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8 years, 3 months ago 0

1958 was a big year for Tuscaloosa. Not only was it the first year that Paul “Bear” Bryant starting coaching at Alabama, but it was the year that John “Big Daddy” Bishop opened his first Dreamland Café. Big Daddy was a brick mason for many years and he longed for another way to support his family. He had narrowed it down to opening either a mortuary or a restaurant and he got down on his knees and prayed for guidance. Legend has it that God told him in a dream that night to build a café on the land next to his home and Big Daddy made that dream a reality.

Thank you God for inspiring that decision! Yesterday I took the staff of the Birmingham News out to lunch, they suggested Dreamland Cafe. Wow, how I love this paper and town. Dreamland is one of the most legendary Bar-b-que joints in America, (the original restaurant is in Tuscaloosa).

Left to right,
Tamika, Linda,
Frank, Joe,
Beverly, my
empty seat,
and Walt.
The staff of the

This is the place to go for Ribs, Bar-b-que Pork, and Chicken, and the best sides and deserts in Alabama, especially the Banana Pudding. The problem with many Bar-b-que chains is none of the other restaurants use the same methods of cooking, no so at Dreamland as evidenced at the top.
These are the same brick ovens and open flames used to cook the ribs at the original location.

In the South food and
fellowship go hand in
hand. Lunch is a big event
in towns like Birmingham
where more important
business and relationship
building may take place
than in any office building.
Being in the newspaper
business has never been
tougher, especially for photo
staffs. Most of my major
papers in the South are only
about half the size they were
only a few years ago, some even less than half their former size.

It’s more important than ever that we work with our papers to help them get the most out of their
equipment. While this is definitely business, a lot of great relationships and friendships are made along the way. I’ve know Walt for many years and I’m very proud of the great staff he manages and the great work this paper does. Unlike a lot of papers that try to replicate the biggest major city papers, the Birmingham News has stayed true to it’s major readers and delivers local and regional news coverages as good as anyone. That kind of service to the reader has resulted in a loyal following, and that leads to a stable newspaper economy.

I also love the story
of this great Bar-b-
que place. God
really does care
about we do with
our lives. So when
“Big Daddy” Bishop
prayed for guidance
I think we can agree
that he was steered
in the right direc-
tion. I’m sure
glad he didn’t go
with the other
choice. I wouldn’t
have been near
as excited to visit the “Big Daddy” Mortuary!

One of the things I hear often from those that are not believers is that they would be more interested in being a Christian if they didn’t feel they would have to give up so much of what is fun in their lives. If you come here often and don’t think I’m having fun in this life you need to get your eye glass prescription checked……..

Today’s Prayer: Father, thank you for making life so filled with joy and laughter. I am thankful that you’re a God that loves to hear us laugh and see us smile. Amen

the pilgrim

*Photo Notes: All images with Nikon D3s at ISO 3200 and the 17-35 AFS f 2.8 lens.

8 years, 3 months ago 0

I had a long drive today, down to Birmingham, Alabama to visit with an old friend, Walt Stricklin, DOP (Director of Photography) of the Birmingham News. I’m looking forward to catching up. I have to admit that I spent a good part of the trip down reliving the events of the week in Nashville.

Maybe the best part of the video shoot was hanging out with three great friends, Mark Suban,
Bill Pekala, and Bill Frakes. Mark is a new friend, so we are still getting know each other, but I can say without any reservations that he is a class act and one of the best tech reps I’ve ever known.
I don’t think there is anything Mark won’t tackle and get really good at it too. I know that Mark is going to be a tremendous asset to Nikon over the coming years. Even more important to me is I know he is a real friend and someone whose company is always welcome out in the field.

Now to the two Bills. First my boss and my friend, Bill Pekala. Now before you start wondering if this is an exercise in buttering up the old boss, (can’t be, he’s younger than me), drop that thought
right now. Bill Pekala and I met each just a few years after we graduated from the University of Kentucky in the same class (68). Though we never ran into each other in college, we both joke that we were never in jail at the same time, when I did meet Bill he had just joined Nikon and was teaching the Nikon School. This would have been in the early 70’s. Bill and Fred Sisson, (now retired), were two of the people that inspired me to want to make photography my life’s passion. We became friends and our friendship grew over the years. Eight years ago when Bill offered me a job as a NPS Tech Rep, I jumped at the chance, with one stipulation, I told Bill that I wanted him to know that I would never try to trade on our friendship or take advantage of him. I told him I knew he would be my boss and he would get the respect he deserved in that role, but, I hoped we could remain friends. Both things have been true. Bill has been a great boss and continues to be a great friend. I still love to get out and do some shooting with him, even though his job does not allow him to shoot as much as he once did, when he does though, he still is gunslinger with DSLR.

Bill Frakes and I don’t go back that far, but then Bill Frakes a mere youngster compared to me. I have known Bill for a long time and I’ve enjoyed watching him grow from hot, young shooter to a mature, extremely talented legend in the sports world, and now in the video production field.
In spite of Bill’s extraordinary credentials, he has always treated me with the greatest of respect,
something us old guys really appreciate! Bill is one of Sports Illustrated’s top shooters and his list of awards and accomplishments is far longer than I could list here. Needless to say, he is a truly gifted visual artist and storyteller. Even more important to me is that I’ve come to realize what a good guy he is, and how tender hearted he is when it comes to the needs and troubles of others. You know that goes a long, long way in my book. Bill is the kind of photographer that makes you better, every time you get to spend time around him.

Getting to do the truly exciting things I get to do is truly a blessing, but the biggest blessing of all is getting to do it with men like these………..

the pilgrim

Today’s prayer of thanksgiving; Thank you, Father, I know I don’t deserve these kinds of blessings, but I’m so very thankful for your deep love, that causes you to place these people in my life. Father, please bless them, and protect them, and use them to your glory.

8 years, 3 months ago 0

My pastor Tim Thompson gave a great sermon yesterday and shared these five principles of a relationship with Christ. They are comforting and empowering. This is a good way to start a week,
leaning on the truth of His Word.

1. Every Human being has worth and dignity in God’s eyes.
2. Every soul is worth saving.
3. God’s grace and salvation comes to everyone who believers in Jesus Christ.
4. Being a Christian means a life of being changed into the likeness of Christ.
5. The power of God to change us comes through the Holy Spirit.

Why would I care whether or not anyone else gets it? After all, I’ve already accepted Christ and He is making my all the difference in my life. When you accept Jesus and ask Him to indwell your life, you begin to have the mind of Christ. You have His love for others and His desire for others to come to Him. In fact, it becomes the most important thing in your life. You can’t help but reach out to others in His name.

Do I think I’m better than others because I’ve got Him in my life? No, I’m a sinner like everyone else, the only difference is I’ve accepted His forgiveness. That is the great lie the enemy tells those that have not accepted Him, those Christians think there better than you! Nope, not true, we just have seen the light and accepted it. Sin is another misunderstood word, those that do not believe see it as a negative slanderous term used to look down on those that have made mistakes in there lives. Once again that is the lie. Sin is when we fall short of what God had planned for our lives.
God would not have us steal, cheat, lie, or kill. He would not have us be jealous, envious, angry, and hate filled. Yet, we do those things and when we do we have sinned against God.

Thankfully there is a plan, and it’s spelled out steps one through five above. Read it again and think about how perfect God’s plan is.

the pilgrim

*Photo note: Crescent Lake in Olympic National Park, believe it or not this is a color image,
but the light was so stark it appears as a Black & White image.

8 years, 3 months ago 0

It has really come together over the last three days, I know I love my job because of the great places I get to go, and the great events I get to witness and the wonderful things I get to photograph, but best of all is the great people I get to work with. This group was extra special and this adventure with Bill Frakes, Laura and all the gang, especially Mark Suban and Bill Pekala. The top notch Straw Hat
Visuals team, to the right,
Sara Tanner, and
Heather Riggs, really
make it possible for
Bill & Laura to create
such great video

The Soda Shop was
great, and the fellow-
ship even better…..

What a great way to kick up your heals, I almost feel like breaking into song myself, well let’s not spoil the mood……………

the pilgrim

A Special Thanks to our dear friend and photo buddy,
Ricky Skaggs for all his efforts…….

*Photo Notes: All images with Nikon D3s, Most indoor shots withe 24-70 AFS f 2.8,
the live performance shots at The Grand Ole Opry were with the D3s at ISO 3200 and
6400 with the 70-300 AFS VR lens. Shot above of Ricky and his nephew, Noah, was the 70-300
AFS VR lens.