Recent Posts
8 months ago 12



The joy of teaching!  I’m so thankful to be able to teach, to know enough about anything that someone would want me to teach them about it!!!!  I hope and pray that through the years I have provided someone one magical moment,  they will remember forever!


I had a teacher, and instructor, and a mentor that provided me just such an experience.  John Kemmeries was my ultra light flex wing instructor.  He was one of the most capable pilots I’ve ever known.  Crippled from the waist down, the result of a parachute folding on him from a hundred feet up, crushing his legs.  That didn’t stop John, as soon as he recovered “enough” he was back in the air. John could fly a trike like no one I’ve ever seen!  John taught me to fly, and how to fly safely, but he gave me much more, he provided me “the expereince”.  It was a sunrise flight over Lake Pleasant just north of Phoenix, Arizona.  John was teaching me how to handle a plane in the air, working on my turns and approaches to the airport, and landings.  A thin layer of puffy clouds was lying in flat blanket only a thousand or so feet off the ground.  I could see the crystal clear blue sky through some of the big opening in the clouds.


My intercom cracked with John’s self assured voice, “have you ever flown above the clouds?”  I answered, “Every time I fly commercially!”  He laughed and said, “you didn’t answer my question, I said have YOU ever flown above the clouds?”  I responded, “No Sir”  He instructed me to pick a big opening and throttle up, and climb up through the opening to above the clouds.  As I started up between the clouds it was like no experience I had ever had, I was actually in between clouds, clouds I felt I could reach out and touch, but then the greatest moment of all happened!  As I broke above the clouds the early morning sun light shot through the misty clouds and hit me right in the face!  It was simply the most beautiful sight I have ever seen. I’ve used the expression breathtaking before, but this was the most breath taking thing I had ever seen,  or would ever see since!


John Kemmeries gave me that gift, a moment, a moment always and forever frozen in time.  I will never forget that moment, and I will never forget John Kemmeries.  I believe John knew exactly what he was doing.  I hope someone out there among the over 7,000 students I’ve had at workshops and events  has had just one moment so impactful.  All the travel, early rising and staying out late, would be worth it, if I could give that gift to just one other person!!!!!


So I’m thankful to be a teacher, and to even have the chance of doing for someone what John did for me.


Thanks John.


Blessings and Happy Thanksgiving,


the pilgrim


What is a trike?  This is a trike, a three wheel cart with engine, suspended below a beefed up 14 meter hang gliding wing!


8 months ago 12



Thursday we will all be celebrating Thanksgiving Day.  For me, every day, is Thanksgiving Day, because I have so much to be thankful for!   I was in my driveway this morning when I heard a plane fly overhead.  I looked up to see what kind plane it was, something I do all the time.  It took me back in and instant, to my youth, and that’s a long ways back!  From the time I was a little boy I’ve been obsessed with airplanes, and I am always looking for them, and listening for them!  When I was little, my neighborhood friend, Joe Guthrie,  and I used to take a cardboard box and draw instruments on it and stick clothespins in it as make believe switches.  We would sit in the make believe cockpit of our make believe plane and fly all over the world!


Through out my young life, my twenties and thirties, forties too, I wanted to be a pilot.  Raising a family, tight budgets and no time, it never happened.  I wasn’t bitter, it is the way life works out some time, I was o.k. with it, just little sad.  This morning when I looked up to see the plane I smiled and thought how gracious God is.  In my fifties, I watched a movie with my kids, and it featured a father and daughter flying an ultra light airplane.  A spark went off and the next thing I knew I was looking into ultra lights, then training and before I knew it, I was a “pilot”!!!!  So I’m thankful, got that, I’m thankful!!!!  I became a pilot, and not only that, I got to fly my little airplane in over 90 exciting locations across America, did a book and then learned to fly a different kind of ultra light and did another book, another bunch of incredible locations!!!  I’m thankful, so thankful!!!  Imagine that a dream had for almost fifty years, and God never gave up on it, even if I thought it was long past!


Then there is a 46 year incredible marriage, three great kids, (now adults), 6 wonderful grand children, a handful of dear, dear friends.  A profession that provides endless excitement and fulfillment.  Yes, I’m thankful, today and every day, and Thursday for sure!!!!




the pilgrim

8 months ago 2



Well it’s that time of year again, the Holiday Season!  Soon to be followed by a lot of new products being released in January!  For now it is a tradition that I chime in on my favorite products of the current year.  You guys know that I’m a died in the wool Fuji guy, but I see a lot of products students and friends are using and I test a fair number of products myself.  Some folks enjoy my ramblings, and then, you don’t have to read any further if you don’t want to!


So, here goes:


The BEST DSLR for the money?  The Nikon D750.   This is one of the best thought out products to come from Nikon in a long time.  Just the right amount of resolution, good build quality, and it makes a fantastic image.  The price is right too!


The BEST All Around DSLR.  The Canon 5D Mark III.  When I worked for Nikon this camera gave us fits!  It is a well built picture making machine and I can’t tell you how many great images I’ve seen made with it the hands of a skilled photographer.  It’s not cheap, but worth every penny.


The BEST APS-C DSLRs, The Nikon D7200 and the Canon 7D Mark II.  The APS-C sensor has proven itself a very worthy competitor to the full frame cameras with the advantage of smaller body size and higher pixel density!  Pixel Density?  Think about it,  if you put 24 million pixels on a full frame sensor and then put the same 24 million pixel on the small APS-C sensor, the pixel must be smaller and tighter packed on the APS-C sensor, thus higher resolution.  An APS-C  sensor with 24 mega pixels has the equivalent resolution of a 36 mega pixel full frame camera!  Surprised?  It’s true and it works!!!!  But doesn’t Full Frame hold a low noise at High ISO advantage?  Not nearly as much a they used to!!!



The TOP PRO DSLRs for the sports shooters and photojournalists.    Easy one here, the Nikon D4s and the Canon EOS-1D X .  Both are fast, capable, and built like tanks!  If you abuse and use your cameras severely, these are the ones for you!!!!!  Built to last and keep shooting under the most extreme cicumstances!



The BEST HI RESOLUTION DSLR?  The Nikon D810.  I’m not bragging, but I was one of the very first people in America to see and shoot the D800. long before it was known to exist.  I thought then, and I still think now, why?  Does the D800 series of cameras make phenomenal images, you bet!  Do we need that many mega pixels?  Very, very, very few of us  do.  For them this is a godsend, for the rest of us it introduces more trouble than it’s worth.  Does that mean the D810 is not a great camera?  Not at all.  But if you buy one, be prepared to have to do everything as close to perfect as possible, it is demanding, but if you do, wow,  it is spectacular!  The new Canon 51 mega pixel?Just multiply what I just said by a factor of 2!!!!



The BEST HIGH END MIRROR-LESS Camera System?  Well, the Fuji X System of course and the X System lenses   The Fuji X-T1 and it’s associated pieces have e changed my photographic life!  A second place finisher would be the Olympus OM-D1 camera and it’s system! Both of these cameras are smaller, lighter, well made and make exceptional images.



THE BEST MIRROR-LESS CAMERA FOR VIDEO.  The Panasonic L:mix G4!  This is a camera rmakes spectacular video, 4K, sweet, beautiful video, and it’s reasonably priced!



The BEST COMPACT CARRY CAMERAS?  The Fuji X100T & the Fuji X30!  O.K. I simply picked my two favorite!  I know there are lots of very good, small, easy to carry, travel and all occasion cameras out there.  But I do love both of these, and they will make images indistinguishable from the big boys, if you treat them right!



SOME TOP LENSES:  My pick for the Best wide angle zoom is the new Canon EF 11-24 f 4 L, a suburb optic with a tremendous range!  The best Mid Range Zoom?  the Fuji XF 16-55 f 2.8 R LM WR.  The best new Super Long Telephoto Zoom?  the Nikon 200-500 f 5.6 E ED VR lens, great range and tack sharp!  Finally, the Best new LEGENDARY Lens, The Fuji New Fuji 90mm F 2 R LM WR lens is simply the finest lens I’ve ever shot,  I only have one thing I don’t like about it, my wife keeps complaining about rolling over in bed against it!!!!



SOME MORE TOP LENSES:  The BEST TELEPHOTO ZOOMS?  The Fuji 50-140mm f 2.8 R LS OIS WR.  The sharpest 70-20-o0 equivalent I’ve ever shot and with the best OIS I’ve ever seen!  I can actually shoot at 200mm equiv. at 1/8th of a second and get tack sharp results!  The Olympus Zuiko ED 40-150mm f 2.8.  The two best Super zooms are the Fuji 18-135 and the Sony 24-200 f 3.5-6.3.  The Fuji is tack sharp, and the Sony is sharp enough, but a much needed lens for that, lens poor, system!!!



…..and finally my new favorite small backpack.  The Tamrac Anvil Slim 11.


Well, there goes my 2015 picks, hope you like them!




the pilgrim

8 months ago 2



Searching for color?  You should be.  Sometimes color can be a subject all in itself!  Let me offer a Pre-Thanksgiving suggestion.  Give yourself an assignment of looking for color.  Look for color t hat speaks to you, it can be subtle or can be gangbusters, but look for it!!!!  Please allow to share some of my favorites!








So give it some thought!!!!


Blessings and have a happy weekend!


the pilgrim