Recent Posts
4 years, 1 month ago 2


Join me tomorrow and Sunday in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee!  I will be speaking at the Wilderness Wildlife Week Event being held in the new LeConte Center in Pigeon Forge.  It’s a week long festival of mountain crafts, learning opportunities, Mountain Music and Photography sponsored by he Pigeon Forge Office of Special Events.


This great event that is free and open to the public is made possible by hundreds of great instructors that donate  their time to make this annual event successful.  This is the 24th year of the event!


I am doing two programs:


Saturday, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.  Seven Steps to Becoming a Better Photographer



Sunday, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.   Improving Your Photographic Vision


If you are going to be any where near the Great Smoky Mountains come over and say Hi!




the pilgrim

4 years, 1 month ago 1


On my desk I have a Shure Model 55 microphone, it’s a long story!   I  love music and my choice in music is all over the board.  One thing most of  my early favorite artists have in common is they sang into a Shure 55!  Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Tony Bennett, Elvis, well you get it, this mike is a symbol of an entire era of music!


It’s also a test target for me, sitting at my desk trying out different lenses I often photograph it. Today I decided to shoot  with the Fuji X-Pro 1 and three different lenses; the 35mm f 1.4, the 60mm Micro f 2.4 and the 55-200 f 3.5-4.6.  I tried to make the size of the mike somewhat similar in each image, and by increasing the focal length using more distance and narrowing the angle of view to show less and less background.  Here are the other two shots.


60mm Micro f 2.4 @ ISO 1600


55-200  ISO 3200 f 4.8


The point of the exercise is to demonstrate how the subject to background relationship changes as the focal length of the lens increases.  It is one of our bags of tricks as a photographer that we can eliminate or reduce background by narrowing the angle of view with a longer lens.  The background in these shots was my computer desktop.  By positioning the camera to control what colors on the desktop are included, you can further plan the outcome.  This is one reason why interchangeable lens cameras can increase your options in how you capture your subject, changing focal lengths!!!




the pilgrim





4 years, 1 month ago 11


postmortem |pōstˈmôrtəm|noun(also postmortem examination )an examination of a dead body to determine the cause ofdeath.• 


an analysis or discussion of an event held soon after ithas occurred, esp. in order to determine why it was afailure: an election postmortem on why the party lost.



Though the term postmortem is usually thought of in forensic terms, for years I’ve used it for other purposes.  After every workshop during the GAPW years we held a Postmortem after each event to evaluate what went wrong, what went right,  and how to learn from the experience.


I would like to start a series of posts that are postmortems of images.  Let me share what I think went wrong, what went right, and what we can learn from the image and the exercise of taking it.


The image above, we will call “trees in snow”.


How it happened:  I was driving to dental appointment and was early, I always try to be early because the best shots appear when you are running late!!!  I saw the single large tree near the edge of the road and the other trees in the distance behind it.  With the light snow on the branches and the overcast light it just looked interesting to me.  By the time I knew I wanted to photograph it I was past it.  I went down the road and found a safe place to turn around and then went back past the shot and started back down my original path.  Since traffic was light I was able to drive slowly watching for the shot to appear out my drivers window and then drive slowly until I saw the “perspective” that I thought worked best.  I pulled off the road there and put on my hazard blinkers.  There was no safe place to get out and set up a tripod.  I knew it was going to have to be a handheld shot.


Setting up the shot:  My driver’s side rear view mirror was in the way so I pulled forward a few feet so I had a clear shot past the mirror.  I knew that I would need a longer lens so I put my 55-200 on my Fuji X-E2 camera body, I zoomed until I got the framing I wanted.  Since I was sitting in the car it was necessary to hand hold the shot.  I set my ISO at 1600 so I could have a fast enough shutter speed that along with the OIS (Optical Image Stabilization)  in the lens I could get a tack sharp image.   1/1600 sec;   f/9;   ISO 1600


Composition:  I positioned the camera so that the tree occupied the right hand side of the frame with the branches reaching back into the frame.  I was glad the sky was pretty dark and wasn’t drawing the eye away from the branches.  I thought at the time I wish the tree was on the left side of the frame reaching right, so I flipped the image in Photoshop below to see how it felt.  I think it works either way.



Final Analysis:  It was worth stopping, I like the monochrome simplicity but also the complexity of the branches and opposing tones. I’m happy with the shot, but not overwhelmed by it.  If I passed some similar situation I would still stop and give it try!


 Now the fun part, chime in with your thoughts!!  We can all learn from each other here!




the pilgrim




4 years, 1 month ago 40


Excitement and confusion. Excited to see a really neat product coming from Fuji and confused at the reaction various people have to their choice in cameras!  Let’s get that out of the way first!  When I worked for Nikon I found it amazing that users of various brands are like tribes.


tribe |trīb|noun1 a social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader: indigenous Indian tribes | the Celtic tribes of Europe.


In the Indian Nations tribes could be either allies or bitter enemies.  Sadly in the world of photography some people fall into that pattern.  Among some circles Canon shooters hate Nikon shooters, and visa versa.  It is no less true among Olympus, Fuji, Panasonic, Leica etc, etc.  I understand the dynamic.  You study and study, you try different brands and then you make a decision with both head and heart and then you “commit”!  Once you commit to a brand you become surrounded by friends and associates that use the brand you chose! Now the fun begins, the teasing, the joking, the debating, most is harmless but some folks just take the whole exercise to seriously!  For me, no harm – no foul.  I never took any of this very seriously even when I represented one of the 800 pound gorillas in the room!


Cameras and lenses are made to make photographs, that’s it.  Some do it better, or worse but they all get the job done.  Is a D800 higher resolution that Canon 5D Mark III?  Does a Fuji X Sensor have incredibly low noise at super high ISOs?  Does the Panasonic GH3 make incredible video? Sure, sure, sure!  Doesn’t matter, pick one, and make images.


Regardless of brand loyalties, sooner or later you have to find what helps you make the image. I’m not going to go through  the whole shoulder surgery story again, let’s just say I’ve found my everyday, walk around system, Fuji’s X System, and here’s why;


(1)  The weight is just right.  Not heavy, but with a feeling of real substance.


(2)  The image quality is absolutely incredible.


(3)  I can shoot at any ISO up to and including 6400 and not worry about noise, in 90% of the cases, not even notice any!


(4)  I own the 14, 18-55, 23, 35, 60, and the 55-200, and everyone is of the highest quality, absolutely stunning glass.  All of my lenses, and the ones that are coming from Fuji, are faster than almost any other brands, and cost substantially less! 


(5)  After years of using DSLRs, I’m loving the quiet shutters, and lack of mirror vibration.


(6)  I shot Fuji film in the old days, and always loved their color renditions, and the X cameras have those say lovely colors.


(7)  Photography is tactile, I love the feel of the X system, it just fits my hands!


(8)  I’m very impressed with Fuji’s commitment to continue to improve their products with constant firmware updates that make genuinely significant improvements to their products. 


(9)  Most of all, they listen to their customers!  A number of Firmware updates have addresses specific recommendations from their customers, that’s golden!


(10)  And lastly, they have developed a philosophy to produce products that are designed for photography, not the specs race!


So, I’m anxious to feet to try the XT-1, the 56 f 1.2 and the 10-24 f4 OIS, it’s going to be an exciting start to 2014!




the pilgrim


ADDENDUM:   Believe it or not, I had not seen Scott Kelby video on his blog about switching from Nikon to Canon before I wrote this blog entry!!!!!  I may have been the only guy in the photo world who hadn’t!!  The reaction to his video with Rick Sammon got as variety of responses, some pretty nasty!  This was my point in my own blog entry, and remember once again I had not seen Scott’s video!!  A number of pretty blunt charges were leveled at Scott, and I feel bound to respond in blanket form.


(1)  Scott is a great guy, and an honest guy, and I believe a sincere guy!  If he says he really liked the Canon stuff for what he does, I’m sure he does.


(2)  I am sure that Canon made a good offer ($$$) to NAPP, (now KelbyOne), to be “more involved” with them.  I’m sure they probably really wanted Scott to give their stuff a good try.  That Scott really liked the gear for sports, or for that matter any other kind of shooting, does not surprise me.  Remember I used to work for Nikon, and I can tell you that both Nikon and Canon make dang good stuff!   Why did Nikon not offer to become a bigger part of KelbyOne too?   I have no idea, you would have to ask the people in marketing at Nikon, they are the only ones that would know the answer to that.  I wish they had, I would love to see equal representation at KelbyOne between both brands, but they didn’t, and that’s that!  Case closed.   However, that is not Scott Kelby’s fault!


(3)  Does it really matter what camera brand you shoot?  I’m going to go out on limb and say that Jay Maisel could shoot all our pants off with a low end  Samsung camera!  I really believe that it’s the photographer, not the camera, and that is not being disrespectful of Nikon, Canon, Leica or anyone else!!!!!!!!  I think we need to grow up and start acting like adults on this whole brand thing!  Surely we are not so insecure that we have to roll in the mud over this subject?


(4)  I really respect and care for Scott Kelby, he has been a great friend to me, and it doesn’t bother me in the least if he makes good money doing what he does, he has earned it, and I can tell you I’ve seen him shoot superior work with anything you hand him.  All of you can infer anything you would like about the “brand wars” ,  but for me, I won’t disrespect  his ability with a camera, to reduce it down to Canon vs Nikon!


(5)  Want to take someone on, come after me, I don’t shoot either brand, and I’ll shoot it out with you anytime, anywhere.  Just be sure to tighten your belt, to keep your pants in place!


Sorry, I was a little ticked off after reading all this, but that was pretty good line!!!!


the pilgrim