Recent Posts
7 years, 11 months ago 0

One of the great things about a daily walk with God is; He will change you. I was assigned by Nikon to attend and assist with a conference held at Western Kentucky University for minority high school students with dreams of becoming photojournalists. Ten bright, young students were chosen to be immersed in photography for four and half days under the capable tutelage of Barry Gutiearrez, a Pulitzer Prize Winning photojournalist, from Denver, Colorado, http://barrygutierrez.com/ and James Kenney, Department Head of Photojournalism for Western Kentucky University. A number of great WKU students are also assisting with the administration of the workshop.

To be honest, I had no idea what to expect. What I’ve experienced so far has been a pleasant surprise. Barry has been artfully and effectively giving these students a good lesson in the better attributes of being a photojournalist. Barry has been quick to emphasize that a good photojournalist does not approach a story with an agenda, but rather with and open mind and empathy for the subject. This morning he told about covering a story about a young soldier that had been given leave to come home to see his newly born daughter, but volunteered for one last mission before leaving for home. He was killed by a sniper on that mission. The image that Barry captured, with the full approval of the family, was among the most powerful I’ve ever seen. What impressed me the most was the lengths he went to to be sure the family approved. If you go to his website above, it will show that image fourth in the opening slide show, of this young soldier in the casket with the photograph of his daughter tucked into his dress uniform opening at the chest.

The gulf between what we all believe to be self evident truths, is wide and varied, but the need to treat others with respect and kindness should not ever be a gulf between any of us.

I started my career as a photojournalist, and by the time I left the profession, I was pretty disgusted with the whole thing. The last major story I covered was the Scotia Mine Disaster in which 25 men died in an underground coal mine explosion. A day later 20 more men, in a rescue team, were killed in a second explosion. As a young photojournalist covering the story, I watched countless helicopters, all the networks, and hundreds of reports and photographers descend on this tiny Virginia community. The behavior of many of my cohorts in crime was disappointing, to the say the least. I left the profession, shortly after this assignment, with a pretty good level of disgust.

Today, I changed my mind, o.k. maybe God changed my mind. I saw one good man, doing good things, for the right reasons, and then sharing it with some deserving young people that need to know, this side of the story, of photojournalism.

Thank you Lord for reminding me what I once loved about being a a photojournalist. I can only hope that more men and women that care, and want to show compassion in telling their stories will step forward, and help others to follow their path.

As a follower of Christ, I can do nothing more important than to offer His love and compassion to others. Thanks Barry, for the powerful reminder.

the pilgrim

7 years, 11 months ago 0

Close-up photography is an exciting part of the entire world of imaging. When you delve into things smaller than the palm of your hand you open an entire new world! I will leave the aesthetics of what works and doesn’t work to you, but I would like to offer some friendly advise on what gear will make the process more pleasant and effective.

The simplest and most costly way to get into close-up photography is to buy a Micro, (Nikon),
or Macro, (everyone else), lens. If you shoot stamps and coins, or documents the 50mm and 60mm lenses will work fine. For general nature the 100mm to 105mm work great. If you are photographing anything that needs the maximum distance for comfort, like skittish insects or reptiles, spring for the 180mm and 200mm lenses. I use the 105mm and 200mm the most.

If saving money is on your agenda, automatic extension tubes will turn any sharp telephoto or telephoto zoom into a great close-up lens. A good set of extension tubes will cost about 20% of
the least expensive Micro lenses.

Another great device is a diopter lens. A diopter is a two element filter that is highly corrected
and if used on sharp lenses between 100mm and 300mm they produce very sharp results. The Nikon’s 3T-4T and 5T-6T were four of the best every made, unfortunately they are no longer manufactured, though sometimes can be found used. Canon still makes several and they work very well too.

While bellows are very versatile, they are also somewhat difficult to use and very few are available that have automatic connections to the camera. I usually advise against this route unless you love to tinker with your gear. Don’t get me wrong they can work well, they’re just more finicky.

So if you have some super sharp tele and zooms, try the extension tubes, if money is not an object
then the Micro/Macro lenses are good investments.

The last must accessory is a good solid tripod. Close-up work requires a very steady camera and nothing will replace the good tripod.

Hope this helps, May richly bless you this weekend, I will be in touch from Western Kentucky
University next week!

the pilgrim

7 years, 11 months ago 0

I got a phone call last night that made me very, very happy. My son Scott who lives in St. Augustine, Florida with his family, called to tell me he had passed a very important exam for his certification. A year ago he had taken the same exam, and had missed passing by only a few points. The exam is a tough one that few people pass the first time. He was devastated when he failed to pass it last year. He had studied for months and felt he was ready.

The measure of man is not determined by failing or succeeding, but by how often they will pick themselves up from defeat and try again. One of my favorite movies is Rudy, the true story of a young man who wanted to play football at Notre Dame. He struggled through years of being a practice dummy just to be on the team. He won the respect of other players because he simply never quit. If you get a chance to watch this movie, I can highly recommend it.

My son Scott, didn’t quit. He studied hard for another year, and faced all his fears to take the test again. I was very proud of him when he called to share his victory last night, but not just because he passed, but more because he never gave up.

God wants us to trust Him and keep getting up. One thing is for sure in life, you will get knocked down, the question is, can you pull yourself back up, and with God’s help, try again!

the pilgrim

7 years, 11 months ago 0

Last night I was honored to be the guest artist of the month of the Knox Arts & Humanities Council at Union College in Barbourville, Kentucky. The celebration for those that attended was my newest book, America From 500 Feet II. The celebration for me was that all the good in my life is from Him. I never get the opportunity to share the story behind my two America From 500 Feet books that I’m not reminded how God was in both projects and in all of my life, step by step.

I’ve often been asked how this whole “faith thing” applies to everyday living? Simple, thirty five years ago when I faced death from cancer, I came to the stark realization that God wanted more from me than attending church on Sunday. In that experience I came to know, deep in my heart, that God wanted me to surrender my entire life to Him. My family, my friends, my photography, and every moment of my life. Only when I surrendered it all to Him was He able to bless my entire life. Think about it, if you were a father and your son or daughter needed your help, but refused to obey your rules, and surrender to your better judgement, you would actually harm them if you rewarded them with your blessings, even while they were in disobedience to you. God loves us so much, that He will not harm us by rewarding our disobedience.

It is only after we give it all to Him, that He can bless it all. As always, this entry is not about me, it’s about Him. If you have a deep hunger for your life to be all it could be, for your joy to be rich, and your peace continuos, even in the difficult times, there is but one answer, surrender!

Surrender is nothing more than admitting all your guilt and shame, and throwing yourself on the mercy of the court. Fortunately, the judge, our Heavenly Father, has been waiting for just that moment, and is quick to forgive, forget, and transform your life into what it was always intended to be.

Psalm 16 (New Living Translation)
A psalm of David.
 1 Keep me safe, O God,
      for I have come to you for refuge.

 2 I said to the Lord,
“You are my Master!
      Every good thing I have comes from you.”
 3 The godly people in the land
      are my true heroes!
      I take pleasure in them!
 4 Troubles multiply for those who chase after other gods.
      I will not take part in their sacrifices of blood
      or even speak the names of their gods.
 5
Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing.
      You guard all that is mine.
 6 The land you have given me is a pleasant land.
      What a wonderful inheritance!
 7 I will bless the Lord who guides me;
      even at night my heart instructs me.
 8
I know the Lord is always with me.
      I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
 9
No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.
      My body rests in safety.
 10 For you will not leave my soul among the dead
      or allow your holy one to rot in the grave.
 11 You will show me the way of life,
      granting me the joy of your presence
      and the pleasures of living with you forever.

Are you tired and weary from fighting the battles of life? Maybe it’s time to trust Him with all your cares and concerns, and start to enjoy all the good He has waiting for you. Knock and He will answer. Why wait, why suffer any longer, He’s standing at the door.

the pilgrim