Recent Posts
6 months ago 7

I get emails……  Whenever I do a  few days of gear entries I get two kinds of emails, “l love it, do more!!!!” and “I’m sick of gear blog entries!”  It’s o.k., no hard feelings, I understand, some folks love to talk gear, others don’t,  I take no offense!  I write articles about gear, because;  ( a.) it’s my blog, and ( b. ) I do like to talk gear, I’ve been doing it for a long, long time!  I do however agree with the statement in one email I got, the person quoted,  ”How much of difference does it make anyway!!!???” Truthfully, very little!  I’m shooting my best images in 45 years, but I could just as well be shooting them with a Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax, Leica, etc, etc,!   I just like what I’m shooting now, that’s all….


We need cameras to make photographs, though art work in the form of images can be made with other devices.  Lynn Rogers makes wonderful images with a flatbed scanner.  It is however impossible to image everything with a scanner!  Yes cameras matter, and lenses and tripods and accessories, but not as much as you might think.  When I lecture I love to share an image and shock people with the technical details of t he image!


This image which I’m very happy with in all technical terms, was made with a Nikon P5000 Coolpix camera, a sub $500. point an shoot.  I’m fond of saying treat any camera like a “real” camera and it will give “real” results!


I think what I’m saying is that what Rod Planck said many years ago still holds true today, “Technique trumps equipment every time!”  So on that point I can fully agree with the gear heads and the don’t care for gear talk folks, in a sense you’re both right!  Whatever you use, use it to full advantage, have fun, and enjoy the craft!




the pilgrim

6 months, 1 week ago 13


Since Catherine Martin asked about the Fuji X100s I thought I might go forward with a little more about this extraordinary camera.  While the X100s has many wonderful features and performance parameters that makes it special, it not so much what it is capable of that makes me enjoy it, but what it makes me capable of!


The cameras doesn’t call attention to itself, it allows you to be in the moment and see and quickly capture that moment.  The image below is one of my favorites because of how much I love and appreciate the subject, and it would not have been captured if I had been struggling with controls when it happened.  It’s my partner in His Light, Jim Begley in old Baptist Missionary church in Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.




This shot was a much more studied image off the tripod in Canonsburg Park, during last years Nashville event.  This monochrome shows the extreme quality of the 23mm lens on the X100s.



It’s the “always have it with you camera!”.  When Jim took me to visit a famous glass blowing artist he knew in Danville, Kentucky, I didn’t even take a “serious” camera.  I was wowed by his work and with the help of the X100s was able to carefully pull off some available light hand held work!



……..and another!



I’m an admitted “texture addict”, I see it everywhere I go, and when you can have a small compact camera capable of capturing it, well, that is a good thing!



When Jack Graham and I did a workshop out in Death Valley we visited the Rhyolite Mines Ghost Town, and I stumbled on some “Freaky” art, just had to shoot it, the monochrome out of the X100s was stunning!



At our lunch stop we had a surprise guest for our outdoor lunch, a burrow, gotta have a camera ready!  X100s!



How about capturing your friends in the field like Ted Thelin in Death Valley!  The X100s is a great “photograph your friends” camera!




The 35mm equiv. lens on the X100s is limiting at a place like Bad Water in Death Valley, but still very usable as evidenced below.



Sometimes when the light is magic at Zabriskie Point in Death Valley and all you have with you is the X100s, you just have to make do!



It’s more versatile than you would think, has quality to spare, and is my constant companion!



Want the tech info on it?  Read the DP Review article linked below!  They gave it their Gold Award 83% score, among the highest ever!




the pilgrim


There you go Catherine!



6 months, 1 week ago 32


If this is “My” perfect system how does that help you???!!!  Well, building a system is all about knowing who you are, what you like to shoot, and what suits you!  I’ve been working on my system for the last 45 years, and it has changed many, many, many times, call me fickle, but every change was because I learned something!  Since this is a teaching moment, let me walk you through the process:


1.  List the kinds of subjects you shoot.  If you shoot sports, or NASCAR, or dangerous reptiles, you’re going to need very specialized gear.  If you are a travel photographer you will want to have a smaller, lighter system, or if  you shoot nature you will want a system with a wide range of lens focal lengths and close-up gear!  Get the point, first step is;  know thyself!


2.  Decide what brand you prefer. Let’s face it there is a lot of great stuff out there, and it is all different in some ways, my advice is pick the size camera you like (small – medium – large) and then pick the one that feels the best in your hands!  Read up on the lens system and see what other, more experienced shooters, are saying about the quality of the glass.  Read the test reports and see what people think of the brand.  Read a lot and average out what you’re hearing!!!!  Run your own tests too, it’s easy now that you can rent gear!


3.  Determine how much you want to carry and how you are going to work with your system?  If you’re young and strong you may love carrying a 70 lb. back pack full of gear.  Then again if you’re almost seventy and seen better days,  maybe not so much!  If you are going to carry a lot of stuff, or if you can’t, you need a plan!!!  I’ve got a plan, more on that later!


4.  Make a reasonable estimate of your budget.  Let’s face it, “almost” no one can buy it all, and even if you could, re-read point three.  Once you know what you can afford you can make better choices.  Keep in mind that the more you spend does not always mean the more you will get!  There are some gear with high value out there.


So my “current” perfect system is listed below, and then some images on how I pack  it!


“My” Ultimate System


Fuji X-T1 body with battery pack RRS “L” bracket

Fuji X-T1 body with battery pack RRS “L” bracket  (to be added soon)

Fuji X-E2 body with battery pack RRS “L” bracket/grip

Fuji X100s camera with 23mm f 2  RRS “L” bracket and grip


Rokinon 8mm Fisheye f 2.8 lens   (12mm Fisheye)

Fuji 10-24 f 4 OIS                (15-36)       72mm polarizer

Fuji 14 f 2.8                           (21mm)      62mm polarizer

Fuji 23 f 1.4                           (35mm)      62mm polarizer

Fuji 35 f 1.4                           (52mm)      52mm polarizer

Fuji 56 f 1.2                           (85mm)      62mm polarizer

Fuji 60 f 2.4                           (90mm)      39mm polarizer

Fuji 18-55 f 2.8-4 OIS         (27-83)        58mm polarizer

Fuji 55-200 f 3.5-4.8 OIS   (82-300)     62mm polarizer


  • Possible Future Additions:


  • 16mm f 1.4                          (24)
  • 16-55 f 2.8 OIS WR        (24-84)
  • 50-135 f 2.8 OIS WR     (75-210)
  • 120-400 f ? OIS WR       (180-600)


Fuji EF-X80 flash


Nikon Manual Lenses:

200mm Micro Nikkor f 4 IF AF     (300mm f 4)

Nikon 200mm f 4 AI-S                     (300mm f 4)

Nikon 400mm f 3.5 IF-ED AI-S     (600mm f 3.5)

Nikon TC-14B Tele-converter


Close-Up Lenses:

Nikon 3T Diopter  (52mm)

Nikon 4T Diopter  (52mm)

Nikon 5T Diopter  (62mm)

Nikon 6T Diopter  (62mm)

Raynox DCR-150    (Variable)

Raynox DCR-250    (Variable)

Canon 250D Diopter   (58mm)

Canon 500D Diopter   (77mm)


Singh Ray  Neutral Density  5 Stop  -  10 Stop  -  15 Stop   (77mm)

Singh Ray  Color Intensifier  -  Tony Sweet Soft Ray  -  I-Ray  (77mm)

Singh Ray  Split Neutral Density Soft 2 & 3 stops




In a Guru Gear Kiboko 22L back pack,  (now discontinued but replaced with newer better version of the same basic bag), I carry my extra bodies, shown above, Fuji X-Pro 1 (soon to be replaced with a second X-T1) and my wonderful Fuji X100s.  a Micro Nikkor 200mm lens and hood, and a 200mm f 4 moderate telephoto manual focus lens (happens to be wonderful for close-up work with diopters.)





In the other lift side of the bag is my long lens, a mint condition Nikon 400mm f 3.5 (one of Nikon’s best long lenses ever).  Now it’s manual focus, so for action it is a bear, but anything that sits still, which defines most of what I shoot, it is superlative! It is smaller and lighter than almost any current lens in it range and on the Fuji, because it is a APS-C sensor this lens, is are you ready for this, a 600mm f 3.5 equivalent!



This is the MindShift Gear Filter Hive filled with ND filters and other various specialty filters.  I got it at Outdoor Photo Gear, great place to pickup all those things you can never find!


Shot at the top of the page is my entire main Fuji system in a Think Tank Airport Essentials back pack, love that pack, and it holds all the “essentials” perfectly!


So I know what I shoot, what I can carry,  (yes I don’t carry all this at once, I put it in the back of my FJ and then fill up a tiny Think Tank Retrospective 5 shoulder bag, (for walking around)  If I need something else, I know where it is!  Affordability?  I have recycled a ton of gear purchased in the past that people still want, thus, money for the newest stuff!




the pilgrim

6 months, 1 week ago 7

I’m reading and extraordinary book titled “The Circle Makers” by Mark Batterson.  I promise that if you go and buy it and start reading it, you will be captivated by the deep truths that are contained within it’s pages!  It’s a book about the prayer life of a prophet of Israel a hundred years before the birth of Christ.  It will give you new insight into the power and meaning of prayer. It is so powerful that after only one evening of reading it has moved me to rethink my ministry, and my approach to serving Him.


I can’t encourage you strongly enough to check out this book.  It has forever changed my mission statement.




the pilgrim