A Christmas Message Of Love … For Every Other Day Of The Year

Today’s post was going to be all about me and some of the photos I took Saturday. Then at our church assembly yesterday I was so very much reminded that this world is not at all about me … or my thoughts or my wants or my life. It is about the grace and mercy shown to us by a loving and protective God. It is about others and service to others and love for others. It is about how we live our lives to show how appreciative we are for what we have been given.

Take just a bit of time to watch this YouTube video. It will touch your heart. It will warm your heart. It will convict your heart. It certainly did mine, and I am so grateful that it did. May it continue to do so long after this joyous season has ended.

Merry Christmas. May the true spirit of this season be with all of us.

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Photographing America: Bill Fortney’s Latest Book … Plus A FREE Book Just For Looking

Americana

My dear friend Bill Fortney’s guide on the Fuji X-system still is selling like hotcakes. For good reason. It is a thorough look at the entire system and how best to use it, all from the accumulated wisdom of one of our finest photographers. Congratulations, Bill! And today at noon we have another opportunity to draw on Bill’s vast knowledge and experience.

Today marks the publication of Americana Photography, A Step By Step Guide. Americana covers the photographing of many of the historical parts of our great country, large and small. It is the America of our past, many of the little parts that we remember and celebrate. And Bill has pretty much developed from scratch the notion of Americana and how to photograph it to its best. Now he is sharing that vast knowledge with all of us. The book includes things to shoot and where to shoot them. And how to shoot them. Thank you again, Bill!

Oh, and in the spirit of Christmas let’s throw in a couple of generous gifts. If you order the Americana book before midnight on Christmas Eve you pay only 50% of the regular price! That’s right; only $4.95 for a book that is destined for your reference library. And … there’s more! Bill is generously offering each of us a FREE book just for looking around his site. It is what he refers to as his ‘idea book’, an exploration of ways to use some of the most popular processing plugins out there to enhance your images. It’s called Using Digital Technology to Have Fun, and it’s yours for the asking. Just add the title upon checking out of Bill eBook site … there’s no charge.

Christmas comes a couple of weeks early this year. Two new books to spend time with, one of them a gift from a most generous friend. Take some time to check out Bill’s site by clicking here, and then take advantage of his knowledge and expertise. The weekend beckons; spending time with books from Bill would be a great way to use some of it.

Merry Christmas!

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Christmas Carols Of Perfect Love … An Annual Delight

Call it an oldie but a goodie. Call it a Christmas tradition. Call it absolutely delightful. I love this YouTube video of Christmas Carols of Perfect Love, a spoof of the original by The Stamps Quartet (for the longest time I would have sworn it was done by the Statlers). It is funny, heartwarming, a perfect message at this time of year. I’ve posted it many times in the past; it will be posted many more times in the future. It’s that good.

I hope this one makes your day as enjoyable as it makes mine. Life is so good.

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Indiana University’s Wylie House: Photos

Wylie selfie
A vintage selfie. Click on it to see photos from Wylie House.

My computer came home Friday afternoon, so I was able to get back to the photo project I had been working on last week (the problem? Windows was diagnosed as ‘having a bad day’. Seriously, that was the problem that was fixed). In any event, I am glad to have it back. Thank you, PC Max.

Before the crash I had been finishing up processing images from a morning trip to Indiana University’s Wylie House. Wylie House is the restored home of Andrew Wylie, one of IU’s first presidents. It sits near Bloomington’s downtown, too often overlooked by us residents as a true gem. I hadn’t been there for more years than I can remember prior to last week. It won’t be all that long before I return. Sue and I shot for a couple of hours one morning, and there is plenty more I would love to try to capture. The home is furnished with period pieces of all sorts, beautiful items that catch and hold the eye. I was caught up on doing more close up work than anything else; I would like to shoot a bit wider in some rooms the next time we visit.

In this group of photos I tried somewhat to translate the time period of Wylie House into the look I saw in my mind’s eye. It was fun just walking from room to room, taking it all in. The house is bigger inside than it appears outside; it is made for a return photo shoot. The home is closed for daily visits for the winter season, but tours can be arranged by calling IU and making the proper requests. Sue and I hope to return while it still is decorated for the holidays.

To see the images I selected just click here. Or on the image at the top of this post. And if you live anywhere close to Bloomington, give some thought to a tour of your own. You won’t be disappointed.

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Fuji X-System, Anyone? This is THE Fuji Book To Buy.

Fuji guide

My dear friend and mentor Bill Fortney released his much-anticipated guide to the Fuji X system yesterday. It was well worth the wait. If you own a Fuji X-system camera or if you would like to own a Fuji X-system camera or even if you just are interested in what all the fuss is about, this is your guide. It’s like sitting around the table with one of our country’s most knowledgeable, most respected, and most talented photographers and getting to ask whatever you want. This book is like a conversation with Bill, chock full of information and insight. Casual, easy-to-understand, easy-to-digest … it is everything you wanted to know from someone who knows it.

There are some gorgeous illustrations in this one. The Fuji cameras are capable of some outstanding photos, and Bill is able to explain that each of us can learn to do what he does. I sat for a bit after going through my copy, trying to decide what I would have added or left out. I didn’t come up with anything; Bill thoroughly covers the X-system, the lenses, the accessories … everything Fuji.

Click on this link to check out Bill’s eBook site. The first one you will come to is the Fuji guide (there are plenty others to peruse and examine; be sure to check them out). You know what printed books cost these days (plenty!), so you also will see that this one is most reasonably priced. And once downloaded it is yours to read and re-read as often as needed, a welcome addition to your reference library. Thank you, Bill!

I am a Fuji owner, a most satisfied one. And also count me as a Bill Fortney Fuji book owner, a most satisfied one. Guides like these make the entire photo process more productive and more enjoyable for me. I look forward to more books like these from Bill.

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You Have Until December 7th To Win This Tamron Lens

What would the holiday season be for us photographers without the chance to win a new lens? Or anything at all, as long as it is free? We have been through Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday. It is about time, I feel, for Free lens Wednesday!

The good folks at MCP Actions, a site I have checked in somewhat regularly with for the past three years, are giving away a FREE Tamron 24-70 f/2 lens between now and December 7th (the random drawing is on the 8th). You have your choice of receiving the lens in either a Canon or Nikon or Sony mount … and did I mention the drawing is for free? All you need to do is click here and visit the MCP Actions website. I have a link here, and once you get there just enter your name and email. That’s it; you are entered! I have entered giveaways from these good folks several times in the past. No pesky virtual salesmen have darkened my door. The contest is a legitimate one (and the lens is a good one).

Now, our individual odds are not overwhelmingly great. There is only one lens, and there will admittedly be a lot of entries. But collectively we might have a shot here … and since someone is going to win, it might as well be one of us! Thank you, MCP Actions.

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Carl Shortt Photography And Brown County His Light

BEST Group web
Our good friends Carl, Jr (second from left) and Carl III (seventh from left).

I have written often in the past about how special His Light workshops are. And the main reason, wonderful locations and great instruction aside, is the friendship and fellowship that goes on during our time together. There is a sharing of faith that bonds all of us together. When you add in the personalities and talents of Bill Fortney and Jim Begley the events turn into something special. Brown County last October was no exception.

Proof of that specialness arrived here in Bloomington yesterday. Carl Shortt, Jr. and his son, Carl III (Trace), sent us a beautiful book of photos from Brown County. It captured the colors and textures and spirit of Brown County and our workshop perfectly. The book brightened our day; their friendship and generosity brightened our lives. I wish I could share the book with all of you – the layout and images and words all go together perfectly. Our book now occupies a prominent space in our living room, one from which our friends will be able to share in during days to come. Thank you, Carl and Trace!

Now, unfortunately I can’t share this wonderful gift with you. And I’m sure not letting it out of our sight. But most fortunately I can share the wonderful images that make up the book with you. Carl has a website where he generously shares his photos with the rest of us. And one of the galleries is from Brown County. Through the wonder of modern technology we all get to see those images and share in the spirit of our fall get together. Click here to see the beautiful work of Carl and Trace, to get a feel for what a great time it was.

We have been so blessed. And so much of that blessing is the friendship of all the wonderful people we have met through His Light. Life is so very good.

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Rudolph Knows My Computer Woes

Rudolph

Never fear … we still are alive and well in holiday-dressed Bloomington. I haven’t been posting because of computer woes. The system started acting finicky last Tuesday, slowing down and getting the hiccups. I tries to reboot on one occasion, and that was that. The old girl wouldn’t restart, so off to the shop it went the next morning. I am waiting for the news (it can’t be too good, I fear) and waiting to get back to some sort of normalcy. In the meantime I dug the old (and sparsely appointed) laptop out of the closet to keep up with a few necessary chores.

We had a blessed Thanksgiving with Sue’s family and Chinese visitors from our church. And we have been putting up some decorations and preparing for this coming week’s activities. There are several church-related events on the calendar, and this weekend is the opening reception for Kendall Reeves’ Gallery 406 holiday show. There is a wonderful Christmas feeling in the air.

I will be back to work when I get some word on the computer. Wish us luck … it usually is needed.

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DxO OpticsPro 10: I’m Sticking With Adobe


Version 10 didn’t support my Fuji camera. That was one big strike against keeping it.

I had been trying DxO Labs’ OpticsPro (version 10) for a while now. I say ‘had’ because yesterday I deleted the trial version from my computer. I’m sticking with Lightroom (I also have Nikon’s Capture NX-D installed. It was free, and I use it sometimes on my Nikon captures). Lightroom and/or Adobe’s Camera Raw are doing the job for me; I just can’t see adding another raw convertor at this time.

Now, I don’t have anything against owning multiple software programs to process my images. Many times I find one has a feature or two that is just what I need for the particular photo in front of me. Photoshop is my go-to processing program, but onOne’s Perfect Photo Suite sometimes is what I find most handy. I own a couple of HDR programs, even though I find myself relying on Photomatix most of the time. I own all kinds of different texture collections. It’s not sinful to own a variety of programs, so long as you actually learn the strengths and weaknesses of each (and how to effectively use each). No, DxO’s latest version simply didn’t add anything I felt I needed to my processing arsenal.

Most importantly, it didn’t process files from my Fuji X-T1. I own two camera systems (and love both of them). Any program I have to pay for needs to work for both. Sorry, DxO.

The program ran slower than did the Adobe products. It was advertised to be up to two times faster than older versions. It was … but the earlier versions were slow. Each time you make a move in DxO it re-draws the screen (Topaz does this, also). It’s maddening to me to be moving a slider just a tiny bit here or there to get just the look I want, only to sit there watching the screen re-draw. And re-draw. It’s as if there is no real time action going on. I’m not swamped with work, nor is my time all that valuable in the great scheme of things. But the slow screen refresh isn’t something I want to pay for.

DxO seemed a bit fussy compared to the Adobe convertors. I always was opening a sub-module or closing one or going from one task to another, as if there was no whole to what I was doing. It was a series of small changes all the time that seemed disconnected from the whole of what I was seeing. It gets back to the time thing a little bit, but it was more than that. Fussy is the best description of what I was feeling.

I could get some nice images out of version 10; don’t get me wrong. It’s just that I was already doing that with what I already use … faster and with less fuss. So, why would I pick up another program that I had to fool around with more than I really liked? The answer was that I wouldn’t. And didn’t.

DxO makes some good stuff. Version 10 of OpticsPro is a program capable of some of that good stuff. It just doesn’t do it as quickly or easily as the Adobe products I already own. I used the free trial to do my comparisons. There is a lesson in that. If you are able, use the trials before buying. Thirty days is plenty of time to determine is a program is right for you and the way you work.

Thanks, DxO. Maybe next time.

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Coupon Suggestion For onOne Perfect Photo Suite 9

onOne 9

Yesterday I purchased and downloaded onOne’s Perfect Photo Suite 9. It was an upgrade for me; I have used this processing suite for a couple of years now. And I have found it quite useful as another tool, one that complements Lightroom and Photoshop. Before purchasing I watched a lot of videos on new features and improvements. I found them convincing. And I spoke with my very good friend Richard Small; he advised he had purchased the full suite earlier in the week. Richard is an incredible photographer, and he knows his way around the processing world. That tipped the scales for me. When Richard gives thumbs up to a product I take notice.

Click here to visit the onOne site if you have yet to do so (keep in mind that having more than one set of tools in your processing arsenal is no sin). Somewhere on that site you will find answers to any possible questions you might have. And you can download a free, fully-functioning trial of version 9, if you prefer to proceed a bit more slowly. There are some pretty cool features in this version, and the suite always has worked well for me. You may find it will do the same for you.

If you decide to make a purchase, especially those of you looking for a Photoshop alternative, use this code from Trey Ratcliff for a 10% discount (STUCKINCUSTOMS). This code always works – it never has failed me. And 10% off is much appreciated, especially if you were going to make a purchase anyway. Now, onOne already is discounting the current offer from what is listed as the regular price. But if you use the code Trey has provided you receive the 10% off on top of the offered discount. And that is most appreciated!

I will be trying out the program as much as possible this weekend. I hope to have some before and after shots for you next week, along with some thoughts on the features I like the most. If you are interested at all, use some of your time this weekend to at least check out this new offering. You just may find it fills a void in your processing workflow.

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The Richard Siggins Philosophy: Gimme Just A Little More Time

Siggins
Richard and June Siggins, dear friends and wonderful people.

I’ve spent a great deal of most enjoyable time around my dear friend Bill Fortney. He has taught (still is trying to teach me) to see the world in graphic terms – line, form, color and texture. Also rubbing off on me is seeing the world in terms of 60’s and 70’s song titles. They are always popping up in Bill’s conversations, and todays post title just did the same with me when I read Richard Siggins’ most-educational article on developing your shooting skills. It boils down to taking a bit of time.

Richard and his lovely wife June are dear friends, wonderful examples of caring and generous Christians. They also make up a formidable shooting team – Richard is a most accomplished photographer and June is his extra set of eyes (pointing out possible shots that the rest of us have overlooked). Richard also has a blog, a place where he often passes on information designed to make the entire shooting experience richer and more satisfying. I have urged you in the past to check in with him on a regular basis. Today certainly is one of those days.

Click here to visit Richard’s site and read up on taking your time to make sure you get everything out of a scene. He has a couple of images that are great shots, ones that illustrate his point completely (and rather beautifully). I won’t give the entire article away … Richard makes his point far better than I could hope to. Just know that keeping it in mind, practicing it in the field, will serve to make each of us a better photographer.

Thank you, Richard!

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Jeff Cable Giveaway: Win A Canon 70D, A Drone, And Lots Of Other Stuff

Jeff Cable

Talk about holiday giveaways! Move over, Oprah … ’cause Jeff Cable is giving away more than $10,000 worth of photo gear to 32 lucky people. And all you have to do is sign up using your email. I have – and no pesky virtual salespeople have shown up on my virtual door. This is a real giveaway in the holiday spirit. Thank you, Jeff!

Click here to visit Jeff’s photography site. Scroll down past the big list of prizes to where it reads “sign up here for a chance to win”. Do so. Then sit back and wait for the UPS truck to pull up in your drive. It’s that simple. And that good.

Happy Holidays! And good luck!

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Gallery 406 And The Bloomington Photography Club: A Holiday Show

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This is one of the photos that will be on display during our holiday show.

Saturday was enjoyable, entertaining, educational … and a bit tense for a while. Kendall and Stephanie Reeves, owners of Gallery 406 here in Bloomington, are sponsoring a holiday photo show. The images all will be from those entered, juried, and selected Saturday morning. And, trust me, it is going to be a fine, fine show. There were lots of photos submitted, so many that even some of those not selected were worthy of being exhibited. If you live anywhere near the Bloomington area make plans to attend an opening reception during Downtown Bloomington’s December Gallery Walk (December 5th from 5 pm until 8 pm). It promises to be a glorious event.

Bloomington will have its downtown square brightly lit (the Canopy of Lights means thousands of holiday lights and lots of decorated store fronts). All the downtown galleries will be open late, featuring refreshments and holiday cheer. There will lots and lots of special items to peruse and appreciate and possibly take home with you. Our show will be up from December through the end of January, but the opening will be a special event (including the chance to meet the various artists). We are approaching a very special time of year; this is your chance to usher it in with an equally special event.

We had quite a few members of the Bloomington Photography Club present at Kendall’s studio Saturday morning. Each photographer was allowed to enter up to three images. There was no fee to do so, and there was no limit on how many of each shooter’s photos could be selected. The educational part was that this was an open jurying; Kendall’s critique of each photo was open to each of us. He was honest and open during the process, trying to point out what the strong points were for each image, and how each possibly could have been made stronger. After the critiques were finished, we all filed out and left Kendall to decide on which images were in (and which were out). That’s when the tension began to mount.

After about a half hour the process was complete. We were allowed back inside the gallery, given the news we hoped for (or wanted to avoid). Let me just repeat – this is going to be a fine, fine show. The photos cover a wide range of subjects and styles and presentations. There are traditional looks and more modern presentations. There are images large and small. We have some very fine photographers in our club; their talents were on display Saturday morning. Many, many thanks are owed to Kendall. He and Stephanie are good (and generous) friends.

Cabin life

‘Cabin life’ is the second image of mine selected for the show.

My lovely wife submitted three images, and two were selected for the show. I submitted two, and I was most fortunate to have both selected. And I do mean ‘fortunate’. The quality of this show is outstanding. You really do need to make plans to visit Gallery 406 at some time during the holiday season.

Thanks to Kendall and Stephanie for their efforts to support our club. And thanks to all the members of the Bloomington Photography Club for the friendship and fellowship that make this passion of ours something other than a solitary pursuit. Saturday was a good day. Life is so good.

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New Fuji X-System Guide From Bill Fortney

Bill tripod-2

Bill and his Fuji X-system gear. Stay tuned for his forthcoming guide.

This is a heads up for the ever-increasing numbers of Fuji X-system photographers. My dear friend and mentor, the legendary Bill Fortney is close to releasing his latest e-book. The working title is The Fuji X-System User’s Guide, and it will be a working photographer’s guide to making great photos. Bill promises not just another buttons-and-dials book on Fuji gear, but a real roadmap to how to put all those buttons and dials to their best uses. And Bill knows Fuji … and Bill knows photography. When he speaks, we all would do well to listen.

Now, when these types of books are released we are smart to look at the background and abilities of the author … and their motivations. It is a fact of life in photography, as with the rest of life, that some authors have an ax to grind or a partner to massage. Not Bill. Any of us who have followed him and His Light for even a short period of time know his character and integrity. And we also are aware of his legendary status as a photographer and instructor. But let Bill speak for himself, as he writes in the preface to the new book:

The next question should be, “Why are you the guy to write this book?” Well let me start with what I am not. I’m not officially affiliated with Fuji, as an advisor, X-Shooter, or in any official way. I was offered the opportunity to be an X-Shooter and while honored I declined for two reasons, I want to remain independent so that my opinions and comments will be accepted as just that, uncolored, un-influenced opinions. I also still have great respect for my former friends and the Nikon company, and feel I’ve been a representative of a photo industry company once, and think it is time to remain unbiased and independent. I do not get special deals from Fuji, or have not been sent equipment to evaluate. I have sold images to Fuji for their marketing use, but I’ve done that for a lot of other photo industry companies as well. My relationship with Fuji is as an admirer of how they do business, respect for the products they design and build, and the customer care they exhibit! I’m a consumer just like you. I think this gives me a unique position to share from.

Further, I’m a full time photographer with over 45 years experience in the field and as an educator have had the chance to use and see many cameras models and brands, and I think I know my way around the industry as well as most anyone. I am not trying to sell cameras and lenses, just enthusiastically enjoying sharing my, new found, photographic love! The Fuji X-System is a perfect fit for some photographers, and if you’re one of them, this book is for you!

Click here to visit Bill’s site and his notes on the new guide. Keep visiting his site to make sure you are ready to place an order upon its release. And while you are there click on the My E-Books at the top of his homepage. Bill has a series of books available for download, books suited for photographers of all ages and abilities. Check out the offerings to see if anything is just right for your reference library. They are receiving great reviews since the downloads became available. See what you think.

It is cold and snowy here … not what we expect in Bloomington at this time of year. But, no matter the weather, it’s a great weekend for photography. Like all the other weekends, let’s go enjoy it.

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FREE Peter Hurley Photo Lesson

Jamie fashion-Edit-Edit-4-Edit

Peter Hurley is a master of the head shot. Read on to download a free lesson from him.

I have a great FREE offer today for all portrait photographers. Well, actually it is Profoto that has the great offer; I am pleased to pass the information on to you.

Peter Hurley is well-known for taking portraits, almost all headshots. He has a style and a look that many photographers have been trying to emulate. He has generously passed on a great deal of information on his methods, especially his techniques in coaching expression from his clients. I have seen videos on some of what he has been teaching, and I always was left wondering just a bit more about the physical techniques of his lighting. I liked the results very much; I understood how he was trying to coax a certain expression; the lighting seemed to be an afterthought in the videos. Now there is a new video series that aims to rectify that part of the shoot.

Now, Profoto and Peter aren’t teaming up to give away the entire video series. But they are offering us one of the lessons that makes up the series. And that is most appreciated. He is good; his portraits are goals for the rest of us to shoot for. Thank you, Profoto.

Click here to visit the Profoto blog. The first entry that should come up is a tutorial by Peter Hurley (if it isn’t, just scroll down until you come to it). Click on the signup line in the body of text (you don’t have to start an account or anything like that), and Profoto will email you a link to the tutorial. It is worth your time if you have any interest at all in taking people shots. Thank you, Peter Hurley.

This is an entirely FREE offer … and a good one. Download the video and watch it at your leisure. They will want you to consider purchasing the entire series. After watching this lesson, you just may be tempted.

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