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6 days, 23 hours ago 9

Photo by Jim Begley


As you know, if you follow this blog, the talk of equipment can get hot and heavy!  Well today I want to take the advice of a good friend Glenn Barlow and do something that is more important than talking about gear!  I want to talk about what makes a good photographer and it definitely is not the camera!!!  My good photo friend Rod Planck said it best, “Technique beats equipment every time”  So let’s start this off with a little proof, the image above by Jim Begley, it was shot with an iPhone!  So let’s get this thing started:


1.  Learn the basics, really well.  Know by heart what the aperture does for you besides exposure.  Get a real feel for when you can use motion rendition to make a statement image!  Spend time learning how your camera works, especially exposure.  How does your exposure compensation dial work.  Have you got the action of your shutter release down pat.  Do you know at just what point the camera will fire?  Can you fire your camera extremely smoothly?  What direction do you turn your focusing ring to get to minimum focus distance?  What is the minimum focus distance of each of your lenses.  All of this and a lot more matters!


2.  Look at all the good photography you can get your hands on!  This is easy today, wonderful magazines, 500 Pix, great websites, and on and on.  The best way to know what a great image is, is to look at a lot of them.  The more you see great images the more quickly you will recognize them when you see them through the viewfinder!


3.  Study with the best instructors you can find.  Countless workshops are available, KelbyOne, great books by fantastic image makers all are available.  Spend time with friends that are good shooters, learn from them.  Join a good camera club, learn from them!  I mean really; Joe McNally, Scott Kelby, Dave Black, some guy named Fortney, lots to do on Kelby One!


4.  Figure out just what you want out of photography!  Do you want to turn pro?  Think twice about that!  Do you want to be the best photographer in your club, your town, your state, America, shoot, the world???!!!  Do you care what your photo buddies think of your work?  Does how others see your work mean the difference in how you feel about your work?  Let me give a little advice.  First this is just what I’ve learned personally after 45 years of dedicating my heart and soul to my photography, but it is just my opinion!


Work hard to get as good as you can because you love it and get great joy out of the craft and the results.  Be glad when others like your work, but don’t depend on that to make yourself happy.  Do it for yourself, let others decide for themselves.  Be cool with the results!


5.  Enjoy the great fellowship with other photographers who will become some of your best friends and associates!  The best part of the craft will be enjoying those that share your passion!


Do all that and photography will be good for you and to you!




the pilgrim


So, wasn’t that better than 1,000 word about Fuji!  Couldn’t resist.  You gotta go back and see the last comment on yesterday’s blog post, classic, my answer was cool too!!!!!

1 week, 1 day ago 23

* One of my best shots ever, and made in 1:1 format in the Fuji X-E1 and the 18-55 Kit lens!!!  Even at 3×3 feet it is stunning in detail, and color.



Rolling in the dirt….. is an old expression  we used to use to describe discussing things into the ground, something we are guilty of here!


We,  (a group of friends from His Light Workshops), have a Facebook page where we can share our latest images, news, prayer requests, and do some good natured poking fun at one another mostly regarding what gear we use. I’m sure you can imagine that after being a life long Nikon zealot and even working for the company for my last 11 years of regular work life, when I switched it caused more than a small ripple among my dedicated Nikon friends.  Now 99% of the back and forth is genuinely good natured, just having fun teasing and taunting.  Every person that joins in the fun are wonderful shooters more than capable of making incredible images (and they do), with any camera system!


This morning in the process of shooting back some fun information I actually came to some realizations myself about why I’ve become such a big fan of the Fuji X-System!  As always, this is just information for you to enjoy, discount, agree with, or not,  and if you already are shooting the Fuji X System, you may want to chime in about your experiences too!


So here are several thing that are different about the Fuji System that I simply love!


1.  The weight and size.  This one is obvious, but it is after all why I switched, I simply could not comfortably carry the heavy big DSLR systems anymore.  I can now carry two bodies and 7 lenses plus all the accessories for under 12 pounds, in the Nikon system that was well over 22 pounds. *Weight is not a bad thing!!!  Big solid, well made cameras and lenses are good, if you can carry them!



2.  Fuji color.  I really don’t know how to explain it, I loved the look of Kodachrome, then I loved the look of Velvia, I love the wonderful extended tones of Panatomic X Black and White film.  Fuji really knows color, and they have built a camera system that handles color differently.  I didn’t say better, but just more to my liking!  ….and obviously to a lot of others as well.



3.  Monochrome along with two color palettes straight out of the camera for every shot you make!  The Fuji X cameras offer shooting in any three color or monochrome palettes you desire, the Black and White even are offered with either a yellow, green or red filter!  The results are stunning.



4.  Real time, WYSIWYG in the viewfinder.  With the superb EVF of the XT-1 you see exactly what the final image will look like after the exposure.  The active in viewfinder Histogram allows using the exposure compensation dial (conveniently right at your right thumbs resting place!)  to alter exposure on the fly!



5.  Performance at High ISOs.   The X cameras are virtually noiseless, even at 6400 you get very usable images.   The shot below was made at 6400 and it had not been treated with any post noise reduction software!!!!



6. The Fuji cameras are whisper quiet!!!!!


7.  The retro controls are the way I learned and they simply work best for me, it’s hard to break dozens of years of doing things a certain way!  If modern works for you, great



8.  The incredible focus peaking that allows the use of so many legacy lenses to make images I could never afford to make any other way!  If I was using a current Nikon body and wanted a 600mm F4 lens the cost would be $12,000.  For $2,000. you can find mint condition 400 f 3.5 lenses that are an equivalent 600mm f 3.5 on the Fuji!


* Shot with the Nikon 300mm f 4.5 IF-ED lens which on the APS-C sensor of the XT-1 is an equivalent 450mm lens!


9.  A new lease on my photographic life!  Since I made the switch I’ve been more excited, more motivated, more committed to becoming the photographer and person God desires for me to be.  Anything that helps us feel like that can’t be bad!




the pilgrim

1 week, 2 days ago 5


I had a great weekend!  No, I’ve had a great life!  There are many reasons why.  Certainly being accepted and forgiven by a loving God is the biggest reason my life has so much meaning, but the people he has placed in my life are huge part of this “life formula!”


Let me start with my life long partner and the love of my life, Sherelene.  It is a wonderful life when you can start almost every day having breakfast with your best friend, sweetheart and one of the people you admire most in life.  Sherelene starts a new job this morning and it should reduce her work hours, and give us more time to do fun things together like this past weekend in Brown County out with Jim and Sue Haverstock!  I’m really excited to have more time with her.


God has blessed me with many great friends and acquaintances, but three men stand out in my mind as truly close friends who have contributed greatly to my life.


Jim Begley has been my partner in His Light, and a partner in my photographic and spiritual life.  Jim is one of the most talented photographers I know.  He possesses a great eye, a wonderful sense of what will make a great image and the technical skills to deliver on his vision.  Jim is also a spiritual mentor, helping me often find the right path, in the midst of the world’s confusion of voices. Jim is a blast to hang out with and I learn something from him every time we are together.


Jack Graham has been a friend for a long, long time.  I first met Jack when he was a student in one of my old Great American Photography Workshops.  Jack was one of those funny, intelligent people you meet and immediately really love.  Jack was a professional musician and really good one, he played trumpet in some big bands and orchestras and played with such luminaries a Frank Sinatra!  Jack left music and became a really good photographer and then a great photographer.  He started teaching workshops and runs one of the most highly respected workshop companies in the industry.  When he asked me to join him in teaching some workshops I was thrilled, not only to work with someone of Jack’s caliber, but to renew an old and cherished friendship.


Jim Haverstock is one of those people you meet, and get to know that leaves your life changed forever.  I ran a workshop with Jim back in the spring at Grandfather mountain, when Jim was tied up in worked issues, and he is  natural leader.  Jim is the most soft spoken, yet intense people I know.  I can think of no one I would rather have by my side to pray for someone, or assure them of how much God loves them.  Jim exudes the qualities of caring, compassion, concern, and understanding.  Jim is also a truly gifted photographer.  Jim has this amazing ability to be in the room and not make himself noticed, but would be sorely missed when he is absent from that same room.  Jim is one of a handful of people, obviously including Sherelene, Jack and Jim B. that I am completely relaxed around, that allow me to be myself!


So there you have it, I’m quadruply blessed!  For those of you that are coming to Brown County in about three weeks, we did a lot of scouting and think we have some killer locations for you.  The fall foliage looks like it is on track, and we can’t wait to hang out with you and learn a lot of new stuff!!


Here are a few images I shot while scouting some of our locations.




At one of our location this sign was nailed to a tree, just the fun spirit of Brown County!






the pilgrim


Photo Note: All images Fuji X-T1, 55-200 XF OIS lens




1 week, 5 days ago 18

Introducing the first six books in the new Bill Fortney’s Reliable Guides “Foundation Series”.  I want the first volumes to be easy to read, to the point, instructional books  for beginners and intermediate photographers, so that they could fully understand the most important basic concepts of the craft.  These volumes will vary from 60 to 120 pages each and will illustrate every important point with multiples of photographic examples.  As in the illustration below, the basic concept is introduced and then illustrated.



If everything goes according to plan we hope to have the book store open by mid October!  Other volumes coming soon are;


The Joy of Photography


Taking Your Photography to the Next Level


Abstracts and Patterns


It’s in the Bag  * How to build a camera system


Getting the Most from Your Fuji X System


The Best From America From 500 Feet Volumes I & II


Simple Ways to Create Art from Your Images


Learning to See Photographically


Stay tuned!




the pilgrim