Missing the Picture

Do you ever get stopped in your tracks? Where the reality of something that you thought you knew, was suddenly seen at a new depth? At a level so deep that it stops you and commands your attention? The reality of a simple truth that has an unfathomable depth. Like, the reality that Jesus never knew the pleasure of sin. Just the pain of sin. He only knew the depth of sin’s destruction in a relationship. Only the breaking of a heart that pushes others aside to hide. To see the tyranny of the troubled in the blackness of a sin-stained world. And to love each one enough to take on the pain and confront it head-on. To dare to reach into the moment of where one heart exists in the pain of itself. One that is known no matter how well one tries to hide in it.

To know the piercing love of Christ that knows no bounds is this reality. The love that seeks the best of another in the wholeness of the emptiness that one seeks to hide in. The fear of the one broken being seen and held out a lifeline to be made whole. To come out of the shadows of the dungeon that we like to call home, in the soul of one’s life.

The crimson blood of Christ flows for each of us in this place. The place where each of us is most hidden, but also the most vulnerable. The Crimson color of Christ’s blood not only shows up the best on the blackened background of a sin-stained world. It also covers it. And it brings the healing and wholeness that each one seeks to walk in. Freed from the self-reliance of a world of lies that one can try to cover its conscience with. And the opportunity to walk out of the dungeon that I create in the lies that I use to protect myself. To come into the love of Christ’s bloodshed for me, so that I can walk in freedom.

To me, life is a journey, one that none of us were intended to walk alone in. And on my journey of coming out of my self-made dungeons, I have tried to create new pictures of what the world around me should or could be. But I have found that I often overlook the best picture. The picture of the blood of the risen Savior reaching out with blood-stained hands so that I can be made healed and whole. Through the resurrected Love of God, the Father that can set the captive’s heart free from the isolation of the dungeons that I create for it.

I invite you to come and know the love of God the Father through the blood-stained hands of his son, Jesus. And to walk in the freedom from the dungeon of sin that has been washed clean by the blood of Christ. Come and experience the Love that poured out His blood that each of us could live in the picture of forgiveness; that can bring you to a place of freedom from your dungeon. Come and allow Jesus to repair the picture that you call your reality.

You see, it’s in the simplicity of a broken heart that I find my greatest need for my picture to be made whole again. It’s here that one can reach out and truly find the love of Christ through outstretched hands on the cross. If you are wondering how this is possible? It begins with a heart that longs for the acceptance of a Savior in Jesus. There are no magic words, just a repentant heart that longs to know the relationship of a Savior. Just, simply and honestly asking Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins and asking him to come into your life as Lord and Savior is all that it takes. Just, ask everything in the name of Jesus. Because all power and authority are His and it’s as His will is done in our lives that healing and wholeness are restored. Be blessed and never walk alone, walk with Jesus.

It’s when one finds the courage to come into the light of Christ that the picture of eternity begins to come into perspective. Be encouraged for all that call on the name of the Lord, will be saved and know the light of the world. And always shoot the world with light.

Equipment for low light Photography

In my quest to improve as a photographer, one of the more challenging areas has been shooting in low light and night photography. This is where faster lenses and the ability to manually operate a camera makes a difference. Programmed settings and auto-focus quickly become unusable due to the amount of available light. And a slower lens can often leave one disappointed with blurry pictures because of longer exposure times.
While I don’t think you need the best equipment on the market. A good camera body and a lens that shoots at an aperture of 2.8 or higher is needed to prevent blur from the longer exposure times of a slower lens. Most of my low light photography is done with a Sigma 17-50 mm lens. I find that a lens with optical stabilization and large optics work well for me. And the ability to operate your equipment without having to see the controls all of the time is needed to achieve sharp pictures. The long exposure times warrant having a rock solid tripod. Being a budget minded photographer that still looks for quality, I have found that the Pantan Q6-Plus is very good. I have used this tripod for outdoor photography in 30 mph winds and it didn’t move. It is heavier than a carbon fiber tripod, but I have found that if you are not carrying it very far it works great and is easy to use. And I can hang other equipment off of it without it affecting the performance of the tripod.

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There is also a plethora of other equipment that I have found to be useful at different times in low light photography. Some of my favorite accessory equipment is a good remote shutter release to ensure that I don’t shake the camera and change the focus. I have tried several different releases and the ones that I use are the Pixel Pro shutter release and a Neewer cabled shutter release. I find that a mini-level and a small flashlight are also very helpful in setting up for shots and ensuring that I am level with the horizon. And this list of other accessories and equipment for different situations is only limited by one’s creativity and budget. With this equipment I find that I can get solid results without breaking the bank. So, come play in the dark and always remember to “shoot the world with light.”

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Macro Photography on a Budget

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What’s really needed for macro photography? Well, it depends on what you are photographing and how you desire to tell the story with the picture. Macro photography has many facets and ways to get high quality pictures. The best tool you can have is patience during the process. I don’t like to stage pictures in nature so the amount of equipment that I use in the field is limited because of time constraints and the fact that I also have a limited budget. But that shouldn’t limit one’s ability to get some good shots with basic equipment. I use a basic dslr camera a and zoom lens for most of my macro shots. A solid 100mm, 1:1 macro lens is a good choice for a starter lens.

For me it’s more about the hunt for good subjects and being quick enough to get a good focus to capture the shot. Having an almost still day and the perseverance to take a lot of shots are the keys to getting a couple of good ones. Knowing that a high percentage of them may be unusable due wind and weather conditions. Or the subject not cooperating makes the challenge all the sweeter for me when I get a good, usable shot. I find that, I rarely have enough time to properly position more than a tripod and a small flash before the shot is gone.

I have researched other methods that utilize lots of equipment in the process. Some use multiple flexible lights and alligator clips on flexible arms to hold grass and or flower stems in place or out of the way. But to get the desired shot they would also capture the desired subject and partially freeze it so that it would come back to life slowly. And they still may not get the desired shot.

Another cheap technique for getting close to a subject is to use a reverse mounting ring for a shorter lens. This allows your lens to magnify the subject or subjects if you are trying to include a distant subject for perspective in the shot. To try this out you can place a penny or other small object in front of the lens that sits in front of a larger distant object like a hill or a tree. This can take some practice to get the desired effect.

With any type of photography, the post production can be the most fun and challenging to get the results that you desire for the story that you want the picture to tell. My go to program is Luminar 4. To see its wide range of Ai capabilities, use this link. https://skylum.grsm.io/paulpaschke7169.  It is a lifetime subscription and it is updated frequently. I find that it is easy to use and it has a lot of the tools that other more expensive or subscription-based programs have. I invite you to come and explore the world of macro photography. However, you choose to see the world with macro photography, always “shoot the world with light.” And drop me line with your favorite shots of the small world around us.

HOW OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHY CAN HELP YOU TO RELAX

In our current world of uncertainty it can be easy for one to become stressed and live on the edge. So, the need to find ways to take care of oneself in all aspects of life becomes more important as the uncertainty grows around us. One of my favorite activities for connecting with God and others is through outdoor photography. Nature has many healing properties to it that can be easily passed by in the rush of getting things done. And a simple walk in the woods on a nearby trail can help to promote peace of mind and body. For me the key is often slowing down enough to find the beauty in the simple and small things that surround us every day.

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For me outdoor photography is not about capturing the perfect picture. It is about taking the time to observe and seeing things in a different way than I may have missed before. There are many ways to enjoy nature and capture it from grand vistas to watching bugs display their beauty inside of a flower. I find that there are many benefits to outdoor photography that anyone can enjoy even if you don’t have a camera.

1. Taking the time to slow down: In our world of getting it done yesterday, I find that stepping back and taking deep breaths can renew one’s energy and bring a different focus. Doing this while out in nature helps me to see things that I would have easily missed if I just walked on by. Having a camera also helps me to slow down and see things from a more artistic perspective. Seeing and creating a good composition takes time to develop and slowing down is the first step in trying to capture the mood of the scene.

2. Outdoor photography helps to build new skills and improve the ones that I already have. The power of observation can be enhanced by simply watching the clouds roll by. Or by stopping and standing silently for 30 seconds and taking in the world around you. Take time to experience the smells. And the little things that are living life around you that can open up other parts of our world. Slowly turn your head and body in both directions several times. Take the time to observe what is above you. Bend down and take in the world from a ground-level perspective, or a knee-high level. If you have small children this is the world that they see. There is a whole world to discover and endless opportunities to connect with nature and those that are around you. If you have kids with you make a game of it. See who can find the most interesting things in 30 seconds. Seeing things through another’s eyes can help connect people. And taking pictures of what you find can build lasting memories. For me these unexpected moments can be some of the most memorable ones.

3. The health benefits of getting exercise are worth the time it takes to get to new places. For me wandering the neighborhood park or going to a new state park are worth the time. The endless places and the length of the trails don’t matter to me. For me simply being there is the prize. And being able to wander about the trails brings the health benefits and helps to renew my mind and body. It is also a great way to connect with others on the trail.

4. It gives the inner child a chance to explore: for me the quest to explore never seems to end. And the opportunities that nature offers is unending in the ways that you can explore them. The power of imagination and one’s ability to see things in different ways can be breathtaking and endless. And sharing a sunset with ten different people will give you ten unique experiences to enjoy. My kids have always loved to explore and one of the unwritten family rules was if dad did not get hurt trying something then the kids would often get to explore it too. And mom would be close behind taking the pictures of the adventure. It was always fun to give the camera to one of our girls and get their perspective on the world around us.

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I invite you to come along and make your own adventures. The world of the foot traveler is vast and bringing others with you are just gifts you haven’t opened yet. Nature’s gifts are endless we only need to take the time to soak them in. The camera is not required; but it can help create lasting memories for generations to come. So come and “shoot the world with light,” as you experience life at a little slower pace.

What’s Your Lens?

In uncertain times, it can be easy to lose focus on the truly important things in life. Those things that seem to become easily blurred during changing circumstances. But like a good lens, the focus point is always the sharpest in one place. Often the best focus is in the center. Where the optimal amount of light can evenly illuminate the whole scene. And the best results are achieved. Likewise, when small adjustments are made the focus can become blurred. The desired focal point can become contrasted against the lack of depth that surrounds the image. And the image that was once sharp is now out of focus.

Where one places their trust determines what creates the focus that guides the person. One can go through life, changing the aperture on a lens and thus changing the amount of light that is allowed into the camera. The amount of light in one’s world will determine how it is viewed and if a clean focus is achieved.

The bible says to “trust in the Lord.” Proverbs 3:5. But one may ask why should I trust in the God of the bible? God gives us his answer in Proverbs 3:6, “so that your path may be made straight.” A straight path is like having the sweet spot on a camera lens dialed in to the scene that you are trying to capture. The focus is true and the clarity of everything in the scene is clear. And all the unimportant parts fall off in a controlled manner that was intended when the picture was taken. It’s the ability to separate a tree from the forest. A straight path allows you to retain your focus deep into the forest. And see the details that are in front of you.

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One can focus on the circumstances of the changing world in front of us and look through a blurred vision of what is around you. Or you can focus on the one that, “was, and is, and is to come.” The one that sees the bigger picture as a whole. The one that is not surprised or challenged by the ever-changing focus of the world’s lens. To trust in Christ brings confidence in the confusion and focus in the frailty of the human condition. I invite you to focus more on Christ in these times of uncertainty. Because in and through Christ one can truly focus the world with The Light. To learn more about how to focus your life on Christ call 1-800 need him. And always remember to “shoot the world with light.”

The Dragonfly

The distant passing of the path spurred me further into the woods as the light slowly crept deeper into the trees. My path thus far was among boulders and trees along the coast. As I listened to the water lap up against the rocks I rolled up around the corner, along a path that slipped away from the open coast to the secluded trees. As I hunted for a more secluded place to set up my equipment. I was chasing the glow of the morning sun before it appeared in the horizon. As I fought in a hurried manner through the foliage to a small cliff that was hidden from the light of the lighthouse. A place where it would no longer disturb the woods. It was along this quiet cliff that I readied my self for the glory of the King to show itself. In the tranquility of the morning I waited for his finger to reach down and begin painting on the horizon. The colors came forth in new depths and tones as the morning greeted the horizon. They danced along the clouds to a crescendo of yellow and white streaks burst forth from the orb as it was slowly lifted into the sky.

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As I bounced back along the path I looked for hidden treasures. The small things that can easily be missed in the business of a morning; as it comes to life for the day.

When I made my way back along the rocks in front of the tree lined path. They were there, almost secretively coming out of hiding. The soft humming from their wings began to rise around me. Their numbers grew as the sun warmed the rocks and trees. I almost squished one as I reached for the small birch tree in front of me. He was the length of my hand. The treasure that I looked for sat almost motionless in front of me. He blended into the depth of the tree almost flawlessly. As I snapped off a few shots, I studied his splendor. His simple structure in ways that I had never seen before. Without warning he lifted off in the breeze not to be seen again.

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The allure of macro photography has been an area that I never grow tired of. The simplicity of capturing nature in its smallest forms is a challenging and rewarding type of photography that creates its own set of challenges. For each opportunity that comes before you, the task is different. Whether you enjoy the world with macro lenses or zoom lenses to capture the picture the way your eye sees it is always a challenge. The slightest breeze or a small delay in pushing the shutter can take that once in a lifetime shot and drop it to the depths of just another missed picture. But the thrill of the chase and the patience needed to capture the story makes it worth the effort.

The lighthouse in Two Harbors, Minnesota on a mid August morn is a great place to come and enjoy the challenges of capturing the small world during a radiant sunrise. The subtle beauty of the small world that is often passed by in our busy lives. So come, pull up on a rock and enjoy the rhythmic waves of the lake. And the splendor of the trails that surround the lighthouse. Or come in the evening and be captured by the gentle humming of the wings of nature. Or the beauty of a sunset over the Two Harbors docks.

A beautiful sunrise at the port in Two Harbors, Minnesota.
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I invite you to come and “shoot the world with light,” in the world of the small.

Home Town Treasure

As I strolled up to order on a lazy Saturday morning. I peered at the small chalkboard with the specialty drinks and then at the one with special of the day. A one of a kind panini served on a choice of bread and a fruit side. As I stopped to take in the flavors I was called back to reality. The smiling face in front of me called out, “they are here.”

Our card partners for the morning came in the front door and the time of making a decision had come. No drink on the board spoke to me so I ordered one of my favs. I looked up at the barista and said, “I’ll have a large Get frosty and the full special of the day.” The special  of the day had never disappointed and often surprised with the bursts of flavors that came from within. Like a full bodied red wine one needs to experience the flavors to truly appreciate them.

This fine establishment is a place where many journeys come together. Even if it is just for a moment in time. It’s a place where light hearted frolicking around games and good food are common place. It’s a large open place with original fare and one of a kind coffee and teas.

A place where locals and a passerby can get a glimpse at what local artisans and artists have to offer. From crafts to corkscrews and cardholders they support the locals. The come as you are atmosphere draws people from all walks of life.

Only at Xpeditions in Bloomer, Wisconsin can you wash down a one of a kind panini with cup of “Get Frosty” or other specialty coffee. If your sweet tooth is calling you can choose from one of their sweet treats. And for those looking for a healthier bite there and several artisan salads to choose from. Or pick from a full menu. The coffee house sits on top of their restaurant that serves a full menu.

You are invited to bring friends, family and your appetite to come, sit a spell and share the journey at Expeditions in Bloomer, Wisconsin. Expeditions will also host your one of a kind event. Call 715-568-5420 or visit them in person. As always enjoy your journey and “shoot the world with light.” http://www.paulpaschkephotography.com

A picture of Xpeditions coffee house in Bloomer, WI.
Our hometown treasure in Bloomer, WI.

The Midnight Light Shuffle

After the light of the fire had said its last goodbyes, we shuffled off to greet our tent. As we pulled back the cover on our sleeping bag, we reminisced about how the day had slipped away from us. And the stillness of the night had come again without warning. As I laid there it crept in like an unwelcomed friend. At first, it came as a small urge that I tried to deny. But it slowly grew in the stillness of the night and I could no longer push it off. As I laid still in my sleeping bag, I pretended that it would just go away, but I knew better. The midnight light shuffle had come and trying to deny it was useless. I slowly crawled from my nicely arranged place of comfort and began the search for the light. As I tried to quietly click on the light, I heard it. That lone voice from another that was trying to ignore the need. As we crawled out from inside of our tent, the darkness greeted us and the midnight shuffle had begun. Over the years I have used many different flashlights for the shuffle. But through trial and error and just plain bad luck in a dark outhouse, I have learned the need for a god light. Some outhouses have electric lights and others in more remote or older campgrounds don’t have this convenience. But, after many experiences with different styles of lights. I have found that any light can be useful provided it doesn’t die during the trip.

I found that the old tube style lights can easily roll out of reach when one needs it the most. I have had the hat style clip-on lights go for a swim in a shallow pool. Only to have it light up things I did not want to see in the night. It is at these times that I felt the most abandoned by my light. I have found that a good headlamp style light fits the bill the best. They tend to stay where I put them, on my head. They don’t roll away or slide into unreachable places. And they are often adjustable so I can easily see on a dark path or road at the end of my midnight shuffle. And their size makes them easy to pack and carry until they are needed. They are also great for reading and playing games at night or in a tent. The long straps allow you to hang them from just about anywhere. We have found that a couple of good headlamps and a propane lantern are a great combination when traveling and camping. They are also my go to for doing night and astrophotography. Drop me line about your favorite lights for traveling and camping. And always, “Shoot the world with light.”

The Trails in Devils Lake State Park

The path turned from the smooth pavement into the small rocky trail that edged its way along the rocky steps into the forest. The rocks grew in numbers as they greeted the tree roots in the middle of the path. The small awkward roots would roll in and around my feet like unwanted visitors that wanted to grab the front of my shoes. Their numbers only seemed to grow as we skirted up the tree-line and along the boulders that loomed over us on our climb up the trail.

The staircase at Devil’s Lake State Park

As the rocks slowly shifted beneath our feet; we found ourselves winding amidst the trees that stood like guards looking down upon us. The path lead us deeper into what went on into the treelines that surrounded us as we passed others spanning the cliffs for a place to traverse the edges and outcrops around us.

The rock climbers were out in force searching for the perfect place to traverse the cliffs. Some looked for the perfect place to hang from while others searched for a less challenging set of holes to grip on to. As I looked up I could only imagine what the view from the end of rope was like. We passed by several groups of climbers as we made our to some pretty cool outcrops that the average Joe could find. As I stood at the edge the vista opened up in an almost surreal way as I crept to the edge of the cliff.

Outcrop at Devils Lake State Park

As the day sank behind us in the woods, our calling card to escape the impending darkness became obvious. So we slowly made our way back to the trailhead. The final light of the day gave way to dusk and our adventure came to an end. But the adventures that one can come and enjoy at Devil’s Lake State Park are many. From day hikes to camping adventures complete with a store if you forgot your favorite equipment. To all the gear you need for fishing, hiking, and camping equipment to rent and buy. The only limitations are the ones that you bring. So pack your gear and enjoy one of Wisconsin’s best state parks in Bariboo, WI. To make reservations or plan a day trip check out the Wisconsin DNR site at wisconsindnr.gov. And always remember to “shoot the world with light.”

The Path of the Mushrooms

They reach up like jointless fingers that stretched from the floor of the forest. Colorful enticements that quietly looked up in the shards of light, as they captured the changing light around them. The distant light brings the energy to do their task. The slow undertaking of consuming others around them. Their true purpose is to bring life from the death of others. To breakdown those that have served their greater purpose. But now they hold fast to their brothers that have come to slowly consume what remains.

They hide in plain site for all to see their unique beauty. They grow in the quiet damp places and on the sides of the trees. These colorful members of the forest reach out to all that would take notice. But are often passed by as perhaps less important than those that live around them. Their prupose goes unnoticed as the passing of time claims those that others would come to see. But they hold a rich beauty of distinct shapes, colors and sizes.

The family of fungus hides itself among the dead seeking to do its job and go about its way unnoticed. But to those that know them they can be small treasures worth the effort of finding. Their abundance of flavors and colors have adorned many tables. Often prepared with butter and a bit of salt these delicacies can delight one’s taste buds. Some are delacacies for chefs, prized items that can fetch a good buck if they are in the right condition. Many are grown on farms for the masses to enjoy in everyday fare. But one needs to know where to look and at what time of year to pick them.

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Some of them hide in the shadows of dimly lit undergrowth where dirty, oozy things spring up from the world around them. While, others climb the arms of the forest around them. They grow here and there and in the hidden areas of the forest floor. They spring forth in the light of open meadows. These soft creatures can’t take much abuse and prefer to be left alone. In fact, some of them insist upon it. Their toxic look-a-likes keep others from indulging on them. To the point of poisoning those that ignore the warning. So, one must be careful and take heed of these look-a-likes that protect them. The untrained eye or the unsuspecting picker can be fooled. And what seemed like an easy meal can become a toxic mess, for the one that does not know the subtle difference between them.

For the casual trail traveler they are colorful delights that can bring to life the forest floor with rich colors and opportunities that some would pass by. But for the ones that take the time their bountiful array of shapes and sizes are only matched by their colorful hues. So, grab a camera and your favorite walking stick for a casual walk among the mushrooms in the parks and forest nearest to you. And always “shoot the world with light.”