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5 years, 1 month ago 10

Yesterday, today and probably tomorrow I have been and will be cleaning my office, a task something like wrestling a 20 foot Python!!  It’s shocking how much you accumulate when you refuse to throw anything away for over 30 years!!!  It has also been a flood of memories of a 43 year career as a photographer!  This little is by no means exhaustive, just what I’ve uncovered under layers of stacked books, papers, and nylon, velcro and zippers!  This is not bragging, it’s and attempt to say Thank You Father for having provided me such a rich life filled with wonderful friends, great experiences and tremendous joy!  So here are some of the great memories!


1.  America From 500 Feet the single greatest photographic achievement of my career, and the best memories ever of a time for a father and son to discover America and each other over our 14 month journey!  It was also the most successful photographic venture of my life!


2.  Outdoor Photographer Magazine I wrote articles for this magazine on a number of occasions and it brought me one of my most treasured friends in photography, Rob Sheppard.  In this Annual Landscape issue I was featured as one of Masters of Landscape photography, a very appreciated honor.


3.  The Nature of AmericaMy first book done along with David Middleton, a runaway best seller, and a chance to work with the very finest nature shooters of our time.  It was an honor to be in such a project with such incredible shooters!  The biggest bonus was to become a life long friend with David!  My only regret is that I did not know Moose Peterson very well back then, if I did such a book today, he would definitely be included along with Jim Begley, Chuck Summers, Scott Kelby, Matt Kloskowski, R.C. Concepcion and many others!!!!!


4.  Color Transparencies (slides for you youngsters) –  I have over 25,000 in my file cabinets  spanning a life time of photography from virtually every National Park, many foreign countries including Africa and the Galapagos Islands.  Sadly, now that digital has matured, none of them can even hope to match the quality of what we are producing today.  That number may seem small and it is compared to some other people’s archives, keep in mind I’ve thrown at least 35,000 away over the last 30 years!


5.  A Time It Was by Bill EppridgeOne of our greatest photojournalists and a dear friend.  If you are not steeped in photojournalism history, Bill shot the very famous, and Pulitzer Prize winning photograph of a dying Bobby Kennedy.  Bill was among the finest shooters I’ve ever known, and his note to me in this book is one of my most treasured assurances of friendship with another photographer!


6.  An Original First Edition Copy of Deliverance by James DickeyA gift from Sam Garcia, one of the best photographers I’ve ever known and a man who’s work has inspired me for over three decades.  You may already know that actor Ned Beatty is my first cousin, my father’s, sister’s son.  I have since forgiven him for this role!!!


7.  Nikon World Magazine One of my most coveted covers from America From 500 Feet II done with my dear friend Mark Kettenhofen.  I’v e always been a fan of Nikon World magazine and I’m proud to have been featured as a photographer twice in between it’s covers.


8.  It’s a Jesus Thing by Scott Kelby This book is the culmination,  for me of a great friendship with Scott Kelby, the most talented person I’ve ever known.  Scott is not only a world class shooter in many fields, a runaway best selling author, exceptional presenter, but most of all has been a great brother in Christ for me!  He has opened my world up more than any other friend, and has allowed me to become a member of his great extended family of exceptionally talented people.


9.  NASA Shuttle Launch Notebook I have 5 sets of these notebooks one from each of the 5 shuttle launches I was privileged to shoot and experience along side my great friends, Bill Pekala, Ron Tanawaki, and Mark Suban!


10.  A Year in the Cumberland Gap by Chuck Summers A book does not have to be big to have impact, and Chuck’s book on Cumberland Gap, one of our lesser known National Parks, is an extraordinary volume.  Chuck as you read yesterday is a wonderful friend, and his work is truly stunning.


11.  One of a handful of clip on credentials from NASA These credentials are not only hard to get, I treasure them for the memories!


12.   Great Photography Workshop  When I pitched this book to Northword press the working tittle was Getting Serious About Nature Photography, they changed the title to Bill Fortney’s Great Photography Workshop. I’ve always loved the book, and hated that tittle!!!  It was the Editors Choice Winner the year it was published.


13.  The Datebook that accompanied America From 500 FeetWhat a thrill it was to spend one year re-living Wes’ and my great adventure in our own datebook!!!


14.  A Touch of His Joy by Dr. Charles Stanley  Charles is one of my closest friends and I admire his work for our Lord more than I can express.  He has been one of my spirituyal hero’s. You can imagine the shock and joy when he sent me this book and I read the Dedication; “To Bill Fortney, one of my favorite photographers whose friendship has brought me a great deal of joy.” Wow, still can’t believer that one…..


15.  Nikon and You – Employee ManualReminds me of the almost 11 great years of working  with  the greatest professional support team in the world of photography!


16.  Cover of Ultra Flight Magazine I’ve been featured flyinfg my ultralights twice on the covers of Ultra Flight magazine.  I wrote numerous articles about flying light aircraft, and have made two great firends in Jim Byers and Roy Beisswenger!


17.  My favorite zoom, the Nikkor 50-135 f 3.5 manual focus zoomThis has been one of my favorite zoom lenses through out much of my career, many of my America From 500 Feet images were made with it!  It still is tack sharp today even on the D800!!!


18.  A couple of strips of negatives  – I have shot thousands upon thousands of black and white rolls of film.  Processed and made thousands of prints in my own darkrooms.  I find myself now in the digital era drawn back to this lovely way of making images!


19.  Batteries (the power)  Nothing happens without power, and as much as I’ve depended on hundreds of these little guys,  I’ve been completley dependent on the power from my Heavenly Father!


20.  Home My favorite destination after these last incredible 43 years.  I’ve driven well over 1,000,000. miles, flown at least half that many, and been gone over 200 nights a year for the last 25 years.  This is most beautiful thing I ever see, my drive way at the end of yet another long trip!!!


Once again, thank you Father for giving me such a blessed life!


Blessings to all of you,


the pilgrim


5 years, 2 months ago 7

I read a great article from a photographer nameed Patrick La Rogue and he made some very valid points about single focal length and zoom lenses.  Here is part of his article wheich I found very interesting!!


“I’ll put my cards on the table right away: I’ve developed a slightly tumultuous relationship with zooms. They’re very useful tools but I’ve come to realize they also tend to drive me into what I’d call visual laziness. When I decided to jump to the X system as my one and only kit, I also embraced the fact that I’d be shooting with nothing but primes. In fact much of that decision was coloured by my experience with the X100’s fixed focal length and the way it affected my shooting reflexes. Not that this was anything new: I used Nikon primes as well. But committing to a single focal length for extended periods of time wasn’t something I’d really done before. When I shoot a prime I need to move — Obviously; I need to walk in order to alter my distance to the subject; and while I walk my brain works, and when my brain works it notices its surroundings and finds details or angles I often would’ve overlooked otherwise. But with a zoom… No matter how much I try, it’s always much too easy to fall back to those old reflexes. Twist in, twist out. Maybe if we stopped calling them zooms in the first place. That word doesn’t do justice to what’s going on optically. Maybe instead we could describe them as multi-focal lenses. There’s definitely something pretty fantastic about having the equivalent of 8 primes on a single lens… IF you use it as such. IF you understand how to use each individual focal length in the right context, and how each one changes the entire aspect of an image way beyond making things look nearer or closer. Compression, distortion, spatial perception. Of course you can also use it to get a closer shot of that mountain way out there; but perhaps if you actually GO to the mountain, something amazing will happen along the way. Right, so where was I? Ah yes: no zooms for me. Huh…”  He goes on to talk about a zoom he really likes but still plans to use  it  as a series of single focal length lenses!


His point is dead on.  We can in fact get “visual laziness”!  I think making ourselves use either single focal length lenses or at least pick just one focal length on our zooms,  and move to try and make it work will improve our photographs and our vision as well!  Another thing we need to be very careful about is think that the effect of cropping factors making lenses something they are not.  Example a 6omm lens is a 60mm lens, but when used on a 1.5 crop factor sensor it “crops” to the size of an image made with a 90mm (60 X 1.5 = 90), However it is still a 60mm lens!!!  The reason I say this is that traditionally 85mm to 105 mm are considered the best portrait lenses, because of the perspective with which they show the human face.  So even thought a 60mm lens on a 1.5 crop sensor crops like a 90, it does not have the perspective of a 90!  This is why to be an effective photographer you need to learn what the perspective is at various focal lengths even if you use zooms!


Food for thought!  And thanks Patrick, for a good point we all need to think about!




the pilgrim

5 years, 2 months ago 6

I love wood and old rusted steel!  I grew up in and era when you bought stuff by the pound, the more it weighed, the more it was worth.  Maybe that is why I’m drawn to old heavy, historic things.  Things of substance!  Today I spent the day shooting down in Big South Fork Scenic Recreation area with Chuck Summers.  Chuck has been a dear friend, and brother for a long time. Today’s blog is about substance, and so is Chuck!  Chuck is one of those rare friends that is truly there when you need him.  I can’t tell you how many tough times he has seen me through, how many times he has prayed for me, and how many times he has just listened to me.  He has always been there for me, he has been real substance in my life!


So I want to encourage him as he starts pastoring a new church in Henderson, Kentucky.  Today’s In Touch devotional was the perfect words to share with a friend that has shared so much of his life with me,  be encouraged my friend……


Psalm 139

New Living Translation (NLT)

O Lord, you have examined my heart
    and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
    and when I rest at home.
    You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
    even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too great for me to understand!


I can never escape from your Spirit!
    I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
    if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
    if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    and your strength will support me.
11 I could ask the darkness to hide me
    and the light around me to become night—
12     but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
    Darkness and light are the same to you.


13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.

Every day of my life was recorded in your book.

Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.


17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
    They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them;
    they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
    you are still with me!


19 O God, if only you would destroy the wicked!
    Get out of my life, you murderers!
20 They blaspheme you;
    your enemies misuse your name.
21 O Lord, shouldn’t I hate those who hate you?
    Shouldn’t I despise those who oppose you?
22 Yes, I hate them with total hatred,
    for your enemies are my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
    and lead me along the path of everlasting life.



Most of us yearn to walk through life with a sense of confidence and assurance. But see if the following scenario ever describes you: At the end of your day or week, you feel worn out and depleted. Your nerves are frazzled—you seem to be in a season of trials, trudging through valleys, water, and fire. You know Scripture says the Lord has omniscience and uses all things for His good purposes, but feelings of isolation and discouragement leave you wondering if He’s even aware of the situation.

If that sounds familiar, then you need this reminder: You do not journey through this life alone. Our loving heavenly Father is and has been with each believer every single day. He travels with us side by side and hand in hand. We are walking in the presence of the living God, whose Spirit abides with us and is in us (John 14:16-17).

No matter what season of life you are in—no matter how long, short, painful, or easy it might be—God wants you to know you are never alone. He is with you always (Matt. 28:20). Allow yourself to be encouraged by that truth.

David reflected on this reassurance in Psalm 139—he realized that no matter where we might go, the Lord is right there with us. We are never beyond the reach of a God who is full of lovingkindness, mercy, and comfort (1 Chron. 16:34; 2 Cor. 1:3).

Friend, remember that God is faithful and omnipresent. You have a partner in this life—a friend that sticks closer than a brother (Prov. 18:24), and He will never leave or forsake you, on this day or any other. Have a wonderful time walking with Him today.


Chuck know that our Heavenly Father has wonderful plans for you, Bonita, and your ministry! Let go, and trust Him, and know we are all lifting you in prayer!




the pilgrim


5 years, 2 months ago 6

This mornings devotional on In touch was too good not to pass on and then add a little personal insight.


Deuteronomy 7:7-9     New Living Translation (NLT)

“The Lord did not set his heart on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other nations, for you were the smallest of all nations! Rather, it was simply that the Lord loves you, and he was keeping the oath he had sworn to your ancestors. That is why the Lord rescued you with such a strong hand from your slavery and from the oppressive hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands.


Spring, summer, fall, and winter—these are the seasons of the year. Life also has its seasons. Some are filled with joy, while others are characterized by difficulty. Take comfort because there is a principle from the Bible that can encourage and sustain you through every season: Our God is faithful.

We learn about this attribute of the Lord from passages like  1 Corinthians 1:9, where Paul says, “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” To say that God is faithful means He always does exactly what He says He will do.

How reassuring it is to know that He will keep His promises to His children and never leave their side, whatever “season” of life they are in. No matter how deep, how dark, how depressing, how hopeless, or how good things may seem, the child of God can count on the Father’s abiding presence. 

So regardless of your present trials or triumphs, embrace these three truths:

1. God will be faithful to you because it is His very nature (Ps. 36:5).

2. God knows all about your situation; you are never alone in any season of life (Ps. 139:7-12).

3. God is omnipotent, so He has the power to meet every single need, and He knows how to move you through the various seasons of your life (Rom. 8:28).

Hold onto this fact: You will change and seasons will change, but our wonderful God is always the same. That means He won’t fail you, He won’t waver on you, and He won’t vary—you can fully rely on Him. And He will never forget about you; He is with you always. Great is His faithfulness!


I have been the benefactor of many incredible acts of the faithfulness of God.  Let share several important ones to me.


In High School and College I had several girl friends, I was young, so you can count that against my judgment, but I was sure each one was the “one”!!  Needless to say by time I graduated and returned to my home town, Harlan, I was girl friendless…  To be honest, I was very lonely, and I was questioning why my God was leaving me alone in the world.  The answer to my prayers was not immediate.  Then one night while visiting my father in the hospital, I mete a pretty young nurse!  One date later, I had found the love of my life.   44 years later, I can see what god was saving me for!  Not a day has gone by  that I haven thanked Him for this my greatest earthly gift!


One of the great loves of my life has been football.  I played in High School and had a chance to play in college, but frankly I was just not big enough or fast enough to play major college ball.  I coached high school ball and really enjoyed it but, it was obvious tome that my future was not going to be as a player or along term as a coach.  During my time coaching I picked up a 35mm camera ands started dabbling in photography, something I had always had an interest in.  God opened doors that led to my life time passion with and involvement in photography. With the exception of my Lord, my wife and family, and friends, photography has become the joy of my life.


Twice I’ve faced cancer and in both cases, great medical folks and my Lord have seen me  through both!  He not only helped me to recover, he taught me life lessons of incompressible value through both experiences.


Some might say that these are all coincidences.  Believe what you wish, but I know what I believe, my God has been faithful in every aspect of my life, both large and small!




the pilgrim