Recent Posts
3 years, 10 months ago 6


I just came from Stephen Hart’s lab and have just seen the two images above printed better than I could have ever imagined possible!!! Stephen Hart has been making prints for a long time.  I had never see his work until I saw some of Jim Begley’s work printed by Stephen. Jim is one of America’s best HDR shooters, and I’m proud to say, my partner in His Light Workshops, and my brother in Christ.  For that matter so is Stephen!  But back to my story…..  When I saw how drop dead gorgeous Stephen’s new print process was, it’s called Acrylic Face Mount prints, I was stunned.  Now take just a minute to realize that I have been exposed to virtually all the high end print makers across our country.   Until this morning the most beautiful thing I had ever seen done from one of my files was an Image Wizards, Metal print by Roger Laudy.  Roger is still the man when it comes to metal prints and I love his work, and still highly recommend him, but for more conventional prints, Jasper Imaging is just sick!!  (I’m 67 so I hope I used that in a good way, his stuff is so good it’s hard to believe you’re looking at your own images!!!)  Stephen’s Acrylic Mount Prints are made with UV Museum Grade Acrylic and are finished out perfectly, and to boot he offers conventional framing for those that do not want stand off mounts.  Stephen does all the “High End” print types, Archival Quality Gallery Wraps with the highest end materials, Ink Jet prints in virtually all the best paper choices, and the Acrylic Face Mount prints.


The best thing about Stephen’s work is it reminds me of the great craftsman of the past, they didn’t do it for the client, they did it to satisfy their own desire to do it as good as it can be done.  Stephen has realized that goal!  The best part for me is that I can drive a few miles from my office to see how the prints are looking.  I can say this right now, I’ve never had better prints made of my work in 43 years of seeking the perfect printer, I’m not looking any longer, I’ve found him, thanks Stephen!!


But what about the tale of two prints???  Sorry about that, got kinda wound up over the spectacular prints I saw this morning.  So the two image above were blown up to 32×46 inches in super high gloss Acrylic Mounts.  If you viewed them at normal viewing distance both are simply stunning, sorry it is two nice images, but when you put your nose right in the print, it is hard to tell which print was made with which camera!!!  One was made with a D800 and the Micro Nikkor 105mm Micro, the other with a D2x and 200mm Micro Nikkor.  The D800 is a whopping FX sensor with 36 mega pixels, the D2x was a DX sensor with 12 mega pixels.  Care to guess which is which. trust me even in the huge prints it’s hard!  The top is D2x bottom D800.


If you would like to learn more about Stephen’s company, Jasper Imaging (named after his young son, Jasper), give him a another week or two and then his website will be live.  I will alert you when it is up and will add it to my blog roll!


If you need large, presentation grade prints of any kind, you owe it to yourself to check his work out….  One thing is for sure, you’ll never see your print until Stephen is happy with it!!!!




the pilgrim

3 years, 10 months ago 16

We all need heroes, and mine was my father, William Pelle Fortney.  I have a lot of memories of my father, but some of the best were strangely enough, from the visitation before his funeral. We never know what an impact we’ve had on the lives of others until we are gone.  That’s when our family hears from others what should have been said to us in life.  The following are statements that I can remember clearly that were made to me by his friends and family members, on that night almost 20 years ago.


“Your father was always kind to me, he never was too busy to talk with me and listen to my cares and concerns….”


“I don’t know that I have ever known a more honest man of integrity and character, you were fortunate to have him as your father….”


“”I can never remember him every saying a harsh or unkind word to anyone!”


“Your father never asked us to do anything at work, that he was not willing to do himself…”


“I knew your father really cared about me, he was a wonderful man….”


“I lost a great friend….”


“Your father truly lived a Chrisitian life…..”


“Your father was like a second father to  me when I was in the  Boy Scouts….”



When my father was buried and I went home I went into my bedroom, alone and wept, for a long time. When I got control of myself, I got down on my knees at the bed just as I did as a little child to say my evening prayers with my father by my side, and talked to him.  I told him I hoped he could hear me, and I was so glad his suffering was over, but that I missed him, and didn’t know how I was going to go on without him.  I thanked him for being a great Dad, and I made him a promise.  I told him, that with God’s help, I was going to try and be the kind of man he had been.  I promised that I wouldn’t ever forget what a difference he had made in my life, and my brother Homer’s life, and I wouldn’t forget how much he had touched not only our lives, but the lives of so  many others.  I confessed that I didn’t think I could be the man he had been, but that I would never stop trying. I told him I loved him, and cried some more…..


I don’t know if those that have gone on to be with the Lord can hear us, or know what is happening down here.  Some days when I’ve done good, I hope my father can see me, I want him to be proud of me, other days I hope he can’t!  I know my Heavenly Father sees everything, and I want to believe He shares with my earthly father what he would want him to know.


My father set a standard for me that I may never be able to live up to, but in encouraging me to try,  he has made me a better man.  Anyone that does that for you is a hero.




the pilgrim


About The Image:  When I was a young boy my father was the manager of a Coca Cola Bottling plant in Harlan, Kentucky.  Many of my great memories are of going to the plant and watching the bottling process.  Later in life I actually had my first two summer jobs working in the plant as a teenager.  To this day I am still a big Coca Cola memorabilia fan.  My father’s Coca Cola apron still hangs in my darkroom, as a reminder of who I strive to be, as a man.

3 years, 10 months ago 9

After several straight days of gear entries, I was starting to feel guilty and thought I might share some of my personal favorite images.  Because it’s all about the image, we don’t  own cameras, and tripods, and bags, except to take them  out there and make photographs!!!  After you take a peek at these images I will offer some insights that came to me as I looked at some of my personal favorite  images…….



After looking through the images I pulled from my files at random, I discovered some interesting things;


1.  Gear didn’t seem to matter that much, the images were made with everything from an iPhone to a D800, and everything in between!!


2.  With the exception of one action football shot, made a long time ago, almost everything I photograph is not moving!!!


3.  My favorite images are all about color, light, shape, and texture…..


4.  I can remember what it was like, who I was with, and the joy of making everyone of these images!!!


5.  The last image says it all, the peoiple I’ve been honored to get to know, become friends, and have fun with, are the greatest joy of all!




the pilgrim



3 years, 10 months ago 2

I promised to deal with waist belt systems so here we go.


First a Disclaimer:  I have a personal policy of never recommending something unless I actually use it myself, and have bought the product with my own money.  This protects you from being convinced something is great just because some manufacturer gave me one!!!  If you are a fan of;  Tenba, Clik, Tamrac, Kata, or many of the other bags out there this is not meant as a shot at your bow!  I just have never used any of those except Tenba and that was years a ago.  So I only report on Domke, Lowepro, and Think Tank.  Those are the only brands I currently own or have owned for some time.  This would be an appropriate place to tell a quick story.  For many years I’ve been friends with George Lepp.  In the very early days of my interest in photography George was known as the “go-to-guy” about equipment reviews, and recommendations,  this was long, long before DP Review and other on line reviewers.  George not only gave excellent information he also was very unbiased.  He was a Canon shooter, and was supported by Canon, but that did not prevent him from praising the products from other camera companies.  Being a  Nikon shooter that always made me feel great, I knew what ever I read from George was fair and honest. Later when we met and ran some workshops together I found that was the kind of guy he was, he called it as he saw it.  I never thought that I would be doing reviews, but when I started I tried to follow the great example set by George.  Now that I am approaching retirement from Nikon, I very much want to be that kind of reviewer.  I will have the freedom to do just that when I am a free moral agent, and I hope I can be as fair and honest as George was!


One more important point, I’m not a pixel peeper, not that there’s anything wrong with that (ala Jerry Seinfeld!).  I want to do reviews that talk about how effective any product is at making better images in the field, not on a test bench!  Is the product made well, does it work the way it is supposed to work?  Is a camera capable of high quality imaging, are lenses sharp, and well made, does the camera bag hold the stuff you need, and is it user friendly!!??  I hope come July that I can conduct these kinds of reviews here and be helpful to all of you, as we all make our buying decisions together!  Just always remember that I have no agenda here except to be honest and open in these mini reviews!  Should be fun and I expect to learn a lot myself!!!


O.K. waist belts.  I only own one brand, Think Tank, and I am very satisfied with their products!  I’ve never worn out a Think tank product and I use them hard.  My Airport Security 2.0 has hundreds of thousands of air miles and airport terminal  miles and all I’ve ever done was replace the handle!!!  And they replaced that free of charge!  (In fairness I’ve never worn out a Lowepro or Domke product either!)    Think Tank stuff is very well made and designed, and extremely user friendly, the zippers work great,  the interiors are easy to customize for whatever lens, flash or accessory you want to have quick access to.


I own two belt systems, one for a smaller mirror-less camera system, and one for my DSLRs both for FX and DX.  Below is my heavy duty model for DSLRs and lenses.  The way I use this belt is a way to carry around three lenses in addition a camera and lens that is over my shoulder.  The pockets and cubbyholes  in the three pouches can hold extra batteries, cable release, cleaning supplies and other accessories.  The one below includes the think Tank Pro Speed Belt, a large Lens Drop In pouch, trim changer pouch, and speed changer pouch and a lens changer 75 (for 70-200 and similar size lenses) and a very handy Bum Bag, to hold all the little extras you need in the field.



If I am going lighter, which I’m doing a lot more today my smaller Think Tank belt system will hold a full system of smaller Mirror-less gear.  With This belt I can carry one camera with a lens over my shoulder and have 4 or 5 additional lenses and accessories in the pouches.  It weighs less than half the big belt with lenses, quite nice when you have a lot of walking to do!!  The two extra pouches are for carrying a  flash or Constant Source LED lights which I’ve been experimenting with, more on that in a future blog post!!  The extra pouches are usually stored in the vehicle and not worn on the belt!


The bag in the very first image at the top is the Speed Racer fanny pack type bag that is great worn on the front and secured with a  shoulder strap for sitting in the open door of a helicopter, it keeps all your lenses within easy reach when shooting on such a precarious platform!!!


So there you have it, some more thoughts on  how to distribute the weight, keep your gear close, at hand, and work faster and more effieciently!  Hope some of these ideas may work for you!!




the pilgrim