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8 months, 3 weeks ago 11

The end of a wonderful and exhausting week!  I got a really interesting email from a friend saying it had been great to hear about my perfect family gathering.  Oooops, I hope I didn’t say that!  Family is a wonderful, complex, mysterious, and ever moving target!  I suspect my family is no different than every one else’s.   The only difference is they are “my” family, and for each of us that makes all the difference.  This morning as we gathered for our last big family breakfast a number of things happened that altered my view of family!  Before I share those things, let me say that families are made up of human beings and as a group (the human race), we are pretty diverse and different people!


I think it is normal to have things we love about others and things we don’t.  That doesn’t make anyone good or bad, it just means we have to work harder in relationships, because of the differences.  I’m certain if you asked Sherelene if that is true,  she could give you a long laundry list of things about me that can be, or are, down right challenging!


Before everyone parted this morning we had our traditional prayer in a circle where we asked God to bless and protect each family especially those that would be traveling.  I asked God to help each of us look for the good in one another.  After the prayer Abigail, my youngest grand daughter insisted in a loud voice “family hug!”  The little ones like to get in the center of the circle as we all do a big bear hug and squeeze them in the middle,  it always produces squeals of joy!   Lesson One; the  joy of being loved and knowing you have a place in the world.  Abigail knows she has a loving mother and father, brother and this whole collection of cousins, aunts and uncles, and grand parents that love her, she can’t keep from showing it!   We need to embrace the love of those that are our family.


There were some tears shed all around as it hit home that our week was over.  Our family only gets together as a group once a year.  Scott and Diane live in St. Augustine, Florida so getting them with the rest of the family, is difficult with so much distance, between us.  My grand son Cade gets pretty shaken up when the cars are about to pull out, and he taught me the greatest lesson of the week. Lesson Two:  No relationship is worth much if we don’t pour our hearts into it.  If we try to protect ourselves, or our turf. If we allow ourselves to be too self absorbed, we simply miss the joy of pure love for others.  Cade demonstrated that when he shed a tear about his cousins going home.  Lesson Three:  Life is about others not our selves.  This is a really tough one, it’s hard to let go of self, but if we are going to enjoy life, and family, we have to loosen the grip on our needs, wants, desires, and fears.  Trust me it is worth it!


It’s easy to get wrapped up in our own interests, but it is a wall that keeps us from experiencing the joy of unconditional, non judgmental love.  Lesson Four; Children love from the heart, not the head, it might be time for me to learn to do the same…….




the pilgrim

8 months, 3 weeks ago 10

When digital start to swoop in on us in the late nineties there was great gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands!  I even once said, :When the only way to make images is this new fangled digital stuff, I’m out!”  I figured I would be dead and gone before we had to give up film!  Guess again. Digital arrived much faster than any of us thought it would.  I remember an article in Outdoor Photographer magazine  in which a prominent writer said it would take 25 megapixels to equal the quality of 35mm film.  I’m not naming names because we all made some wrong guesses back then!  By the time digital had advanced to 12 megapixels the writing was on the wall, film was dying!  By that time I had gone to work for Nikon and was experiencing the joys of the digital age, I’ve never looked back.


I remember saying a few years ago that if Nikon (my employer at the time) had told me I was going to be their film guy, i would have respectfully said, “so long!”  I have fully and  completely embraced digital.  With the advent of 24& 36 megapixel cameras, even the view camera is obsolete (in my opinion).  [That should start some cat fights!]  Anyway I have over 25,000 color transparencies (slides) and over 10,000 B&W negatives in my files.  What can I do with them?


For all practical purposes, with the exception of irreplaceable family slides and negatives, the rest are far inferior to my Digital production of the last 10 + years.  I recently gave a company called Scan Cafe a shot at scanning a  couple of thousand slides for me and the results were pretty much o.k. The two images in this blog post are from original color slides and they translated all right, but t hey are  no match for a digital file!  So I will have the invaluable family stuff scanned, and a few black and white negatives of significance, but he rest will be, eventually, thrown in the trash!


I will soon start producing some eBooks and I plan to do a retrospective on America From 500 Feet and America From 500 Feet II which will tell the back storya nd contain what I think are the best images from both volumes.  Since the first book is only available as a used volume, I am anxious to put that project together!



So my countless slides are in many ways lost, they are a technology that is so distant that there relevance in today’s photography world is certainly limited by their technical faults.  As photographs they still tell a story and so many will be preserved, but as time marches on hopefully we get better and our work from the past is less important to us, as we tell the story better both aesthetically and technically!  The greatest joy is looking at the old images and remembering the fun you had producing them!




the pilgrim


* Both images were shot on Kodak 100Vs film pushed to 200 and that popped the grain which when reduced with noise reduction software further softens the images, one of the great issues with getting something great out of older film images.

8 months, 3 weeks ago 9

I’m still having a blast with family, and that’s why I missed blogging yesterday, I bet you will forgive me!  Last night we all went over to Wesley’s home for dinner, and Rhonda and Wes did a great job on a wonderful meal, the fellowship was even better.  We played Trivial Pursuit well into the late evening, the laughter of family is one of the sweetest sounds in the world to me!  Before dinner my grandchildren, all except for Abigail, (who was at a church camp), surrounded me for a picture!  I will treasure this one shot made by Wes for years to come!


I’ve started to pick up some cameras for my post semi-retirement life.  I will go through the whole story on a future post, but I have added two very important components.  Since I own over 25 Nikkor lenses, both old manual focus classics, and modern current autofocus glass, I needed to decide on a series of bodies to support my Nikon system.  I have two now, and will add another later.  The Nikon D4 is the monster, do everything, DSLR in my stable, my desert island DSLR, and I just picked up a D800.  There are a lot of things about the D8o0 that make it difficult to use, and they are the same things that make it indispensable; super high resolution, big juicy files, and a robust build!  If used carefully, (and I do mean very, very carefully), it simply produces the best looking files I’ve ever seen!  I also picked up another Fuji X camera, the X100s.  I already own a X-E1 and a number of Fuji lenses.  I needed a lighter system for everyday carry, more on that in another post too!  My doctor ordered me to stop carrying a heavy bag full of gear, the Fuji was the perfect answer. when weight mattered.  The X100s is my in the car, all the time, to all family functions, and my side kick camera.  For a modest investment it is spectacular as a personal camera.  The two images below are of my granddaughter Hannah, Scott and Diane’s daughter.  The first is about 60% of an APS-C frame, cropped,  the next shot is a 100% crop of the first image.  The lens and imaging system in the X100s is simply wonderful! I’ve always loved classic rangefinder cameras, but simply couldn’t afford to own a couple of M’s and three or four lenses, probably a $30,000. investment, but his little Fuji really does the job in a spectacular fashion!  * Point of order!  Does this mean Nikon has fallen out of grace with me???!!!  Absolutely not, I still love my Nikons and they are my go to DSLRs, but when weight matters, and I’m not willing to give up killer image quality, the Fuji’s step up to the plate, and hits it out of the park!



100% crop from image above:



As Phil says on Duck Dynasty,  ”I’m Happy, happy, happy!”




the pilgrim


By-the-way, a big shout out to Nick Coury who is celebrating his 5th Anniversary of being clean from cancer!  Brother we are thrilled to have you with us!  I’m a two times cancer survivor myself, and I know how great those reports feel!  I shot a fun image standing next to Nick in Nashville last week, below, he is a great guy, a wonderful shooter, and has a fantastic family, (I had the pleasure once again of spending time with Aaron, his son, and meeting Marlene for the first time,!) Congrats my friend!

Check out!


8 months, 4 weeks ago 3

I drove back from Nashville Sunday a.m., leaving the hotel at 4:00 a.m.  The workshop was one of our best ever!  Ricky was fabulous, my team outstanding, and the group was one of those really special groups that you wanted to adopt them all!  I got in Sunday and while the family went out to the lake I took a 4 hour nap!  Man do I love retirement!!!!  Anyway, my entire family is in Corbin for the week and we are spending a lot of time on the back deck around the fire pit just loving on each other! (It has been shockingly cool for July)  Above, four of my girls, Rhonda, (Wes’ wife),  Cassidy, (Catherine and Clint’s daughter), Abigail, (Rhonda and Wes’s daughter) and Diane, (Scott’s wife).  Family is so special and we are having a wonderful time just being together.


I am finally acquiring the gear for my retirement system and I will talk about that more soon, but I have two new cameras that I will use a lot.  This shot was made with the new Fuji X100s, which is a world class rangefinder type camera, it is fantastic for family shots like this.  I also picked up a Nikon D800 (I had to send Nikon’s back!!!)  It will get a lot of use as my equivalent to the old 4X5 view camera!  I’m really enjoying both of these cameras for the specialized things they are both best suited for!


I will post through out this week, but will be spending a lot of my time with the family, I’m truly a blessed man to have this group here, around me!




the pilgrim