Recent Posts
3 years, 7 months ago 0

First an admission, I’m a photo gear tech-no-nerd. I love photography and I love the gear. I spend way too much time researching and studying it. Well, maybe that’s what I’m paid to do, but I still find myself obsessed with it. This will be an entry to try and help you not fall into my trap, and help me climb out of it.

Let’s start by setting a few important ground rules:

1. Cameras and lenses are made to make “PICTURES”, not be tested (o.k. it’s alright to test them, but that’s not their prime focus in life – sorry for the pun, I know that was lame…..). O.K. got that off my chest. It is natural to want to know all the details about the equipment that we trust to help us make images. It’s also reasonable that with money in short supply, (for most of us), we want to invest it wisely. All good reasons to want to know as much as we can about the gear we plan to buy.
2. For any photographer, one of the most valuable things he or she can have, is to have confidence in their gear, once we feel our gear can do anything we need it to do, we will stop thinking about the gear, (a good thing), and start thinking about making photographs (a great thing). Remember the image, is the final goal…….
3. If you’re going to invest a considerable sum in cameras and lenses, you might as well get the ones that will work great for you, and keep working for a long time.

O.K. I read reviews frequently from Thom Hogan http://bythom.com/ and Ken Rockwell http://www.kenrockwell.com/ and I am a frequent visitor to DP Review http://www.dpreview.com/
I also read reviews written by most of the major magazines, Popular Photography in particular.
By-the-way, I think Thom Hogan is very good photographer as well, I tend to trust his thoughts because he actually uses the gear, himself. Though I often agree with their evaluations I sometimes have a different take on them as well. I’m not suggesting they are wrong, but that I have a different way of interpreting the results they are reporting.

What I hope to learn from a review is trends. If I read ten reviews of a new camera, take the D7000 for instance, I think the overall response to the product will reveal a lot. Since you know, if you come here often, I’m in love with the D7000, naturally I wondered how it was getting reviewed. I printed off ten reviews from online yesterday and then thoroughly read all of them.
The bottom line was that all of the reviews gave the camera very strong marks, not a surprise to me. The interesting difference in the reviews was how they saw the High ISO noise performance.
All the reviews gave it good marks, but a couple thought it was not as good as some of the others
claimed they had determined. How can this be? It’s easy, different reviewers see that one function of a camera as more or less important than another reviewer. Another thing is the experience of the reviewer with other cameras. When I shoot the D7000 for a few days I see not serious problem with noise in the High ISO range (for me up to 1600 ISO). However, if I use the D3s for a day or two, the noise in the D7000 doesn’t impress me as much as it did, standing alone. The D3s is a fully professional DSLR made for speed and low light performance. It truly is not fair to compare a $1,200. mid range DSLR to a $5,000+ Pro DSLR. When asked what the extra $3,800. dollars buys you, that’s one of the answers. Does that make the D7000 less of a camera? Not for me. I just know if I must shoot at 6400, I’m going to be happier with the images from a D3s. I find the D7000 easy to cary, very responsive, and I think in 98% of my photographic situations, it delivers superb results.

The reason I bring this up is that the new website, coming soon, will have a Tech Talk section where I will review and evaluate gear and compare gear. My reviews will be just as likely to show my own prejudices as do all the other reviewers. I will try to maintain a very unbiased stance, but we are all human and our leanings slip into everything we do. I will state up front my parameters, and how I see the review process, which I hope will at least clarify my remarks.

The bottom line is that we all need a good place to go and get, honest, factual information about our photo gear questions. I’m hopeful that when I get started in this venture you will enjoy joining me, just as you do reading the thoughts of the other reviewers.

The image above was chosen for a reason, and you’ve seen it many months ago when I posted it the first time. Some time back I got an email request from the New York offices of Nikon to make some images with the 18-55 AF-S kit lens, for a brochure. To be honest, I had not ever used the lens. It came on some of our less expensive DSLRs and because it is a lighter duty lens, I had set it aside and used lenses I had more experience with. I took the lens out and Jim Begley took me to a neat place to do some testing. When I downloaded the images and started to edit them, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I even checked the EXIF data to be sure the shot was really made with the little 18-55! Sure enough, it was, and I sat down to a big slice of humble pie. I got one more lesson in the field of, “don’t assume you know everything”, category.

Testing can be valuable to establish just what your equipments capabilities are. Once you know you have no excuses. if a camera and lens once made a technically wonderful shot, the process should be reproducible, if you use great technique and work carefully…………

So read, study, test, evaluate and once your settled, go shoot some great images!!!!!!! I’ve said it before, but this might be a good time to repeat it, “If you’re shooting any of the current better cameras out there today, and you’re not getting spectacular results, it’s probably not the camera…….”

God bless,

the pilgrim

*Photo Note: D90 with the 18-55 AF-S VR kit lens. Reminds me why I loved the D90 so much.

He is no fool who gives that which he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.  Jim Elliot
Great quote sent to me form Rodney Smith

O.K. let’s kick this off right, This is my first comparison test. Here is the premise, I love the D7000 and the D3s and i know without running a test that the D3s is the better camera to keep noise down when shooting at high ISO. But, how much better is the D3s really? There is one way to find out, let’s run a test.

Everyone has their own definition of what a “big” print is. For me my normal big print is a 24X36 so that is the size I blew the files up to then pull out a small piece to compare. Look closely at the first image and remember it is a file blown up to 24” X 36” I then went in on a very small portion of that rather large size print to check noise, here goes;

O.K. I’m thinking the same thing you are, I can’t tell anything yet, so lets really go in really radically and see what we can see. The picture above shows the new tiny, tiny crop. I took each file and enlarged it again to 24 X 36, it was, remember, a crop of only 6X8 inches, So now this is a crop from a print bigger than 4 X 6 Feet!

Alright, finally we can see some things to make some assumptions from. Yes the D7000 has more noise than the D3s, wow, big surprise, but, it’s not really relevant until you get to ISO 1600. From then on up it definitely shows up. One thing that does show up, that I didn’t expect, is that the 16.2 mega pixels of the D7000 definitely has more bite than the 12.1 of the D3s. So what am I saying, the resolution of the D7000 will make images look crisper at almost any size, if some minor noise is not your cup of tea, the D3s will still probably make you happier and remember we are only talking about noise, if a big buffer and lots of frame rate are on your need list the D3s is definitely your camera.

But if you don’t make really big prints on a regular basis, don’t need a camera you could drive nails with (meaning super, super tough build), or 9 frames per second, the D7000 would make you a really happy camper.

* I hope this kind of report will be helpful to you, this is what’s coming in October with www.billfortney.com.

Lens used for the test was the 35mm f 1.8 DX. All images were shot hand held. My goal is to make all my tests, real world, the way we actually make images, warts and all……..

3 years, 7 months ago 0

When I played high school football, that term meant you weren’t good enough to be a starter and you saw most of the games action from the bench. Later in life when I was a daily newspaper photographer, (the modern term is photojournalist), I used sit on the bench across the street at the court house and listen to the old guys swap stories, while they whittled wood with their Case knives.
Today I’m a long ways down the trail of life, and when I see a bench it brings a lot of experiences to memory. While walking around Bodie with Richard Small, and later with Mike Anskat, I saw this bench, and I worked on the shot for a long time, because it had a lot of meaning for me.

The bench is a place you go to learn, and grow. Sitting on that bench as a freshman in high school, I found out a lot about football, it wasn’t game experience, but it got me ready to be “in the game”. Sitting on that bench in Harlan, Kentucky didn’t seem at the time to be all that much of an education, it retrospect it was. God knows my heart and he knows the prayer I would like to pray, but no better than to, would be; “Father give me what I want, and please don’t make me wait.” God is to good to listen to that kind of nonsense. Waiting is simply necessary sometimes.

It is in the wait, that we learn what we are going to need when we finally, “get in the game.”
As a photographer I can remember many times being so frustrated because I didn’t think progress, in my work, was coming fast enough. Now, sitting on the bench of experience, I can see it was always coming at just the right pace. Most everything in life takes time, and that time makes us ready for what is coming. Time is the great healer, and the conduit for coming success.

God’s plan for your life is for you to have success, His kind of success, which includes joy, peace,
patience. How do we get patience? By learning how to rest and wait, and still have joy and peace. Trust me, it all works out for your best, God doesn’t make faulty plans……….

Blessings,

the pilgrim

* Photo Note: Nikon D7000, 24-120 AF-S VR f4 lens at F11 and 1/15th of a second,
ISO 200, polarizer and tripod. Zoom set at 92mm.

3 years, 7 months ago 0

The list of things that God can do is almost endless, and the list of things He can’t do is very short. One of the most important things on that list is; He can’t make us believe.

John 14:1-14
New Living Translation (NLT)

   “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. 2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.”
 5 “No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
 6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. 7 If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!”
 8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”
 9 Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me. 11 Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do.
 12 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. 13 You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. 14 Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!

Two events led to my writing this entry, my dear friend & pastor, Tim Thompson, and his sermon this morning, and something that happened in an airport. A few months back I was flying through Atlanta going somewhere, don’t remember where, it all runs together after a while. A lady wearing a Nun’s collar, sitting next to me at a gate asked what the cross around my neck meant to me? I told here that I was a Christian and had given my life to Christ, and it was my outward sign of that commitment. We had a cordial conversation but latter I got to thinking about why I wear a cross visibly on my chest. The sermon this morning helped me to focus more clearly on the why.

First let me tell you how I came to wear a cross. Several month back I was excitedly making preparation for the first His Light Ministries workshop up in Shaker Village. I had prayed a lot about how I could honor God and put Him up front in this exciting new workshop series Jim Begley and I have embarked on. I hope Chuck Summers will join jim and I in a future effort as well.
Back to the cross. I had bought some Christian themed t-shirts for the event and when I opened one from a company called Life is God, clever I thought, the little cross made of nails fell out of the package. I little personal note said, thought you might like to have this to go with the t-shirt. I don’t know this person, but I believe, it was a God thing. For years I’ve resisted wearing a cross
because of the countless “famous” people that sport crosses of all sizes and shapes, but who live lives that don’t indicate that the cross has any real meaning to them. I don’t mean to be judgmental, it’s just I always felt wearing a cross should really make a statement that you should back-up with behavior befitting our Lord. Heaven knows I have not always done that, but I was coming to a place in my life that I really did want to be the man God has called me to be. I truly wanted my behavior to match my faith.

It’s easy to see the power of evil in this world, just watch the news or watch how people treat one another. Is it easy to see the power of God? I think it can be, and I think we can be a part of that demonstration of His Love.

If you give your life to Christ, you can walk in these ways:

Forgiveness
Repentance (change)
Unconditional Love
Grace & Mercy
Healings (Physical, Spiritual, & Emotional)
Unusual Power
Great Faith
Unshakable Peace and Joy
Amazing Wisdom
Extraordinary Blessings and Protection

It takes inward commitment to reveal outward proclamation. I cannot display faith and obedience apart from Him, it is only through His power that I can live above my circumstances and this world.

Ephesians 1:3-4 17-23
New Living Translation (NLT)

 3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. 4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.

17 asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. 18 I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.
 19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. 21 Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. 22 God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. 23 And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.
My hearts desire is for verse 14 to become true in everyone’s heart,
14 I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.
So why wear a cross? To point others to a life better than they could ever imagine, I life invested in Him.

In Christ,

the pilgrim

*Photo Note: D7000, 85 Micro Nikkor DX, Nikon CLS (one SB-900 off camera,
wirelessly fired.)

3 years, 7 months ago 1

As each phase of our lives pass, we enter new and uncharted territory. In the next few years I will be retiring from my NPS position at Nikon, but I won’t be retiring. I will be starting what I hope is the next part of what has been a fantastic life. My goal is to spend my time devoted to serving Him and teaching and shooting. Since a big part of the future will be my faith outreach, and my photography teaching through my own workshops, and Kelby Training/NAPP, I wanted to have a vehicle that will support all of that. When I started my website, www.billfortney.net some years ago I wanted the web address billfortney.com but someone has bought it with the thought that
when I finally realized I needed it, I would pay their very high fee, ($500.), to have it. They were wrong, I purchased .net instead. Over time they must have realized billfortney.com was not a hot property and let it go, I got it last week for around twenty bucks.

My extremely talented friend, RC Concepcion of Kelby Media, has agreed to help me develop a completely new website with the address www.billfortney.com (If you click on the link now nothing will come up, we hope to have it up and running my October). With this kind of wonderful talent helping me design the site I have high hopes that it will be something you will really enjoy. We will be using WordPress for a clean, professional, and easy to navigate site.

Let me tell you some of what you will find there;

1. First it will be a one stop spot to get to everything. All my information will be there at one simple to find, and easy to remember address.
2. Second, it will become the permanent home for the Pilgrim’s Chronicles. Everyday I will post, just as I have for the last two years, and it will be one easy click away once you get to billfortney.com. A new feature will include great links for other Christian Photographers sites that will inspire you. Also links to great sites to help with Bible study and research. *If you’re a believer/photographer with your own site or know of a great site, please email your site address so I can look it over and see if it would be a good site for my readers. We want to share the Good News……..
3. The new site will be the home of extensive Galleries of my work. The categories for these galleries will be: Aerial, Aviation Art (AVART), Nature Landscape, Close-up, Fine Art, people, Americana, HDR, Black & White, and much more. A link for print ordering will be available as well for those that have requested how to get signed prints. Incredible Aluminum prints will be available through Image Wizards and conventional and canvas wrap prints through MPIX Pro.
4. The new site will include a new feature that I am tentatively calling Tech Talk. Illustrated articles on all things technical about photography, camera reviews, lens comparisons, test reports on new products, accessories, and much more. A fun place to get honest information about all the things photographic we all buy, and use.
5. The new website will also feature a new section called, The Learning Center. This will be a site with articles on how to make better photographs, with illustrated lessons on, exposure, composition, light, color, patterns, texture, sharpness, motion affects and many other subjects directly related to becoming a more effective photographer.
6. The Great American Cheeseburger will finally get it’s own dedicated site. All the info from the current website, and much more will be available, with frequent updates on great burgers across the fruited plain!
7. Another cool sub-site will be “Trivial Pursuits”. All the fun things that made up some of the original website will be expanded upon in the new .com site. The Lists, Quotes, and other fun stuff will always be available and “updated” here.
8. Workshops & Lectures, finally for those kind, and wonderful people that keep emailing me wanting to know where I will be teaching workshops and doing speaking engagements, an
entire section will be one click away, with locations, dates, and all the pertinent information
you’ve been asking for. When I’m no longer punching the 60 hour a week job clock, there will
be time to offer more opportunities for us to fellowship, travel, and shoot in-the–field together.
1. On top of all this we hope to make use of the latest video technology throughout the website
to bring great reports to you with Hi Def video, and sound……..

Don’t worry, we will be giving you ample time to know when the big changeover is coming, we will work on it diligently and hopefully it will be even sooner than October.

Serious Business; Let me take a moment to thank you and make you a promise. When I started the Pilgrim’s Chronicles two years ago I had no idea that the visits would exceed 100,000 hits. We were over 60,000 visits when the site crashed, and have added over 50,000 since then. I want to promise you that I will continue to make serving our Lord the most important thing on my mission statement. He will always be in first place. Second, since this is an outreach ministry to the photography community I will work hard to bring you relevant and helpful photography information that will help you enjoy the process of getting better and better as a shooter. Lastly I will continue to try and share the sheer excitement I have about life, laughter, fellowship, and of course a great cheeseburger.

Because, post full time employment, I will be attempting to support my photography habit with additional income, some aspects of the new website will be for commerce. I may have some sponsors, but only if they are products that I use myself, and have the greatest confidence in. I would never recommend something to you just because their is some gain in it for me, that’s not the way things are done here, and never will bel Any advise offered here will be something I truly believe in or it will go unsaid. If Jesus is looking over my shoulder, and He is, you can be assured that my recommendations will be run through that filter before you ever see them.

Please continue to join me, tell your friends this is a safe place to come. Come often, and enjoy what we all celebrate together, a joy of capturing this great world with our cameras, and holding the Lord in the center of our hearts.

To and exciting future, be blessed,

the pilgrim

P.S. I would welcome suggestions for the new site, I want this to be a place you want to visit and gain much from. Please email all suggestions to: billfortney@earthlink.net

*Photo Note: P7000, Arches National Park.

Sherelene is working this weekend, so I am as well………..