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3 years ago 3

For every problem there is a solution and in photography I’ve found a number of solutions from Kirk Enterprises!  At the most recent Photo Plus I got a chance to visit their booth and catchup with old friends, I also saw some products I didn’t know I needed, but now own!!!  First, I’ve gotten a ton of emails asking about the Low Pod I used in the Close-Up Classes on Kelby Training, well here it is below:



This is the latest version of the Low Pod made by Kirk Enterprises.  It is  great stable platform for doing close-up work in the field or in the studio.  It runs around $150. and then you add the ball head of your choice.




Another item that really works for me is the Super Grip, that allows an affordable package for doing video work hand held with DSLRs.  This one is show with my D7000, 85 Micro lens, and Nikon’s Me-1 Microphone.   Another 1/4″ 20 thread adapter is available to add a out board video monitor.  This rig makes it easier to do video with a DSLR and move it steadily.   Many other manufacturers make rigs costing up to $3,000. and above, for my money this unit with all the attachments comes in under $200.!  Quite a deal!



When doing video with a small compact camera, I love the Nikon Coolpix P7100 for hand held video work the Quick Release Grip from Kirk works great.  At $80. it’s a steal for much improved video.




I love to work with small cameras but always want to have a good solid support and for cameras like my Coolpix P7100 and my Nikon D7000 the Table Top Tripod legs from Kirk and the BH-30 Compact Ball Head from Really Right Stuff make a dynamite combination.  I love this system for working low and for supporting cameras when you can use a full sized tripod.  This unit can be held against a wall for extra steady support when shooting from standing height!  The Table Top Tripod legs run $119. and the ball head from RRS goes for $275.  It may sound like a lot of money but both are made so well they are life-time investments.





I use a number of different Coolpix cameras and having the right Arca Swiss type plate for each one has becoming madenning, until now, the little PZ-130 fits my P7100, my Nikon J1 and my Nikon P300, it’s a great way to have any of my small cameras ready to hook-up with any Arca Swiss device.  $30. from Kirk.





Another field problem is how to carry long lenses?  If you use your cameras neck strap to support your camera and a long lens you will very likely end up with a bent lens mount on the camera or lens, and expensive repair.  If you insist on using a strap be sure it is one attached to the long lens, NOT the camera.  Kirk has a device that makes hand carrying a long lens and body a snap, it’s called Action Grip and I love how it  works and then balances the lens for hand held shooting.  It runs $125. and fits any Arca Swiss design plate.





For many years Mike Kirk, founder of Kirk Enterprises, was a good friend and his son Jeff and his gang including Kevin Crist have continued on his great work.  I really love their products and am always excited when they come with new solutions to photographers problems.  I have also loved working with Joe and Joan of RRS, they too have made us some great products!




the pilgrim

3 years ago 0


I got home early this morning from the Breeder’s Cup, tired but glad to be home, I went up stairs to my office to put away my gear and threw my latest hat on the pile, standing there looking at the display of my hats, I thought they each tell a story.  Before I start, it’s Sunday morning and this is my devotional for the morning.  If a Genie had popped out of  a lamp when I was young and offered me any three wishes I wanted I would have asked for exactly what I’ve gotten!   More about that at the end!  Every place I’ve traveled I’ve bought a baseball cap as a reminder of that great experience, funny thing is I look awful in a baseball hat!!!  But, I love to look at my hats of which I have many more than what is displayed above.  Allow me to share with you a short description of the ones shown here.


Top row,  left to right, America From 500 Feet, my first aviation book done with my son Wesley, one of the greatest experiences of my life, especially the 14 months of traveling with Wes and growing from father and son, into close friends!  I never look at that hat that I don’t thank God for that time together and all those wonderful flights!  Air Creation my one of my first and still favorite ultra lights, and the one Wes and I flew for the first book.   The team hat for the second book, America From 500 Feet II.   My new 2011 Breeder’s Cup hat, last one to go on the pile!


Row two,  The Blue Angles, bought at their headquarters in Pensacola!    Carolina Nature Photographers Association an organization I’m proud to belong to.  The hat I bought after flying over the Corvette Factory in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  A favorite burger place in the midwest, decent burger, great hat and nice people that run it.


Row three, CSI Las Vegas, gift form a friend that actually calls on them for Nikon!  OOOPs Cozy inn makes a second appearance!   My Dive Shop hat from Plantation Florida where I flew over the Crystal River to photograph the Manatees.   The original Gore Tex GAPW hat! (Great American Photography Weekend)


Row Four, Arlington Air Show Commemorative Wright Brothers hat, one of my favorite hats to fly in!  The hat my late, dear friend, Phil Fox had made to witness during his last months as he bravely battled cancer, when he gave one away people said is this your hat?  He said no, it’s not my hat or your hat, but His hat and one size fits all!  Masters Golf Tournament (I’ve worked 8), NASA, I’ve been privileged to photograph five shuttle launches.


Row Five, Midnight Miss III, the name of the T-6 Texan I got to take a ride in!  Life is Good, are you kidding look at these hats!!!!  Nikon’s basic black hat, what a great job this has been!   Jeep Camp, bought when my dear friend Rob Shepperd invited me to speak at this event.


Row Six, National Geographic Expeditions, gift from a friend and long time National Geographic photographer.  Only You, Smokey the Bear’s reminder to us all.  Reno Air Races Media Team hat, a treasured gift from a great friend at RENO, from this years race that ended tragically.  How great is it to represent a product that has it’s own fan club!!??


Row Seven, Ultra Flight magazine, now Sport Flight Magazine for whom I write a monthly column about ultra light flying.  Gift from some friends at the SPEED network I got to know at man NASCAR races, Predator, the name of my first Powered Parachute always reminds me of a great ultra light friend Scott Hughes.   State Department, Office of Security hat from a good friend in Washington.


Row Eight, FA-22 Raptor, a gift from the photo team at Lockheed Martin, makers of the F22 jet fighter.    Getty Images, one of the most successful picture agencies and the home of some of my favorite clients.  One of my favorite little restaurants near Zion National Park that serves great home made pies, before you draw the wrong conclusion, the people that made the sign outside the restaurant told the owners Home-Made would not fit so that thought they would be cute and use Ho Made, it has led to lots of wrong conclusions.  The hat was a gift from my boss Scott Diussa.  A favorite Disney World hat I bought while taking my grandchildren to the Animal Kingdom.


I don’t need a Genie to get “wishes” !   My heavenly father has given me the only three things I need or want;  (1) His love and forgiveness,  (2) the love of wonderful wife and family, and  (3) something fun and important,  to spend my life doing, and look forward too!


the pilgrim


P.S. I’m still with Nikon!!!  Got several emails asking when I left!!!  Just was being thankful, the parade goes on…


My favorite hat?  How about this one………..




3 years ago 3


For years I’ve told a story that I doubt many people believed.  In my very early career there was this young photographer, just like me, that worked at the Courier Journal newspaper in Louisville.  He was a really talented kid who eventually won a Pulitzer Prize, and was the NPPA Photographer of the Year (National Press Photographers Association).  So anyway we knew each other pretty well and one day I got a call form him in a panic.  He had been offered an assignment with National Geographic and had never shot color film!  He needed to know how to expose for slides!  Of course he was an eminently talented shooter and it didn’t take much help from me to have him up to speed.  He went on to have a wonderful career winning many, many awards and accolades, but  he never forgot that I did him one small favor those many years ago.


So today when he dropped by the Nikon area at the Media Center, at the Breeder’s Cup he gave me a copy of his latest book, I am the proud owner of several, and this time he was kind enough to make it official in his note!  This really isn’t bragging, it’s more a chance to say that a career is the sum of all it’s parts, and both mine and Dan’s have been that, we have given as much or more as than what we got, and in the end,  when they add it all up, that counts for a lot……..


the pilgrim

3 years ago 0



I needed to share a number of things that fall into different categories so let me take this morning to bring you up to speed on a number of things!  I get lots of emails asking questions that I think others may also want addressed as well, so today let me talk about some of those things.


1. Yesterday’s blog entry on Bob Krist.  I’ve received numerous emails from people that admire Bob as much as I do and wanting to share my enthusiasm for the man!  I am so sorry that they could not have seen by everyone as posts to the blog!!!  Please believe me I’m working on it, I just need a little help to push the right buttons to make it happen.  I want the blogs (all four) to have a comments section that appears as soon as you post a comment, or i make a reply.  Trust me I will be home Monday after three straight weeks on the road and after I do my Nikon reports that is issue Number One to be addressed.  thanks for your patience, I promise a solution is coming……



2.  The comment section.  Delt with that above!!!!



3.  I’ve had a lot of emails from people that liked and were used to the old blog,  asking why I changed everything to this site, and it deserves an answer.  Apple is no longer supporting iWeb which is the software program used to maintain the older Mobile.Me site.  I’m not sure what will happen to Mobile.Me as well since the cloud is coming, maybe is already here, wouldn’t know without a weather report!!  That was a joke, I’m not the most technically savvy guy in the world when it comes to the computer world.  Also I’m going to to be doing more commerical activities in the future like workshops and ebooks, etc, etc.  A .com site was the most reasonable way to do that.  Word Press will also allow a lot of great options for future things like video, and slide shows.  Once I learn better how to use this program I will add more and more interesting content!



4. The new Macro Part 2 class on Kelby Training.  I have received a lot of emails saying kind things about the latest and previous classes.  Please let me thank all of you at once, (though I do answer every email I get with a personal reply).  You will never know how much I appreciate your kind words and encouragement.  When Scott asked me several years ago to join his Kelby Training Team, I turned him down mostly because I was afraid I would be awful at standing in front of the camera teaching.  I became a photographer so I could stand on the other side of the camera!!!  I am not at all nervous about teaching 300 people in an auditorium from a stage, but standing in front of a video camera is not my favorite thing to do!  I have to share with you that after I did my first class, the one on equipment for field use, I was sure it would never air.  I was shocked when it was very successful!!  Thanks to you guys, that have no taste, (just kidding), it was a success.  After that I started teaching to Adam, he is the lead videographer for Kelby Training.  He has now had to endure 5 classes of me teaching directly to him!!!!  I am looking forward to, hopefully, sharing many more subjects with you in the future, I have some great ideas and we will see if they agree.  I’ve already been asked for more close-up stuff in the field, and I would love to do that, so we will see if they want to do that class.   The next class which is already taped and in editing is, I think, the most important one I’ve ever done, “Learning to See Photographically!”  I would expect it will be out by the end of the year or early next year.  Thanks so much for watching my classes and please tell your friends to come on board with us!  Joining up with Kelby Training has been one of the best things I’ve ever done, I’m really enjoying it!



5.  Requests for camera test reports.  This is a sticky one.  I work for Nikon and I’m sure they wouldn’t want me evaluating our products, pointing out all the good and not so good things that might be said.  I’m even more sure they wouldn’t like me evaluating the products of competing companies.   So since I would like to stay employed until I retire, I will put that off for now.  I do think that an honest evaluation of products based on there effectiveness in field use is something I would love to do in the future.   I think that is something we can look for down the road.  This does give me an opportunity to rant just a little.  I really don’t like, quote: “test reports” that focus on the tiny details, pixels, frame rates, pixel density, etc etc.  I’m a photographer, and I use cameras to make photographs.  If a camera makes incredible image capture possible, I could care less about all the specs.  When specs matter in capturing the image, I care, but in many cases, they don’t matter as much as some people may think.  My good friend, Rod Planck, one of the very best nature photographers out there today, always taught in classes we did together, “Great technique beats equipment, every time…..”  He is right, learn how to use your camera, lenses, flash,  and tripod and you will greatly improve your work.  Once you are using all the potential of what you own, get even better equipment!


6.  Quote form email; “I miss all the info on the old website about you, your family and things like the lists, the quotes and other stuff.”  I hope to,  in the future,  restore some of those things, but honestly I started the new website with a concentrated effort to place the emphasis on you the reader, and on my Heavenly Father.  I will, as time permits, consider adding relevant content, just bare with me.  My life is still well over 200 days a year on the road, and working hard for Nikon, so blog time still has to be shoe horned in when I can.  Thanks for your interest though!


7.  When will information be available about 2012 His Light Workshops?  I will be back in the home office November 7th.  I will start working on setting firm dates and make announcements in mid November about next years offerings.  Some really great stuff is planned!


8.  Do you ever sell used equipment and how would I find out about it, I missed the stuff you sold for the wife of your friend!  Actually I have been thinking about having a category on the website for that, I do, from time to time sell items and I will work on getting that up on th site.


9.  Are you available to speak for clubs or in churches?  Yes, and no, my schedule for Nikon is very tight and I have limited vacation time, but sometimes if the group size is large enough Nikon will send me, and if the travel distance is not to great, I do sometimes do these talks on my own time.  I have done one day seminars for camera clubs in the past, but, because of scheduling problems these have to be arranged well in advance.  Feel free to email me with any requests,   Once again someday, in the future, after retirement, I hope to do more of all the above!


10. How did you get into photography professionally?  I was a high school teacher and football coach.  My first year of coaching my freshman team not only didn’t win a game, they never even scored in an entire season!!!  I knew I needed to do something else!  While that is true, it really wasn’t what got me into photography.  I was right out of college and I had always wanted town a nice camera so I bought one, (a Nikkormat FTN with a 50mm f2 lens and a 105mm f2.5 lens [still have the 105!!!!] ) and started trying to learn how to use it.  In those days there was no guarantee that when you got your box of slides back that there would be anything on them!  I started studying, reading, and asking other photographers for help and after a while I knew it was what I wanted to do for my whole life!  I left teaching to become a newspaper photographer, from that to being a PR person doing lots of photography in that job, I worked in underground coal mines, did aerial photography, shot weddings and portraits, then medical photography, and eventually became a magazine photojournalist and writer. After meeting John Shaw and Larry West (two of the giants of nature photography of my era), I started shooting nature work, and eventually started a business called, The Great American Photography Weekends, it lasted for 17 years and at one time was the highest rated Nature Photography  Workshop Company in America!  It was dedicated to God on the day it was formed, and I believe to this day that is why it has so much success!   We served almost ten thousand customers over those 17 years.  I left that company and went to work for Nikon a little over nine years ago.  Many years ago I met a man named John Netherton.  John had just published his first book on Radnor Lake in the Nashville area.  I wanted so badly to be like John and publish books and be a “well known photographer…”  God has richly blessed me with more success than I had any right to expect.  I’ve now had five books published and all have been very successful, three runaway best sellers!  I never became a famous photographer though, because there is no such thing!  I have had a blast, met thousands of great people, made lots of wonderful friends, shot in incredible places all over the world, and have had a life that I never dreamed I could have.  I count it all, as a great blessing from my Heavenly Father……….   “It’s so much better to receive what He wants to give you, than to get what you deserve………………”


the pilgrim