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8 years, 2 months ago 0

I had a crazy dream last night. I would imagine it was because Wednesday I’m driving down to Charleston, SC for the NPPA (National Press Photographers Association) Convergence Seminar.
Convergence is the name for the new technology that has still digital single lens reflex cameras also making High Definition video. So the dream went something like this; I was the main speaker,
which I’m not at this conference, and I had a morning and afternoon program to present. After the morning program, during lunch, I discovered that my battery had died in my Mac Book Pro. Now of course at any photojournalism conference getting a charging cord or borrowing a battery for a Mac would have been no problem, but dreams rarely are logical in that way.

So I had to present again in the afternoon and my pre designed program on the computer was not available. It was ten minutes until time to step up to the podium, so I decided to give a talk about
something personal, How To Immeasurably Improve Your Life. In the dream in ten minutes I scribbled down a brief outline. Here is the talk.

* Remember this was being shared with photographers, but in review I think you will agree it would work for anyone, doing anything.

How would you like for your life to be immeasurably better? Then please allow me to share a few key things that I promise, if followed, will result in just that, a better life.

Step One: Determine for yourself why you are doing what your doing. Why are you a photojournalist, or a pharmacist, or a plumber? Why did you decide to devote this part of your life to this activity? I most imagine, you have always wanted to do what you’re doing. Dig down deep and remember what it was about what you do, that you love so much, that you wanted to do it for
all your life. When you can answer that, you will have the key to doing what you do with all the gusto it deserves! Anything done with out great enthusiasm (gusto) is not worth doing.

Step Two: Make a careful assessment of yourself. It is easy to fall into a couple of traps in life, we either think too little of ourselves or too much. In reality, are you the hottest photographer in the world, or just a very good one? Are you the worst person you know, or just another struggling human being in need of improvement (that’s all of us, by-the-way!). The issue of your self-worth must be settled. Here is a simple formula, “The” God, gave up His only Son to die for you that you might have eternal life. I think that clearly defines your value. As to overstating your value, I will leave you to work that one out, but just remember pride goes before a fall. I have a very simple way to keep myself in line as a photographer; I know these two things to be self-evident truths,
I am an exceptional photographer, and today, exceptional photographers are dime a dozen.
Kind of puts some perspective on things, don’t you think?

Step Three: If you really want everything in life that you desire, help others get it. If you spend your life trying to help others succeed, and realize their dreams, yours will follow. The act of giving will become more important to you and more satisfying for you, than getting just what you want alone. If you really think about it, I’m sure you already know that almost nothing you ever
desired, resulted in lasting satisfaction, after you had attained it. Material possessions may be the most over-rated of all our earthly accumulations.

Step Four: Learn that SIMPLE is always best. It is the simple pleasures of this life, the simple acts of kindness to others, the simple moments with family and friends, the simple breeze, and shade on a hot day, that satisfy the most. If you want to ruin anything, overcomplicate it.

Step Five: Trust in someone far more powerful than yourself. If you want all the issues of life to become clear, and move towards good resolution, give your heart and life to Jesus. We live in a society that says, you must solve your own problems. Actually God doesn’t want you to ball up in the fetal position and live in mortal fear, He does want you to be part of the answer, but He also wants you to wait on Him. Charging into battle with no plan is never a good idea. God will guide you and give you the strength to accomplish every task, but wait for your marching orders before you march.

Step Six: Spend a few minutes everyday, being thankful for all you’ve been blessed with.
I try to tell Bill Pekala, the man who hired me at Nikon and a life long friend, thanks so much for this job! Is my job a joy every minute, of course not, but the moments that are not pleasant are far and few between. I thank God for my wife, my children and my grandchildren, my friends and associates. I thank Him for my health, my love of life, for photography, and all the really great simple pleasures of this life. Most of all I thank Him for His Son, because of His actions, when this life is over, an even better existence starts for me…………

Start today, to have a great, and immeasurably improved life……..

the pilgrim

* Photo note: Painting on an old store’s wall, Taos, New Mexico.

8 years, 2 months ago 0

What a glorious holiday. A day of celebrating the freedom for which we should be so thankful. I hope that you were with family and friends yesterday. It is in the warmth of those relationships that we remember just how wonderful our country is.

Last night all the residents of the street where I live gathered for a picnic and fellowship. The evening ended with a really spectacular fireworks display provided by some of our neighbors.
About 45 adults gathered and enjoyed hot dogs, hamburgers, and barbecued pork roast with all the fixings.

The most beautiful site for me was all the kids, dozens, lying on blankets in my neighbors yard looking skyward in awe at the display of the fireworks. We don’t do this very often, actually in the thirty years I’ve lived on my street, I can only remember a handful of gatherings such as this, and that’s a mistake. This was a glorious evening. If you’re ever tempted to think you are doing without the best things in life because you can’t afford them, you should have been with us last night. Each neighbor brought some food, everyone brought a comfortable chair and we simply enjoyed getting reacquainted.

Diverse people from all walks of life, all ages, all interests, not all the same. But last night one common interest bound us together, an enjoyment of a holiday that encourages us to reach out to one another.

Today we all have air conditioning, TVs, computers, and many other things that keep us in our homes, behind closed doors. Last night we came outside and enjoyed something truly special,
each other.

The goal of my life is to share my Lord’s love with everyone I meet. Last night I got out of my house, and did just that………….

the pilgrim

8 years, 2 months ago 0

The door to a store, or your house, or your church. A door is according to Webster’s :

figurative a means of access, admission, or exit; a means to a specified end

We all need a way to get in. A passage for admission. Jesus gave us that door when he came to earth and lived among us, teaching us, and showing us an example of how to live. He did more than that though, He took on the sins of the world on His shoulders, and went to the cross to die, once for us all. He took all the wrath of God for sin so we could be free of that punishment.

Now He stand at the very door He provided and He waits for you to knock. If you desire to come in He will gladly open that door and place His arms around you, assuring you of His deep love for you and then welcome you into His glorious fellowship, forever.

This weekend we will enjoy family and friends as we celebrate our Independence Day. The greatest independence day is the day you become dependent on Him.

the pilgrim

8 years, 2 months ago 0

The image above is from one of my favorite bird photographers, Wayne Bennett. He is gong to be one of six instructors at the Moab Event, in October with Scott Kelby. This isn’t an ad, it’s already sold out. I just love showing Wayne’s work, he is a great shooter and a dear friend.

Today I would like to do a little Tech Friday on Thursday. The question many photographers ask me is how do you know when it is time to buy a long telephoto lens and which one should I buy.
It’s a good question, so let’s talk about it.

First, what is a long piece of glass? The so called normal lens on most film cameras was a 50mm lens. The 50mm refers to the lenses focal length, which is a measurement of the lens elements in the system. On a film camera a 50mm lens made a photograph where objects were approximately the same size as seen with the naked eye. This would also hold true for digital cameras with sensors the same size as a piece of 35mm film. In the Nikon system some cameras have what are called DX sensors (currently D90, D300s, D40, D60, etc.), on those cameras, because the sensor is smaller, the “effective” focal length of a lens “appears” to be 1.5 times longer. For example, on a D90 with a DX sensor a 50mm focal length lens would produce and image in which the main subject would be 1.5 times larger than with the FX (35mm size) sensor, or like a 75mm lens.
This applies only to “apparent” magnification. Though it appears to lengthen a lenses focal length, it doesn’t, it simply crops out a smaller part of the scene.

So what effect does focal length have on the resulting image? If you photograph a person from ten feet with a 50mm lens on a FX sensor camera, the person would appear approx. the same size in the image as what you saw with you eyes. With a 100mm lens, the person apparent size would double. At 200mm, the person would double again, at 400mm they would double once again.
So every time the focal length doubles the subject size in the image doubles as well. Keep in mind with the DX sensored camera the subject starts out 1.5 times larger than you would expect because the lens and sensor size “crops” the image to 1.5 times larger. After that the same would be true about doubling of image size as the focal length doubles.

So when do you need a longer lens? When you want to get closer to the subject but may not be able to move physically closer. For instance if your in a Range Rover in Africa and want a closer shot of the lions face, but can’t (or shouldn’t) get out of the vehicle and walk up closer. The closer you want the subject to appear in the image, the longer the focal length.

Here are some common subjects and the focal length range most often used to photograph them;

Wildlife, mammals: 200mm to 600mm and beyond.
Wildlife, birds: 300mm to 600mm and beyond.
Sports: 180mm to 600mm and beyond.
Portraits of people: 85mm to 200mm.
Landscape photography: 70mm to 400mm.

This is a very limited list and opinions will vary widely on what lenses are best, but these can serve as starting point.

One thing is for sure, long glass is expensive and big. A 600mm f4 lens can cost up to $12,000.
and is a very large and heavy piece of glass. Consider carefully just what you will use a piece of long glass for, it’s a big investment. The Nikon 200-400 f4 VR lens is a favorite because it’s relative cost, around $6,000. is more reasonable, (a relative term), and it has a great range of focal lengths built into one lens. Also keep in mind that if you own a DX sensor camera the 200-400 would produce images much as if it were a 400-600 lens!

Long lenses are fun and expensive, so choose wisely. By-the-way, my long lens? I carry the
small Nikon 70-300 AFS VR lens (about $550.). It is a 70-300 on my FX cameras and a
105-450 equivalent on my DX sensor cameras. I find it covers almost all my long glass needs, is affordable, very sharp and if you break it, does not require a second mortgage on the house to
replace! Food for thought.

More food for thought, God loves you, love Him back…………….

the pilgrim