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9 months ago 5

Christmas is a lot of things, and of course the celebration of the birth of Christ is at the center, but I have to admit, my personal Christmas experience every year involves some of my favorite Christmas movies!!  Please allow me to share some of my favorites!


Let’s start with Five Classics from years gone by;


1. A Christmas Carol.  The classic story written by Charles Dickens.  There are many wonderful adaptations, but my favorite is the 1951 film version starring Alastair Sim as Scrooge.  Before Christmas I will share how this film changed my life!!!!


2.  White Christmas.  This perennial favorite starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney is top notch old fashioned Christmas fun!


3.  It’s A Wonderful Life.  This wonderful Christmas Classic, filmed the year I was born, 1946, and directed by Frank Capra, and starring James Stewart and Donna Reed is on to never be missed.  It’s message will inspire you through out the rest of the year.


4.  Holiday Inn.  The incredible music of Irving Berlin’s graces this fantastic tale of two entertainers and their Christmas adventure in New England.  This holiday tale is one of the most entertaining and best acted of all the old classics.


5. Miracle on 34th Street.  Though done again in the 90’s the original version from 1947 is still the best.  If you still want to believe, this is a must!


6. The Bishop’s Wife.  Cary Grant, Loretta Young, and David Niven star in this wonderful tale of faith and love at Christmas.



Now some of my favorites from the modern era;



7.  The Muppet Christmas Carol.  This beautifully done version of a Christmas Carol with the heartwarming music of Paul Williams and the capable acting of Michael Cane, not to mention, Kermit, Miss Piggy, The Great Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat!


8.  Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas.  I could never leave this movie off my list, because it was the favorite of my daughter Catherine when she was little girl!  To this day she can recite every single line a fraction of second before it comes on the screen!


9.  The Santa Claus.  Tim Allen has made two fortunes with this franchise, but the first was truly brilliant and touching, worth the time to revisit this great film, the others?  It’s your time!


10.  Home Alone & Home Alone 2.  If you want to get in the Christmas mood and laugh good and hard, these are two not to miss!


11.  Christmas Vacation.  Christmas without Chevy Chase, you have to be kidding!



O.K. let’s make it an even dozen.



12.  A Christmas Story.  This one is hard to miss, and you really shouldn’t, if for no other reason but to see what Christmas was like for all us gray beards in the 1950s!


Merry Christmas,


the pilgrim

9 months ago 10

It’s amazing how much things change over time.  I had a conversation today with a dear photographer friend who will remain un-named.  I will tell you this, if I did give you his name, you would find extremely familiar!  Anyway we talked about a number of things but one was the move that is happening in the photo market place.  As a good part of the photo community is aging and the need for smaller and lighter equipment is becoming more prevalent.  As had been my experience, a number of other longtime DSLR  shooters have “had” to make a lighter choice!  Now deciding to make that kind of a change, is not an easy choice, in fact the many people I’ve talked to, that have made that change, did it with a great deal of trepidation.  Why such angst?


First of all, many, in fact, most of the shooters out there my age, or anywhere close to it, have either been Nikon or Canon shooters.  When you use a brand of camera for over 40 years you may develop pretty serious attachments.  I certainly did, and I’ve heard the same story from a good number of others.  No matter how much you love something if you can’t carry it, it doesn’t matter.  I’m saying this because as my friend said on the phone today, it’s pretty hard to walk down a different road.  I don’t mean to drag you guys into this hand wringing, but it’s going on with more folks than you might think!   Nikon and Canon, and in fairness Leica, have been the far and away choices to serious photographers.  If you were a sports shooter, or needed a rugged, weatherproof camera you are going to be a Nikon or Canon shooter.  If you want the most expensive and highly craft, essentially hand made camera in the world, with extraordinary glass, you probably already own a Leica!


That’s all well and fine, but if you’re a photographer and those are no longer viable options, (because of size and weight), what do you do?   It’s not simple, as a lifelong Nikon shooter I enjoyed wonderful sensors, great glass, and very well engineered, rugged,  bodies.  I’m not saying that because I used to work for Nikon, I’m saying it from the heart.


As they say, the water flows under the bridge and as you look back the bridge is disappearing as you head on downstream.  Now let me brag on my solution!  I had only three “requirements” as I looked for a replacement system; (1) The best image quality I could get, (2) a system that had the build quality and ease of use I was accustomed to, and (3)  Really sharp , well made lenses, that covered the needs I had in terms of speed and focal length range.


So how has the Fuji X System met those needs?


ONE:  Image quality.  The X bodies with the X-Trans Sensor have much better than adequate resolution being 16 mega pixel, APS-C size.   Because the sensors are larger than many smaller system cameras, the noise is extremely low, even at 6400 ISO.  Fuji color is simply magical, the best I’ve ever experienced and their unique feature allowing three files all of different color palettes or monochrome, makes image making much more productive!  While the D800 certainly was the detail king, but for me, I seldom needed that much resolution, and these smaller files are a joy to work with!  I have to say, I’m thrilled with the image quality of the Fuji X System cameras.  (I own the X-Pro1, the X-E2, and the X100s and these comments area true of  all three).


TWO Build Quality & Ease of Use.  The Fuji bodies are very, very well built, and have taken some hard use in stride!  I would not say, however,  they are in a league with the heavy built Nikons and Canons, or Leicas.  The other area that I’m slightly concerned with is that they are not sealed against water. While I have shot in rain and snow, I’ve protected them,  and had no problems.  Truthfully if it is raining I’m usually enjoying a cold beverage, waiting for it to stop!  One part of the build that I am very excited about is the retro design which returns all the major controls; Aperture, Shutter Speed knob and Exposure Compensation to places I’m used to finding them, and comfortable working with!!!!!!  I simply love the design!


THREE Lens Quality.  This was my greatest fear, because I honestly believed that no one, and I do mean no one made glass as good as my beloved Nikkors.  Time out, Canon makes some lenses that are just stellar, so does Olympus, Panasonic, Sony, and all the other manufacturers, but I have always felt that, lens for lens, Nikkors are the best.  *(Yes, for you Leicaphiles, Leica lenses are stellar, and stupid expensive, and cover a pathetically small range, but I’ll give it to you that the quality is amazing!)  I have to be honest the Fujinon glass was my most wonderful surprise.  I was well aware of the long prestigious history of Fujinon glass used in the television, (video and film), and big format cameras, but these lenses designed for the new X system are simply stunning glass.  I own the 14mm, 23mm, 35mm, 18-55, 60mm Micro (used in the image at the top), and the 55-200.  Several more are coming in early 2014, and I already have them on order!  These lenses are great!   And my current set gives me 21mm to 300mm coverage almost without gaps!!!


So, to sum all this up, I still feel a little guilty, but my back and shoulder never hurts from trying to carry too much heavy gear, and my images are getting better all the time, because I’m having a lot more fun!


Merry Christmas,


the pilgrim


Photo Note:  Fuji X-E2, 60mm Micro lens f22 @ 2.2 seconds, lit with a portable LED light. Common kitchens soda straws, held together with a rubber band!


Couple of other shots from a trip out today!  Fuji X-E2 with the 23mm (35mm equiv,) f 1.4 lens



Fine dining in Corbin!






9 months ago 10

One of the highlights of my Christmas seasons is a visit to a little church in our town where my daughter and her family attend.  A week or so before Christmas they have the children’s Christmas nativity play.  It’s one of the sweetest evenings seeing these little children acting out the scene at the manger, as the Christmas story is read in scripture.  The small congregation sings some of the most wonderful Christmas hymns, Joy to the World, Away in a Manger, and Silent Night.  At the end of the evening the pastor shared a precious story.  It seems another group of children were performing a nativity play and at the end they each held up a card with a single letter, they spelled out C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S   L-O-V-E.  Little Johnny, who was shy and withdrawn, noticed that some in the congregation were laughing.  Little Johnny knew it was something he had done, but he didn’t know what!


The pastor saw that Johnny was holding his letter upside down.  Little Johnny was holding the M.  The pastor wisely stepped between Johnny and the child next to him and told the congregation, “see little Johnny got it exactly right Christ Was Love.   Please let me add, he is still love today, and he will be love in all your tomorrows!  He does not want you to feel alone, afraid, unwanted, un-needed, He wants you to know He values you, loves you, and accepts you, and that He is offering you His forgiveness!  That’s why He came, that’s what we celebrate every Christmas day, and every day!!  The children did get it right, if we ever had anything in life worth celebrating it is the coming of our Savior!


Merry Christmas,


the pilgrim




9 months ago 10

I imagine your response was, “well, whoop-de-doo!”  Can’t say that I blame you, but I have something a little deeper to share about the occurrence…..  I know, you’re not surprised, are you?


Here is the back story.  I’ve been retired from Nikon since July 1st of this summer.  I had a lot of thoughts about what retirement was going to be like, many of them were dead on, but the most important impact on me personally was not so obvious.  I knew I was going to enjoy being home more, being with Sherelene more, not being home only to re-pack, for the next mission.  What I never expected was I’ve learned what most people take for granted.  They build their lives around the best, and most simple things, relationships!  Don’t get me wrong, I knew I loved my wife, and I treasured our time together, but it was always on the timer, counting down until I had to leave again.  Most of my friends often told me how much they wish they were living my life,  I would often think I would trade places with you, but honestly I loved being on my way to big events, air shows, exciting meetings, beautiful, and interesting locations.  The thing is I didn’t know what it was like to have “unlimited time at home”!  Tonight Sherelene had some charts to do and so she was set up next to the TV doing her charts and watching Kentucky and North Carolina play a big basketball game, to those who cared.


I was in the kitchen watching and episode of American Pickers, that I’ve probably seen before.   When I went in to kiss Sherelene and ask how the game was going she was on pins and needles as the lead was constantly changing.  She said, “why aren’t you watching the game?”  My answer shocked her.  I’ve always been a big Kentucky basketball fan, but in the last few years I’ve come to have a completely different attitude about sports, even Kentucky basketball.  My answer was as follows;  ”You see these two teams are going to run up and down the court, and score, and someone will get a little ahead, sometimes they will be be tied,  and sometimes be behind one another. Near the end of the game one team will pull away, or it will be close, but when the buzzer sounds, one team will have less points and loose.  It’s just a game, why should I sit in front of the TV chewing my nails down to the quick, when tomorrow it won’t matter!”


The important thing will be I’m home with Sherelene, and we did the kinds of things normal people do!  I brought home pizza tonight!




the pilgrim


Photo Note:  shot with my iPad!