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3 years, 2 months ago 1


Today’s In Touch Devotional is my best chance of sharing the importance of this day in the Christians Life, allow me to share it;


Romans 6:8-11

New Living Translation (NLT)

And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. 10 When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. 11 So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.


Destined for the Cross


When you saw the title for today’s devotion, I imagine that you thought it was about Jesus. If so, you’re half right. The cross is always about Jesus, but believers are also destined for sacrifice and death.


“Death to self” happens at the moment of salvation, when we are crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:6). The old self dies, and we are given a new nature as the Holy Spirit comes to live within us (John 14:17). At times it takes a bit longer to get to the sacrifice—the moment when we hand over to God everything we love and value.


God doesn’t stop at salvation; His purpose is to conform believers to the likeness of His Son (Rom. 8:29). So He gives us a new naturethen we can experience freedom because Jesus has triumphed over sin. But in order to live as God intends, we must be willing to give Christ the centermost position in our lives. As a result, the Lord calls us to the cross on a daily basis to lay down the things that might distract us from our purpose to serve and follow Him.


Don’t misunderstand what it means to be destined for the cross. God isn’t going to take away everything and leave us as lonely paupers. Putting our valuables on the cross—whether they are possessions, people, or dreams—frees us from the attachments of this world.


When we lay down worldly attachments, our self-esteem isn’t tied to “stuff” and our sense of acceptance doesn’t come from people. We are complete in the Lord. Or as Paul said, we are “alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11). Enjoying a new life in Christ is worth a daily trip to the cross.



May you and your family be blessed this Easter Weekend, and may God  hold you in the palm of His mighty, loving, and nail scarred hands,


the pilgrim

3 years, 2 months ago 15

This is a wake up call for me, if it is for you, all the better, but please know this is something I’ve come to a conclusion about, for me!  Please read on with that understanding.  On the way back from St. Maarten I wrote a series of notes as I thought through some things.  I think they may be of value for anyone seeking to decide what they need.   I hope it is helpful for you.


So here is the drill…..”What do you really want, and need, and why.”


It’s really quite simple, first answer these ten questions:


1.  What do I do with  my images?  Do I sell them, do I do gallery shows, do I teach, do I use them on the web, do I submit them to be judged?  Do I make murals, cover walls and buildings?  Does it make sense to buy a camera that can make a file you will never need?  


I do most of theses things, but I’m light on the big prints. 



2.  Am I competing with people that I need to stay competitive with in terms of my equipment’s abilities? Am I in a photographic field that my competition drives what I perceive that I must have and use.  For instance if I was competing with Moose Peterson for the sale of wildlife images, you bet I would need lots of pro bodies and long, fast glass.


I’m not competing professionally with anyone so I’m not bound by t his concern. 



3.  How big will I print my files?  8X10?   13X19?    20×24?   24×36?   40×60?   8×20 feet!!!!  The size you reproduce your work will dictate the megapixels you need!  Shockingly, today with programs like Perfect Resize, you can make enormous prints even from modest files!


Only rarely do I print anything larger than 24×36, but when I need to I have enough resolution to do it.



4.  What kind of conditions do I work in?  What kind of light, plenty of light, very low light?  Do I need great High ISO, low noise?  Do I need high frame rate?  Do I make images in the pouring rain, blizzards, blowing sand?  Do I photograph dangerous animals or reptiles? What must my gear allow me to do?



I do work in very low light, so very low noise at high ISO is important to me, when the weather is extreme, I’m under shelter or by the fire side! 


5.  How much can I carry, or am I willing to carry?  At what point does the weight of your gear steal the joy of photography?  Do you climb mountains, trek in the wilderness?  Do  you mountain bike or kayak?  How much can you carry and preserve your health?


I’m not a hiker, climber, or outdoor athlete, probably never was!  The weight and compactness of my gear has become increasingly important with every passing year. 


6.  How much does the ultimate in quality mean to you?  Can I live with anything less than the best image quality that exists?  Would I spend $40,000. for a Phase One if I thought I might get me even slightly more resolution?  Do I pixel peep every file at 100%?  Do you use a tripod, a big heavy one, and a cable release and lock up the mirror for every shot?  Are you willing to?  


Quality is of a major concern for me, not enough to buy a $40,000. dollar medium format camera (weight is an issue as well), but I do want , within practical limits, the best image quality I can get. 



7.  Is it important that people be impressed with my gear?  Am I tempted to buy something because I think people will think less of me if I don’t own the latest and greatest gear? Do I buy gear because it is what  my friends have and use?


This is not a concern for me. 


8.  Is it important that people are impressed by my work?  How much am I driven by what people think of my work, or am I driven by what “I” think of my work????


I, like every other photographer I know, am pleased when someone likes and compliments my work, but that is not the overreaching concern I have for my work.  I am a  photographer because I love and enjoy the craft and art, and for no other reason.


9. Why am I making photographs?   Is it for profit and recognition of for the sheer joy of it?


The sheer joy of it!



10.  And now, the really important questions, can I answer all these questions with complete honesty????  How well do I know myself and how transparent am I willing to be to answer these questions???!!!



I have answered these questions with all the honesty I can muster. 


One last point!   I got a very good response from my friend John Gompf  about equipment collectors. My thoughts above were to help “us” as “shooters” sort out what we really need to own, to do what we need to!!!  For those of us, and I confess, I’m one, that love to collect gear for the joy of just owning it, all bets are off.  If you love collecting the questions above have little to do with your buying habits!!!


Having answered these questions, I now know what I need to do for myself!  I’ve now re-written my


Photography Mission Statement:


“I want to revel in the joy of seeing and capturing what excites me.  I want to openly share my vision with others, in hopes it will bring them joy, inspire them to follow their passion, and open their eyes to unseen wonders!  I want to strive to be the best craftsman I can without letting all the technical issues steal my excitement for capturing what I see and feel.  I want to challenge myself to make the very best images with the gear I have now!  I hope others enjoy my work, but I do not want that to be what drives me.  I want to find inspiration in the work of others.  I want to continue to share my love for photography with others…”




the pilgrim


After a half dozen emails asking how I answered theses questions above,  I’ve added my responses in blue above….



3 years, 2 months ago 7

My last two blog entries have started a panic!!!!  I’ve gotten several emails asking if I’m dumping my FX gear for good!!!!  The short answer is no, the long answer follows!


As my readers know, from painfully watching me gnash my teeth about what gear to choose for retirement that I’ve been obsessing, there I’ve said it, yes I have been obsessing about what I’ll use in the years to come.  On the way back from St. Maarten I took my iPad and looked at all my favorite images I store  there to share from the past 6 to 7 years of shooting digital.  I hoped it would give me a clue about that decision.  I came up with several surprising personal revelations;


1.  Some of my favorite images which I think are technically very well done, were done with cameras I wouldn’t even consider using today, D70, D100, D2x.  It’s amazing how often the teacher tells us that the gear doesn’t matter as much as the photographer, and then forgets it himself when it applies to him!!  The truth is, I’ve made images that I’m very pleased with, with cameras that don’t hold a candle to what we have available today, which has me thinking, does all the advancement matter????  Yes it does, but probably not as much as we sometimes think.


2.  It’s more about light, subject, conditions, and composition, than megapixels!  Is a D800 higher resolving than a D700?  Sure, but it may or may not matter much depending on what you are going to do with the resulting images!  Truthfully for what I do, and 800 may be overkill.  I made a lot of images I love with the trusty old D700!


3.  Weight matters.  Since I have been using compact cameras and DX cameras more, I’m having more fun, and that fun is leading to better images.  It may just be that, I’m in the first class of the Baby Boomers, but lots of my friends are also making the same transition I’m making to lighter gear!!!!  If you are weary, so is your vision!!


So am I dumping FX?  No!  I will keep a FX body and several key lenses, plus a bag full of old manual glass I still love and will play with it a lot in the years to come, but you will not likely see me carrying it for long walks and hikes!  No, I suspect I’m headed toward much lighter smaller systems in the future.


Which DX body?  I’m really loving the D7100.  I think it is a great mix of features, build and speed.  Along with lighter DX lenses I see it as a very useful tool for many kinds of work.  I think the system I featured yesterday will get a lot of work from me in the years to come.


Which mirror-less camera?  Still working on that, the field is packed with great candidates, I’ll let you know when I know!!  One thing is for sure when I see some of the images Sam Garcia takes with our Coolpix cameras, and what Zak Arias does with his mirror-less cameras, and a number of others are producing, I think we can start taking the smaller cameras, a lot more seriously!!!


The picture above?  My iPhone 4s, point made, and I hope, point taken!!!!!!




the pilgrim

3 years, 2 months ago 19

I started this series yesterday with my doctors orders to reduce the weight of my gear.  We dealt with the tripod yesterday now how to cut back on camera gear or at least reduce the weight!!  First I’m a big believer in a system I call the trunk bag!! I own a medium size SUV, a Toyota FJ Cruiser and it has a lot of storage space in the back, and is easy to work out of, but when you have to walk things change! If I have to walk more than the length of a football field a new system is needed.  Reducing the weight of your bag or backpack can be done several ways!   The first is get a bag that rolls!!!  I own several and love them for airports, checking into hotels and on short walks over smooth surfaces, they don;t work so well on a trail in the woods!!!!  So for a carry system, wheels are out.  That leaves shoulder bags, back packs, and belt systems.  I’m going to deal with belt systems in a different entry, so lets look at shoulder bags and backpacks.  You can carry a lot more weight comfortably with a back pack than with a shoulder bag, but remember this isn’t about how to carry more, but how to carry less weight!!!


You have to start with your gear. How much is enough for general photography?  For the purpose of illustration, let’s plan an imaginary trip, actually lets take a trip I’m planning to go on next year; Italy.  Sherelene and I have always wanted to visit Tuscany and the Italian coast (seen Scott Kelby’s images from there, gotta go!!!)  I expect to be walking around enjoying time with Sherlene and don’t want to look like I’m on assignment for National Geographic.  So what do I have to have to not miss those once in a life time shots????  To keep weight down I want one body to carry, it has to be as small as possible, say a Nikon D7100 which being a DX sensor camera is pretty small compared to the bigger beefier FX models.  I need a lens that gets me from at least pretty wide, to midrange, and then a telelphoto zoom to reach out and some way to do close-ups!


As of today, my absolute minimum system would be:


D7100 camera body

16-85 AF-S VR f 3.5-4.5 lens (24-120 equivalent range)

70-300 AF-S VR f 4.5-5.6 zoom lens  (105-450 equivalent range)

A diopter to put on the lenses for close-ups and polarizers on both lenses, and lens hoods.

That is the bare minimum, if I weighed the bag and thought I could carry anymore, I would opt for the Nikon 10-24 AF-S f 3.5-4.5   (15-36 equivalent range)


Total Weight?



7 pounds!  With a mirror-less system it might be 5 pounds!  Now we are making some progress.  So how are we going to carry this new lighter system, here are some ideas!


Before we start let me share with you that I am not sponsored by any single camera bag company.  I couldn’t do that because I’m a proud member of the “Bag of The Month Club”  I love a number of bags as you will see in this entry.  I do have a long history with Lowepro, Think Tank, and Domke, and all of these folks make great bags and I have put them to the test, in-the-field, and they are all on my highly recommended list!  You can’t go wrong with any of these fine brands….



Let me start with one I love for the Mirror-less systems, the Lowepro Flipside Sports Series AW, they look like a hikers travel backpack, are extremely well made and very comfortable to wear, with great ventilation in the back and shoulder straps



The next is the popular Messenger type bag, from Lowepro.  This one is called the Lowepro Messenger 160 and it holds the DX system perfectly, with lots of extra space for accessories, but be careful, you can be load it up very easy and increase that weight!  It’s a very handsome bag, almost dressy!


Next the great folks at Think Tank have two wonderful messenger type bags as well, they have a great in the field, rougher look and as everything they make are top notch build as well,  they are the Retrospective 5 and 10.   The 5 is great for a very small mirror-less camera and a couple of lenses and the 10 can handle a bigger mirror-less system or the DX system we assemble above.  I got them in Pinestone, a color I love!



Well there are some ideas to chew on as you try to reduce the weight and burden of your camera system in-the-field!   I’ve been working lighter for a few months since that doctors appointment, and to be honest, the simpler system is helping me make better images!  A great bonus along with that is less shoulder,  and back pain!  Can’t beat that!




the pilgrim



FLASH – I already have gotten an email from a friend saying,  ”Surely you’re not dumping all your FX gear, D800/D600 etc, etc, and all those juicy FX lenses!!!???”  Take a deep breath, nope, but I simply can’t lug them around in the field on my shoulder, or on my back anymore.  Just can’t do it. So I plan to own a FX body, still working on which one,  the 16-35, 24-120, and 70-300 still  have a special place in a Domke shoulder bag which will now become a trunk bag.  When my assignments, both self or otherwise, requires FX type equipment it will be close-by ready to go to work.  The truth is I’m finding the new D7100 and mirror-less cameras to be so good that I don’t think I’ll be reaching for the FX gear as much in the future, but it will stay around until that is fully confirmed in practice.  Please keep in mind this is a medical and joy decision.   I’m feeling less pain with a smaller bag, and getting better images when I feel great, late in the day!  Now before I get any alarmed responses, I’m not having a bout with any life threatening disease, and have not been diagnosed with anything other than too many birthdays pilling  up!!  I feel great,  I just need to take better care of myself so I will continue to feel like getting out and shooting up a storm!!!!