor, it turns normal air into ionized air that releases dust because of static electricity.  I use the Photograp Solutions E Wipes, swabs, and E2 Sensor Cleaner.    



 7.  The Lightning Bug.  The best lightning trigger on the market from MK Controls, it’s simple, it really works, and it’s your best bet of capturting spectacular lightning!  They also have great support, which you will seldom need, well thought out product!



8.  The Champ Swiss Army Knife from Victorinox.    I wouldn’t go in the field without one, I actually own a half dozen various models.  I’ve made more than a few field repairs with a Swiss Army Knife!!



9.  Wireless Release from Yonguno (China).  It works great, looks and feels like some made for them major camera companies and cost about one fifth what you would expect.  Get used to the world of Chinese goods, they are getting much better!



10.  Raynox  Macroscopic Lens Model M-150.  These 3 element diopter magnifiers, made in Japan, are very high quality ways to shoot greater than life size close-ups.    The spring loaded filter adapter (much like your squeeze front lens caps), fits from 52mm to 67mm.



11.  Visible Dust Sensor Loupe.  This is the best way to see just where that dust is so you can clean it off effectively.Viable Dust make a great variety of cleaning supplies, all top notch!!


12.  Expert Shield.  After a few months the plastic protector that came with your camera is mess of scratches and goes in the garbage!  Save yourself the trouble and install Expert Shield on all your devices, they just work! The best I’ve seen.



13.  Camels hair small brush.  Simple, cleans all the crevasses well!   Pretty simple I got mine at Lowe’s building Supply.


14.  LED panel light.  These cool, and I mean no heat!, lights are the future, I have two of different sizes and outputs, all the images in this blog entry were made with the smaller one. You can buy them everywhere! I got mine from Midwest Photo.  Ask for Mike…


15.  My two favorite bags for the smaller Fuji system.  The Think Tank Retrospective 5 and the Streetwalker backpack  (not that kind of streetwalker!!).  I’ve been using Think Tank products for a long time now, and they are the best made I’ve found, they are simply well thought out, and work great!




16.  Think Tank Battery holders.  The perfect way to protect the one component in your camea bag that you can’t do without!. 



In fairness I must tell you that Delkin, Singh Ray, Think Tank, and Really Right Stuff are all sponsor, but the reason is I bought and used their products a long time before I ever I enjoyed a relationship with them, that’s how it works around here.  I wouldn’t recommend anything to you I haven’t proven worthwhile myself, first!




the pilgrim


2 years, 11 months ago 4

After we announced the 2014 Season yesterday afternoon, the emails and calls came flying in, and since I figure one person asked, a few others may have wondered!  So here are the most frequently asked questions and answers.


What is the cost of lodging at the, (fill in the blank) event?


We try to make sure that all our lodging is clean comfortable and reasonable in price.  We attempt to never let the lodging exceed $125. per night, we often are able to get rooms  below that.  Deluxe accommodations are often available at a higher rate if the attendee wishes to opt for them.



What happens during classroom time?


Actually several things.  We give our students time after morning and evening shoots to download and work on a few images.   We do extensive critiques session where our students learn how to make their images even better.  Jim and I and any guest leaders teach lessons  on appropriate photographic topics.  We also have informative question and answer sessions.



I noticed that you are doing fewer National Parks, any reason for that?


Yes, many other workshop companies specialize in Nature and Outdoor and cover most of the parks.  Our customer base seems to enjoy the Americana locations and they can be more cost effective for the attendee as lodging is generally much more reasonable.  In addition to that the National Park Service  has gotten more and more restrictive with their permit process, in some cases only allowing permits for a few as 10 people including leaders,that makes it very difficult to stay within the law and still offer those workshops in those parks.



I’m a new reader to your blog and some of these look great, what makes His Light Workshops different from the dozens of others out there?


Jim and I conduct our workshops with a focus on sharing God’s love with all who join us. We enjoy great fellowship, and really grow spiritually.  Just saying that would probably run off some folks, but others realize we may be just the right place for them.  Jim is one of America’s very best HDR artists, and is an excellent one on one teacher.  He is also an incredible shooter.  I’ve got 25 years experience running workshops and tours in the National Parks, Africa, the Galapagos Islands, and through out the rest of the world.  We really know our locations and can make your time count.  Now many others can say the same, but very few add the spiritual content!  We have an overwhelming satisfaction rating from our previous attendees, who are now friends!



What software will I need on my computer?


Some post processing program like Lightroom, Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Aperture, or Capture NX2, your choice.  We talk about HDR and we use both Photomatix and Nik Silver Efex Pro. We also love and use the other NIK programs and The Topaz, and On One suites, but you might see how we use them to decide which ones will work best for you.  When you attend one of our workshops you will learn a lot of new and exciting ways to work on your images and these are the programs we use.


How much special equipment is required to do the Close-uo class in the Smokies?


While there are many ways to make great close-up images the best and most convenient ways would be to utilize a micro or macro lens (depends on who makes as to what they call it)  a 100mm or 200mm work best.  a moderate telephoto lens with automatic extension tubes can also work, or a good quality longer lens with a 2 element diopter works too.  The 100mm Micro/Macro lens is the easiest way  to work in the field.


You said you’ve made many changes fro this year, could you elaborate?


Happy to:

*  More one on one time in the classroom working on image processing with our attendees.

*  More one on one time in the field reviewing what the attendees are shooting and sharing our set-ups.

*  Full portfolio reviews with each and every student.  These will be conducted one on one with a 20 print selection or 20 images on the attendee’s iPad.

*  Starting with he rest of this years events we will set more time aside to fellowship both in the field and in the classroom, at meals and designated social times.


Hope that helps!  More questions?  Keep them coming!   May God get the Glory to all we do!




the pilgrim


Photo Note:  D700, 24-70  of the Augusta National Golf Course.

2 years, 11 months ago 6

In editing some of my work from the Smokies weekend it really hit home how much I enjoy Close-up photography, especially in the field on a morning with heavy dew on the plants!  I enjoyed it so much that I’m committed to get back out and do a lot more macro work!  I have also decided to go back to the Smokies next August and teach a macro class for 8 students.  Tomorrow we will unveil the 2014 schedule, or at least most of it!  We will give full details on some exciting locations.


Jim and I are committed to making our workshops even better than in the past three years and are making some very big changes and the first is they won’t be as “big”!  Next year we will be reducing the size of our groups!  Our intent is to make the interaction and one on one time better than every before.  We will also add one on one portfolio reviews via iPad or smaller prints starting in 2014.  The vast majority of our workshops and tours will be limited to either 12 attendees with two instructors or just 8 with one.  One thing is for sure if you want to join us, please respond when you see the workshop or workshops you want to attend, we expect things to sell out quickly!


Well full details tomorrow!  I hope to have the posting up by late afternoon!




the pilgrim


Photo Note:  Nikon D800 with the 200mm Micro Nikkor.

2 years, 11 months ago 14

If you’re fortunate, you have been blessed to have some mentors in your life!  My father was my first and most important mentor.  My brother Homer, and my partner in His Light, Jim Begley, and Dr. Charles Stanley have also been a great influence on my life.  At Nikon, Bill Pekala, was not only a life long friend, but also a mentor.  The list could go on, but these are some of the really important men in my life that have taught me by example.  Jim Haverstock is also on my “short list” of mentors!


A mentor is someone that influences us by their actions more than their words.  They teach us how to make responses instead of reactions.  They guide us, counsel us, and they are our confidants!  Jim Haverstock has been all those things to me.  I immensely enjoy just standing in the field, shooting next to him, and I love to hear him laugh!  He carries the large weight of experience, and the calmness of knowing God is in control.  I’ve never met a sole that didn’t have great things to say about him.  The highest compliment you can give anyone is to say you wish your son would grow up to be like him.  I hold Jim in that kind of respect.


I’ve been blessed with many wonderful gifts; a great family, a loving wife, friends that I treasure, but friends like these mentors, are rare indeed.  If you have such a friend, take a moment to tell them how much they are appreciated and honor them.  So Jim, this is for you, thanks my friend for all you do, and for your wise instruction, you’re a pure joy in my life!




the pilgrim


Getting a head start on Monday’s blog!

Photo Note:  Image made with the Fuji X100s