Cuba Through The Eyes (And Heart) Of Vincent Versace: Photos

Some of you may have seen this Vincent Versace slideshow already. If so, no apologies. It is a beautiful presentation, worth seeing again. Vincent captured the beauty of Cuba, many of the emotions of Cuba, at least part of the soul of Cuba. He always has been a very fine photographer; in this slideshow he showcases a bit of himself, also, I believe. He gives us a glimpse at how he sees, what he loves and appreciates. Vincent also always has been a master at processing. These images are an amalgam of styles and techniques, captivating both visually and technically. I’ve seen quite a bit of his work in the past. This production outdoes all the rest.

Now, Vincent always has had a bit of a different streak in him. Sort of a weirdness, as in a Weird Al Yankovich kind of personality. I’ve tried to follow all that he says in some interviews and books and articles … and every time he goes off in some direction that I can’t follow. He explains and demonstrates and I am lost, lost until we get to the beautiful final result, anyway. He is good. He knows photography. He knows processing. He just is a bit different, if you will. But I mean that as a compliment, not as a negative. And that difference, that way of seeing and thinking, comes through in this slideshow. It is a tour de force, touching and beautiful. It is a chance for the rest of us to see Cuba, a real part of Cuba.

Watch the slideshow and be prepared to be swept away with Vincent’s skills and artistry. If you have seen it already, watch it again and concentrate on how he uses light and gesture, form and texture, color and line. Spend time deconstructing what he saw and how he captured it. We all can learn from this one. Thank you, Vincent Versace!

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Casey Says It Just Right … But We Do Have a Fountain.

The new fountain … a reminder of the good life we are blessed with.

Apologies to my good friends who have not heard from me the past two days. Sometimes this world closes in and takes up all the time and effort there is to muster up. I won’t give you all the details … just know the past two days haven’t gone well. That happens to each and everyone of us; we are guaranteed trials in this life. Our faith is designed and intended to get us through those trials, not to make them go away or to guarantee that they never may return. It also helps to be reminded that we are not alone in the days that aren’t the ones we look forward to, the ones we wouldn’t choose if we had a choice. My good friend Casey Malone posted over on his blog yesterday that he, too, can have a day like that. And he wrote beautifully about it (and added beautiful illustrations, also). His sentiments and his writing and his faith helped cheer me up. I want to give you a link and urge you to take a look at what he wrote, also. If not everything is going smoothly for you, perhaps Casey’s words will remind that all is not lost. In fact, with the right attitude, we always have so much to gain.

Casey’s post can be seen here. Thank you, good friend.

And yesterday also was punctuated with a great deal of work in the yard. We purchased a new fountain to grace a sitting area in the backyard. Sue found a very nice one, but one that required “some assembly.” And refitting the old one that was being replaced. Let’s just say it was a real relief to be able to say that we have a fountain … still. The iPhone photo at the top of the post shows the new one, almost done. Sue is going to add a final layer of contrasting decorative stone around the base to add some more eye appeal. And then we shall just sit a bit and thank the Lord for all His grace and goodness. Something I need to remember on those not-so-good days.

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Free Lightroom Presets: Matt Kloskowski And More

It’s free preset day, including some from Mattie Matt Kloskowski.

Today some FREE Lightroom presets for you to peruse and download. They are offered via the good folks over at onOne Software (where Matt currently resides), but they were developed by a variety of artists. There are presets for black-and-white, for vintage looks, for several different effects. The collections say they were made for Lightroom 5, but I tried them out in Lightroom CC (Lightroom 6) and they work just fine.

Now, none of uses the same preset (or any preset at all) on each of our photos. But it is nice to have at your fingertips an arsenal of looks and effects when you are searching for that just-right finishing touch. Or, you can start out with a preset to instantly get you into the neighborhood you wish to visit, and then finish it off to your individual taste. In wither case, these collections are free; what harm can it do to see if one or more suit your tastes?

Click here to visit onOne and their FREE Lightroom presets. Download instructions are included, and one of these looks could be the cheery-on-top of your masterpiece!

It’s Monday; welcome back.

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And We Are Live With The MacBook Pro. And Still Running Windows.

Go ahead; make my day and switch to Apple.

This post was brought to you entirely and completely with the new MacBook Pro. We are up and running and live as an official part of the Apple family (well, as official as it gets around here). And, yes, we also still are a part of the Windows family; sort of a blended family, if you will. For the time being.

In addition to making the switch to a MacBook Pro for several reasons, I wanted to keep using my larger NEC monitor. I received great advice from several friends (thank you, Raymond!), and I also got in touch with the good folks at NEC. I was double-checking what I wanted to do, and they turned me on to a feature I was not aware of (reminder to self: read the user’s guide for the products I buy). NEC said I could easily attach the Mac to my monitor. And I could leave the PC attached, also (if I was tentative in making sure I had every file transferred and every T crossed). All I had to do was cycle through the Input button on my monitor and it would switch between each system automatically. Cool beans! I had the luxury of keeping the old system running as a safety net while I used the Mac exclusively. Who knew!!!

I hooked up the monitor and the Mac screen showed up just as promised. I hit the Input button and I could instantly switch between systems. Now I can use the Mac, making sure I have access to all my old files and programs and emails if I ever discover I need one and didn’t transfer it over. Sort of like the guy who wears a belt with his suspenders, i guess. Think of it as a good, solid Midwest sort of thing. Think of it as a peace of mind thing.

The MacBook Pro so far is what I hoped it would be. All my friends and my lovely wife said to give the switch two weeks. And that is just about right. I am comfortable with the new system, able to do most things I want rather reflexively now. When I run into something I need or want to do that I haven’t figured out I just look for it on the internet. And it still is amazing what you can find there … absolutely amazing! I still have one book I checked out from our local library, and I use it at times when I need a specific answer to one little process. But mostly I just try doing something and mostly it just works. And I truly am looking forward to taking this thing on the road and being able to do the processing i want to do in the field. Sue had been telling me for about two years to make the switch. Another note to self: keep listening to her.

For any of you out there who are considering the switch from a PC … don’t be afraid to do so. The toughest part of the entire process is making sure you have all your files transferred over. The learning part? Turns out to be pretty simple. As my good friend Richard Small repeatedly advised me: don’t overthink things. It was spot on advice. I was a PC guy forever. I am no technical kind of person by and stretch of the imagination. If I can do this and be happy, you certainly can, also. I would just advise you: don’t wait as long as I did if you want to switch. Come on in; the water is fine.

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If You Love Action Photos, Watch This Slideshow! Richard Small Highlights,

53 Plymouth
Not a race car, but a photo Richard Small taught me how to make.

I’m sure that 99.999% of this site’s readers love photography (the other .001% is just lost and got here by accident). So, do I have a treat for all of us photographers – a new slideshow from my dear friend Richard Small. But not just any slideshow. It’s a collection of action shots of vehicles of all kinds … exotic vehicles, beautiful vehicles, smoking vehicles, racing vehicles, speeding vehicles, vehicles of all shapes and sizes. The common denominator is that they all are moving; they all are in action of some kind. Now, they are fascinating if you have only a passing interest in cars. But when you love great photography like we all do … then, wow! This is photography at its best. And you will appreciate the skill that went into capturing these shots – the panning, the exposures, the timing. It is a tour de force of techniques and skill and artistry. I guarantee it will capture your eye and captivate your imagination.

Richard knows cars of all kinds. He knows photography. Put those two together and you get the slideshow featured today. Find a bit of relaxation time today to sit back and be transported to the racetracks and raceways of our great country. I promise you will enjoy the visit.

Click here to visit Richard’s Smugmug site and get in on the action. And thank you, Richard!

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Focus Stacking In Photoshop For Beginners (Not Dummies)

Moats macro
A focus-stacked image made during a Mike Moats workshop.

During a recent conversation with members of the Bloomington Photography Club’s macro focus group the conversation turned to depth of field. Several members were struggling with getting what they wanted to be in focus, finding that macro work often meant very shallow depth of field. When we mentioned focus stacking to solve that problem, the question asked next was: what is focus stacking? And, how do you do that? There was a basic unfamiliarity with the term and the process.

Yesterday I ran across a YouTube video over on a site I check regularly (Imaging Resources). The YouTube is a primer on what focus stacking is and how to learn the basics in Photoshop. It is not too lengthy; it is easy-to-understand. It doesn’t explain every little detail of the process, but it covers all the bases. It is a foundational video, if you will.

Take a looK:

If you didn’t know what focus stacking is, now you do. If you want to learn more (and try this out for yourself), now you have the tools to do so. Thank you, good folks over at Phlearn.

I mostly use a program called Helicon Focus for my focus stacking. It isn’t free, but it has all kinds of features that take the process to a bit higher level. If you do much closeup and macro photography you might want to check it out (just use this link).

Most of you readers probably are aware of the elements of focus stacking. For those who weren’t, take time to watch the video and make some time to try the process for yourself. It’s a whole new world out there for us macro shooters. A very fine and very productive one.

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Ryan And Raymond Jabola: Like Father, Like Son. A Good Thing.

Like father, like son. Ryan Jabola and Katy.

If you meet and spend time with Raymond Jabola you will love him. Certainly Sue and I and all the His Light gang do. Raymond is just one of those great friends you make and cherish and look forward to spending time with. He is so warm and generous that we don’t even hate him for being such an exceptional photographer and artist (and that is saying something in the photo world)!

Raymond and Devi’s son Ryan is a junior in high school. Saturday night was his first prom, and Raymond was kind enough to send a photo of Ryan and his date, Katy. So the image at the top of this post is for all the His Light family, a chance to see what a handsome young man Ryan is (and to appreciate how long we now have known Raymond). I look at Ryan and see a younger Raymond. And if Ryan continues to develop into the man his father is, he will a fine man, indeed.

And, for the photographer in all of us – check out the photo, even at this size. Raymond said he hasn’t been shooting for a while, but he never loses his master’s touch. He got the Cliff Mauntner rim light with the sun to the couple’s backs. He shot with the Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 wide open, giving that lovely bokeh. And his processing touch gives just the right balance of vibrance and color and naturalness. Beautiful work, Raymond!

Today’s photo is for the His Light family, a chance to catch up with Raymond and his immediate family. I am feeling a bit old right now, but very, very happy for them. Life is so good.

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The Most Versatile Tripod: Hair Dryer Stand Deluxe

Tripod dryer
Aaaah, the tripod! Handy, versatile and at hand!

Thanks to all of you who continue to send prayers and best wishes for Sue. Wednesday was a painful day for her for some reason, perhaps the change of weather we experienced. But she is taking care not to use that wrist, giving it rest and time to heal. We go back to the surgeon’s office next Thursday for another checkup; more great news to follow, we hope.

In the meantime she has been learning to do a lot of chores and maneuvers with her left hand. It is awkward, but she is trying hard to be as independent as possible. We bought a pair of left-handed scissors to facilitate cutting, and I try to take over for her with as much as I can. But yesterday she was preparing to have lunch with some good friends when I discovered how resourceful she (and many photographers) can be.

The photo at the top of the post is a mid-weight Alta Pro tripod of Sue’s, topped by an Acratech ballhead. What is velcro-ed to the ballhead is her hair dryer – an ingenious way to position the dryer exactly where she wants the air stream! The entire gadget sits on the sink countertop next to her. She turns on the dryer, positions the air stream and then uses her good hand to wield her brush. Voila! Beauty and independence all in one!

Who says photographers are not masters of solving problems (be they photographic or not)? The creativity that comes from solving difficulties while shooting in the field works equally as well at home. Hats off to photographers … and to my lovely wife.

Aah … the weekend is at hand. Enjoy the great weather and the great outdoors. Camera in hand.

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Photographer Rights From Public Property: Stand Your Ground

Camp flowers
Shots taken from public roadways, like this one, are perfectly legal.

Countries and cultures around the world are under attack, sometimes violent attack. We are understandably more nervous about things-that-can-go-wrong-in-a-hurry than we have been in a long time. Sometimes that is expressed in over-nervousness, heavy-handed attempts to protect selves and property. Many photographers throughout the world have discovered this while shooting innocuous subjects from public locations. They have been ordered to cease shooting, threatened with all sorts of actions, quoted non-existent laws and rules, and hassled verbally. And most of the time these actions have come at the hand of uninformed, private actors who either have no knowledge of real laws or who simply intend to bully their way forward. It is most important, therefore, to all of us photographers to know our rights, to be able to stand up for ourselves and for others who may follow behind us.

Watch this video that my friend James Keller of our Bloomington Photography Club found. It is actually rather appalling to see what these innocent, law-abiding photographers were subjected to on London’s city streets. And this was a while back; things are seemingly just as bad or worse today. Then we will discuss some lessons from this most valuable video lesson.

Wow! And this in a cosmopolitan, allegedly sophisticated Western capital. The video actually is rather chilling in portraying the attitudes and actions of so many erstwhile security personnel. Let me just add here: thank you, law enforcement officers! My thought several times during these episodes was to actually insist that the police do be called! The laws in these types of situations are on our side. Threaten me with calling the police? Please, allow me to do it for you!

Okay, let’s extract some principles for photographers who are out shooting in public places for our future use:

Be familiar with your rights as a photographer shooting from public locations (not from private property you do not control). We don’t have to be law school graduates, but we do need to be conversant with our rights so we can engage in constructive dialogue when necessary.

Stay calm; be polite; keep yourself under control. Discussions can turn into confrontations pretty quickly when demands are made and voices are raised and threats are bandied about. And you can be confronted rather forcefully at times. Stay calm and state your position politely. Don’t become the bad guy in the situation if law enforcement does ultimately become involved.

Be persistent (when possible). Stand your ground and insist that your rights be respected. Don’t give in to those who are misguided and mistaken only because they try to talk over you or keep repeating the same (illegal) arguments. Note: be logical here. Don’t jeopardize your physical safety or risk your equipment in the face of physical threats or imminent physical danger. The photo isn’t worth it. Discretion is the better part of valor here; you can safely retreat and then notify law enforcement or just find another place to photograph. Use common sense here. Stay safe.

Law enforcement is our friend most times in these situations. Call them if you really need to; stay around to explain your position if the other party does so. Most law enforcement officers either know the applicable laws or will take the time to contact someone in the department who does. They don’t like complaints against themselves, especially over constitutional rights questions.

There are places you cannot photograph. Since 911 some federal and state facilities may be deemed sensitive enough that there are actually rules against photographing them. I can’t give you specific examples for all areas of the country (or around the world). But if you run into a situation like this, discretion definitely is the order of the day. You can ask for reference to laws or rules from whomever you deal with, but it will help to do so in a polite and cooperative manner.

Keep your major objectives in mind while shooting. Let’s say you are a tourist and you want to take home great photos of your trip (or just want to document where you went). If you have a finite amount of time to shoot you may not want to spend a large chunk of it arguing with security personnel over a building or location that is less than a killer shot. That is not to give in on principle, just to optimize your shooting time. If you really want or need that shot, stand your ground. If it was a more casual situation or shot and you aren’t really wed to it, maybe you maximize your time by shooting something else. Have a plan of sorts for what you are shooting and why.

Go into sneaky mode. If you have an idea that where you want to shoot will end up in a discussion or confrontation with security, plan your shot and approach from the very beginning. Get in, set up, grab some shots. By the time you are hassled you may have all you wanted. It’s not giving in to leave an area and go on to the next location once you have your shots. We do that all the time as a normal part of our shooting.

Copy a brief set of photographers’ rights onto your smart phone or tablet. If you find an applicable set that you feel sums up what you would emphasize to those who would deny you those rights, it might carry some weight to show them that reference. There is something official about the printed word, especially if it mentions sections of laws, that seems more important, more official than your words alone. It can’t hurt.

Thanks to those photographers who produced this video. Most instructive. Thanks to those who have worked to ensure our rights to shoot from public locations. Thanks to all of you who calmly and politely and respectfully demonstrate daily why no one has anything to fear from our photographic efforts and why we deserve to have those rights preserved.

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Bill Fortney At Nelson Ghost Town: Live On KelbyOne

A scene from Bodie, CA. Wait till you see the ones from Nelson with Bill Fortney!

This is an unabashed, whole-hearted endorsement of Bill Fortney’s latest video over on KelbyOne (the training site). The instruction is first-rate, Bill at his best in demonstrating what makes up an eye-catching, attention-holding photo. He is warm and folksy and genuine while handing out important tip after important tip. I felt the entire time that I was there beside him; it was as if he was talking directly to me as we walked the deserted streets of Nelson (and Nelson is one great place to find photo opportunities). I urge you to make time to watch Bill in this latest of Kelby instructional videos.

And I am posting this because I am a bit puzzled. In the past new instructional videos were announced over on Scott Kelby’s site and emails also were sent out to subscribers. Bill’s video was up for a couple of days before most of us knew about it. Even Bill found out when a His Light friend saw it and let him know. I’m not sure what is going on over at KelbyOne, but they kind of missed the boat on this one. it is a really good video; they should be getting the word out as fast and as loud as possible instead of letting us discover this gem on our own.

If you are a KelbyOne subscriber head over there right now and check out what Bill has for us. I promise you a treat. If you are not a subscriber, perhaps you know a friend who is, someone with whom you could sit down and share a great (and valuable) hour or so. You’ll both be glad you did.

And to my friends over at KelbyOne … you dropped the ball on this one, but there still is time to get out the word. Viewers all over the world will thank you for doing so.

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PC To MacBook Pro Advice

Making this switch often has me on pins and needles!

Day whatever of the switch from PC to MacBook Pro. It’s coming along, but it’s not coming easily. There is a learning curve here; no matter how intuitive a Mac system may be for the artists out there, we long-time PC users are going to struggle. Count on it if you are considering a switch. Don’t give up before beginning, but consider what you are doing carefully.

First, right now, before you even believe you will ever want to make a change, do some basic groundwork. Organize your photos into plainly- and clearly-labeled subfolders. Place all those folders into one master folder. Decide now if you are going to want to import all your raw photos from each subfolder into the new machine, or if you only want to import the processed ones to reside on the Mac (you always can go over to the external drive the raw ones are stored on to import them as needed). You’ll take up less space on the Mac if you don’t import all the raw files, ones that you don’t need to get to all the time or very quickly. If you can put the processed ones into a separate subfolder from the raw ones for each shoot (or however you divide folders) it will make the import job much easier and faster later (you don’t want to use up precious Mac hard drive space with photos you never look at anymore). Do it now, as you process shoots or projects. Trust me; this is the best advice I am going to give you.

Make a very good list of all the programs you own that you want on your new machine: name, where to find them for future downloads, and (especially) your serial numbers. I had to search for some of the older ones, and that slowed down considerably setting up the new computer. Give some realistic thought to what programs you want to import. You may find you have some you rarely (if ever) use anymore; your workflow or needs may have changed a lot over the years. Don’t import everything just because you can or because you paid for it some time ago. Chances are you got your money back out of the use you had over the years. Know you can retrieve it if you ever really need to; otherwise keep your Mac as clean as you can for as long as you can.

When you download presets for various programs, especially if you paid for those presets, know where to find them and how to re-install them. You’ll find that much easier than trying to copy them and figure out where to put them on the Mac (while you still are in the throes of learning how the Apple machine works at all). All this is going to take plenty of time, also. Don’t get frustrated; you can find them and you can re-install them. Don’t try to do it all in one day; you’ll wear yourself out and end up making mistakes. Don’t hesitate to ask for assistance or spend some time learning what you are doing instead of just being frustrated because things don’t work the way you might suspect. I’ve gotten so frustrated in the past few days! I had to learn to take a break and figure out how to do something before going back and trying all over again. And, I’m getting there.

Go through your PC and make backups of everything (actually, anything) that you think you possibly may need down the road. Don’t skimp here. It may be months before you discover you need that one file or number or email or whatever. But when you need it, you really are going to need it. Buy yourself a reliable, large capacity external drive and put all your PC stuff on it for good. Keep it handy. Go overboard, rather than skimping.

Don’t neglect those archived emails. It’s a painstaking task … but a necessary one. Go through each of them. Throw out what obviously is outdated and of no further value. What may be of value in the future (records of purchases, download sites, contacts, etc.) save somewhere. I went though my archives carefully; then I forwarded the ones I needed to have down the road to myself. I took those and archived them on the MacBook Pro. It was a quick and fairly easy way to keep a record of what I had on the PC over on the Mac. Take some time with this project; once those old emails are gone, they are gone.

If you can, work on the new machine next to the old one while it still if operational. All your files will be somewhere close at hand. You can use the old machine to get on the internet to search for answers to your questions, the how-to stuff. And I do recommend those searches most highly. I checked out a book, a recent version, from our local library. It is pretty dry, even with lots of illustrations. And it was a bit complicated to go back and forth from the topic I wanted to find to the index to the computer when a lot of steps or questions were involved in what I was trying to do. The internet is an incredible source of specific answers to specific questions – try there first.

During this process you also need to attempt not to think everything through in terms of how you used to do it on the PC. You will find the two systems really are structurally different. You’ll drive yourself crazy looking for file structures and folders and system trees from the PC over on the Mac. Devote your time to learning the basics and getting the programs you use everyday imported so you can keep working. For example, get your photos imported and Lightroom and Photoshop set up. That’s what we photographers use and do all the time. Be able to get your work done, then spend time on the littler things that you don’t do as often. I have had trouble remembering that, and I have paid for it in frustration and lost time. Start at the top with the big stuff; work your way down the ladder as you go.

Okay, back to importing and learning (no, I am kinda far from finished. Still). But consider what I have been seeing and learning as you consider if you want to make a switch … or how to make that switch. I have to admit it is difficult. But it is far from un-doable. Even for me.

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Wrist Update. MacBook Pro Update.

Nashville Sue
That shopping arm will be back to fighting shape in no time!

Yesterday was Sue’s first visit with her wrist surgeon since the second operation. Good news! Each of the small bones are staying back in place and are exactly where they should be. As Bill Fortney first remarked, ” Ours is a God of small numbers.” Even if the odds of success weren’t in our favor, that meant nothing to Him.

The doctor advised that the hard cast has to remain for about two more weeks. Then we go in to have it replaced with a lighter splint (that definitely will come as a relief to Sue). The rod on top of her hand has to stay in place for a couple more months to keep everything stabilized. The actual healing takes place during this extended two months of healing. In fact, we won’t know about absolute success until that rod is surgically removed and the wrist and hand stand on their own. But as long as everything stays in place as it is right now we can be confident.

Thank you so much to all you friends who have inquired and sent prayers and best wishes. That counts a great deal in this trial; Sue has been lifted up by your friendship.

Then, the much less important update. My first full day with the MacBook Pro was enlightening. I was amazed that the machine set up the email operation literally on its own and in record time. Impressive! It downloaded and ran Lightroom CC quickly and easily, most unlike the struggle I had with the PC. I have been opening and closing programs and features and setting preferences as an ongoing experiment in how things work. That part seems easier than I feared; what does take some time is different commands and keystrokes from the PC. I think that will come with practice (friends suggest a couple of weeks to be fair). Anyone making this switch also needs to remember (I am learning) that there simply are different terms between Apple and Microsoft for what amount to essentially the same things.

Overall? It just takes more time to get anything done because I have to think about what I am doing instead of being able to just do it. And that will go away with time. Apple does have a certain flair to their products that is appreciated, also. If you are thinking of making a switch, stay tuned for a bit longer. I think this is going to work out.

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Going Over To The Dark Side: New MacBook Pro Owner

My computer world feels like this right now ….

Please bear with me for the foreseeable future … I am giving up on the old PC and going over to the dark side. A new MacBook Pro arrived today in my name, if not yet in my spirit. There is a learning curve here that at this first moment seems a bit daunting … where is Apple’s vaunted intuitive approach hidden on this new machine?

I have a decent PC, but it has been in the shop five times in the past year-and-something. There have been a series a nagging little parts that don’t work or play together nicely. No lie … the last time it was in the final verdict on what was wrong was, “Windows was just having a bad day.” It was like being nickled and dimed to death by that car you didn’t want to get rid of (even though it sometimes wasn’t getting you to work on time). The final straws were recent: late last week I wanted to scan a document and send it out to dear friend Raymond Jabola. No connection; no communication with the computer. Epson was helpful enough when I got them on the phone – they finally determined it was some problem deep in a Windows file. Good luck, they wished me. Microsoft’s answer? Who knows? Never did get through to speak with anyone who could handle the problem (in spite of a lot of time spent waiting). Soon after I downloaded Lightroom CC from my Adobe subscription. Only to discover it wouldn’t open. Repeatedly wouldn’t open. And that was that.

Sue has for some time urged me to get a Mac and stop coaxing the PC to work, plus I didn’t have a reliable laptop to take to workshops. It was time to do something, and I took her advice (plus the invaluable advice of Raymond and of Richard Small). So, I am in the process of saying goodbye to the old system and learning the new. Wish me luck, for I can sense I am going to need some.

If any of you long-time MacBook Pro users have any advice, tips or tricks for making the switch as painless as possible, I sure would appreciate hearing them. I love the new screen; I like the looks and feel of the new machine. I just have a few doubts about teaching the old dog new tricks.

Say goodnight, PC.


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Lightroom CC HDR: Raymond Jabola. Smoky Mountains: Rick Coleman Photos

Click on Raymond’s Bodie image to see it in larger, beautiful size.

My dear friend Raymond Jabola has a beautiful (California) look to his photos; they frequently are mistaken for paintings (and they always are admired). He installed Lightroom CC the other day, and we compared brief notes on the new HDR feature. Bottom line: he liked it. And Raymond is one of those photographers to whom, if he likes something, we all should pay lots of attention. Raymond’s approval buttresses what another good friend and outstanding photographer, Kent Ervin, who shoots lots and lots of beautiful architecture photos, thinks about the new Lightroom feature. Kent liked it a lot; his only request was that it batch processed so he could get through the thousands of shots he takes in a timely manner.

Raymond sent me several images from the amazing ghost town of Bodie, CA that he processed using the Lightroom HDR instead of his go-to program (NIK’s HDR Efex Pro). They gave him incredibly easy-to-process and very-wide-tonal range photos. Very eye-catching photos. He posted one from the general store on 500px, and it drew rave reviews. Now, most of this is due to Raymond’s artistic eye and processing skills. But the starting point was Lightroom’s new HDR feature. Click on the image at the top of the post to see it larger over on 500px. I think you’ll agree that it speaks very highly for Lightroom.

Then another good His Light friend, Rick Coleman, recently returned from a Smoky Mountains workshop with Bill Fortney and Jim Begley. I shot the same area two years ago with other His Light family members; I liked what I came home with. But I really like what Rick shot … his compositions and use of color are eye-catching and attention-holding. Smoky Mountain National park is a beautiful location, no matter if you are a photographer or not. Images from there give you an idea of how marvelous the scenery of our country is, what God has created for us. Rick captured so much of that beauty that I want to give you the opportunity to find it easily and enjoy it at your leisure.

Click here to visit Rick Coleman’s Smoky Mountain gallery over on Smugmug. It is a tour to be enjoyed and with which to plan your own trip to this fantastic location. Thank you, Rick!

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The Generous Will Prosper: Bill Fortney

Bill Shaker

Yesterday at church services the lesson was from Proverbs 11:25 … The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed. The overarching theme was Being Generous. Perhaps most of the time we think in terms of donating money to the church for the various good activities constantly going on there. And that is proper; we are privileged to support good works from the monetary resources we have been blessed with. But generosity goes far beyond the idea of giving money. Or that in return we will be blessed with material things when we are generous.

What brings this post to life today was that immediately yesterday when we read that Proverbs verse Sue and I each thought first of our dear friend Bill Fortney. Last week he was in Arizona speaking to a large gathering of Fuji executives. I’m not telling tales out of school to mention that it is going to lead to wonderful opportunities down the road for Bill. And that there is no one more deserving of recognition and success than Bill Fortney. Hence, we both immediately thought how true that proverbs verse is: Bill has refreshed the lives of so many, many people throughout the years … with no thought of doing so in order to benefit himself.

Bill loves our Lord with all his heart and all his mind and all his strength. He shares that love with everyone he meets, because he genuinely loves all of us, also. To say he is a “people person” is a great under-exaggeration. He has given freely of his time and his monetary resources and his expertise and his advice and his sheer presence to so many of us in need of so very many different things. And he does so continuously and unceasingly, to new friends and old. He has most of all brought many of us to Christ by his example, giving purely out of love. And that, my friends, is a gift that cannot be matched or repaid ever enough.

And Bill is one of the happiest, most satisfied, most blessed persons most of us know. He is not the richest person we ever may meet by any means, but those who refresh others are not promised monetary or material rewards. No, Bill has been rewarded with a beautiful wife and family and (literally) countless friends who love him. He has been rewarded with righteousness from a God he loves, being blessed to walk a righteous path that he longs for. Talk about riches!

I am reminded of a story told about the death of the richest man in a large town. At his funeral it was asked of him, “How much did he leave?” The answer was telling, “All of it.” We all appreciate a comfortable life with things we enjoy. Nothing wrong with that. But the riches that have been bestowed on Bill make all those material things seem rather petty. He is loved dearly and deeply by so very many people; he is blessed with knowing he serves a loving and faithful God; he knows he is loved and watched over by that same God. I know that Bill looks forward to every single day spent with people, ministering to the rest of us in all he does. What a joy! What a blessing to walk such a path through life!

To all of the His Light family, to all of Bill’s friends the above didn’t need to be pointed out. You all know him as well as I do; anyone who spends time with Bill realizes it very quickly. To all of you who have yet to meet this remarkable man, give thought to signing up for a workshop or event somewhere, sometime in which you can just get to know him. The photography and the learning will be special; you will benefit from it, I promise you. More importantly, however, you will come away refreshed and uplifted; that I promise you, also.

And, as I am sure Bill would be quick to add, we can each follow Bill’s example. We can surrender our own lives to being generous to others in many, many ways. At any time. To anyone else. It’s not easy; it is not instinctive very often. We can be generous with our forgiveness to others; with our time and attention to those who need it; with our kindness to others; with our resources. Jesus told his disciples to, “Come. Follow me.” I have. And along the way I have been privileged to meet and walk alongside Bill Fortney for a while. Refreshed and uplifted.

Thank you, Bill.

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