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9 months, 3 weeks ago 7


For some time now I’ve been obsessed with the new push to get out the eBooks!  It’s really a great thing because secretly, (well not anymore), my greatest love after the Lord, my family and photography is writing!  I truly love to try and express myself in the written word, emphasis on “try”!  Some activities make us happy and writing is one of those for me.  So I got an email yesterday from a good friend who was concerned because of my “push” to get these eBooks done, she was afraid I had a terminal illness!  I do have a terminal health issue, it’s called life!  I’m 68 and will be 69 in February so the clock is ticking!  Now I may live another decade or more, but I really want to share a whole lot of stuff, so I’m dedicating myself to getting it done now….


One book I’m planning is the title of this blog post, “Getting Your Head On Straight!”  I meet people all the time that express to me that they have a very deep desire to get really good at photography, and they want my advice.  I also have a great desire to help them, but truthfully it’s not just about aperture, shutter speeds, which camera body and how sharp is your lens!  No, I think it all starts with getting your head on straight.  Let me give you the brief outline of that book, which of course, will get fleshed out a great deal more.


Step One:  What is your goal?  Now you can’t just say become a great photographer, you have to quantify what you mean by GREAT!  By great do you mean highly respected by others, widely published, the author of many best selling books, having one man shows in prestigious galleries?  You have to have a more reasonable goal than that.  Keep in mind that Joe McNally, a truly great photographer, is having his first one man show in Santa Fe right now!  Joe is well up in his fifties and has worked hard as photographer his entire life.  Joe is considered by many, me included, as one of the greatest photojournalists in the history of photography!  Do you really want to saddle your passion with such a lofty goal.  Why not just have the goal of just getting better each day?


Step Two:  Be realistic and set a goal that is attainable.  Instead of 6 best selling books, why don’t you decide that you are going to try to really get the fundamentals of photography down pat, and see where that takes you!  It may not shock you to find out that Joe started where you are, and he worked very hard for along time to get to that gallery in Santa Fe!  Make several short term goals, that when added up get you to that book or a gallery show!  It can be done, but it is a process!


Step Three:  Get used to the idea that this journey you are on, is a long one, and it is going to take time!  Even more important, determine that you are going to enjoy the journey!   Somewhere down the road of this journey you are going to realize the great joy that comes from learning, why not start enjoying it now. i treasure my great experiences, friends, and laughter to any of my personal achievements!


Step Four:  Get used to disappointment.   I love that line from a Princess Bride, because folks, in life, you will have disappointments, and failures.  Keep in mind that failure is an opportunity to learn how not to do something.  In the end, your progress as a photographer will be determined by how much you fail, and how much you’ve learned from your failures.  Sometimes it hurts, but it is for your own good!  No one ever gets better without some failure along the way!


Step Five:  Relax and have fun.  Photography can bring you many great treasures, experiences, and wonderful friends.  Enjoy the ride, the destination is just up ahead, have fun getting there!  When you do arrive at the destination, you will realize that it was the journey, after all, that was the greatest joy!  The more you relax, the better your vision will be, and of course, the better your images will be too!


Now the book will go further and have a lot of suggestions on how to implement these ideas, but you get the idea.  Don’t fail to enjoy this great craft!




the pilgrim


* Photo Note:  Roof of wooden beams  in a pavilion in Chicago.  Fuji XT-1 – Fujinon 10-24 zoom



9 months, 4 weeks ago 17


If everything goes according to plans, the eBook Store will be open for business next Tuesday, October 14th!  Anyone visiting the bookstore will be able, with a special code, to down load the book, 7 Steps!  It will allow you to get acquainted with my style of eBooks at no cost!!!!


7 Steps For Taking It To the Next Level!


This book is a 127 page plan to get through the biggest blocks to becoming a far better photographer.  Lots of illustrating images and the most important key point to help you accomplish your task.


The first nine books includes the Foundational Series of six books for beginners and intermediates.


The Foundational Series includes: Volume 1.  The Camera Controls (72 pages),  Volume 2. The Eye Seeks:  Brightness Sharpness & Warmth  (49 Pages),  Volume 3. Exposure Exposed (81 pages),  Volume 4. Light (116 pages), Volume 5. The Principles of Composition (125 pages), Volume 6. The Four Things You Need in a Great Image  (65 pages).


Three additional books are also in the store;  Building a System For Field Use, The FREE 7 Steps book, and Using Digital Technology to Have Fun (all about the fun things you can do with post processing filters and Monochrome conversions, sort of a idea book!)


So how do I need your help?  Let me start by sharing my philosophy of photography eBooks with  you.  I once heard a story about a long haul truck driver who was asked by a friend, “I just don’t see how you do it, driving all the way from New York to Los Angeles!!”  The truck driver answered, ” I don’t, I drive from New York to Pittsburgh, then from Pittsburgh to St. Louis, on to Oklahoma City, then to Albuquerque and then on into LA.”  What he was saying is he breaks the trip up into manageable parts!  I believe that we learn the same way.  The problem with many instructional photo books is that they try to take what someone has learned over 20 years and fit it into 200 pages!  To do that you have to go fast and complicate things.  I prefer to take one simple concept at a time and make sure the person, trying to learn, truly gets it!  I have Scott Kelby to thank for cementing this theory into my method of teaching.  He built a wildly successful business out of a simple concept, “Help them get it!”  If you do that, as they say in Field of Dreams, “Build it and they will come….”  Well he built it, and they surely keep coming!  It’s called value!  That’s why I’m part of KelbyOne! People want to learn, and if you make it easy to learn, you will develop a following.  I just want to help people learn the thing I understand best, photography!





The first six books are deceptively simple, very deceptively!  I really don’t care if anyone thinks they are a little “light weight”, as long as they walk away understanding things a lot better!  Future books will get more “involved”!  In photography 90% of what you really need to know is in the first six books, the remaining 10% will be spread over a bunch of books, and that is where you come in!


I need your suggestions!  After you read the first free book and any other book you buy and read, shoot me an email and give me your thoughts!  Here is what is coming next!


The Fuji X-System – A User’s Guide!   * not an every setting book, but how to use the system to make great images!


Designing a Photograph – Advanced Composition


 Americana Photography – The How To Guide


The Story Behind – Americas From 500 Feet I & II  (the best of both books!)


My Favorite Images – How They Were Shot


Existing Light Photography  -  Shooting in the Almost Dark!


So the next step is up to you, jump in and let me know what you think, and by-the-way the majority of my books are only $4.99.  How do you like them apples!




the pilgrim


Once again, how on earth do I think I know enough to write these books????!!!!  In the last 45 years I’ve taught side by side with, and studied under some of the greatest photographers of our age, and I learned things from every one of them:


John Shaw   -   Scott Kelby   -   Art Wolfe   -   Jack Graham   -   David & Mark Muench  

Jim Brandenburg   -   Jay Maisel   -   Joe McNally   -   Bill Pekala   -   The Late Galen Rowell

Bob Krist   -   Bryan Peterson   -   L.L. Rue   -   George Lepp   -   Fred Sisson   -  Mark Kettenhofen

R.C. Concepcion   -   Matt Kloskowski   -  Moose Peterson   -   Jim Begley   -   Vinny Colucci

Jim Haverstock   -   Tom Bol   -   and on and on, and on!




9 months, 4 weeks ago 6

I had the honor of attending a church service yesterday with my son Wesley and his family.  The Grey First Baptist Church has been allowing Wesley’s youth football team to practice on their activity field and it has led to an interesting story.  As it turns out the field has a small hill and at the top is a white cross.  Anytime someone makes a mistake in practice they are told to, “run to the cross”!  Throughout most practice sessions their is steady stream of players running up the hill to the cross and then back down.  At the end of each practice Wes has the entire team run up the hill to the cross, including the coaches, where they kneel, and recite the Lord’s prayer.


I was really proud of Wes for influencing his young players in this way.  The pastor at church preached on Run to the Cross, sharing that story.


That sermon actually sums up what we must all do if we hope to survive this life, run to the cross!




the pilgrim

10 months ago 2


What wonderful time I had yesterday catching up with many of my teammates from the 1962-63 & 64 Harlan High School football teams!  It was amazing how many things we all remembered and had a great laughs over.  More than a few times we were teary eyed when our former coach Bill Cricillis gave us one more pep talk about life.  It is amazing that so much time could pass, 50 years! and there would be the closeness of having been a team, still being a team.


It made me reflect driving home last night how unbelievably blessed I was to have had, and still have,  such friends, to have been part of such a team.  In our Junior and Senior years we had great seasons, winning the conference once and missed going to the play offs by a single game.  We had a few stand out players, but we were mostly a bunch of good solid football players that all played a role in the victories.  It was really a great experience to see all these men again, five decades later.  It was homecoming for the Harlan Green Dragons last night and we were thrilled to be the honorary captains for the coin toss.  Walking out to the center of the field I told Tom Pope, it was great to be on the field with him again, his look said it all.  In just a glance I could see what I believe we were all feeling, in spite of the fact that these men have accomplished a lot in their own lives, this was a great honor, and we all relished it.  It was a truly special moment.


I also thought driving the hour and half home, how many great teams I’ve gotten to be a member of, my family, my church, the His Light team, the faithful friends, the Nikon NPS team, the list goes on and on, but the bottom line is God has richly blessed me to let me rub elbows with such great people, people I’ve admired and learned from.  If you can get to this age and look at your life, and see this much joy, you’ve had a great life.  Thank you Lord for the ride……..




the pilgrim