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9 years, 8 months ago 0

That is the title of today’s devotional in Pathways to His Presence, by Dr. Charles Stanley, but for me it has deep personal meaning. Every day we make decision about our lives, it is critical that we seek God’s guidance so that we can experience the very best He desires for us. Let me tell you a story about a fellow I know, I will not reveal his identity, but you can trust me when I tell you I’ve know him very well, and have known him for a long time.

Let’s call him Bob. Bob is a really nice guy, a friendly, caring guy. He has a family and he works hard to support them. One problem, Bob has been trying to do all of what has to be done in his own strength. Bob believes in God, he just hasn’t depended on him. As time passed Bob got bitter about a lot of things, his marriage was not going as well as he knew it should, he didn’t like his job, or the people he worked with. The stress of life was weighing heavily on him.

As it happens Bob had a close friend that could clearly see what was happening in Bob’s life. His friend really loved him, and wanted him to have all the joy and peace that God offers us all. Bob and his friend got into a conversation about how life was going and Bob poured out his frustration and anger about his life. Bob’s friend said the answer was simple, stop trusting in yourself and give it all to God. Bob wanted no part of it, (this is what is called a spiritual battle), Bob really resisted, but Bob’s friend loved him too much to give up on Bob. Finally Bob agreed to pray with his friend and his friend led him in a prayer of release, in the prayer Bob was led to pray that he was tired and weary and couldn’t go on fighting the battles of life. Bob told God he surrendered and wanted Him to take over and guide him. Bob felt better immediately, but the real miracle(s) started come within days. His marriage got a lot better, his relationship with his children greatly improved, he started liking the people he worked with and soon was offered a new and better job. When he and his wife had to put their house on the market it miraculously sold within a few days.

Most important of all Bob knows why things changed in his life and who to thank for all the peace and joy he is now experiencing, his Heavenly Father. Bob is a real person, and this is a true story.

What’s more exciting for you is that the same God that changed Bob’s life completely is waiting for you to ask Him to come into your life as well. Is there any possible reason why you wouldn’t let God do for you, what He has done for countless others?

the pilgrim

Psalm 138:8  (New Living Translation)

 8 The Lord will work out his plans for my life—
      for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever.
      Don’t abandon me, for you made me.

Yeah though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death……..

O.K. it’s not that bad, but I do have to fly to New York for Photo Plus in the morning, I would appreciate your prayers. My favorite part of that annual trip is seeing New York City fading away as my plane flies back to Atlanta, Saturday night.

* Photo note: D3s, 28-300 AFS VR II. Top, Leafless branches as fall marches on on Kentucky. Just above, a splash of fall color, and old rusted doors.

9 years, 8 months ago 0

When the A.P. Managing Editors conference ended at noon on Friday, Mark Suban and I paid a visit to our friends at Kelby Media. You may better know them as NAPP, The National Association of Photoshop Professionals. One of the greatest honors I’ve enjoyed in my career was when Scott Kelby asked me to join the team of great teachers that do classes on Kelby Training. Actually Scott asked me over a year ago if I would join them and quite honestly I thought he was just being nice.
When he asked again recently with genuine emphasis, I was thrilled to say yes. Teaching in front of an audience is one thing, talking to a camera is something else altogether. My first class which we taped Friday afternoon is on how to select the right equipment and accessories for the field.
My good buddy Matt Kloskowski hosted the session and he made that first day in the studio a lot easier. Matt is a really talented young man and truly a great friend, it wasn’t long before he had me feeling much more comfortable.

I’m thrilled to be doing these classes and joining a team of teachers that I have the most admiration for. I can’t wait to tape the next class on, in the field landscape photography techniques.

Now for something a lot more serious. I had a dream Saturday night and when I woke up it gave me something to ponder. God said to me, this is to be shared. (O.k. for anyone that had only landed here recently, I did not sit down at the kitchen table with God and talk to him about this.
What I mean is that I was thinking about if I should share this or if this was just for my edification.
In my “spirit” I felt a strong leading that this was not for me alone. So here goes.)

The dream was about a visit to see my cancer specialist. My Doctor, Mitchell, is a really nice guy, we have a lot of things in common and I’m always comfortable to sit and talk to him, after all we talk about some pretty profound things in our visits. I’m sure the dream was related to the flurry of annual cancer check-ups I’ve been going through over the past month. So in the dream Mitchell said, “Bill, I’m sorry but the tests confirm my worst fears, you have throat cancer and it has spread to far to be cured. I want you to get your affairs in order, you probably have only a couple of weeks.” Once again this is a dream, though let me remind you, it could be true for me, or you tomorrow. I thanked Mitchell and said I would do just that. He told me that I could extend my life by a month or so but they would have to remove vocal cords and much of my throat and I opted to not do that.

I went home and sat down at the computer and started to write out those thoughts that I needed to get down before i could not longer deal with the pain. My voice was already deteriorating and I wanted all this down for my family and friends. What I wrote is the key to this story. It went something like this;

Sherelene, God gave me my greatest blessing when he allowed me to spend a life with you. No hollywood screenplay could have ever topped the friendship, fellowship and romance that we have enjoyed, I’ve been blessed beyond measure. We both knew that after two winning bouts with cancer that this day could come. I’ve been preparing for it for along time. I take great comfort that you are strong and independent and will be a victorious survivor. I love you more than you will ever know.

To Scott, Wesley and Catherine. I could not be more proud of you. You have all married well,
and become wonderful parents and great people. You obviously learned far more than I was able to teach you and you’ve become the kind of people every parent prays their children will turn out to be.

Hannah, Ben, Cassidy, Cade, Elijah and Abigail, you guys have become the bright glowing lights in my life. It has been the greatest of joys to watch you grow up, to hold you and laugh with you.
I know it will be hard for you to understand why I left this earth, but trust me, because you know I’ve never lied to you, I will be closer than you think, and will be watching over you from heaven.

To my friends, God gave me the greatest life, much because I got to spend it with all of you, I will miss you, but pray everyday that someday when I’m standing near a gate in Heaven that I may welcome each of you as you arrive.

I said some other things but that covers the most important highlights. I tell God in prayer all the time, thank you for another day, I know you can call this life of mine to an end whenever you want.
Thank you father for every day and every blessing you allowed in my life, I could not have asked for more.

The message I got from all of this is really simple.

We never know when our last day will come.

So we need to be sure to:

Know God.
Accept God.
Thank God.
Desire God’s will for our lives.
And always be ready to meet God, face to face.

I hope this was not to emotional for you, but then maybe that’s just exactly what God wanted for both of us.

“For what does it profit a man if gains the world, but looses his soul?”

the pilgrim

9 years, 8 months ago 0

It’s been two weeks since I got really started on the long term test of the new Coolpix P7000 and I think you know what kind of score it’s going to get; A+++. I’ve long wanted a small comapct camera that I could comfortably use in place of a DSLR for serious work. This camera meets those desires. After using it for all kinds of work let me share the pros and cons.

A. Just the right size and feel. It’s substantial in build but easy to carry.
B. The lens is extremely sharp, and contrasty yielding spectacular results.
The zoom range of 28-200 is wonderful and covers the most used focal lengths.
A. The controls and features are more abundant than I could ever asked for or expected.
B. It can use the little Ml-L3 remote release from either front or back and it is the perfect cable
release. Look Ma, no hands…..
A. The shutter release is very soft and shutter lag is very very low.
B. The Vibration Reduction works very well. I got sharp images at 1/4 second!
C. White Balance control is very good and the Auto setting is very usable.
D. The camera shoots wonderful 5 shot brackets with one push of the release.
E. The 3” LCD is very easy to see, even in sunlight and has a lot of great features.
F. The artificial horizon is easy to use and very accurate.
G. The top mounted Exposure compensation dial (in 1/3rd stops) works very well, and you can
see the resulting exposure change in the LCD panel as you dial it in. Same with White
A. ISO, Quality, White Balance, Bracketing, My Menus and Histogram can all be dialed in with
a very intuitive dial on the top left of the camera.
I. The small pop up flash is versatile and works great for close in, the hot shoe accepts other
Nikon flash unit readily.
A. The optical viewfinder works great and adjusts for the zooms change of focal length.

A. In fairness I hate to list anything, I love this camera so much, but I wish it had an articulated
LCD screen.
A. I was going to complain that after about a minute it shuts down then I discovered it has a setting
for longer times before shut down, that fixed that…..

I have no other complaints!

I’ll end my lovefest with a few images from the camera. To the engineers in Japan and the folks in New York that made the suggestions for this camera, my hats off to you, way to go, you hit a home run out of the park!

Have a great weekend,

the pilgrim

9 years, 9 months ago 0

When I think of never ending determination I think of my wife Sherelene and Mark Suban. When Nikon hired Mark, they got Five Star Winner. I’m with Mark in St. Pete at the AP Managing Editors conference and it is a lesson in learning. Mark is truly what I aspire to in being a Technical Representative for Nikon. He is never satisfied until he understand what makes it tick. Doesn’t matter whether it’s a camera, lens, wireless device, or his customers. Mark really has a wonderful thirst for understanding, and it’s what makes him a great shooter, a great technician, a great tech rep, and a great friend.

When I think of how much Sherelene has influenced my life by moving me in the direction of progress in every phase of my life, I’m thankful to have such people placed in my life. I’ve said it often, I can’t imagine where I would be had God not blessed me with her. Friends at Nikon like Mark have fulfilled the same kind of need in my life. It seems God knows exactly where we need to shore up our act, and he places just the right people in our lives to give us that boost, inspiration, and knowledge that we are not getting on our own.

Today’s assignment: Make a short list of people that God has placed in your life who have changed you in some profound way. Think about how merciful God was to see your needs, and place you in their presence. Now, the first time you can, tell them just how much you appreciate them for their contribution to your life. Lastly, think about what you can do for them in return. Ask God to show you what they might need that you could give back to them.

You see, life is a test, a practice test. It’s a chance to see just how much we can give and receive.
Anything that makes you better, prepares you to make the lives of others better. It’s not about getting everything you ever wanted. It’s about wanting others to get what they need and feeling the joy of being part of God’s plan for their lives.

Today’s prayer;
Thank you Father for the Sherelene Fortney’s and Mark Suban’s in my life. Thank you that you care enough about me that you won’t let me stay the same. Thank you for progress, however slow. Thank you for your patience, but most of all, your love.


the pilgrim