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1 year, 7 months ago 5



Kent’s not mad, Kent’s just intense!!!!  Sorry Richard, didn’t have shot of you!  Kent Irvin and Richard Siggins both out did themselves making our faithful friends event something very special!!!!  Both Kent and Richard are superb shooters as evidenced in the image below by Kent.


One of the most incredible stops for me was Crooked River, here is Kent’s wonderful evening shot of one of the two major buildingson the property.  The owners, David and Annette Templeton were fantastic hosts and along with Kent’s wife provided a incredible lunch!


Image by Kent Irvin


This is the historic info provided by David.


Crooked River is located on the North Fork of the Holston River between Hiltons and Mendota Virginia. “Mendota”, meaning bend in the river to Southwest Virginia’s first inhabitants.  More than 16 species of raptors soar down the spine of the Clinch Mountain every autumn, heading south for the winter along the Appalachian Flyway, where at the peak of migration in mid September up to 1,000 birds per day can be seen soaring past. Conveniently located between Bristol and Gate City on Virginia’s Crooked Road, The Lodge at Crooked River mixes the charm of the countryside with modern facilities and luxurious service. The Crooked Road is a 330 mile driving trail through the mountains of Southwest Virginia that connects nine major venues and over 60 affiliated venues and festivals for visitors to enjoy every day of the year. The Commonwealth of Virginia named The Crooked Road as Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail. Although the Trail is focused on the uniqueness and vitality of this region’s heritage music, it also includes outdoor recreational activities, museums, crafts, and historic and cultural programs.
Crooked River Farm is a 200+ acre working farm and wedding venue in a stunning setting in Southern Virginia. The power and magnetism of the mountain and valley delight the eye and pull you in while the forest and glades make the outside world fall away. The heart of Crooked River is the circa-1823 Granary that serves as the reception location. 12 x 12 oak beams and majestic lighting create a rustic yet elegant ambiance. An 1899 renovated tobacco barn provides the bridal party a place to relax and prepare for the wedding and our luxury package includes accommodations for the wedding couple in the romantic honeymoon suite. Our full line of wedding services can be customized to create your dream wedding experience. Choose your ceremony site either down by the Seventh Shoal with the flow of the river caressing your wedding vows or over in The Grove with the tall white oaks for a backdrop.


You guys know how much I love Americana and Annette has provided a lot of incredible subjects to shoot at Crooked River!



I could share a dozen or two more great images, trust me this place is fantastic!!!!




We also got to go back to one of  my favorite locations Memory Lane,  thanks to the kindness of  Mr. Eldridge.  his 50’s town is not open to the pubic but he let us enjoy his creation again!  Here are a few images from this trip!



This ones for you Ricky!!!!




As if that was not enough we made a trip to Amis Mill, the first stone dam in Temmessee, here is some historic info on this great place!



Thomas Amis House – Edge of the Frontier

     Circa 1780, Capt Thomas Amis began construction on the stone home, still standing today, over 230 years later. He also constructed the gristmill and dam on Big Creek, where the mill ruins also remain. Thomas Amis Inn, as it was known then, was at the end of the Old Stage Road. Wagon wheel ruts are still visible today along the property’s boundary.
     This frontier home was built when America was a fledgling nation, 4 years after gaining her independence from the British.  The State of North Carolina awarded land to their Revolutionary War soldiers, as was the case with Captain Thomas Amis.  The land was situated in the remote western section of the State of North Carolina in hostile native territory, an area where the state could not offer protection for the settlers. In 1789, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to cede the western land to the Federal government.  In 1790 U.S. Congress accepted, at the same time, establishing a territorial government named “Territory of the United States South of the River Ohio.” William Blount was appointed as the new territorial governor, and a frequent guest of Thomas Amis.


     As you can see from the depiction of the home below, it was fortified by a palisade to protect the occupants from Indian attacks. It was constructed with gun slots instead of windows in the upper level for added protection during skirmishes with the Indians.  The 18 inch thick stones were interior/exterior walls of the home and provided a barrier against the elements and outside forces.  The Indian hostilities peaked in 1782 as white settlers continued arriving over the Appalachians, squatting on their lands without first acquiring it outright.



Previous two images by Kent Irvin


The great folks at Amis Mill arranged for a group of folks to pose for us in frontier clothing, wonderful people and fun shooting, one of my images below.


Richard Siggins didn’t forget my love of cheeseburgers and introduced us to a great place, Clarks Deli & Grocery where I found another 5 pickle burger, great people and a great place!






The Hack burger named after the original owners nickname is a real winner!  The great folks that run Clark’s are super nice folks too!!!



So wow, what a great week, wonderful friends, great fellowship and lot of shooting opportunities, can’t wait for next years event!!!!!   Thanks Kent and Richard for a terrific week!




the pilgrim






1 year, 7 months ago 6



Every time I do a gear post I end up getting questions and this time a dear friend, sent me a handful, but it may be something you’ve wondered about too!  You may even want to chime in, inf act wish you would!  Here goes:


1.  Do  you have a recommendation regarding polarizers?  I really love Singh Ray filters and their polarizers. For a number of reasons they are neutral and that is a big deal, no color casts, they’re plano parallel, which means they will not adverse;y affect sharpness.  they re also not cheap, but as my grandfather always said, “you get what you pay for!”  Are their other ones you can recommend?  Though I would rather have a Singh Ray, Nikon, and the better B&W are both pretty good too.  But if you spent money on a  great lens, I would buy a Singh  Ray.


2.  Do you use UV filters to protect lenses?  No, well wait a minute, only sometimes.  If I am working around blowing sand, I will use a filter to protect the front element of the lens.  I spend good money on great lenses so I am just careful and use a lens cap and protect it without a filter.


3.  Do you always use a lens hood, and do you use the one provided with the lens?  I think lens hoods are vital, but sometimes if you’re using a polarizer unless you have a screw in hood, you have to work without one.  I often buy lens hoods off Amazon that are the right filter thread size and that do not vignette!  How do you know they won’t vignette?  Buy it and find out, if it doesn’t, Amazon has a great return policy, or do as I do, have a box of hoods that didn’t work once but might later on for something else!


4.  How do you clean lenses?  When I worked for Nikon I got a chance to  hang out with a number of great technicians and they taught me a lot.  First don’t over clean your lenses, if it is just a little dusty, blow it off with a good blower bulb, I love the Rocket blowers.  If it needs a little more after the blower, use a good clean micro fiber cloth to wipe it, without any pressure.  if smudges are still there I use the Zeiss alcohol impregnated glass cleaner from Walmart’s eye glass department.


5.  Do you use flash or LED lighting?  Both, but mostly LED lights.  After all, after teaching with Joe McNally I couldn’t respect, myself if I looked at my own flash work!!!  The LED lights works great and you can see what you’re doing as you shoot.  Lots of good one are out there but the ones that  let you dial in some color temperature variation are very handy.  Mine is fro a company called Ledgo, model LG-B160C.


6.  How about collapsible reflectors?  I use a diffuser on sunny days to tame the light and I have one and Manfroto that is great for portraits and kicking some warm light back in on subjects, I even have some really small ones for close-up work.


Come up with some more shoot me an email or post here!


In Him, Blessings,


the pilgrim

1 year, 7 months ago 1




There is nothing like the great variety of “L” brackets we can access today for our camera bodies.  For years Really Right Stuff and Kirk Enterprises have both produced high quality brackets. and now thanks to Amazon, a number of imports are also available, many of very good quality.  Are they up to the RRS and Kirk standards, probably not, but quite good none-the-less.  One thing some of the imports offer that sometimes the two big players omit is a grip.  I own RRS and Kirk brackets and stiles them, but have to admit that some of the new brackets with a grip are handy too!


One problem is that all those “L” brackets are made of  aircraft aluminum and are smoothy finished and then anodized.  That’s all good and fine, but….. it means they are slick in your hand.  For sometime I’ve wished they had added some texture, but sadly they haven’t.  I was watching a video on Youtube about a product called Talon Grips that many handgun shooter use to add texture and grip to their guns.  Being a gun enthusiast I was aware of the product and, in fact have used it.  It comes in a 5″X7″ sheet.  You simply cut it to the size you need, clean the metal and apply.  It adds a nice rubbery feeling and textured grip.  I will use them for a while and report back, but for now I think they are going to make using the camera easier and more secure.  Below is the info from Amazon oaths product.





Hope this is a helpful solution or you too!




the pilgrim

1 year, 7 months ago 5


Photograph by Ken Metz of the pilgrim holding Ricky Skagg’s Mandolin.


It has been a great month in my life, the wonderful Nashville event with Ricky Skaggs and Joe McNally and then this last week seeing so many wonderful friends at the Faithful Friends event in Kingsport (more on that later this week),  but I came back from both with a large looming question: How do I take the next important step in my life serving the Lord.  After a lot of prayer and some great conversations with dear brothers,  Jim Haverstock and Carl Turner, I was led to this action plan revealed to me from the Holy Spirit.  Let me share;


1.  Walk with Him every moment, and deepen my relationship with Him.


2.  Stay alert and listen for His voice and His direction.


3.  Be OBEDIENT to His voice and directions.


4.  Keep my eyes on the mission and constantly remember all I do must lead to that.


5.  Enjoy the life God has provided for me.


6.  Ask God to give me those who need to feel His love and then share His love with them.


7.  Stay relevant by learning to know what He thinks relevance is.


This is my list, but I can’t help but believe that it would work for any believer dedicated to deepening their walk with our Savior.


I submit this to you with His love




the pilgrim


Romans 8:28