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2 years, 11 months ago 7

Beyond crazy……..

Getting ready for a trip always gets me thinking about how best to carry the load for the upcoming adventure.  The image above is, sadly, only a portion, probably less than half of my camera bag collection!


For years I’ve been a bag of the month club member, meaning I’ve owned or tried almost everything anyone has ever made!  I love them all, for a while, but these are the ones that have endured the test of time.  Currently I have bags, packs, cases, or other carrying devices from; Lowepro, Think Tank, Lightware, Pellican, Tenba, Maxpedition, Domke, and others.


These are the ones I use most often.  Why own so many bags?  That is actually a really good question.  For me it’s all about the right way to carry gear for the specific kind of trip.  Are you flying?  Are you driving?  Are you hiking?  Are you canoeing?  How much gear are you needing to take?  Once you arrive how much will you actually carry on your back or shoulder?  To break it down a little, well hidden, on top of the giant Pellican case (I have 6 others as well), are a Lowepro Pro Runner X450 AW and a Think Tank Airport Security 2.0 my two favorite for getting stuff safely to my location when flying.   On the top right is a tan colored Lowepro Nature Trekker 300 AW, my favorite moderate sized backpack.  It’s sitting on top the Lowepro Stealth Reporter 400 AW, my favorite shoulder bag for most trips.  I’ve topped it off with the Domke shoulder pad they made for the U.S. Postal Service letter carriers.

Two the left is a Tenba shoulder bag that Nikon gave me (you can see the Nikon Logo)  It is great for taking show gear, but is fairly large to actually carry over the shoulder unless your younger and stronger than myself.  Sitting on top the Tenba bag is one of Lowepro’s Sling bags, this one is the  smaller one that is easy to throw over your shoulder with a smaller amount of gear.  The very small one in the middle top that says, Galen Rowell on it, is a long since discontinued chest bag made to Galen’s specifications by Sundog, a bag manufacturer no longer in business, I just keep it in in warm memory of Galen.


Sitting directly on top of the Pellican case are, left to right, the (khaki) Maxpedition S-Type Bag, ruggedly made and perfect for one camera with a lens, a short zoom and a few accessories, I love it for walk abouts, it’s made to Mil. specs.  Two the right of it is a Lightware long lens bag for my Nikkor 400mm f3.5, it is circled by my favorite belt pack unit made my Think Tank, and to the far right is the Think Tank Speed Changer side pack, topped by a Nikon fanny pack that was given away at the LA Olympics some years ago.  In the front on the floor is one of many Lightware cases I use to transport safely all kinds of photo and AV gear when traveling by air or shipping UPS or Fed EX.  Sitting on top the Lightware case is a small Domke shoulder bag when is ideal when you wan to carry a very small amount of gear, it is very well made of treated canvas.


For people that haven’t lost their minds, a backpack, shoulder bag, belt system, and a rolling bag for air travel should more than cover your needs.  Fortunately, today we have a wealth of brands, sizes, and types of bags and cases to carry our gear.  The most important questions are:


1.  Is it well made and will it protect your gear?


2.  Does it feel right when you carry it and can you work out of it easily?


3.  When filled up can you lift it?


4. Can you afford it, or more importantly can you afford to fill it up??!!


Good luck in making your camera bag decisions.  Anyone looking for a good used bag?????????




2 years, 11 months ago 2

I don’t use really long lenses very much.  I don’t do much sports anymore, and my big mammal wildlife days seem to be be in my rear view mirror as well.  I do however love the compression effect of big lenses.  I recently picked up a sweet old Nikkor  400 f 3.5 IF-ED manual focus lens for just that use.


The rule goes something like this, the longer the lens the more compression affect.  I shoot the D7000 a lot and being a DX  sensor camera my new 400 will be the equivalent of a 600!!!   That plus the fast wide open aperture of f 3.5 make for a very exciting optic for separating the foreground from the background.  This is one of my favorite techniques from the old bag of tricks.  It a great way to do a visual change up while maintaining the same relative position to the subject.  Another example below.




Always use your lenses to give you the visual effect your looking for.  Remember telephoto glass is not just for bringing things closer in the frame. It can make a big difference in how they appear as well!!!

2 years, 11 months ago 0

When we think of any action we might take in life, that is a key questions we should ask ourselves, what would Jesus do?  When it comes to where we should find ourselves and who we should associate with, I would ask what “did” Jesus do.  A study of the New Testament reveals that Jesus related to everyone.  He had a close group of friends, His disciples.  He taught to large crowds that certainly had people from all walks of life and persuasions.  He was highly criticized by the leaders of the church because He sat down and ate with tax collectors and prostitutes.


Why didn’t Jesus just hang out with those that were receiving His message?  Jesus didn’t come to start a club, He came to save the lost.  A doctor doesn’t visit the well, he visit the sick.  I know we are not Jesus, be He called us to become more like Himself.  That begs the question, are we to go out into the world and try to help the very worst in our society?  Yes.  We cannot hope to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with the world if we run away from the lost.  We are not of this world, but we are definitely in it.  How can we protect ourselves from all that is lost about this world while getting so close to it?  May I offer a few suggestions;


1.  Stay in the Word.  Reading of the scripture equips us with faith, wisdom, and His knowledge so that we can know what He did, and what we must do, to reach out to a lost world.  The perfect example of how to reach out and share His love was modeled by Him for us.


2.  Always remember that;   John 3:16-17   16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.  We will never reach those hurting and lost by condemnation.  Jesus loved them to himself, we must do the same.


3.   Have a refuge of fellowship for your  own protection.  I’ve often heard Christians say, I believer but I don’t go to church.  Seeking and maintaining fellowship with other believers is your life line to what are your core beliefs.  Out in the world attempting to reach the lost, you will need the support, prayer, and comfort of those that join you in that effort to find and present God’s love to those most in need.


5.  We must, again, become like little children, and have an unquestioning faith in our Saviour.


It is our mission as those saved by His grace, compassion, and love to reach out to a world in need and offer the same.


the pilgrim


* Portrait of Jesus by a child, from the book Jesus in Art.




2 years, 11 months ago 3

Getting ready to go on a workshop requires advanced preparation!  In about 9 days I will be flying to Bangor, Maine to help lead a week long workshop and tour through out New England, ending in Acadia National Park.  For this workshop to be successful I must do a number of things, and so will the participants.  This is a good lesson is getting ready to do serious photography, follow along with me:


How to get ready for a workshop or serious photography trip.


1.  Know the area you will be visiting.  Scouting a place for photography can be done in many ways.  Google has made it very easy to amass information about locations in advance.  Another tool I’ve used for many years is Bob Hitchman’s wonderful, Photograph America Newsletter!  Over the years Bob as pre-scouted most of the great places to shoot.  You can order his newsletter or subscribe at   Of course if you’re taking an organized workshop or tour, the provider is responsible to be sure they have thoroughly scouted for you, but a little research on your own never hurts.  Scouting will help you make sure you find the best spots, at the best time to make those images you hoped to make!


2.  Be sure you are ready for the conditions presented by your time and location.  If you are shooting Denali National Park in Alaska in fall the conditions (temps/weather/light) will be much different than Death Valley National Park in May!  Knowing how to dress, what gear to carry and when the light will be best will be a huge factor in your photographic success, after all it’s hard to compose and image when you’re freezing!  Gear is also important.  Having enough, but not too much is a key.  A 70 pound camera back pack filled with everything you own will be less productive in the field than 25 lbs. of carefully selected lenses ands accessories.  In New England for instance, your 600 f4 will not be nearly as useful as it would be in Yellowstone photographing Elk.  Anything that is a burden to carry will become and boat anchor if you can’t identify a strong. specific need for it.  Often when walking around, less is more.  Check out my article in this section:  Gear For Field Work


3.  Get into the mindset of what you will be photographing.  Some locations like Arches National Park present you with massive, obvious photographic opportunities.  Courthouse Rock is kind of hard to miss and figuring out how to capture it requires nothing much more than the right sky and the right position to shoot from.   A forest of fall color like we will see in New England is quite different.  Fall foliage images sin New England are a lot more about the “intimate landscape”  If you get a chance, watch my teaching program on the intimate landscape on   The intimate landscape requires a more exercised vision, looking beyond the obvious.  It’s the process of “extracting” the most appealing part of the subject.  For me it is a more relaxed kind of shooting, it takes time.  As my dear friend and fellow photography instructor often says, “take 80% of your time searching for the subject and light, 20% of your time actually making the image……”  That’s good advice, take your time, and look closely, then you will discover a wealth of great subject matter.  Focus locally, instead of globally.


4.  Consider and enjoy the history.  This is an area where a little historical research can pay big dividends.  The signicance of a church or a building, a bridge or a river adds to the photographic interests as well.  In resent years I’ve become very fond of Americana subjects, old historic places, old objects, like rusted cars and trucks, farm implements, old barns and bridges, lighthouses.  All subject that can be seen in abundance in a place like Vermont and New Hampshire.  Don’t pass up those kinds of opportunities and when someone is around that my know the local history take the time to lean of the significance of your subject.  Photography is more than capturing and image, it’s and experience, enjoy the entire process!


5.  Take time to get to know your partners in the adventure.  I shared this story some time ago on this blog but it bears repeating.  Years ago I interviewed the legendary football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant for a magazine.  At the end of the interview I asked him what I always felt was a character revealing question, “How do you want to be remembered?”  (Little did I know he would die just three months later.)  Coach Bryant bowed his head and thought for long moment, when he raised it to answer, tears had welled up in his eyes.  He said, “Football has been very good to me, I’ve coach many great players and coached against many great competitors worked with and played against many great coaches, I just hope I’ve been as good a friend to them as they were to me……”  Paul “Bear” Bryant has learned one of life’s greatest lessons, it’s the people.  In anything you do the thing of lasting value will be the wonderful friends and acquaintances.  Long after the awards and accolades are forgotten the friendships will endure.  Anytime you get to go into the field with other photographers, make it a goal to get to know them and enjoy their company, then whether you capture a great image or not, you will go home with somethngn even more valuable, a friend.


6.  Cut yourself some slack, learning to become a great  photographer is a long journey with many pitfalls along the trail.  Allow yourself to not see every great shot, no one does.  Have fun and immerse yourself in the great joy of making images.  Celebrate the great ones, learn from the misses, and observe how those that do it better work, you will soon be standing in their spot along the trail.  Always keep in mind, admire and learn from those ahead of you, and be kind and helpful to those standing where you were, a few years ago, behind you on the trail of learning!  Believe it or not, the more people you help pass you on the trail the greater your joy will become……..


7.   Have fun, if any activity is miserable, take up a new activity!  I’ve watched many young photographers obsess over getting the great shot, so much so that they lost the joy of just being a photographer.  Being a photographer, a real photographer, means you learn to see and feel deeply, experience all the suttleties of being outdoors.  Feel the breeze, hear the babbling brook, hear the bird chirp, watch the grass move in the wind, feel the warmth of the sun on your face.  Going to a new place, to see beautiful things in the company of great people can be one of life’s richest experiences, don’t let anything get in the way of that.  If you flight is late, it won’t matter two hours later, if you drop and break a lens someone will share  with you, if it rains, something will look even better wet!  I know it’s an old saying but trust me, I’m a pilot, “Your attitude will determine your altitude!”    


And just for the record, I don’t believe in chance, but I do believe in preparation…….