Recent Posts
7 months, 1 week ago 20



Now that I have your attention,  I want to follow up on a great blog post by Jack Graham dated yesterday,    Jack went into great detail about some experiences he has had over the past week, and that we have both seen this coming!  I will let you get a lot of the the details from Jack’s blog post, but the short version is that he took a group to the Lower Antelope Canyon only to find the old 20 car parking lot has expanded to more than 100cars and bus’s and the rate raised from $85. per person to $250.!!!!!  He said it was so croweded there was no hope of setting up a tripod and making a decent image.  $250. to have a lousy experience????!!!!


In the “old” days we used to help students set up for a shot and then we would “kindly” ask others to hold up for one minute so they could finish their shot, no such luck now,  many visitors don’t speak english and have no idea what you’re asking, or pay no attention to your request at all, result,  ruined shots!



Don’t get me wrong, anyone has the right to visit these magical places and we,  (serious photographers),  have no special right to have the slots all to ourselves, but sadly those quiet special moments alone with some of the great scenes are probably over!  The price gouging is awful!


Jack also mentioned that the parking lot for Horseshoe Bend was packed an the edge of the canyon as filled with tourists with selfie sticks.  He even heard that the BLM is going start charging a fee to walk down the hill to bend!


Other locations are also up in the air, remember my experience at North Window in the spring (early spring)?  Just as the sun was rising to make the classic through North Window looking at Turrett Arch image, a 100 Chinese tourists arrived and went up and stood in the opening, replete with self sticks, I admit I hate those things, the sticks, not the tourists!!!!   The shot below may be a distant memory!


Try getting to Mesa Arch in any time, except severe winter weather, and show up before sunrise and you will find 40 others already there!!!!!!




Change happens!  The famous wagon wheel (below) in Bodie finally gave up the ghost, rotted and fell over!  Kinda like my body!!!  Yes, things they are a changin’!  Jack and I are researching where we can take people and not allow them to not have a bad experience or be gouged financially. Thankfully, many great national and state parks still allow a great experience and we will, of course, continue to go to them, but for now, we are taking a number of locations off our lists as suitable for a great nature photography experiences!





I had another bad hotel experience in Nashville inmate July.  The Courtyard West at Vanderbilt has always been great, been there three times!  This year they pulled every underhanded stunt in the book, too high a rate, required $30. a night valet parking and extra charges on the meeting room that were all uncalled for!!!  Won’t be going back there!!!  Please share your experiences with crowds and price gouging with us, and we will share your valuable information and experiences with others!


It’s still worth getting out there, but changes are coming!




the pilgrim





7 months, 1 week ago 6



My trip down to Henderson, Kentucky was a real joy!!  The Henderson Camera Club folks were fantastic and getting to be with my dear friend Chuck Summers was a joy as well!  I spoke Friday night a couple of times Saturday and Sunday morning.  On Saturday morning went out to the slough, much like a swamp and chased down tree frogs!!!  The wind was blowing pretty hard but it would lull just long enough to get off a shot or two and I was thrilled with my take, well 10% of it when he wind settled down!


It as my first chance to give the new  200mm Micro Nikkor manual focus lens a field test.  I had forgotten just how shallow the depth is with such a long micro lens, but it performed admirably!!I can’t wait to go our and find some other macro subject this fall!


Thanks very much to my new photo friends in Henderson and of course to Bonita and Chuck Summers for inviting me and hosting me!




the pilgrim

7 months, 2 weeks ago 7



When Fuji announced plans to cancel the 120mm Macro lens and replace it with a 80mm f 2.8,  I was very disappointed.  I do a lot of close-up work and I’m totally committed to the Fujifilm X-System. I love the 60 macro, but really wanted something with more reach and better working distance.  I had a Nikon 200mm Micro Nikkor autofocus lens , which was incredibly sharp but big and bulky and just didn’t seem to fit the Fuji mind set that well.  A friend asked if I would sell it and if it had been anyone else I might not have let it go, but she needed it and I was not using so it is now gone.  Knowing Fuji was bringing a 120mm Macro which would’ve have been the equivalent of a 180mm, I was going to be fine.  Well, things change.


Back in the 70’s and 80’s Nikon had a manual focus Micro Nikkor that was pretty nice.  It was smaller, lighter and had internal focus so it is very smooth and easy to focus (I use manual focused of all my macro work anyway).  The issue is finding one today that is in good shape and has the removable tripod collar.  Many people removed them and lost them and you see this lens from time to time without the collar, which for me would be useless.  I always lock my camera down a tripod or other support for doing closeup work.


I decided to start hunting for a good one and it took a while.  A few weeks ago I checked eBay again and found a Excellent +++ rated  one in Japan, it was exactly what I wanted.  I took a chance and ordered it and it arrive a week ago, and it is perfect, just like new!!!!  I paid $300. which is very reasonable for one of these in this kind of condition.  It will give me the long macro lens I am missing!!!  Is it as sharp as the 200mm Micro Nikkor AF model?  No, but it is not very far behind and more than usable for my needs!   A big plus is that it takes 52mm filters and I have, the old long discontinued,  3T and 4T diopters which allow this lens to go to much greater than life size!!!  Here are a few sample images shot around my office with it!



This image of a Kansas State Troopers patch and pen, ( a gift from my dear buddy and former Kansas State Trooper and wonderful photographer, Ken Metz.),  shows just how sharp it is, the focus point is on the left hand side of the pen’s star at f11, very shallow depth).



The colored pencils are shot at f 16 and the focus point is the green pencil at mid right frame!



The Shure logo on my desktop decoration, a Shure 55SH Series II microphone that reminds of me of all the great singers that  have lived with this microphone pulled over close as they belted out some of the great songs of all time!  Shallow depth at f8 but the S logo is tack sharp!


Time will tell if this will be a good workable solution, and I’m sure I will love the 80mm Macro coming from Fujifilm next year, but I sure wish they had stayed with the 120mm first planned!! To be honest I hate to complain about anything they do since I love my X PRO2s (2) and my X-T2, X-T1 and all the great lenses!  As I said, time will tell, but I think I’m off to a good start with this old classic, blast from the past, kinda like me!




the pilgrim



7 months, 2 weeks ago 5



I wouldn’t write this blog entry during basketball season, I don’t really care about basketball.  I wouldn’t write this entry during baseball season, I wouldn’t watch the World Series  if I could see it off my back deck!! Football is different story, this is my season, this is the time of year, sports wise, I live for!!!  This year a couple of things have started to spoil it for me and it has me thinking about the whole sports thing.


Let me start with a quick story.  A number of years ago, when I was a died in the wool UK basketball fan, and bled Blue, the Cats were in the National Championship game and had it won!!  In the last couple of seconds Duke’s Christitan Laettner hit a long 3 pointer to steal the victory.  I calmly got up and walked through the kitchen and picked up a empty 5 Gallon water container from our water dispenser, went out to the drive way and smashed it into the concrete over and over until it shatter into a thousand pieces.  When I returned to  the house Sherelene said,  in a sarcastic tone, “I hope you feel better! ”  I shot something back about leaving me alone, when she asked me a life altering question!  She said,  “who won the National Championship three years ago?”, I said, “I don’t know, what’s your point!!”, and not too kindly!  She said, “I was just wondering why it meant so much if you don’t know who won it only three years ago.”


She was right, what difference does it really make?  Under a lot of conviction, I made a commitment to not get invested with any team to the degree that their loosing would ruin my day, or steal my witness. I couldn’t really imagine Jesus smashing a water jug in my driveway if His team lost!!  I love to see a good game and I may be for one team, but I rarely get upset regardless of the outcome. Sports should be something we enjoy and learn from, not something that wrecks our day.


I still struggle every fall when my alma mater, (UK),  stumbles around the field looking like it’s the first time they’ve ever seen a football, but I’ve even gotten use to that,  and just switch to another game and enjoy that one!  I now enjoy following several teams.


I said two things have bothered me this year.  One is the number of un-sportsman like late hits and deliberate attempts to hurt another player.  For me football is rough, and I like it that way, but that kind of thing has no place in the game.  The second is the conduct of some NFL players during the National Anthem.  What is even worse is the League’s not addressing it.  I think at a minimum, those players that choose not to stand for the National Anthem should be asked to kneel in the dressing room and then come out to play and collect their millions of dollars!!!  The whole thing make me sick and to be honest I am less interested  in the NFL season than usual, just because of that!  I think all lives matter and we have a lot of problems in America to solve, but turning your back on the nation, it’s anthem and those that serve us, is not part of the solution!


I played high school football and my coach taught us how to win like a gentleman, and how to loose like a gentlemen, and take away valuable life lessons.  He taught us to appreciate at the efforts of our opponent, and how to be able to genuinely  shake their hand at the end of the game, win or loose.   I wish we could go back to that simple time, when we considered other above ourselves.




the pilgrim


P.S. …..and just for the record I am not one of those calling for Coach Stoops to loose his job, I actually like the guy, and feel bad for him.  Sadly I’ m afraid that even a risen Bear Bryant couldn’t bring football glory back to Kentucky!  The SEC is just too competitive and there’s just not enough superior talent to go around.  Our kids play hard, but they are in an up hill battle against the other programs in the SEC that get a larger percentage of the top talent.  As evidenced in this early season lots of so called lesser schools have great programs and compete head to head with the big boys! Take a deep breath and enjoy it for what is is, a game!!!!!!!