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3 years, 9 months ago 9


You know what they say about free advice,  “If you didn’t pay nothin’ for it…. that’s what it’s worth!”  O.K. so what kind of free advice am I planning to offer today?  I just read a few very interesting articles on Thom Hogan’s, “By Thom” site.  I like Thom, he seems, to me, to be an honest, thoughtful, and very informed, (he is a technical genius, by-the-way),  great writer, he’s also brought me hours of endless fun watching some of my old friends at Nikon pull their hair out!  Not everything he writes always made them happy!!!   So, as I was saying, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking which is always very dangerous, and I’ve come up with a list of things I would like to recommend to the leaders of the photo industry.  I did use to work in it, and I don’t know very much, but I know a few things.  So let’s get started;


For SONY:  You’re a big company and you have a lot resources, try making something that really works and try to not change it in the first 6 weeks!  O.K. that’s a little harsh, but Sony has a tendency to come up with a concept and keep changing it so that about the time you think you really like it, it’s gone.  In fairness Sony is sorta new to the photo industry (still cameras, that is) compared to the rest of the folks that have been doing it for many, many decades.  They will catch on, and when they do, everyone else will have an 8o0 pound Gorilla to deal with in the room.  Not the case with our next maker!


For LEICA:  You sure make beautiful, well made cameras and lenses.  Your glass is fantastic, and the build quality of your cameras is second to none, so are your prices….  I can’t really make any recommendations, you’re committed to making incredible products, no matter what it costs and you have customers that are willing to pay what you have to charge.  Honestly, if I could afford your products I know I would own some of them!  I would suggest that you make a less expensive line, but that would just be wrong!


For  Canon:  I certainly worked hard on the other side of the fence from you so I know how good your products are.  If I still could carry a heavy camera and bag of lenses, I’m not so sure that one of my kits wouldn’t be a 5D Mark III.  Even though I worked for Nikon, I saw a lot work from that camera and I can’t fault it, and for video it really is kicking!  I had a lot of great friends at Nikon, still do, I hope, but a lot of the Canon reps were good friends too!  Canon is the best thing that ever happened to Nikon, and visa versa!  We, the consumer have a lot of great products because they compete so hard to beat one another!


For NIKON:  For many years Nikon ruled the roost. they actually owned over 80% of all pro markets for a lot of years.  Canon made some major changes to their designs and the war was on!  Nikon has always been known for their tough build quality, incredible Nikkor glass, and in recent years the best best portable lighting system out there.  Now a little spanking, if Nikon had determined to built the ultimate mirror-less, serious, pro type camera, (like Fuji did), they would, I’m sure, have built something mighty spectacular, but they didn’t, and that’s why I’m shooting the X System.  I still believe you could!  I think Nikon has a heritage in the industry that is second to none, I hope they continue to grow that well deserved reputation, I know they can.  Will they?


For OLYMPUS:  You guys have always had a special place in my heart.  I think you’ve always made wonderful products and lately are outdoing yourselves, hang in there. Keep making those great bodies and lenses!  I know times are tough, but I believe you make something the photo world needs.  If that was not enough you’ve got Ray Acevedo!


For PANASONIC:  My friend Rob Sheppard loves his GH-3 and from the work I’m seeing it is pretty cool!  I got to see the new GH-4 at a recent event in Florida and the video is stellar.  Panasonic is working a portion of the market that is teeming with enthusiastic users.  Thanks to a very solid lens line you’re sitting on a winner!


For EVERYONE ELSE:  Have fun!


Like I said you paid nothin’,




the pilgrim

3 years, 9 months ago 26


I got a chance to try out a new camera back pack from Guru Gear when in Florida and it is a very interesting and different animal.  The Guru Gear Uinta 30L is a medium size back pack made of extremely high end materials, that are also very light weight.  What makes it unique compared to the hundreds of other backpacks is that it is hollow and comes with “modules” that can be customized to hold whatever gear you are planning to carry.  The bag will hold two modules and they come in two sizes a medium and small.  The modules can hold lenses, bodies, flashes, and accessories.  Now here is the cool part, let’s say you are going out to hike and maybe take a few images, you could put the small module in with a body and just a couple of lenses and have the rest of the bag open for your lunch, a rain jacket and a polar fleece if it gets cool!  This is a well thought out bag that has a great frame, and hold anywhere from a few items to an enormous amount of gear!  It can be set up to open the interior section from the front or the back and has several spacious outer pockets.  It also has a wonderful accessory for carrying your tripod, that really works, unlike some  others I’ve tried.  Bottom line is would I buy it?  Yes, if I needed to carry a great deal of gear, comfortably and securely!  Through the years I’ve used bags from Domke, Lowpro, Think Tank, and Guru Gear, they all are great in their own way.  Domke is a throw back bag, old school, made of older materials, but built to really last and their shoulder bags are still among the best I’ve ever used.  Lowepro makes the most variety of bags and is a good place to look if your needs are very specific, if  you need something very specific, they probably have it!  Think Tank builds stuff that are as tough as well, a “tank”.  I’ve found them to be nearly indestructible and very well designed!  Guru Gear came onto the scene making very good bags, well thought out, made of quality materials and once again cleverly designed, and the new Uinta 30L is a winner.







Don’t miss this!!!  The Nashville Event is really coming together with some incredible guests.  In addition to Jim Begley, Nick Coury, of course, Ricky Skaggs, and I, we will be joined by the the fantastic Pete Collins of KelbyOne, super pastor, and great guy, Scotty Smith, and my dear buddy, brother, and killer shooter Vinny Colucci!!!  This event will be limited to only a dozen students with this many leaders!!!!  This will be a wonderful event and we still have 5 spots available.





Another super thing I’m loving about the Fuji X System.

While Fuji is working hard to bring a great series of lenses to the table, as of today, they still don’t have a long (200mm focal length) Macro lens, or a fast long conventional lens.  Because I love to shoot long lenses and Fuji doesn’t have any, I’ve found a great alternative!!  The Fuji system allows using manual focus lenses from any other camera systems via inexpensive lens adapters.  I happen to own a very large collection of classic, legendary sharp Nikkor glass and because the new Fuji X-T1 has a very novel, and extremely effective manual focusing system that allows very precise focusing, it works great!!!  So if your subject is not moving, and very few of mine are, the X-T1 works great on these lenses.  I’m currently using three lenses the most, the 200mm Micro Nikkor, the 300mm f 4.5 IF-ED, and the 400mm f 3.5 IF-ED.  Keep  in mind because of the 1.5 factor of the APS-C size sensor they are a 300mm Micro, 450mm and 600 mm all at their original f stops!!!  That makes the 400mm a 600mm f 3.5!!!!  Imagine a 600mm f 3.5!!!!!  Does it work?  Check these out, and decide for yourself.  ….and keep in mind I’m really not a bird shooter!  Of course  you’ll know that pretty soon!


The youngsters X-T1 400mm f 3.5


Here’s lookin’ at you Babe’  X-T1, 400mm f 3.5


Sleeping off a big meal….  Fuji X-T1, 400mm f 3.5


Long day for Mom,  XT-1,  400mm f 3.5


Fellow shooter.  Fuji X-T1, 400mm f 3.5


Dew Drops on grass – Great Smokies  –  XE-2  Nikkor 200mm Micro



Drops on leaves – Great Smokies – Nikkor 200mm Micro on Fuji X-E2



Stink bug, Great Smokies – Fuji X-E2 Nikkor 200mm Micro Nikkor


So, there is more than one way to skin a cat.  Isn’t this fun!




the pilgrim



3 years, 9 months ago 8


I admit it, teaching is my favorite thing about photography!  David Wilson was the winner of the KelbyOne Day with Bill Fortney at Old Car City, (really?????!!!. that is called being a winner????!!!!) Well, anyway we had a great time, David was a very nice guy and we had fun kicking the tires and lighting the fires around OCC, no, we didn’t really start any fires, but we did have fun!  I showed David some of my favorite subjects, and he found some good ones himself.  Below is a sampli8ngh of his work for you to enjoy!



David was kind enough to write about his time with me in Old Car City;


On Friday, I was fortunate enough to be shooting with Bill Fortney at Old Car City (OCC) as well as being tutored by him.  The sky started out overcast and threatening rain making cool, soft light for cars sitting in the open.  Bill pointed out some of the good shots and told why he liked those shots.  Bill used his Fuji system to easily show what he was seeing and explain the concepts and how they applied to the subjects.  When I tried to get something different by getting a little different angle or I shot something that was quite different, Bill was encouraging the experimentation and tried a couple of the ideas.  For some shots, the experimenting produced interesting results.



Leaving the front area of OCC, we took the paths through cars and trees.  (I say cars but there are a number of small trucks in Old Car City as well.)  You can easily be overwhelmed by so many photo opportunities.  Here, Bill helped keep me focused on the good opportunities as we made our way to the Oil Can Truck and a low wall of stacked tires.  Later in the day, Bill allowed me to wander off to find some good shots.  Shortly, Bill caught up with me.  We shared the ideas and shots we had found.  While I was working the fender ornament on a ’59 Chevy Parkwood, Bill saw an interesting image presented by the open doors on the Parkwood.  We finished the day with Bill sending me out to find some interesting images.



At midday, we downloaded our images to laptops and looked through them.  Bill showed me his workflow for many of his blog images.  The few minutes he spent working on a couple of images for the blog was a great bonus.  I knew a little about the tools like Photoshop and the plug-ins.  Bill showed me how to quickly and effectively use those tools to spice up some images.  I’ve try to apply what I learned to a few of the Old Car City images I took with Bill and gave him to include with this post.  (I have a bunch of images still to work on.)



Shooting with Bill was great.  I learned huge amount about how to see subjects I have not shot before, I learned a bit about efficient workflow, I learned about Old Car City, and I got to know Bill.  It was fun to get to know Bill the photographer and educator and Bill the person.  





I really love shooting with other folks and getting to see how they see they world, it re invigorates my own joy of being a shooter!  Retiring from Nikon has given me more time to go out an share my work, my philosophy and most importantly, my faith!  It has been a great journey, I hope I get to do it a little longer!


I will be at the Louisville Photographic Society meeting Wednesday night in Louisville at Outdoor Photo Gear.    @ 13305 Magisterial Dr.   Louisville, KY 40223



Then Thursday night I will be with the great folks a the Lexington Camera Club at The Crestwood Christian Church @ 1882 Bellefonte Drive in Lexington, Kentucky  40503
Please join me!  The people we meet and get to share with are the greatest joy in photography, at least for me!


Evidence?   Another great guy we met at Old Car City, Jim Erickson!


the pilgrim
3 years, 9 months ago 44

Since I get constant questions about my decision to use the Fuji X-System as my everyday, go to camera kit, I thought it was time to give Fuji a Report Card!


Before you can give a grade you must set a standard, so here is my NEEDS emphasis, “my” NEEDS:


1. My carry, everyday, virtually everything system must be:  Smaller & and Lighter than the  Nikon FX/DX system I was using.


2.  State of the Art Performance.  I did not want to sacrifice what I could get from my Nikon system to save weight. (Though I had no choice, the weight savings was mandatory.)  Color, Sharpness, Noise, Build Quality.


3.  Build Quality has always been imperative to me, the bodies and lenses of the new system had to measure up to my 44 year experience with my Nikon gear.


4.  Frankly, Affordability was a factor.


So let’s break it down and give a score.  I will use the 5 Star System.


Weight Savings:  5 Stars   The full Fuji System is less than half the weight of a the same system in Nikon.  Bodies and lenses are also less than half the size, making packing in camera bags easier.





* Fuji color closely matches the personality of their films, if you loved Fuji films; Velvia, Provia, Astia, you will love the Fuji digital rendition of color, if not, not so much.  I love Fuji color, so it works for me.


SHARPNESS:  5+ Stars *

Sharpness is a factor of the sensor, the file processing in-camera software, and the lenses.  The Fuji X-Trans Sensor combined with no Optical Low Pass Filter and their proprietary file processing, yields the sharpest images I have ever recorded in a 45 year career, PERIOD.  I own the Fuji 14mm, 10-24, 23mm, 35mm, 60mm Micro, 56mm, 18-55, and the 55-200 lenses,  (keep in mind that since the Fuji X-System is an APS-C size sensor camera these focal length are effectively 1.5 times longer).  While I had many 5 Star Nikkor lenses, all of my Fuji lens have been “at least” 5 Stars! Enough said!  O.K. not quite enough, the D800 was and is the most serious high resolution camera I have ever used, nothing is quite like those files, but it and it’s lenses are too heavy for me!  Truthfully the Fuji system has all the resolution I need.


NOISE:  5+ Stars *

In spite of the ridiculous results of the Popular Photo test, last month, the Fuji X-System cameras, (I own four; X-T1, X-E2, X100s, and the original X-Pro 1), are among the very lowest noise producing cameras at High ISO I have ever used.  I regularly shoot at ISO 3200 with no fear of noise, when I absolutely must I shoot 6400 I only have to do minor noise reduction processing.  The Fuji cameras are very, very low noise.  Combined with superlative fast single focal length lenses, the Fuji system is the best low light system I have ever used.



LASTING BUILD QUALITY:  5 Stars  * We are only one year in, time will tell.

O.K., this one is purely subjective since I have no way of testing metal, and I’m not an expert on camera design.  I can say that the design that Fuji chose for the X-System fits my comfort level perfectly.  The retro design, going away from buttons and wheels, to aperture rings on the lenses, and knobs that adjust shutter speed, ISO, and exposure compensation, are very comfortable for this baby boomer.  I have dropped several bodies and lenses with no harm whatsoever, but can’t say a anything more than they sure seem tough enough to me.


RESULTS:  5 Stars +

This also falls in the area of subjective response, but here goes;  In  the 45th year of a photography career I have never been happier with the equipment I’m using, the joy of shooting with it, the fun instilled by the gear, and the resulting images! I can’t make it any clearer than that…(samples to follow!)


AFFORDABILITY:  5 Stars +++ *

When I started my search for the new; smaller, lighter system I took all the things above into consideration, it was a long search.  I looked at Panasonic & Olympus, and liked them both, but the 4/3rds size sensor fell down at very high ISO and the noise was just not what I wanted.  I considered, (for just a moment) Leica, but there was not much of weight savings in the bodies and the cost was astronomical.  A one body system, (M240) and lenses from 16mm to 135mm had a price tag of $36,500.!!!!!!!  My entire Fuji System that includes four cameras, and 8 lenses that range from 15mm to 300mm and my total cost has been around $11,000.  The Leica is a wonderful instrument and has a full frame sensor, but the long end of their lenses stops at 135mm which is well short of my needs. Since I do not own or have not shot Leica in a long time, since the film days, I can’t say if the technical quality is truly superior, I can say that the cost of the system makes it out of my range, which is also why I do not own a Ferrari!



I started over a year ago looking for the cameras and lenses that would carry me for the rest of this journey of being a photographer.  I am satisfied that I have found that system.


Is it perfect?  No.

What I would like to see?:


Firmware changes that make +or- exposure bracketing of at least 7 stops, 9 would be fantastic.


I would like a way to set the self timer and it not go off until you change it.  * I use the 2 second timer as a cable release many times.


We are getting a 24-85 f 2.8 equiv., 75-210 f 2.8 equiv lenses later this year, if they are not too large, I will own both.


A promised long zoom is coming and the “rumor” is sit will bye a 120-400, that would be an equiv. 180-600!!!  “If” it is a constant f4 with OIS, I’m going to have to own it!!!!  If I can afford it!  That is what I call a trunk lens.  It lives in the trunk until you need it!


Things I like very much about Fuji, the company:


They listen to the users, and bring our products that the users are asking for.


When they have a problem, (and all companies have problems!), they admit it and fix it immediately!


Fuji understand that the followers of the X System demand quality bodies, and superior lenses, and that is all they have produced so far, and I believe that they will hold that standard,  I think it is in their DNA.



Fuji seems to be feeling pressure to bring out a full frame sensor system.  That would require another entire line of lenses and increase weight and size. Selfishly I hope they don’t, I think they make a near perfect system now, and I want their attention fully on the current system, but what will be will be!!!  I’m a happy camper because they have given us what we have now!


Some of my favorite images from the Fuji System:


Fuji X-E1 and 60mm Micro


Fuji X-E1 with 18-55 lens  –  1:1 format,  center 12mega pixels of sensor


Fuji X100s camera set for monochrome.


Fuji X-E2 with 18-55 lens  ISO 3200


Fuji X-E2 with the 18-55  1:1 format


Fuji X-T1 with the 55-200 and the Nikon 5T Diopter  ISO 6400!!!!!!   No noise reduction has been applied to this file!!!!


Fuji X-T1 with the 18-55  –  ISO 400


Fuji X-T1 with the 18-55  –  ISO 400


Fuji X-T1 with 10-24   –  ISO 400


Fuji X-T-1 with the 18-55 processed in Topaz Adjust Spicify


Fuji X-T1 with the 18-55  –  ISO 3200


Fuji X-T1 with the 55-200  –  ISO 400


Fuji X-T1 with the 60mm Micro


Fuji X100s ISO 1600


Fuji X-E2 with the 18-55


Be blessed, I am,


the pilgrim