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3 years, 3 months ago 12


There are wars raging around the globe, some for power, and control, some for food, and sustenance, and some because of ageless hatred and animus.  The most widespread war is a spiritual battle for the hearts and minds, of man kind.  This spiritual war has already turned Muslims agains Jews and Gentiles.  It has created a Europe that is vastly non-religous. In America the culture has be devastated as we have become preoccupied with living the good life.  A once dedicated government, dedicated to keeping the peace and staying out of our lives, has turned into the Nanny State.   I read a blog post yesterday from my dear brother  Ian Anderson, a Bishop in the Episcopal Church in At Augustine, Florida. (Link Below)



To quote from his blog entry;


President Obama’s War on Christianity

February 15th, 2012


An old saying says, “It’s not paranoia if everyone really is out to get you.”  Over the last few weeks several reports have been released on federal government actions touching on Christian religious practices.  These reports have made it difficult to defend the notion that paranoia on the part of Christian groups isn’t justified after all.


I am a Bishop in a very conservative Christian Episcopal denomination.  I try and keep Christ in and politics out of the pulpit.  I can’t do it anymore.  The reason being is that Christianity is under attack in this country.  If you remember recently the Supreme Court ruled that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had overstepped its bounds in applying secular standards to a minister of religion called to work in a church school.  Then the Obama administration decided that health plans provided by Roman Catholic institutions, and which cover non-Catholics, must also cover sterilization and “all FDA approved contraceptives, including those that induce abortion.”   And now the Secretary of the Army has instructed – pardon me, ordered – Roman Catholic army chaplains not to read a letter from Archbishop Timothy Broglio, the head of Roman Catholic military chaplaincy.


Protestant Episcopalians familiar with the Decalogue know that “You shall not bear false witness.”  What does this mean?  ”We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor…but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.”  Things that presidents do are not exempt.  So what is the kinder explanation for the actions taken on the part of the executive branch of the federal government?


Clearly the Obama administration and the liberal left are convinced of the uniqueness of their own moral truth.  The lame argument I hear time and time again about their morality is basically this; “we’re right, because if we weren’t, we’d be wrong, and we know we aren’t wrong.”


Look at the recent issue with gay marriage in California.  The whole argument is that marriage should be redefined as two people of any self-identified sex.  If we can’t get people to agree with us then we will legislate respect even if a majority votes it down. These folks have framed their argument as a question of “civil rights.”  Good heavens what can be more un-American than thwarting someone’s civil rights…unless of course they don’t see things our way.  So, if you really believe this, then you have a moral obligation to stop other people from doing what you know to be wrong.  The Obama administration is doing what comes naturally for people convinced of their own moral high ground – imposing it on everyone else through executive orders and legislated respect.


I hold traditional biblical moral views, which are in conflict with the executive branch on these particular points, and many Americans share my understanding of one particular objective moral truth.  Abortion is the taking of a life, just like murder – which we outlaw – and capital punishment – which we permit in certain cases and states.  We also hold that marriage is between those of the opposite sex and should remain so.  Many not bound by the 8th commandment may feel no compulsion to be honest about what the majority want or believe.  So we are called insensitive and intolerant.


We have is a situation where two groups within America hold serious conflicting moral values.  And because these values are built on fundamental beliefs – both feel they are values which must be imposed on all and not simply left to one’s own personal preference.


I believe the law should have something to say whenever someone’s life is on the line.  To me that is just basic moral common sense.  Others believe that what someone does with their own body (and any other body which happens to be growing in it) should be shielded from government intervention.  Animals with fur have federal protections, yet killing unborn children is okay?  Does this make sense?   It seems that women’s reproductive rights are the most sacred tenet of the left.


I personally believe that Obama is intentionally trying to wage war on Christianity.  The actions of his administration have revealed once again the growing divide in our country between two sets of fundamental commitments and the moral values which arise out of them.  We are not divided on the level of mere politics.  This is not Donkey vs. Elephant.   We are divided on the nature of life itself.  As a Bishop and as a Christian the only hope for any of us is a biblical faith in Christ.  “I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me.”  (John 14:6)


This country was built on Christian values and principals.  Trust me, there is a movement supported by the current administration to legislate that into the national archives.  It’s time to get active and it’s time to take a stand.


Be heard,


Bishop Ian


P.S.  A friend just emailed me a very interesting quote that I thought I’d share with you….  John Adams said the following:  “Our constitution is written for virtuous and moral people and wholly inadequate for any other. “   Share




God gave us the free will to choose Him, or the world, too many are choosing to walk away from God and what we see today in our society is evidence of where that is leading.  Rampant drug abuse, alcoholism, broken homes, teenage pregnancy, gang murders, record numbers of people that feel they need to carry a  gun for protection.  Kids glued to video games that seldom go out doors anymore, TV and movies that get more and more raunchy and perverse each year.  While all of this has been going on our elected representative, (politicians), from both sides of the isle have spent us into oblivion trying to buy the support of every faction of our society.  Half the U.S. population does not pay taxes, and a vast majority of what the working classes taxes go for is to support the half that do not work, or live  off the federal government programs.  Our national debt is so great their is no hope of paying it off.  We are speeding towards financial disaster.



Where is all this leading?  Short of a massive revival of faith and turning to God, it is only going to an even worse place than it is now, and that is hard to imagine.  Many people are so concerned that they are  making preparation for worst case scenarios.   However you plan to prepare, Step One is the most important;  God has asked you to come into His family, accept that invitation today,  What ever the future holds, I don’t want to be standing with anyone else……  Bishop Ian is right, it’s time to stand and protect our faith…….



the pilgrim


3 years, 3 months ago 7


In the last few weeks I’ve constantly been talking with my customers and friends about the new incredible cameras being released by Nikon.  The Nikon D4 a 16.1 mp pro monster and the exciting new Nikon D800/800e that has 36.3 mp promise to deliver unbelievable results.  I have been shooting the D4 for over a month and can tell you it is everything I would have hoped for.  The  production D800 is not on shore yet, but I look forward to shooting it as well.  These cameras will open up the doors to some of the most spectacular “technical” images yet, but they will be unable to do something, very important,  that no current camera can do either, find a great subject, in great light, and then decide how to compose it!  The impact of a photograph goes well beyond technical quality.


To make a wonderful image you must find something that is an interesting or compelling subject.  You then have to have the right light to make that subject look spectacular, and finally you must decide where to place the subject in the frame and how to use the surroundings to focus the eye onto the subject.  As advanced at the D4 and D800 are, they can’t do that.  Because that is the job of the photographer!   There is a wonderful story I’ve heard from several different people, I assume it is true, it sure could be.   The story goes that Ansel Adams was speaking at a college in California, and the students kept asking technical questions, what film, what developer, what lens, what tripod he used,  etc, etc.  So Mr Adams went out to a drug store and bought a Kodak Instamatic camera and some black and white instamatic film.  He proceeded to go to the beach and shot some images, he then processed the film, and made enlargement, and displayed them at the college.  When they got rave reviews he slipped his instamatic out of his pocket and revealed the tool he used!  His point was simple, it’s the photographer not the camera.


If you have the best camera and best lenses,  and use great technique and vision,  you will likely make great images.  Just buying great equipment alone will not make you a great photographer….


By-the-way, the shot above is  a 60% crop, out of an image from a 10 megapixel point and shoot camera!  If you do buy one of the great new cameras, (and I know many of you will), don’t forget to use great technique too!


the pilgrim



3 years, 3 months ago 1


This morning devotional from Intouch was wonderful, it hit on a subject I think we all need to consider, how hard it is to accept how much God loves us.  I would love to share it with you, and then make a closing comment.


1 John 4:7-12    New Living Translation (NLT)

Loving One Another

 7 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.  But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

 11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. 



Scripture tells us that love is the very essence of who God is (1 John 4:7). So if you don’t believe that He loves you unconditionally, you’ll never really know Him or have genuine peace about your relationship with Him.

How do you define “love”? It is Jesus unselfishly reaching out to mankind, giving Himself to us and bringing good into our life regardless of whether or not we accept Him. Romans 5:8 tells us that His care and concern are so immeasurable that He laid down His life for us while we were still His enemies. In fact, the Bible says that He first began to express His love toward us before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:3-5). That means your actions had absolutely nothing to do with His love for you!

God’s commitment to us has absolutely no conditions or restrictions and isn’t based on whether we love Him back. Nor does He have more love for “good” people who may strike us as more worthy. He loves us even in our sin, even when we don’t repent. Does that give us license to disobey? No. It gives us power to live holy lives, walk obediently with Him, and learn to love Him the way He deserves. To follow Him is to receive the love He has been offering all along.

Every single moment, whether awake or asleep, we all live under the canopy of the Lord’s wondrous, absolute love for us. But to fully experience that love, you must receive it. Say yes to this amazing gift that God wants to pour out on you. Bask in it, and let it overflow to those around you.


Don’t listen to the lies of the enemy, you have incredible worth because God loves you and accepts you.


the pilgrim

3 years, 3 months ago 25


I just returned from CNPA (Carolina Nature Photographers Association) annual meeting.  this  is one of the largest gatherings of nature photographers in America, with over 450 were in attendance for this 3 and 1/2 day conference.  I worked the Nikon booth in the vendor area and talked with hundreds of folks and heard two specific questions over and over, and over!


Question One: Should I buy the D4 or the D800?  


Question Two: Should I buy the D800 or D800e?


Let me attempt to answer these two questions and keep in mind I can only make suggestions based on which camera is best for a certain kind of user or use, the final decision, of course, is up to you!


Question one, D4 or D800?  The D4 which cost $5,999.95 is twice as expensive as the D800, at $2,999.95.  So what does the extra $3000. get you?  The D4 is the fully armor plated, hockey puck tough, tried and true Pro DSLR for people that need speed and longevity!  The D800 is also very ruggedly built, but not up to the toughness of the D4.  The D4 has a shutter rated at 400,000 cycles, twice as long as the D800.  The D4 fires at from 10 to 11 frames per second, over twice as fast at the D800.  The D4 has 16 megapixels on a full 35mm film size FX CMOS Sensor vs the 36.3 megapixels on the same basic size sensor in the D800.  Because the individual pixels are approx. twice as large in the D4 as in the D800 the D4 will be better at delivering low noise in very high ISO shooting, vs the D800.  The D4 is larger and a little heavier than the D800 (*the D4 is lighter than the previous D3s).   The D4 has a number of additional connectivity opportunities not found in he D800 like Ethernet and a direct Wireless transmitter connection.  The D800 is a very high resolution camera, currently the highest resolution camera available in a 35mm camera body size camera in the world! (as of 2/13/12).  This means extraordinary detail in images taken with the camera if you are prepared to use a high resolution camera, to it’s full potential.


To get the most out of  the D800 you will need to do the following:


1.  Shoot with the very best glass Nikon makes:










Does this mean  that only these lenses will give excellent results with the D800?   No, but it does mean optical performance will be critical to getting all the 36 megapixel sensor is capable of delivering!  So get ready to acquire the very best lenses if you want all the performance this camera can deliver!  * When I get my production camera I will run a test with a large number of lenses, old and new, and report, but I suspect I will find that this information will hold up.  * This will be even more critical when using the D800e.


2.  Be prepared to shoot at optimum f stops to get the best optical performance.  The optimum aperture setting for most lenses is approx. three stops down from wide open, for example if you have a 24-70 AF-S  f2.8 Nikkor lens three stops down from f 2.8 would be f8.  Stopping down any further will cause de-fraction which will soften the image and will result in a loss of resolution, which is why you bought the D800  in the first place.  This happens in all lenses, but when we get to the extreme resolution in the D800′s 36 megapixel sensor the effect is greatly magnified, because the resolution is “greatly” magnified.  The result will be that if you often need to stop down to f 11, f 16 or even f 22 the de-fraction affects will be much greater than you have seen in the past with sensors of less resolution. Let’s take a real world example; If you are shooting a stream in the Smokies and need to stop down to f22 to get a long enough shutter speed to blur the water, you will definitely see a loss of sharpness, (resolution), if you stop down that far.  You might use a variable neutral density filter to keep from stopping down that far and shoot at f 8 but then you would loose depth-of-field!  Welcome to the cost of extreme high resolution.


3.  Keeping motion blur to a minimum.  With the advent of the very high resolution of the D8oo everything will be magnified, even camera movement!  It will be more important than ever to use a very sturdy tripod, lock up the mirror, focus using Live view,and take any other preventive measures you can to eliminate camera movement.   The pixel density in the camera acts like a long lens, magnifying any movement. I would say that anyone who shoots hand held will have to take extreme care to avoid soft images due to camera movement, much more so than in the past.  We saw some of this affect in the D3x, it will be 30% more likely now.There is no free lunch, high resolution sensors will require high attention to preventing movement.


4.  Focusing will have to be even more precise.  Once again extreme high resolution gives a great gift, and extracts a great price. Precise focusing will be crucial to getting the full potential of the D800.  Because the latest Pro cameras have the ability to adjust focus point, this should not be a problem, but it will have to be carefully monitored.


5.  Adjusting the High ISO NR setting will help with sharpness.  Once again because of the very high resolution of the D800/D800e the best balance to hold edge shrpness yet offer some noise reduction will be to set the High ISO Noise Reduction levels to Low or Off.  More aggresive noise reduction will result in a higher visable amount of softening of the image.


6. File Size.   The D800 will make files a little more  than double the size of the D4.  A RAW file right out of the D800 will be around 75 mb.  So a 16 gig card will hold around 213 images, a 16 gig card in a D4 will hold about twice that, around 430.  Your 1 TB hard drive would hold something like 1,300 D800 Raw files (no adjustments) and 2,750 D4 RAW files.  Your computer will take more effort to push around the larger files, depending on the speed of your processor and the amount of RAM you have.  Needless to say files from the D800 will require bigger hard drives, and more RAM.  This will really come into play if you shoot HDR.  A 7 stop bracket for HDR in RAW will yield over 500 mb of information for the final image.  That’s both good and not so good, depending on your computer.


Which would I buy for the kind of work I do?  Remember,  I do general nature, close-up, travel, fine art, some aviation and limited sports, and I shoot hand held images out of a moving ultralight airplane!   Most of my images are for LCD projection, or web use,  and I don’t make a great number of very large prints.  I do need to use the full range of  f stops on my lenses because in many of my images extreme depth of field is very important, especially nature landscape and close-up work. Considering all of that,  I’m leaning to the D4, however I will thoroughly test a D80o, when I get one  and will update these thoughts then.  I’m extremely excited about the D80o and can’t wait to wring it out on the kinds of subjects I shoot.  One thing is for sure, even if I love it, and I suspect I will, it will not be a camera I will use casually, it will require extremely good technique to get everything out of it,  that it offers in terms of detail and resolution!  Keep in mind that the D700o is a 16 megapixel camera  on a DX sensor which has much of the same issues, though to a lesser degree.  The D7000 has a pixel density equivalent to the resolution of the D3x which is a 24 megapixel camera!  Anyone who shoots and uses the D7000 has learned these same precautions are needed with it as well, though not to quite a high degree. I can imagine a D4 / D7000 system with the D7000 being the hi res camera!



Question Two, D800 or D800e?  This one is a lot easier to answer. for 98% of all photographers the D8o0 is the best choice.  The D800e is as very special application camera aimed at the very small percentage of studio users that have been using medium format studio digital camera.  They shoot in RAW, they have very tight control; of color and light, and they are very aware of when to expect moier’e patterns.  For general use in the field, the very small percentage of extra resoluton will likely not be worth the extreme extra care needed to get it!  Can it be used with a degree of success in the real world, sure, but trust me it will bring with it a whole host of new issues, you may, or may not be ready to deal with.  My advice stick, with the D800 it has more than enough resolution and sharpness!!!!!  Now having said all of that, if you are a medium format shooter, and know the drill on control of color temperature, and moier’e pattern issues, you will love it!  For all the test of us the D800 will be a much better choice!


* Editorial comment.  I have studied these choices carefully, first because I want to be very honest with you guys, my friends, brothers, and sisters, and fellow photoholics.  I have also been giving this a great deal of thought because the day that I am no longer working at Nikon is closer than ever.  I want to retire someday with at least one FX body and one DX body.   I’m having to make the same decisions you guys are!  When  I’m retired, I want this to be a place you feel safe coming to get the straight story on the latest gear, and I want to never mislead you, which of course, I won’t, I may not always be right, but I will always be honest.


That is an important part of my walk with Christ.  People come to me for advice and often make a buying decision because of my advice.  I not only want them to get the best lens or camera or accessory for them, I want to be sure I don’t destroy my witness of being a man of integrity and honesty in the process.  If  I am to walk in His shadow, I must conduct myself that way!


What a fun time to be a Nikon Tech Rep!


Thank you Father,


the pilgrim