Monthly Archives: March 2017

4 years, 2 months ago 18
Posted in: Uncategorized


Joe Portrait small


I just had the pleasure of hanging out with Joe McNally for a couple of days at my home in Corbin, (yes, I’m bragging!).  Well, we weren’t at my home much, we were doing coal miners portraits in Bell Couinty, Kentucky.  O.K. “we” weren’t doing portraits, Joe was, I just made the contacts and helped him with his gear, and that is o.k. because it gave me something, very precious to me, time with Joe.  Let’s get one thing out of the way, Joe McNally is probably the world’s finest magazine photojournalists, a master of lighting, but what means the most to me, a man of genuine integrity, chracter and filled with grace.


I’ve said many times, there is no such thing as a famous photographer.  Elvis was famous, Bob Hope was famous!   Photographers, at best, are just known or respected by their peers, Joe McNally is both known and  highly respected by his peers!   Very few of us are ever stopped in an airport and asked are you, “fill in the blank”, and if we are, it is 99% of the time someone that has taken a class with us, watched a video class, or bought one of our books.  So let’s get this clarified, among our peers,  Joe is famous, very famous.  Settled, moving on.


What is much more important to those of us that are fortuante enough to call him a freind, is the man, Joe McNally.  Who is that Joe McNally?  He is a truly caring individual that quickly and eagerly becomes a part of the lives of his subjects.   Joe has countless friends from the 911 Project because he not only photographed them at a critical time in their lives, he became a part of their family, he went through the experience with them, suffered their loss and really cared about those people.  They are still close friends and he keeps in touch with them too!  I could go on, but trust me when I tell you 54 coal miners in Eastern Kentucky made a new friend over the last two days.  Around the world there are famous people, leaders, athletes, and common working men and women that Joe has touched with his genuine, caring concern and admiration for them.


If you spend time with Joe you see that he really does care, he really does try to look into the real lives of his subjects, he respects them (that is why I can’t share anything he shot here) at least not now.  He gave his word to the miners that they would see the images first, and that was the right thing to do, and he always keeps his word, so I will too.  Trust me the few I’ve see on the computer screen truly capture something far deeper than just a portrait!  Why?  Well, because he is Joe McNally.   I could have used his lights, set up by him and made images and I know they would not be anything like his.  He connects at a deeper level, and it results in truly wonderful images that capture the real subjects.  People that he interact with trust him, because they sense that they know they can.  I wear a wrist band that says “Becasue I said I would”  it remind me to keep my word.  Joe, doesn’t need one, that’s who he is.




Joe and mallory small



I’m very careful who I invite into my world, the world of these miners and the mountains that I love so deeply.  Many have abused the opportunity and made me regret sharing this place with them.  Joe did the opposite, he respected these men, he showed his genuine concern for their lives, their families the trials and tribulations of working miles under a mountain  in coal you can barely stand up in.  He left us with a deep respect for these people, my people.  He also captured their spirit, their grit and determination in his images, and I can’t wait to take the  resulting prints back down to the mine and share them with them.  They all will get prints of themselves, it’s a Joe McNally thing, starting to get it? 



Joe inthe crt small



Thanks Joe, for being who you are,  not the famous photographer, not the globe trotting super star, not the guy that has rubbed shoulders with people few could ever imagine meeting, but for being a decent, humble man, a great husband to Anne, a true treasure to those of us who are honored call you a friend,  and yes, for being a man of Integrity, Character and filled with God’s Grace.


 It was a good two days!





the pilgrim



  •  A very special thanks to Sandy and Leo Miller, Dave McCarthy and the great people of Rock Hampton Energy, especially Rex Fought and Johnny Evans, for making us feel so welcome and working so hard to make Joe’s shoot possible!  A very special thanks goes out to the 52 incredible miners that let us into their lives for a few hours, a few hours, that we will always remember!


SPECIAL UPDATE ON WES:   Wes started his second round of Chemo today and the blood work came back very positive, his Doctor was elated at how his blood had recovered this time, please keep praying, and thank you so much!!!




4 years, 2 months ago 4
Posted in: Uncategorized

Screen Shot 2017-03-24 at 9.33.04 AM


This past week has been very busy with travel and praying for and being with Wes through his treatments for Lymphoma.  First and of most important to me, thank you for your prayers, Wes is working hard to get through the chemo.  His blood component levels dropped this last few days and he was back in the hospital for 6 more units of blood, but he has recovered well and is resting before round two of chemo.  He continues to soldier on, and your payers are vital, so again, thank you!!!



The Bill Fortney’s Photo Vlog:  I just posted the 6th Vlog last night and I’m pleased that so many of you are enjoying them.  I get a number of email questions and this has been a good way to answer those questions directly to all who might be interested.  To find them, simply go to Youtube and search for Bill Fortney’s Photo Vlog and it will direct you to my channel, please subscribe and if you find them helpful, please give us a LIKE!



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This coming week I will be in Austin, Texas for the Precision Camera University Weekend!  I’m looking forward to beign w ith a bunch of students and working together to improve our vision and technique!!!  I have to be honest, I’m really looking forward to a trip to Hutz Burgers with Dudley Hawthorne too!!!!


My sincere thanks to the great folks at Bedford Camera in Oklahoma City.  the event was a truly a blast and their people were very nice!  I also got to spend a day and evening with Joe (McNally) and  Anne (Cahill).  Joe will be in Kentucky with me early this coming week to attempt to do some coal miner photographs, hope he is prepared for culture shock!!!  They were in London when the attack happended but are safe!  Please pray for them!



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Next up for Jack and I is the first of two Fujifilm X-Photographer Summits this year.  This one will be April 5-9 in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  If it’s early April, my heart is always in the Smokies!!!!






You may remember this example from my previous post in the GFX vs the X-T2 post.  A good friend a great shooter Sam Garcia, noticed something that I should have caught, the X-T2’s slightly softer image of the example above,  might have been because the focusing was slighty off, I will try some more examples the next time I get my hands on a  GFX, needless to say the GFX proved to be fantastic, but the X-T2 really held it’s own too!!!!  I am pretty sure a GFX will be at the event next week, so round two, I hope, is coming up!!!!



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I posted a while back about this fantastic trio of f 2 lenses from Fujifilm, and I’ve now had a few weeks to work with them.  My first impression has only grown more glowing, they are all stellar glass, and a joy to work with, given their size and compactness.  I often find myself just taking these three lenses out and rarely miss anything longer or shorter, quite a statement from a certified lens freak!!!!


Once again look how sharp the 50mm f 2 is (75mm equiv.)!


GFX full bike


Well, that’s it for now, I will check in mid next week after Joe and I do some coal mining photography!   Thanks again so much for the prayers, please keep them up!!  Our family loves you guys and your faithfulness is such a blessing to us!   Wes sends his love and deep and sincere thanks, he says he really feels the prayers!




the pilgrim





4 years, 2 months ago 11
Posted in: Uncategorized


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I’m at Bedford’s PhotoCon in Oklahoma City and I just got the chance to wring out the new GFX and shoot some comparison shots with the Fujifilm X-T2.  This is not an exhaustive test, but is quite revealing!  How so?  Follow along.


Let’s start with an overall scene shot with both cameras: (which at this size are identical)


Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 5.16.07 PM


Both cameras were set at ISO 200, f11 and Auto White Balance, shot with a self timer off a tripod on a concrete floor.


First, I cropped out the bottle and orange and yellow car section from both cameras files.  You can guess which is which?!



GFX Full


At this point it is very hard to tell.  Top X-T2, bottom GFX.  Now let’s blow this file up to a 7 foot wide file from a cropped section to compare!!!





Now you can see the very fine detail at the bottom of the bottle start to be much better defined in the GFX file (top image), but remember this is as tiny portion of the original files, blown up to 7 feet wide!!!!!!!


Let’s try another:


GFX Sprocket


XT-2 Sprocket



The GFX file on top is actually less sharp on the wall (both f11) because the depth is greater in the smaller sensors at the same focal length equiv.  At full image size it is hard to discern a difference other than the depth.  The GFX is still crisper but not by a very large margin.



GFX full bike

XT-2 ful bike


The GFX file (top) has more bite and acutance, but not by a lot once again, at full file size!!





Again full files, close to the same, GFX on the bottom!



So some early conclusions:


  1.  The GFX has a ton of resolution and can be blown up to outer space and still have enormous detail, and the X-T2 holds it’s own until we start cropping or making very, very large prints on the order of feet by feet.  Can you see the difference with your nose against the print, yes you can, but standing back at a reasonable distance I suspect it would be harder, though the GFX would still have the edge!


2.  Is the GFX worth the difference in price?  Yes and no.  If you’re a pixel peeper of the tenth order, and demand the ultimate in resolution and acutance, a big Yes!  If you rarely make very large prints or reproduce in very high end slick publications, not as much.


3.  Would it be a great camera for landscape work?  Yes it would, definitely, the detail would be a big advantage, but then again what are you going to to do with those big juicy files?  Prints of enormous size you bet, it would be the ticket!   24X36 and 40X60 at reasonable distances it might be a closer call.


4.  Would I buy one?  Maybe, it would depend on what kind of work I was doing and then the cost is a factor for all of us.  I’m thinking about it and weighing the options.  Too soon to say, but I’m mighty impressed!!!


5.  Is it worth it?   YES, it is one of the finest medium format cameras I’ve ever shot, it is a dream to operate, very much like a big X-T2, menus are much the same, and it has some very helpful features.  The price is not low, but the quality and files are spectacular.


More after further research!




the pilgrim



One more:


Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 9.28.06 AM

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 9.26.12 AM

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 9.26.21 AM


Bet you can guess which is which here, pretty amazing!





O.K. just for grins guess what these were made with????






O.K. some kind of world we live in, these are 2 megabyte files from a iPhone 6+ !!!!!  Maybe he Millennials are on to something!?

4 years, 3 months ago 7
Posted in: Uncategorized



Wes Update:  Wes has completed his first week of Chemo and is doing very well, the treatment regime is very aggressive, but he is a fighter and is all in for the fight!  As always he tells me to t hank all fo  you for your prayers, he says, “I can really feel them!”  Please continue to stick with us, I will keep  you informed as he progresses through his treatments.


Travel Update:  I knocked off a couple of early season travel plans to stick close to home for Wes and our family!  I fly to Oklahoma City Thursday a.m. to speak for Fujifilm at the Bedford PhotoCon Event.  I am thrilled to get to hang out with my Fuji family and Joe McNally and Anne Cahill McNally!  Dhopuld be a fun event!


Bill Fortney’s Photo Vlogs Update:  I now have four Vlogs posted and  hope to get another one up before  I leave town tomorrow for the airport.  I really appreciate the questions, it keeps things fresh when I can talk about the things you want to hear about from me!


Texas Event Update:  I will be in Austin Texas for Precision Camera’s Camera Universtiy Weekend 2017,  the weekend of March 31st – April 2nd!  I really like those folks and expect to have a great time with them!


The Fujifilm X-Photorpahers Nature and Travel Summit Update:  Jack and i are excited to wecome a good crown in for our frist Fujifilm X-Photogrpahers Summit April 5th – 9th.  Lots of great guests, Fuji folks and an expected quick start to Spring inthe Smokies!


That’s it for now, and thanks again so much for your prayers a good wishes to Wes and our family!




the pilgrim