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9 years, 11 months ago 0

Over the weekend we all gathered in Lexington, Kentucky for the Young Family Reunion. This is my wife’s mother’s family. Nora was one of nine sisters, one died very early in life, but the other eight have become some what legendary in our family. Today only five remain with us. Every couple of years we gather to honor the family and enjoy each others company. The little ones are the most fun to watch as they make new life long friends with their cousins. Above Gracie Scott embraces my youngest grandchild Abigail Brooklyn Fortney, Wes and Rhonda’s daughter.

Sherelene and I were so proud to have all our children, their spouses and all six grandchildren at the event, no small task! The older I get the more I realize just how important family is. I had an older member of the family once tell me, “when everyone else has abandoned you family will still be there.” That’s true and as we toil through life trying to provide for our families we need to remember that giving them our time and love is even more important than making money.

I’ve been so blessed to enjoy such
a great family. The other night
we went down to the lake during
the last two hours of light of the
day. We took our pontoon boat
over to one of the large rock
formations in Laurel Lake and let
the kids jump on a ten foot high
out crop to the water. As the
entire family floated on life
jackets and watched the kids
scream with joy as they dropped
into the water, I realized how the
simplest of pleasures can bring so
much joy. We often loose sight of how much just spending time together means to a family, especially the little ones. I’m sure that the memory of that evening in the lake will loom large as they grow older. A highlight for me was just sitting and watching everyone have such a great time.
I also loved the loud applause from all the family when I jumped!

Today’s prayer: Father thank you so much that you’ve blessed me so far beyond anything I deserve. My family is my greatest earthly treasure and I could never praise you enough for blessing me with them. Please help me to be the kind of husband, father, and grandfather they deserve. Amen.

9 years, 11 months ago 0

Apparently I’ve become a terrible person. I’ve committed some of the most grievous sins imaginable. According to one authority, my sins are so horrendous that I should not even be considered for forgiveness. Apparently in the entire spectrum of society, I’m well below the dregs.

How did I come to this conclusion? I heard on the radio yesterday that the Huffington Post had
hosted an article about the great destruction to America, that happened at the Restoring Honor rally at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial Saturday. Since I love America, I rushed to my computer and looked up the article. Sure enough, it was billed as one of the most dastardly events in the history of our country. The worst part for me was the selection of images they posted showing some of the hate filled, egregious t-shirts that the attendees wore. when I looked through them I realized I’m just as guilty as they were, I found myself agreeing with every shirt displayed.

So my brothers and sisters, I have come to confess before you that, yes, I, the pilgrim, agree with what the t-shirts said. Please do not judge me too harshly, though obviously I deserve what will surely come my way. Please do not hold back in your criticism of me, I deserve it. Here is what the typical shirts said:

Restore Honor

In God We Trust

Don’t Tread on Me (flag – historic reference)

Faith – Hope – Charity

Turn Back to God

Give me Freedom

Got Tea?

Give me Liber-tea Not debt

Right Wing Radicals (a button with images of Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin)

I love my gun (reference to the 2nd Amendment)

Well I think you can see I have a lot to answer for.

God help us all, it surely is the dog days of summer………………Please, someone tell me
we don’t have nearly 50% of Americans that have fallen this far off their rockers!

the pilgrim

9 years, 11 months ago 0

One of the duties that I perform pretty often for Nikon is presenting and teaching. The most often asked technical question I hear is, “How do you make such sharp images?” Not bragging, just pointing out that making sharp images is a choice. Sharpness is all about sharp lenses and solid technique.

First: Buy the sharpest lenses you can afford. Today, this is easier than ever as almost all glass has improved considerably over what was produced even a decade ago. Though some of the best glass is very expensive, some great lenses do exist in the lowest priced category. In our line the 18-55 VR kit lens is spectacularly sharp, so is the 55-200 Zoom (both DX lenses designed for our APS sized sensor). You already know how highly I regard the 70-300 AFS VR zoom.

Second: Buy and use a good tripod. I have a funny quote that is actually pretty true, “There are two kinds of tripods; those that are easy to carry and good ones.” Most solid tripods, even the carbon fiber ones are still fairly hefty. If the last leg extension of your tripod could also serve as a fly rod, its too light.

Third: Buy a good solid tripod head, I love ball
heads and own both the Really Right Stuff BH-55
and the Kirk Pro Head. Either are solid and lock
down very well.

Fourth: Use a cable release and if it is
appropriate for the kind of shot your making
lock up the mirror.

Fifth: Keep your lenses clean, nothing cuts
down contrast like a dirty lens.

Sixth: Be very aware of the direction of
your light, nothing shows contrast better than
side lighting.

Follow those techniques and sharpness will follow…..
Now, if your images are still not a sharp as you would like, practice, practice, practice.

In the meantime take great joy in this verse:

James 1: 2-8 (New Living translation)

 2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
 5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. 7 Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

Have a blessed weekend,

the pilgrim

Is the shot at the top of the page, really that sharp? This is a small piece of that file, around 20% of the file, a pretty severe crop. Trust me, these techniques work………..

*Photo note: Nikon D2x camera, with the 70-300 AFS VR lens, ISO 100. Shot at Glacier National Park.

9 years, 11 months ago 0

As you know, I travel a lot and spend a lot of time in hotels alone. In the evenings when the days work is done, emails all answered, and other work completed, I like to relax and watch something on the computer. In recent years I’ve started picking up DVD sets of TV shows I never got time to watch but thought I might like. One show I discovered a few years ago was a show called Eli Stone. I really loved that show, unfortunately, as happens with much thoughtful, meaningful, television, it didn’t survive the ratings game.

The show was about a young lawyer who had visions of the future and through these visions he was able to help people in their most vulnerable moments. The pressure of living with this “gift” really weighed on the main character, Eli. In the very last episode, at the end of the second season
he finds himself in another vision, this time talking to his late father, who he believes may actually be God, and who had possessed the same gift. Out of frustration he lashes out at the hardship of getting so deeply involved in so many peoples lives, and the havoc it has brought into his.

The father and son have a very interesting conversation, it goes something like this; Eli, “Was this a test?” His father answers, “Everything is a test, life is a test, you, you my boy, are passing with flying colors….. I couldn’t be more proud.”

It says in scripture that on that day when we stand face to face with our Lord, that our greatest hope should be that we hear Him say, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” The test is; will we take up His cross and carry it? What that means is that will we love others more than ourselves, live to bring joy and peace to those we serve? Will we want His will more than our own? Do we care more deeply about honoring His love and sacrifice than gaining the accolades of man? That’s the test.

Yes, life is a test, and it’s a hard test, but then, we have the the Man that wrote the test to lean on.

the pilgrim

*Photo note: Scott, my oldest son and I in the Virgin River, in Zion National Park. This shot was made during a trip we made together a few years ago. I’m not God, but the last line of Eli Stone would be my assessment of my son’s life as well.