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3 weeks ago 8


I was sitting on the couch last night thinking about the loss of Scott Hughes, feeling sad for us, and happy for him.  Sad for us because he was great friend to fly with, and happy for him because all the pain is over, and he is soaring all the time now!


I was playing some contemporary Christian music I like on the iPad, lost in thought.  Then a song came on that hit me like a ton of bricks, one I love, but brought all my feelings together at once.  Wynonna Judd belted out “I Can Only Imagine”!


I can only imagine,  it’ll be like, when I walk, by your side

I can only imagine, what my eyes will see, when Your face is before me.

I can only imagine……..

Surrounded by Your glory what will my heart feel

Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still

Will stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall

Will I sing Halleluiah will I be able to speak at all….  I can only imagine

I can only imagine…….


As I wept uncontrollably all I could see was a picture of my son Wesley when he was just a little boy with his arms outstretched as far as he could reach.  I went to my computer, still weeping, and found that image, and stared at it for the longest time. I used to ask him how much do you love me?, and his answer was to stare at me and thrust his arms further than I thought he could reach.  In that moment looking at him on the computer screen I felt just how much God loves us! His Son stretched his arms out and allowed Himself to be nailed to a cross for me, and you.


Wesley knew how to show his father just how much he loved him, as far as he could stretch his little arms.   If our own family can love us so much, I can only imagine, how much He loves us!  As I write this blog entry, if it was the last thing I ever wrote, the last time I could ever leave a message for anyone, I would beg and plead that you accept that unimaginable love.


If you haven’t, you can only imagine what it’s like to be love that way!




the pilgrim



3 weeks, 1 day ago 4


Sometime in my youth my father taught me, “if you want to be a success in life, help others make their dreams come true.”


Today I lost a dear friend, Scott Hughes.  Scott taught me to fly powered parachutes, and I never saw anyone who could fly them quite like he could.  Today he is flying freer and higher than ever before.  My dream since childhood was to be a pilot, and I wanted to learn to fly everything that went into the air!  A lot of that dream came true, and Scott was big part of it. Scott sponsored Mark Kettenhofen and I when we did the second America from 500 Feet book.  I will always cherish the time we had in Wharton with him, the flying community won’t be the same.


I miss flying every day, but I’ll miss it more now!  Thanks for my wings Scott, safe landings my friend, you deserve it!




the pilgrim


Photo Note Image by Mark Alberhasky, of me flying the Predator PPC that Scott designed and built for me.

3 weeks, 2 days ago 8


It was Fall of 1976, my daughter Catherine Anne was three months old and my father is holding her.  The shutter clicked and one of those images that defines your life as a photographer was exposed on a roll of Kodachrome!  For many years those yellow canisters filled the outside pocket of my camera bag.  Kodachrome was, for many years, the king of slide films.  As the T-shirt says; Paul sang about it. (Kodachrome  Paul Simon)  A state park was named after it, (Kodachrome Basin in Utah).  National Geographic shot their most famous photos on it.  With the advent of Fuji Film’s Velvia, then digital, and finally the EPA, it died.  Fuji became the rage, Kodak refused to understand that people wanted the brighter deeper colors, of course digital changed every thing for all films, and the Kodachrome process was highly toxic and the last straw was drawn when the Environmental Protection Agency said that Kodak could no longer run the film’s processing machines.


The image above is of  my daughter Catherine being held by my late father William Pelle Fortney, The image means a great deal to me, it was a tender moment of my father holding my daughter.  It is one of those images that endures in our hearts, our memories, and on film.  I’m glad I was shooting Kodachrome that day!  Seems funny but from time to time even shooting a digital camera when I’m in the thick of shooting and enjoying just the feeling of making images, I can hear Paul singing, “Kodachrome, you gives those nice bright colors, you give us the greens of summer, makes you think all the worlds a sunny day, oh yeah, I got a Nikon camera, I love to take a photograph, oh momma don’t take my Kodachrome away…..”  ……………. but they did!



Dwayne’s Photo developed the last roll of Kodachroime on December 30, 2010 for Steve McCurry of National Geographic.  For the images on that last roll see the link below:


If  you want the shirt, use the link below!





the pilgrim

3 weeks, 5 days ago 13

It’s Guest Blog Wednesday featuring Bill Fortney!

I thought it would be fun to rerun a guest blog I did for Scot some time ago, it all seemed like relevant stuff to say again!

Photo by Scott Diussa


Five Things I Know!


Have you ever gone on a great photography trip and then returned home to sit at your computer to review hundreds or even thousands of images from your grand adventure? Over the past few months I’ve reviewed many countless thousands of images from the great adventure of a 44-year career as a photographer! As Mark Twain once remarked, “Garrulous old people climb up on a soap box and tell the rest of us how they got there!” I’ll go ahead and plead guilty now for what I’m about to do, but I hope these things I’m sharing will have some lasting value for you, because these are five things I do know to be true…

1. The truth of Rod Planck’s quote: “Technique trumps equipment every time!”
The specific camera and lens used for any given photograph may be one of the least important factors that determines the success of your images! Far more important is the clarity of the subject, the effectiveness of the light, the arrangement of elements within the frame, (composition), and the specific conditions at the time of the exposure, all of theses factors carry much more weight! Even more important than even those factors is the story or message your image conveys! I believe a great image leaves the viewer moved, raises questions, or provides answers! No camera can do that, only you. We all love the gear, collecting it, and using it is so much fun, but cameras are only tools, tools for building things, building images.




The images above were all made with cameras that cost less than six hundred dollars. Top, glasses on the Bible with an Fuji X-10, middle, hubcap with pine needles with an iPhone 4s, and bottom, lines in a slot canyon, a Nikon P7000.


2. The true secret to becoming the photographer you always hoped you could be, only requires three things: years of study, years of practice, and perseverance when you fail (and you will fail, many times)!
In other words, when you fail, get back up, dust yourself off, and try again! Few people want to hear this, but hard work is the key that opens the door to photographic success. The rewards are far greater than the price of the hard work though. Jay Maisel said, “We only take pictures for two reasons… I want to show you something or I want to keep this for myself…” I’ve found very few of the images I’ve ever made that don’t fall into these two categories! When we share our images and the response is one of amazement or pleasure from the viewer, we’ve shown some one else our vision, and sharing our vision is always worth the effort. No amount of hard work is too much to allow you to enjoy this amazing craft!



Top, NFL game action shot, middle, sunset light rays Great Smoky Mountains N.P., bottom, single fall leaf on the forest floor.



3. Giving truly is better than receiving!
If you have been so fortunate to have received great talent, and then, keep it for yourself, you have missed a great blessing! I’m not sure that I’ve been gifted with great talent, but I’ve happily shared whatever I’ve been given with others seeking to learn! I can only speak from personal experience, but my greatest joy is seeing others share my passion about photography, and the wonderful subjects we have the opportunity to try to capture. I believe some of the most talented shooters we have today get their greatest joy in sharing their vast knowledge! There are many that meet that description, but Scott Kelby, Joe McNally, and Jay Maisel certainly are at the top of my list! If my name were ever mentioned anywhere close to that list, I would be proud indeed, but truthfully, that is not necessary for me. My joy comes from holding a camera in my hands, and attempting to capture the things that interest me! In giving the gift of photography, I have received the greater gift of sharing in others joy. When I look at the work of Jim Begley, Zack Arias, Richard Small, Matt, Moose, Brad, RC, and many, many other fine photographers, I share in their joy!





Top, Aerial photograph of the Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky, middle, Hudson name plate in Old Car City, GA, bottom, spices in a Paris market.



4.  The truth is, in the end, it will be the relationships that matter most!
Faithful believer, husband, father, grandfather, friend, teacher, these are my most important roles. I’m proud of my body of work, but some day when I’m gone, I’m one hundred percent sure that my relationships will be far more important than any of my photographs! A few years ago a very close friend died at too young of an age. He was a great photographer and I and all of his friends wondered what would become of his life’s work, which was considerable; he had authored over 26 photography books! That led to my considering what would become of my work! After some time and a lot of thought, I came to the realization that my photography has been a means to an end. It has helped support my family and been a source of great happiness for me, but in the end will not be housed in a college library somewhere preserved for the ages. It’s been great fun making the images, but they are just photographs. It will be the people that matter the most in my life.





Top, stream in Great Smoky Mountain N.P., middle, air cleaners Old Car City, bottom, my grandson’s snow covered bicycle.



5.  Some people make more than a career out of their work… They make a difference.
That was on the cover of congratulatory card sent to me by a dear friend upon my retirement from Nikon. He wrote a personal note saying I’d made a difference in his life. I certainly hope that is true. My most important goal in life has been that I leave situations, and people, in a better place, than I’ve found them. How can a mere human being do that??!! Only by living with faith in someone far greater than yourself. Having the peace that comes from knowing how much God loves us! Then we must share that love with others who come into our lives… and, that my friends, is the greatest truth of all.





Top, aluminum skinned airplane tail, middle, Mesa Arch, Canyonlands N.P., bottom, medals on a red military jacket.



It is a great honor for Scott to share you guys with me, I hope something I’ve shared here will be helpful for you! Don’t worry about what others think of your work, enjoy the process and rewards of being a photographer, there are many! Don’t keep this craft for yourself, share it! I will only be truly successful, when my students exceed my abilities. My hope is that your photographic life be as rewarding as mine has been for me! Blessings!


Bill Fortney




the pilgrim