Recent Posts
2 years, 8 months ago 7



When Fuji announced plans to cancel the 120mm Macro lens and replace it with a 80mm f 2.8,  I was very disappointed.  I do a lot of close-up work and I’m totally committed to the Fujifilm X-System. I love the 60 macro, but really wanted something with more reach and better working distance.  I had a Nikon 200mm Micro Nikkor autofocus lens , which was incredibly sharp but big and bulky and just didn’t seem to fit the Fuji mind set that well.  A friend asked if I would sell it and if it had been anyone else I might not have let it go, but she needed it and I was not using so it is now gone.  Knowing Fuji was bringing a 120mm Macro which would’ve have been the equivalent of a 180mm, I was going to be fine.  Well, things change.


Back in the 70’s and 80’s Nikon had a manual focus Micro Nikkor that was pretty nice.  It was smaller, lighter and had internal focus so it is very smooth and easy to focus (I use manual focused of all my macro work anyway).  The issue is finding one today that is in good shape and has the removable tripod collar.  Many people removed them and lost them and you see this lens from time to time without the collar, which for me would be useless.  I always lock my camera down a tripod or other support for doing closeup work.


I decided to start hunting for a good one and it took a while.  A few weeks ago I checked eBay again and found a Excellent +++ rated  one in Japan, it was exactly what I wanted.  I took a chance and ordered it and it arrive a week ago, and it is perfect, just like new!!!!  I paid $300. which is very reasonable for one of these in this kind of condition.  It will give me the long macro lens I am missing!!!  Is it as sharp as the 200mm Micro Nikkor AF model?  No, but it is not very far behind and more than usable for my needs!   A big plus is that it takes 52mm filters and I have, the old long discontinued,  3T and 4T diopters which allow this lens to go to much greater than life size!!!  Here are a few sample images shot around my office with it!



This image of a Kansas State Troopers patch and pen, ( a gift from my dear buddy and former Kansas State Trooper and wonderful photographer, Ken Metz.),  shows just how sharp it is, the focus point is on the left hand side of the pen’s star at f11, very shallow depth).



The colored pencils are shot at f 16 and the focus point is the green pencil at mid right frame!



The Shure logo on my desktop decoration, a Shure 55SH Series II microphone that reminds of me of all the great singers that  have lived with this microphone pulled over close as they belted out some of the great songs of all time!  Shallow depth at f8 but the S logo is tack sharp!


Time will tell if this will be a good workable solution, and I’m sure I will love the 80mm Macro coming from Fujifilm next year, but I sure wish they had stayed with the 120mm first planned!! To be honest I hate to complain about anything they do since I love my X PRO2s (2) and my X-T2, X-T1 and all the great lenses!  As I said, time will tell, but I think I’m off to a good start with this old classic, blast from the past, kinda like me!




the pilgrim



2 years, 8 months ago 5



I wouldn’t write this blog entry during basketball season, I don’t really care about basketball.  I wouldn’t write this entry during baseball season, I wouldn’t watch the World Series  if I could see it off my back deck!! Football is different story, this is my season, this is the time of year, sports wise, I live for!!!  This year a couple of things have started to spoil it for me and it has me thinking about the whole sports thing.


Let me start with a quick story.  A number of years ago, when I was a died in the wool UK basketball fan, and bled Blue, the Cats were in the National Championship game and had it won!!  In the last couple of seconds Duke’s Christitan Laettner hit a long 3 pointer to steal the victory.  I calmly got up and walked through the kitchen and picked up a empty 5 Gallon water container from our water dispenser, went out to the drive way and smashed it into the concrete over and over until it shatter into a thousand pieces.  When I returned to  the house Sherelene said,  in a sarcastic tone, “I hope you feel better! ”  I shot something back about leaving me alone, when she asked me a life altering question!  She said,  “who won the National Championship three years ago?”, I said, “I don’t know, what’s your point!!”, and not too kindly!  She said, “I was just wondering why it meant so much if you don’t know who won it only three years ago.”


She was right, what difference does it really make?  Under a lot of conviction, I made a commitment to not get invested with any team to the degree that their loosing would ruin my day, or steal my witness. I couldn’t really imagine Jesus smashing a water jug in my driveway if His team lost!!  I love to see a good game and I may be for one team, but I rarely get upset regardless of the outcome. Sports should be something we enjoy and learn from, not something that wrecks our day.


I still struggle every fall when my alma mater, (UK),  stumbles around the field looking like it’s the first time they’ve ever seen a football, but I’ve even gotten use to that,  and just switch to another game and enjoy that one!  I now enjoy following several teams.


I said two things have bothered me this year.  One is the number of un-sportsman like late hits and deliberate attempts to hurt another player.  For me football is rough, and I like it that way, but that kind of thing has no place in the game.  The second is the conduct of some NFL players during the National Anthem.  What is even worse is the League’s not addressing it.  I think at a minimum, those players that choose not to stand for the National Anthem should be asked to kneel in the dressing room and then come out to play and collect their millions of dollars!!!  The whole thing make me sick and to be honest I am less interested  in the NFL season than usual, just because of that!  I think all lives matter and we have a lot of problems in America to solve, but turning your back on the nation, it’s anthem and those that serve us, is not part of the solution!


I played high school football and my coach taught us how to win like a gentleman, and how to loose like a gentlemen, and take away valuable life lessons.  He taught us to appreciate at the efforts of our opponent, and how to be able to genuinely  shake their hand at the end of the game, win or loose.   I wish we could go back to that simple time, when we considered other above ourselves.




the pilgrim


P.S. …..and just for the record I am not one of those calling for Coach Stoops to loose his job, I actually like the guy, and feel bad for him.  Sadly I’ m afraid that even a risen Bear Bryant couldn’t bring football glory back to Kentucky!  The SEC is just too competitive and there’s just not enough superior talent to go around.  Our kids play hard, but they are in an up hill battle against the other programs in the SEC that get a larger percentage of the top talent.  As evidenced in this early season lots of so called lesser schools have great programs and compete head to head with the big boys! Take a deep breath and enjoy it for what is is, a game!!!!!!!



2 years, 8 months ago 1



The Great Smoky Mountain Nature Photography Summit always sells out in a couple of weeks, this year it was sold out right after registration was allowed!!!!  The event which is a fantastic gathering some of the best folks in nature photography is strictly limited to 200 attendees.  Lots of folks have been disappointed when they called too late, well my friends a few folks have cancelled and we now have 7 spots open, on a first come, first serve come basis, don’t miss it!!!!  Here is the website address with all the details and how to register!


Join us!!!




the pilgrim



2 years, 8 months ago 5



Kent’s not mad, Kent’s just intense!!!!  Sorry Richard, didn’t have shot of you!  Kent Irvin and Richard Siggins both out did themselves making our faithful friends event something very special!!!!  Both Kent and Richard are superb shooters as evidenced in the image below by Kent.


One of the most incredible stops for me was Crooked River, here is Kent’s wonderful evening shot of one of the two major buildingson the property.  The owners, David and Annette Templeton were fantastic hosts and along with Kent’s wife provided a incredible lunch!


Image by Kent Irvin


This is the historic info provided by David.


Crooked River is located on the North Fork of the Holston River between Hiltons and Mendota Virginia. “Mendota”, meaning bend in the river to Southwest Virginia’s first inhabitants.  More than 16 species of raptors soar down the spine of the Clinch Mountain every autumn, heading south for the winter along the Appalachian Flyway, where at the peak of migration in mid September up to 1,000 birds per day can be seen soaring past. Conveniently located between Bristol and Gate City on Virginia’s Crooked Road, The Lodge at Crooked River mixes the charm of the countryside with modern facilities and luxurious service. The Crooked Road is a 330 mile driving trail through the mountains of Southwest Virginia that connects nine major venues and over 60 affiliated venues and festivals for visitors to enjoy every day of the year. The Commonwealth of Virginia named The Crooked Road as Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail. Although the Trail is focused on the uniqueness and vitality of this region’s heritage music, it also includes outdoor recreational activities, museums, crafts, and historic and cultural programs.
Crooked River Farm is a 200+ acre working farm and wedding venue in a stunning setting in Southern Virginia. The power and magnetism of the mountain and valley delight the eye and pull you in while the forest and glades make the outside world fall away. The heart of Crooked River is the circa-1823 Granary that serves as the reception location. 12 x 12 oak beams and majestic lighting create a rustic yet elegant ambiance. An 1899 renovated tobacco barn provides the bridal party a place to relax and prepare for the wedding and our luxury package includes accommodations for the wedding couple in the romantic honeymoon suite. Our full line of wedding services can be customized to create your dream wedding experience. Choose your ceremony site either down by the Seventh Shoal with the flow of the river caressing your wedding vows or over in The Grove with the tall white oaks for a backdrop.


You guys know how much I love Americana and Annette has provided a lot of incredible subjects to shoot at Crooked River!



I could share a dozen or two more great images, trust me this place is fantastic!!!!




We also got to go back to one of  my favorite locations Memory Lane,  thanks to the kindness of  Mr. Eldridge.  his 50’s town is not open to the pubic but he let us enjoy his creation again!  Here are a few images from this trip!



This ones for you Ricky!!!!




As if that was not enough we made a trip to Amis Mill, the first stone dam in Temmessee, here is some historic info on this great place!



Thomas Amis House – Edge of the Frontier

     Circa 1780, Capt Thomas Amis began construction on the stone home, still standing today, over 230 years later. He also constructed the gristmill and dam on Big Creek, where the mill ruins also remain. Thomas Amis Inn, as it was known then, was at the end of the Old Stage Road. Wagon wheel ruts are still visible today along the property’s boundary.
     This frontier home was built when America was a fledgling nation, 4 years after gaining her independence from the British.  The State of North Carolina awarded land to their Revolutionary War soldiers, as was the case with Captain Thomas Amis.  The land was situated in the remote western section of the State of North Carolina in hostile native territory, an area where the state could not offer protection for the settlers. In 1789, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to cede the western land to the Federal government.  In 1790 U.S. Congress accepted, at the same time, establishing a territorial government named “Territory of the United States South of the River Ohio.” William Blount was appointed as the new territorial governor, and a frequent guest of Thomas Amis.


     As you can see from the depiction of the home below, it was fortified by a palisade to protect the occupants from Indian attacks. It was constructed with gun slots instead of windows in the upper level for added protection during skirmishes with the Indians.  The 18 inch thick stones were interior/exterior walls of the home and provided a barrier against the elements and outside forces.  The Indian hostilities peaked in 1782 as white settlers continued arriving over the Appalachians, squatting on their lands without first acquiring it outright.



Previous two images by Kent Irvin


The great folks at Amis Mill arranged for a group of folks to pose for us in frontier clothing, wonderful people and fun shooting, one of my images below.


Richard Siggins didn’t forget my love of cheeseburgers and introduced us to a great place, Clarks Deli & Grocery where I found another 5 pickle burger, great people and a great place!






The Hack burger named after the original owners nickname is a real winner!  The great folks that run Clark’s are super nice folks too!!!



So wow, what a great week, wonderful friends, great fellowship and lot of shooting opportunities, can’t wait for next years event!!!!!   Thanks Kent and Richard for a terrific week!




the pilgrim