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3 weeks, 3 days ago 6
Posted in: blog


We all want to have to have peace and joy in our lives and we all have circumstances that steal those things away from us, but we can still have them anyway!


It starts with this fundamental truth:   There is a God, He loves us, and wants us to have fellowship with Him. We are sinners and not fit to fellowhip with Him, but He provided a solution.  He sent His only Son to die on the cross to pay the sin debt we owe.  If we acknowlege that we are truly sinners, repent of our sins, and accept His forgiveness, we are then worthy to fellowship with our Heavenly Father.


Once that relationhip is established we can be confident that He will guide us, protect us and be with us through all of our trials until we can go home to be with Him for eternity.  There is no “free pass” from the troubles of this world, but their is God’s provision in those times.


Mankind’s biggest mistake is the arrogance to believe that we can fix the problems of the world ourselves.  It is good that we care and try,  but most of what is wrong in this world is beyond our control or efforts to create a solution.  The vast majority of believers that I know had to come to the end of their rope to turn to God for His solution, only then can we truly find the peace and joy we seek.  All of our greatest problems can best be solved, on our knees!




the pilgrim

4 weeks, 1 day ago 4
Posted in: blog



If you come here often, you must think that I am obsessed with the gear and camera bags/backpacks!  Well, to a degree, I hope to a healthy amount, I am!  For most of my career as a shooter I have traveled extensively both domestically and internationally, and getting the right gear to my locations safely and in an organized fashion has been a top priority.  I usually start my pre-pack for a big trip at least a month in advance.  A great deal of thought goes into what I believe I will need and how best to travel with it!  As years are added each birthday, lighter and more compact is a good thing!


I am a photo-generalist, meaning I shoot nature, landscape, travel, people, Americana and close-up work.  I used shoot sports and a lot of aviation, but I do less of those things now.  As our interests change and our ability to carry the gear, (age and physical condition), our packing and planning have to change as well!


In recent years I have started to become as much of a minimalist as I can with the amount of gear I attempt to lug around.  I use backpacks, but not to carry the gear, mostly to store it safely in a vehicle while I work out that bag.  The shoulder bag, except for small ones, is no longer an option as a lot weight on my shoulders is not working well for me today.  If I have to travel by air, and that is the only time I do, when I must, the rolling camera cases rule the day. My rolling bag of choice is the Think Tank Airport Advantage.


Another consideration is the kind of photography I am traveling to do!  Nature and landscape requires a different set of gear from, people, travel and Americana.  For serious close-up work it changes again with a different set of needs and gear requirements.


Let’s talk about my fall schedue;  Early October Jack and I will be in the UP of Michigan, (general nature), then in Northern Ohio for our Amish workshop, (people, travel and nature) and finally at the end of October in the Great Smokies for fall color, (nature and some close-up work).



For the three upcoming trips my standard package is a Fujifilm X-T4 body with a spare X-H1 body and four lenses; 10-24, 16-80, 70-300, 50mm f 2 and the Fujifilm 1.4 tele-converter.  This gives an effective focal length range of from 15mm to 630mm.  Plus the 70-300 with the teleconverter will achieve almost 1:1 – life size close-ups!  All of these lenses are superbly sharp, and choosing which lens to use is only a factor of the needed focal length!  Less weight, more range and no “which lens to pull from the bag” confusion, is a wining combination!



I now always pack my drone, controller, and spare batteries, plus a mini iPad for use with the controller.  This affords me the ability to work any subject from a completley different perspective!



Another new addition for my kit is the Platypod Max.  I learned about this device from Scott Kelby and it is a dynamite way to shoot low to the ground!  It includes screw in spikes or rubber feet for most any surface and a velcro stap to attach it to almost any kind of railing or pole. It packs easy and will add versatiity to my ability to approach subects from inches above the ground to, with the drone, up to 400 feet above!  It’s all about increasing your range!



How about travel and people?  Well you could use the above system for that too, but for me, this is the way I really like to work on those subjects, single focal length lenses and a rangefinder style camera!  This Lowepro Flipside 10L AW bag is perfect when you want to travel light! I carry the Fujifilm X-Pro 2 with the 27mm f 2.8 pan-cake lens attached.  In the bag is also the, 16mm f 2.8, 23mm f 2, 35mm f 2, 50mm f 2 and the 90mm f 2.  Throw in 4 spare batteries and you’re ready to go!



Once I get to the location this little fellow is my walk around bag for and extra lens or two and batteries!  It provides adequate protection and is a breze to carry!



I have the Guru Gear bag here today and the Tamrac is scheduled to arrive later today, after a lot of packing and unpacking, inspecting an assessing, one will go back and one will be the bag for this fall!!!  I love the Guru Gear products for quality and the two sided opening, but…… my stuff is a tight fit and the Tamrac also has some really nice features, I won’t know until I piddle with both,  side by side.


Update:  The Tamrac bag came today and I’ve been back and forth using each bag and the winner is the Tamrac Anvil Slim 15L!  It held all of my gear with ease and I liked the straight opening of one lid for access to everything better.  The Guru Gear is really well made of, I think, superior materials, it just was a hair undersized.




Boy is this fun!




the pilgrim


1 month ago 8
Posted in: blog


I appreciate you folks coming here for education, reviews and encouragment.  Today I would like to share some encouragment. I’ve been thinking and praying a lot lately about the game plan for the last few minutes of the fourth quarter of my life.  I read a book some years back titled , “The Fourth Quarter.”  It was a game plan for the last  quarter of a man’s life.  If I live to be 100 I’m in the opening minutes of the last quarter.  If you consider that that is highly unikely I’m definitely, at best, late in the fourth quarter.


Let me get this out of the way before I start, I’m not afraid of dying.  I know that this life is just the beginning for those that are secure in Christ’s loving arms.  I’m thrilled to know that it won’t be that long until I will be with Him and so many I’ve loved and lost from here. You might say I’m excited to leave this world to be with my Heavenly Father.  I have always believed that we live this life at the pleasure of our Father in Heaven, we can’t stay minute longer than is His will for us.


I’m most concerned about fufilling His will for me in this life here and now.  After years of studying His word, praying and being taught by wonderful teachers, I have come to some foundational truths I want to share with you.  You may have already discovered these yourself!


1. God is in Control and He has a plan, even if we are not completely sure about the details!  We can have full trust in Him!

2.  His plan is always for the Good for those that love Him and have accepted His Son as their Savior.

3.  He wants us to know what Jesus taught us when he was here on earth with us, and then reflect those prinicples, He laid down, as a guide for how we are to live our lives.

4.  He wants those people that come in contact with us to be better off than before because of how we represent His will for our lives and theirs.

5.  He wants there to be less of us in our hearts and more of Him and others.

6.  He wants us to give more than we take.

7.  He wants to fellowhip with us and loves when His children come to Him to talk and seek His will for any and all situations.

8.  He wants us to put Him above everything else in our hearts.


Well, that’s most of what He is teaching me, I pray you’re hearing those things too! It saddens me to see the strife and hurt in our world today, we can relieve some of that, for some of the people we meet,  by simply sharing His incredible love for them!




the pilgrim

1 month, 1 week ago 14
Posted in: blog


My dear friend Mike Early requested this blog post and since my wife Sherelene is busy Sunday afternoon  working on charts, what the heck, let’s do it right now!  Let’s start with the equipment to do drone photography.  My system is very simple and one of the least expensive ones you can get and still be of great quality!  Above is my DJI Mini II, a Apple mini iPad, the three battery pack and charger and the controller.  That is my complete system.  From Amazon you can get all of this except for the iPad in what is called the Fly More package for $599.   The standard mini iPad will do fine, unless you plan to put a lot of images on it, I would get the lower storage option to save money, also WiFi only is all you need. A new Apple iPad Mini wifi with 64 gigabytes of memory runs $399.  You can use your iPhone but the iPad is much easier to see clearly what you are doing, something pretty important when flying,  I’m a pilot, trust me I know!  That brings the outfit with iPad to around $1,100.


“What accessories do you need for flying the drone?”  I woud highly recommend these two optional accessories both are really needed.



The Hoodman sunshade is needed to shield the screen of your iPad and the tablet clip allows you to attach the iPad Mini to the controller.


With is outfit you will have three extra batteries each allowing almost 30 minutes of flight time and  the battery holder is also a charger which make charging all 3 at once easy.


The drone itself folds up to a very small package and will fit easily in a lens spot in your bag. It comes with a propellor protecter which help protect the drone as well.  I illustrate it’s size next to my watch. The fly more package imcludes spare propellors, charging cords and a charging brick.



This drone will shoot 4K and Hi Def video as well as a 12 mega pixel still image in either jpeg or RAW.  The stabilized camera makes tack sharp images even in a brisk wind.


Here are  few of my favorite shots with the drone:


Nubble Lighthouse on the coast of Maine

Pemaquid lighthouse, Maine coast

Stacked canoes

Chester watching me fly the drone!

A friends lakehouse shot as a gift to him.


His next question was:  “How long it takes to get proficient enough to not crash it!?”


This will depend on the individual but if you use good judgement and do a lot of practice in a large clear area you will get the hang of it pretty fast!  This drone does not have sensors that will stop it if it is about to fly into something, but if you fly high enough above trees and other obstructions that should not be a problem.  Always keep and eye on how much battery you have left and return to just above where you took off with plenty of battery to get back on the ground. You can point the camera all the way to the straight down position and that will allow you to clearly see where you are standing and then start bringing it down slowly until you can see where it is positioned then it is easy to bring it very close to you and then land it.  Amazon sells Drone landing pads, folding circle in bright orange and that is a good idea to have, it is easy to see from even pretty far up with the down pointed camera.


These will help:




All of this minus the iPad will run you less than $700.  You can spend much more, but I’ve found this to be more than enough for the work I want to do.  I would highly recommend that you get the insurance plan from DJI when you buy the drone, it will replace your unit if you should crash or loose it within a year (for minimal cost), after a year you should be safe!  I think it is still $79. for the first year.


Also watch as many Youtube videos as you can about how to fly this drone and the regulations about flying it and safety, they will help you to be a much better drone pilot and stay out of trouble with the FAA!  Get the app for your phone called DRONE BUDDY, it will give you any resticted areas using gps and tell you the wind speeds and other important information.  If it says you’re in a restricted airspace, don’t fly!!!!


The drone uses Micro SD cards, I recommend the card below, it is fast and has enough capacity should you want to shoot 4K video as well as stills, I keep three or four in my card wallet with and SD card adapter. Amazon again.


Your drone will down load your images to your iPhone or smart phone as you shoot as long as you have wifi turned on.  In Apple devices the image will go into your photo library and will be available on your iPad and your other computers!!  I assume the same is true with Android devices!?


When do I fly it for making photos?  Anytime I’m in a legal spot, without to much wind (I don’t like winds much higher than 10 mph) and I think a view from above can be interesting, which is almost all the time!


Football stadium chairs

Stacks of wood in a lumber yard

Shadow from three wooden crosses in a grassy field.

Mist “near the Great Smokies”  Not in the Smokies, that’s illegal!  In Townsend, TN

This tree was a special circumstance, I was out after a pretty snow and saw a tree way out in a field and wanted to shoot it but it was behind a fence and way out in the field. I did not have my longer telephoto lens with me and then it dawned on me I could fly out to it!!!  I flew the drone out across the field and then adjusted my altitude to get the composition and background I wanted and then shot it!  I converted the shot to monochrome in post and my feet were dry!  I didn’t have to climb the fence and then walk onto private property and I got the shot!!!


“How do your process your images from the drone?”  I process the still image the same as any image from my camera, the drone allows you to set white balance and has an exposure compensation dial so you can see in real time how your exposures will look.


“What am I looking to accomplish when you bring out the drone to work a site?”

The same as any photo I hope to make, something that will thrill me, and maybe others might enjoy!

*Note:  You may have noticed that I did not talk about shooting video with the drone!  I’m just now working on doing more video, but it is early in the game so I’m not a good source for that kind of information yet!  If you want to see some amazing world class video done with a drone, check out Sam Kolder on Youtube:



Hope that covered all the bases, please feel free to ask more questions  in the comments!


Blessings, and fly safe!


the pilgrim