Recent Posts
6 months, 3 weeks ago 29


Some folks just can’t let it go!  I say that with no malice or frustration, o.k. a little frustration.  I got several emails asking about if I had no Nikon gear at all, anymore?  One person wrote, you can’t tell me that something is not wrong between you and Nikon, you even wrote a book about Fuji!!!!


PLEASE LISTEN!!!!!  This is my last blog post about this subject!  I left Nikon of my own accord.  I requested to retire, I was not fired, I was not asked to retire!  Nikon NPS was redirecting their path and I was ready to do something different, I asked if I could retire, they gladly said sure.  Would I have been downsized if I had stayed, I don’t know, but probably yes, all companies make changes and it was the right time for Nikon to bring new blood into NPS, my leaving, of my own decision, helped them do that!  Do I have any axe to grind with Nikon?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!  I still have many friends there, I love the company, the people, the great years they gave me as an NPS rep, honestly, please believe me,  all is good between me and Nikon!


ONE LAST TIME!  I had shoulder surgery, it healed slowly, I got older, I found the heavy DSLR full frame gear was just to heavy for me to carry all the time.  I found something lighter, it just didn’t happen to be made by Nikon, simple as that!!!!!!!  Settled……


Now the next questions, “Do you still own any Nikon Gear?”  Yes, when I left Nikon I was already well on my way to knowing that the Fuji X-System was going to work best for me, based on weight, and my happiness with it’s qualities.  I toyed with the idea of buying a few Nikon products, but Nikon helped me out there too, they raised  their employee purchase program prices to the point that there was no real savings to buying as an employee. I decided to just keep what I already owned.  After retiring I sold off most of the current model gear I had and kept the system above.  Why?  Didn’t need 36 mega pixels (D800) couldn’t carry the D4, and I had gotten back into using the 70′s/80′s manual focus glass of which I owned a lot, been collecting it for years, long before working for Nikon.  I felt the last great body from Nikon that I owned the D700 was more than adequate for my needs and was a perfect fit to the old manual glass.  My intention was to occasionally take out the D700 and some of the old manual lenses and shoot “Throwback style”!  Really haven’t done that much at all.  Two reasons, the Nikon stuff is still too heavy, and I love the Fuji X-System.  I will hang onto the Nikon system, I spent too many years with it and I do not have the heart to see it leave! For 44 years of my professional life I’ve held a Nikon in my hands, we’ve become very close friends, but nothing says you can’t make new friends too!


The image above shows:

My Old favorite Domke Bag (I still have a couple of them)  It was the mainstay for the photojournalist!

1.  Nikon D700

2.  Nikon 55MM Micro Nikkor f 2.8 AI-s      LEGEND CLASS

3.  Nikon 24mm f 2.8 AI-s     LEGEND CLASS

4.  Nikon 25-50 AI-s f 4   LEGEND CLASS

5.  Nikon 105 Micro Nikkor f 2.8 AI-s     LEGEND CLASS   * Used with adapters on my Fuji X-Cameras

6.  Nikon 70-150 AI-s f 3.5    PRO-GRADE CLASS

7.  Nikon 50-135 f 3.5 AI-s   LEGEND CLASS

8.  Nikon 80-200 AI-s f4   LEGEND CLASS

9.  Nikon 200mm AI-s f4   PRO-GRADE CLASS  * Used with adapters on my Fuji X-Cameras

10.  Nikon 80-200 f 4.5 AI-s    LEGEND CLASS   * first great zoom!

11.  Nikon 105 f 2.5 AI   LEGEND CLASS

12.  Nikon 400mm f 3.5 IF-ED AI-s   LEGEND CLASS   * Used with adapters on my Fuji X-Cameras

13.  Nikon 300mm f 4.5 IF-ED AI-s     LEGEND CLASS   * Used with adapters on my Fuji X-Cameras

14.  Nikon 200mm Micro Nikkor f4 AI-s    LEGEND CLASS   * Used with adapters on my Fuji X-Cameras


So there you have it, for the last time,  “I love my Nikon gear, but it is still too heavy to carry all day, might work it out of the trunk occasionally!!”   I do not define myself by the gear I use, no one should.  these are tools, great tools, and if we use them with discipline and dedication they can make extraordinary images, but they are just tools!  I love you guys, I truly do, but let’s get on with some photography, after all that’s what this stuff is made for!


When my daughter Catherine was born, I was thrilled, a girl, first in 21 years in our family!!!  I loved her, and I still do, but that didn’t mean I didn’t still love my two sons, born before she came into our lives.  Get it?  Got it?  Good!




the pilgrim

6 months, 3 weeks ago 16


I hate the term Fanboy!  It’s so demeaning, its sounds like you are a sell out, you’ve caved, that you have no will power!  Man am I going to hate it when people call me that, but I guess I’m asking for it!  This is a review of Fuji’s new XF 50-140 f 2.8  OIS WR telephoto lens.  Let me get this out of the way first:  It is without question among two or three sharpest, and finest made lenses I’ve ever had the pleasure of shooting.  If you knew that I’ve owned hundreds of lenses and many of them “Legendary” glass, you would feel the weight of that statement!!!


O.K. with that out of the way,  let me share why I believe that what I just said is absolutely true!  First let me tell you how I categorize lenses.  I think they fall into one of four categories:


LEGENDARY – Legendary lenses are superlative in every way.  Scalpel sharp, great color rendition, just the right contrast, superior mechanical build.  These are lenses that if you are shooting with them, and your images are not utterly amazing, it’s not the lens!


PRO-GRADE  -  Pro-Grade lenses are very sharp, tack sharp, they are built to work hard, and have all the optical characteristics you demand.  They are perfectly suited to any critical application, just not Legendary.  Still superior glass!!!


GOOD  -  Sharp enough for non critical uses and users, build quality acceptable if you do not mistreat them.  Capable of making very nice images, a good way to save money of your needs are not critical.


JUNK  -  Poor build quality, all over the board, inconsistent optical performance, funky color, low contrast or too high contrast.  I don’t own any,  and don’t plan to either!!!


So where does this new lens fit into my categories, Legendary!  Before we go on talking about what makes this sweetheart a Legendary lens, I know you’re wondering where do the rest of the Fuji lenses fit on my scale, I will get to that by the end, but I’ll tell you now that not a single Fuji lens that I’ve bought, and I own 10, is anything less than a sold Pro-Grade!


Now why am I so madly in love with the new 50-140?   Number one, when shot carefully on a tripod, it is the sharpest 70-200 f 2.8 equivalent lens I’ve ever seen, Period.  The image that leads the blog shows the simply wonderful bokeh at f 2.8 at 140mm.  Below are two more tripod shot images the first at 50mm the second at 140mm.  They speak for themselves!



The second thing that was very impressive was just how effective the OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) is in this lens.  I can only go by my own experience, which is,  that I’m just not that steady anymore, and even I was able to make some truly sharp images!  Illustrated below, all hand held.


1/60th of a second at 140mm




1/200th of a second at 140mm and close focus  (the little decoration was about 3 and half inches square.



1/200th at 140mm



The third thing that impressed me about this lens is it’s close focusing ability.  Below is a image of the snowman on my front porch, I held up a soda can for size perspective, and the next image is at closest focus distance at 140mm, then the third image is with the Canon 500D diopter attached with a 72mm-77mm step up ring.  This lens is tack sharp with the diopter and I am sure will play very nice with the new automatic extension tubes coming from Fuji!



Closest focus, with the lens alone at 140mm.



Now with the Canon 500 D diopter attached.



Below is a hand held close-up shot, something I would have never done in the past, and shot at 1/60th of a second at 140mm and tack, tack sharp!  The subject matter is dedicated to Zack Arias!!



I love the tripod collar, it is rock solid and very smooth, much smoother than on lenses costing hundreds more.  I have only one major complaint!  Now I have to completely re-figure my camera bag to fit it in……. and what do I leave out!!!



My ratings for all the Fuji lenses I own:


LEGENDARY:  14mm f 2.8   -   23mm f 1.4   -   56mm f 1.2   -   50-140 f 2.8   -   60mm Micro


Between LEGENDARY & PRO GRADE   (Almost LEGENDARY):    10-24 f 4    -    35 f 1.4    -   18-55 f 2.8-4


SOLID PRO-GRADE:     55-200 f 3.5-4.8   -   18-135 f 3.5-5.6


GOOD:  Samyang/Rokinon 8mm f 2.8



Well, at least that’s the way I see them, I would welcome your opinions too!


One last thing!  I am using a Mamiya RZ-67, hard rubber hood that allows moving the polarizer with the hood, and gives added protection of the very firm, metal reinforced rubber construction.  It is a 77mm hood, so I use a 72 to 77 step up ring. These lens hoods were all the rage of sports shooters covering college and NBA basketball because the would not injure players flying out of bounds!






the pilgrim


….and a star is born title,  yes double meaning!  Merry Christmas!


6 months, 4 weeks ago 12


O.K. first a very big thanks for all my friends out there that have bought the Fuji X-System User’s Guide on  the first day and a half we’ve sold over 140 books!  I’ve also gotten a lot of email from you guys thanking me, and I just have to say thank you!  What as pleasure it is to write about subjects you care about and have anyone, and I mean any one interested, this kind of response, is for me overwhelming!  The fullness of my heart could not come at a better season and I just want you to know that your support has provided me with the most wonderful Christmas Spirit!  I love this celebration of our Saviors birth and to be having this much fun just adds to the joy!  Thanks you from the bottom of my heart!


Yesterday’s Blog entry and an explanation.  After I write a blog I go back and read it over and over and give it the eyeball test.  Yesterday after I posted my blog I started to worry about something and I want to share with you about it!  The announced eBook, The Journey – The Life and Times of Bill Fortney, might leave some wondering what kind of egomaniac would write such a book!!!???  It all started when I was hanging out in the Smokies with my dear friend, John Gompf Jr.   While sharing a meal at the 50′s Rock n’ Roll Diner John commented that he never tired of all the stories of my blessed life.  He insisted that I need to do an audio book for my children and grandchildren repeating some of the stories.  O.K. time out.  My honest thought was who on earth would want a book about my life and the people, places and things I’ve experienced???  After some thought I realized I was looking at it all wrong.  It wouldn’t actually be a book about me, well, it would be my life, but the point is who has made this kind of life possible?  Certainly not me.  No it would be a book of witnessing to what God can do with a life, any life, if it is dedicated to Him and when we want Him to get all the credit and Glory!  I agreed I would do it only for my grandchildren (and someday great grandchildren) and  John, if no one else ever listens to it, that would be fine.


The point I want to make here is that this life, this blog, and my work are not about me.  I have been immeasurably blessed by Him to have a great, exciting, and interesting life, surrounded by a fantastic family, marvelous friends, and many  interesting acquaintances!  As a workshop leader and presenter, I know I’ve morphed into an entertainer, that is what I do, it’s what the job requires, but underneath it, I know who I really am, I’m just another guy, but a really blessed one!  So please don’t judge me to harshly for having the  guts or lack of good sense to do a book about my own life.  If you listen to it, you’ll find out I’m not in love with my self,  just my Heavenly Father!




I will post my workshop schedule for 2015,  His Light, Jack Graham Photo Workshops, Vinny Colucci Workshops and some other events will all get listed by date.


Friday 12th  Release of;  The Americana Photography Book -  A Step By Step Guide


Guess what Fed Ex just dropped at my door!!!!!!



So Monday I hope to have a complete review, sure wish it had gotten here in time for the book, but thrilled to have it in hand.


First Impressions?  It is not as big and heavy as I had feared!!  Here it is next to the 55-200.  Certainly larger, but not Nikon 70-200 f 2.8 AIS large and heavy!



What I like so far:


1.  Smoothest operating lens I’ve ever used, zoom, focusing, and aperture are all very sold feeling and firm, but not too firm.  Very tight construction, beautifully finished!


2.  Tripod collar is super smooth and the foot can be removed, if you wish though, undoing two large hand screws does not make it as fast a change out, but I like that it is more solid than the removable foot arrangement on some other brands.  Purpose of a tripod foot after all is to make things rock solid, and this one is!


3.  I already have acquired some other alternate hoods, but the supplied hood is very solid, fits tight, and has a nice removable cut out for adjusting the polarizer, which you will loose in no time flat!  It would be best would be to put the hood on with the open slot on the bottom, and store the little panel piece, somewhere for safe keeping.  I’ll show how the alternate hood worked on my test Monday!


4.  For $1,600. I would have thought a nice padded nylon case might have been included, no dice.  No sweat though,  probably wouldn’t use it anyway, and I’d rather the money be put in the lens, which it looks like it was.  A word about the cost and value.  I will know by Monday if it is as sharp as reported, I feel certain it is, everything else form Fuji has been so far!  Now I’m not piling on any other brand, but this lens feels like a lens that would have been made a decade and half ago when most lenses  had a lot more metal in them, if has that, “I’ll be with you as long as you like!” feel.  I added a Really Right Stuff L-84 foot to the tripod foot and locked  it onto a BH55-LR head and it is solid and feels really good.  When you hold the same focal length lenses from the top manufacturers and no that their version of this focal length and speed costs from seven to eight hundred dollars more, it seems like a really good value to me!  But……./only if it is surprisingly sharp, which those two lenses are,  we’ll see!!!!


5. Spectacular Optical Image Stabilization performance!  The first two shots I made with the lens were of the front of my Toyota FJ Cruiser int he drive way on a cloudy, dreary day at 140mm (200 mm Equivalent)  The first shot at ISO 400 yielding a shutter speed of 1/15th of a second the second at ISO 200 yielding a speed of 1/7th of a second!!!!!!!  Keep in mind I’m 68 years old and rarely shoot hand held unless an emergency, almost always locked on a tripod, I am not steady, once was, not now, check these out!!!!!



Keep in mind that these are low res screen grabs for the web, let me translate!  This thing is tack, tack, tack sharp and even an old geezer like me can actually hand hold it at ridiculously low speeds and get sharp images!  I can’t wait to get some other tests run which I’m going to go and do right now!


See you Monday, have a great Weekend, Roll Tide!




the pilgrim


Why the old truck?   Just like it!  Kinda like me, looks like it shouldn’t run, but it still does!


6 months, 4 weeks ago 8


The Fuji X-System User’s Guide is off to a great start, selling more copies in the first 12 hours than any previous release!!  Thank you very much!


The First Reviews are in:


Wayne B.

December 5, 2014 at 1:01 am  (Edit)

Bravo! Bravo! What a fantastic ebook on the Fuji system. This one the best yet!


Johnny B.

December 5, 2014 at 4:45 am  (Edit)

Just finished page by page and all I can say is……….

Going, Going, Gone it’s Outta Here……… A Home Run!

A must read for any one contemplating making the move to mirror-less particularly Fuji or
for those like myself who sold their full frame Nikon gear and 2.8 glass and who are constantly looking for the small tips to create big pictures..


Scott B:

December 5, 2014 at 12:49 pm  (Edit)

Wow! I knew it would be great from the preview pieces you had posted…..but it is beyond that, it’s awesome…….Now, let me go home and pack up all that DSLR gear and move it on so I can start building my Fuji system!!   Thanks, Bill, my virtual bookshelf is now brimming with your e-books!



Gale S.

Just downloaded the Fuji E-book.  After a quick scan through the pages, it looks like a great piece of work.  Your work influenced me to invest in the Fuji XT-1 a few months ago and your book will increase my love for this system.  My 5D MkIII has been staying on the shelf more and more.  

Thank you for your commitment to the craft, your expertise and your testimony.


Michael B.

I have been following your blog for years and have enjoyed it very much. Your e-books are truly a wonderful extension of it. I must say after reading your Fuji X system guide that you have outdone yourself. If I were Fuji I would include a copy of your book with every camera I sold. They could not ask for a better spokesperson. Congratulations on a job very well done. 



Pat R.

Downloaded your Fuji book yesterday and read all of it last night.  It was great. I learned so much.  In fact, I liked it so much I downloaded the rest of your books this morning!!




Ken T.

Congratulations on your new Fuji book! I just read it cover to cover. I love the fact that you express your opinion on what you like and dislike about the system. Your tips about settings you use and and what accessories have worked for you were terrific. Your image gallery was spectacular too!  I love my two X-T1s! After 40 years with Nikon, it was a wonderful change to Fuji.  Thanks for being the first guy out there with a Fujifilm X book!




Great book, and one that will be read many times. Thanks for saying what many of us feel about our Fuji systems but have had difficulty putting it into the right words. You’ve really nailed it! And thanks for keeping it simple. Fuji writers should take note and have you do their product manuals.



This is a dream come true for me, to be producing books and writing down so much I want to share!  Here are some of the books coming in 2015!








I’m also planning a 52 week devotional book based on the best of the Pilgrim’s Chronicles called Seeking Peace and Joy.  Lot’s to do, guess I better get busy!




the pilgrim