Beyond The Campfire was created to encourage readers to explore the great outdoors and to look at it more closely. Get out and take a hike, go fishing or canoeing, or simply stretch out on a blanket under a summer sky...and take your camera along. We'll talk about combining outdoor activities with photography. We'll look at everything from improving your understanding of the basics to more advanced techniques including things like how to see photographically and capturing the light. We'll explore the night sky, location shoots, using off camera speedlights along with nature and landscape. Grab your camera...strap on your hiking boots...and join me. I think you will enjoy the adventure.

The Pilot

The Pilot
The Pilot

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Dragons and Fly's and Critters...Oh My....

A few hundred yards behind my house is a pond that I frequent from time to time.  It's a great place to get away for a while and because it's so close, it sure is convenient.  Sometimes I'll take my camera and tripod along with my dog and sometimes the neighbors dogs, and make the trek over that way.  I always enjoy getting out and letting the dogs run.

Photographing the pond itself can be a bit tricky because the light can be difficult to deal with, but one thing I do enjoy is photographing the critters that live in and around the pond.  Dragonflies are one of the more common critters, but it is all but impossible to chase after them trying to get a good shot.  What I've learned is to simply sit down in a shade and watch them for a while.  After a while, you'll notice that they tend to fly around in patterns and will often frequent the same twig or blade of grass often stopping for several seconds.  That is when the opportunity presents itself.

A macro lens is all but useless as you will never get close enough to one to be able to take its portrait.  What I do is set my long zoom lens to full extension...set the camera and lens on a tripod, and connect a remote cable release.  Then after I identify what twig or spot the dragonflies tend to rest on, I will pre-focus the camera on that  spot and sit and wait.  Before too long, one will usually alight and I fire away.

You can shoot this way all day long on most any kind of day.  But there is a little more to it that simply pointing the camera and taking a picture.  I always try to find an angle that will isolate the dragonfly against a solid background.  Depending on the time of day, I will also try to find an angle that allows for the light to back light the dragonfly as they can often be quite full of translucent colors.

It's a lot of fun to do and with a bit of patience you can catch some really interesting shots using the technique I just described.  Try it some time.

Keith

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Creating Slide Show Presentations

Many years ago when I was in the U.S. Coast Guard stationed at Winchester Bay,Oregon, my Commanding Officer informed me that I was to represent our unit at one of the monthly civic organizations club meeting.  I whined about having to do so, but to no avail as I was locked into attending.  It seemed this local civic club asked if someone from our unit could talk to them about what we did.  Well, I had taken a lot of slides and had a slide projector so I figured I would just take that and narrate the slide show.  Seemed like a perfectly good idea.

That evening I got all dressed up in my dress blues and headed on down to the club meeting location, stepped inside and was greeted by a very pleasant, but also very blind individual.  No one said anything to me about who the people were I was going to speak to...turned out it was an organization support group for the local blind population.  Needless to say I was very embarrassed by the whole situation as I was carrying under arm the slide projector and slide tray.

The person who greeted me was very understanding and insisted that I go ahead and show the images so I could narrate about what the images portrayed.  Actually it worked out pretty well as the slides provided material for me to speak about...but I had to be a bit more descriptive in my narration.

I've never liked the phrase Slide Show as it generates images of Uncle Bill and Aunt Betty taking hours to flip through their summer vacation pictures.  But, with the technology that is available today, slide shows are no longer the drudgery they once were.  Fantastic presentations can be generated set to music with interesting transitions between images...movement...effects....voice over dubbing...DVD...just about all the techniques that once was only available to professional film makers is now available to anyone with a laptop or home computer.

Over the last several years I've generated a good number of presentations constantly striving to improve and innovate with each new production.  I've even coined a production logo...Beyond the Campfire Productions...that gives the presentations a more professional appearance.

There are a good number of slide show software packages available today, some are better that others, and their costs vary from freeware to several hundred dollars.  One of the better moderately priced software packages is called ProShow Gold.  I know several people who use the product and it does a very nice job and is easy to use.  The package I use is called Magix Xtreme PhotoStory.  I purchased it several years ago for under $20.00 and have used it extensively since then.  It does a very nice job...so nice in fact I have not yet needed to upgrade as the version I use does everything I need it to do.  Most of the software packages use many of the same features varying only in degree and navigation through various screens.

Having said all of this, I have noticed a few things about slide show presentation that I think should be addressed.  Simplicity is best.  Less is more.  Great music makes the show.  Spend time refining the program.

Simplicity is best.  Simply because the slide show software allows for flashy frame to frame transitions, it doesn't mean you should use all of them.  Simple smooth transitions work best most of the time.  I almost exclusively use two transition types...Crossfade and Fade thru Black.  Crossfade is where the two frames blend into each other as one fades out, the other fades in.  Fade thru Black is where the first frame fades out completely to black and then the next frame gradually fades in from black.  Both are very effective, easy to use and provide a near seamless transition between images.

Less is More.  You can perform all kinds of movement within a slide...zoom in and out...travel left to right...among others.  The idea here is to use a little discretion and not over do it.  A very gentle movement left or right or in and out will provide a very effective eye catching feature to your photographs.  Not all photos need to have movement...some do better without any...others are suited very nicely for zooming in or out.

Great music makes the show - Spend time refining the program.  Most of the software packages allow for simple drag and drop features to add images and insert music.  The transition times...length of time each images is allowed on screen can also be controlled. Some people simply drop the images and insert the music...select a time interval and let it go.  That works, but with a little effort you can time your slides to the music transitions...when the music gets louder or softer...or cuts off or slows down or speeds up.  It takes more time to complete the program, but once it is ready the presentation will have the look and feel of a professionally crafted program.

If you haven't tried creating a digital slide show...think about it...I think you will enjoy the creative juices it generates. Click on the Sample links below to watch one.

Slide Show Sample
Slide Show Sample

Keith

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Windows of Nature - A Pathway to Creativity

I find it useful at times to compare photography to playing a piano.  This may sound somewhat strange, but when you think about it, it actually makes sense.  You see there are a lot of people who can play a piano...they've learned how to read the notes and to mechanically reproduce them on the piano...they are technically competent.  The music sounds okay but lacks something.  Then there are those artists who are able to move beyond simply playing the notes, they have such an understanding of music they are able to impart a sense of emotion and feeling into their playing.  You know it when you hear it...it sounds different...with more depth and power.  Photography is the same way.  With the technology available today almost anyone can take a technically competent photograph where all the basic elements are present, but the image lacks in emotion and impact...they are able to play the notes, but lack understanding of how to generate that emotional response in a photograph.  The difference between the two is passion and vision.

Outdoor photography is 10 percent technical and 90 percent being able to see photographically.  It involves looking beyond the obvious and filtering through all the clutter to focus in on what is truly important.  It's understanding how to use composition to define your subject and combining it with color, shape, and form to generate an image with impact.  It is a concept that rarely reaches an end point, but one that is continually refined.  It is a blending of technique with artistic vision.  Together, combined with passion, the windows of nature become a pathway to creativity.

Jack Dykinga, a world class photographer, made a statement some years ago that changed the way I approach photography.  It transformed how I think and how I look for photographic solutions.  What he said was;

 "Camera's and Lenses are simply tools to place our unique vision on film...Concentrate on equipment and you'll take technically good photographs...Concentrate on seeing the light's magic colors and your images will stir the soul"..

Light's magic colors...nature is filled with it...our eyes observe it...our hearts feel it...our souls yearn for it.  Are you simply a note player...or do you have a vision for your photography that will carry you toward creating images that stir the soul?

Keith

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Shooting Close to Home

The other day I pumped almost $30.00 worth of gas into my Jeep...for a half tank.  Every time my fuel bill arrives I choke and cough when I see the total...I could buy a new digital camera...just about every month...for what I'm forking over to the gas companies.  I remember and still long for the good old days when you could fill up you car for around $5.00 and have three uniformed attendants come out to check your oil, clean your windshield, and pump the gas.  When I first went off to college back in the dark ages my weekly spending money amounted to the huge sum of $10.00...from which I had to buy gas to get there and back...and use whatever was left for snacks and goodies or maybe even a movie.  But alas those days are long gone, and the cost of fuel now days sure puts a crimp in my ability to get out and about.  I must now plan carefully and the first thing I consider before making any kind of a photo trip is how much gas will it take and how much is it going to cost?  As a result I spend a lot more time photographing closer to home.

A few years ago I began a long term and continuing project called the Alvaton Collection...which consists of a series of photographs featuring the area around my home in Alvaton, Kentucky.  Most of the images in that collection were taken within a 15 to 20 minute drive from my home.

Shooting closer to home I've discovered has certain advantages. Travel costs are an obvious one but they also include things like getting to know the area more closely.  Doing so allows for quick travel to those special places.  Often I've left at daybreak and shot a series of images, then returned home before the rest of the family even knew I was gone.  One of the best reasons for shooting close to home is being able to return to a location over and over to take advantage of the changing light and seasons.

Over the years I've identified a number of locations that offer great photo potential all through the seasons.  They include places like old barns, fence rows, rustic farm country, abandoned homes, creeks and rivers, country roads, farming activity, small town charms, stately old trees, and beautiful rolling country.  All available within 20 minutes in any direction.  I can also step outside my back door, hike a short distance and be surrounded by cornfields, woods, wildflowers, and great skies.  Even so, I still look for that old country road that I've never driven down before...it's amazing what new discoveries are found by doing such things.  Oddly enough, the country roads around here twist and turn and converge back upon themselves and seem to have no rhyme or reason to where and why they were laid out that way.  I've never been completely lost...but I have been a might turned around a time or two.

I suppose it is human nature to want to get away from home thinking that the photographic opportunity is always better someplace else.  My take on it...it's not necessarily better, just different.  What's funny is on those rare occasions I can still get away and travel some distance and time, seems I end up showing the people I meet many of the photo's I took from home.

Back in 2008, on a lark I sent some proof sheets from the Alvaton Collection, plus a few others, to a number of magazine publishing companies...I promptly forgot about them.  Six months later I received an e-mail invitation to submit around 200 images from south central Kentucky for publishing consideration in the popular magazine 'Country'.  For several months I snapped away and finally compiled enough material to send to them...they were well received by the editor and he asked for a 1500 word essay to describe why this area is such a great place to live.  What materialized from all of this was a 10 page, 20 image spread inside their God's Country featured section published in the April/May issue 2009.

I suppose the moral of the story is this:  Take a closer look at what is nearest to home...explore its intricacies and become intimately familiar with the photographic potential in your home area...who knows, there just might be a treasure trove of opportunity just waiting for you to find.

Keith

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Imagine The Extraordinary

If someone were to ask me what is the one thing they could do to improve their ability to see photographically I would tell them, "Take an Art Class".  In the world of art you begin to look at the world differently and learn about color, shape, form, perspective, subject, and how all those things work together to create an effective composition.  Artists by nature tend to have a creative intuition about them...that would also include photographers.  There are a number of reasons for that I would suppose, but there are two distinct characteristics that artists have that separates them from others:  They look at the world from a unique perspective, and they use their ability to 'Imagine The Extraordinary'.

Imagine the Extraordinary...just think about what that means.  Well...I suppose it would mean different things to different people based on their personal experiences and insights, but, to me, to Imagine the Extraordinary means to observe beyond the obvious...and to recognize the photographic potential of a moment of light.  It involves not only understanding the technical aspects of the photographic process, but understanding the effects light has on a subject.  It is being able to combine the two, to create a photograph that stirs the imagination.  How to accomplish this involves certain complexities and is open to individual interpretation.  It is a concept that rarely has an end point, but one that is continually improved upon and refined.

I try strive to make this concept the cornerstone of my photographic endeavors...and oddly enough, one in which I rarely feel successful.  I've heard it said that an artist begins with a blank canvas and adds the elements required to create his vision.  A photographer on the other hand, begins with a full canvas, and must remove those elements that interfere with the vision he has for that moment of light.  To accomplish this, a strong understanding of composition is necessary along with a good sixth sense of what to look for.

The most effective compositions are the ones with a built in simplicity...not necessarily a lack of complexity...but where all the elements work toward telling and showing the story you want to convey.  It moves well beyond simply capturing what you see...to being able to see what you want to capture.  The two are rarely the same.  The former infers a mechanical process where the technical quality may indeed be good, but lacks for aesthetic quality.  The latter stretches the photographic potential into a realm where the subject becomes less important, and light takes on greater importance to where it defines the image.

Take some time to visualize those Wow photographs, or even better those Whoa photographs you've seen.  What makes them so incredible?  Think about that for a moment.  Why is it some images powerfully stir our imaginations...when the vast majority of photographs appear...well...ordinary?  If you truly begin to explore that idea, you will find that incredible photographs are created with the emphasis placed less on location (or equipment) and more on the photographer's ability to capture his vision.

Capturing vision becomes more instinctive the more you practice.  Never settle for the ordinary...always seek out the extraordinary.  Look for ways to capture the ordinary in extraordinary ways.  Think of the camera like it is a sculptor's tool...even the finest and sharpest chisel has limited usefulness until it is placed into the hands of a skilled artist.  It is the skill of the sculptor that counts, not the tools he uses.  The artist must understand the tool's ability to carry out his desires.

Most of all...always look for the extraordinary.

Keith

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Photographing the Spring Bloom



One area I've struggled with over the years is to effectively photograph the annual Spring Bloom.  Seems I can manage other seasons more effectively...maybe it's because the Spring bloom only lasts a couple weeks and I just don't have time to get out enough.  Even so...there are a few things I've learned on how to enhance the potential to capture this wonderful transitional time of year.

One of the mistakes I believe many aspiring photographers make is when they attempt to capture the entire blooming tree without taking into account the environment in which it resides.  Spring blooms like anything else in photography lends itself well to the concept of Simplicity.  Our visual senses can often be overwhelmed by the magnificence of the beauty of let's say a large dogwood in bloom.  Our tendency is to want to capture the entire tree...when in reality what we need to do is focus in on the details of why that tree caught our attention.  Most of the time I rarely try to capture an entire blooming tree...what happens when we do that is we get caught with the old...can't see the forest for the trees...cliche.  The tree of itself may indeed be wonderful...but it's difficult to see why. One exception to that rule is when there is an opportunity to capture a series of trees where line, angle, form, and color all come into play.

One thing I try to keep in mind when I'm out photographing the Spring bloom is to always have something from the environment included in the image...or in other words to include something that gives the photograph a sense of place.  Because of that I will often neglect an otherwise gorgeous blooming tree simply because there is not anything near it or around it that I can include as an effective part of the background...or to place the tree in a location.  Almost anything will work, but there are a few things that work really well.

Let me give you an example.  One of the best backgrounds you can have with blooming dogwoods is an old fence row...split rail is best...but any kind of wooden or rustic looking fence row will add a tremendous amount of depth and personality to the image.  Old barns are also wonderful backdrops to include in your photographs.  Here in Kentucky we have an abundance of both...so I am lucky in that regard in that I do not have to look far and wide to find something that I like.

Having said that...it is good to keep in mind that the background is just that...something to add flavor to the overall composition...not to overwhelm it...that is unless that old barn really has a lot of character and then it becomes the main subject with the blooms becoming that added flash of color.  When I photograph the spring blooms I want the emphasis to be on the blooms...with the background adding a subtle sense of place and belonging to the blooms.

Another thing to keep in mind is the time of day.  The best time to capture the Spring Bloom is early on an overcast day.  Early, because the air is fresh and the blooms often will have some dew or moisture on them giving a more appealing appearance...overcast because that soft diffused light is best for capturing blooms and foliage of all types.  On bright sunny days you tend to have very harsh light with bright contrasts making the exposure difficult to get right.  When you encounter bright light...there are ways to use it to your advantage...I call it...Turn around and look the other way.

Blooms by nature are translucent and with a little back lighting and isolating the blooms against a dark background...you can get some wonderful images.  The key here is to isolate...use the light to your advantage...

Depending on the shot I am trying to capture, my choice of aperture is really critical.  In some instances I want to have as much of the scene in focus at the same time as I can...on other occasions I want to isolate a portion...so depth of field becomes a consideration.  For the first situation, I use a small aperture...something like f/16.  This will effectively keep the entire scene within the same focal plane.  On the second issue, I use a small to medium aperture...something like f/5.6 or lower if the exposure and lighting will allow for.  Also...the focal length of my lens is important as well...by zooming out to say something beyond 300 mm, I can more easily isolate and narrow the depth of field at the same time.

The Spring Bloom can be an exciting time for photographers...just being out and about during the transition from the cold winter to the warmer and sometimes stormy weather will often stimulate your creative senses.
Enjoy the moment...it does not last very long.

Keith

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Softer more Mysterious Side

 Before
After
Most of the time we photographers are obsessive about sharpness.  We like those images to be razor sharp...clear and bright...distinct and amazing.  Well...sometimes sharp isn't necessarily the best approach.  There is a post processing technique you can use that is very simple to do that will often turn an ordinary looking image into something extraordinary and can add an element of mystery to your photograph...It's called:  High Pass Softening.  Here are the steps I use in Photoshop Elements 6 to accomplish this.  The process may differ slightly depending on which version of Photoshop you may be using, but they should be pretty close to the same as this.

First of all open your photo in Elements.  Then create a Duplicate Background layer by clicking on the Layers drop down at the top and selecting Duplicate.

Next click on the Filter drop down and move your cursor down to Other then over and select High Pass.  When the High Pass window opens move the Slider to the right until the number reaches somewhere between 40 and 60.  Just how much you use depends on how much softening you want...experiment and see what works best for that particular image.  Then click OK.

Now on the right side of the page click the drop down list in the Layers Pallet...it will probably have Normal in the window...and then click on Overlay.

After clicking Overlay...press and hold the CNTL key and press I...for Inverse.  Your image should turn an indistinct blur.

From the Tools window on the left side of the screen select the Eraser tool and from the Brush drop down select a brush type that shows a soft edge.  Set the Opacity to about 60%...but you can use more or less if you want to...and set the brush tool size to something between 80 and 100 pixels...again you can use more or less.

Using the Eraser brush you can now paint over any portion of the image you want to sharpen or to return a portion of the softened image to a normal state...

Wah Lah!

Another Before


Another After

You now have an image that has been softened...but now has a mysterious look to it.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Okinawa Story - One from 'The Greatest Generation'


April 1st 1945 U.S. Army, Navy, and Marine forces invaded the Japanese Island of Okinawa.  The ensuing struggle became the bloodiest and most difficult battle of the Pacific war.  My dad was there.  Earlier in the week my brother gave me a call and asked if I would write something about my dad's war time experiences.  A good friend of his, who was the editor of the local newspaper, agreed to have it printed as a surprise and in honor of the anniversary of that invasion.  What follows is that front page essay.

The well known journalist Tom Brokaw once coined the phrase ‘The Greatest Generation’ referring to the young men and women of this country who were thrown into a world conflict in the 1940’s known as The Second World War.  For those who have been counted as such, few would ever acknowledge claim to that title.  For them, well…they simply were doing what they had to do.

One of the great privileges of my life is to have known someone from that generation. A few months prior to the start of the year 2000, I sat down with my dad, Kenneth L. Bridgman of Okmulgee, Oklahoma, with a microphone and tape recorder and for several hours recorded his memories and experiences of his military service during World War II.  Even though I grew up hearing stories about those years and times, my dad rarely ever spoke of the events that challenged his young adult life.  As he began to revisit those memories, they seemed as fresh and clear as if from more recent times and yet his words resonated with a nostalgic clarity born from having personally experienced the horrors of war and the satisfaction of having done ones duty during those traumatic and dangerous years.

On April 1, the sixty sixth anniversary of the invasion of Okinawa...one of the smaller of the Japanese main islands…is upon us.  Reflecting on what my dad experienced generates mixed emotions as many of America’s young men and women today are once again in harms way engaged in overseas fighting.  There is a kindred spirit of sorts that connects their generation with those from the Second World War.  It is a spirit worth sharing.

He was barely 19 years old when he shipped off to the South Pacific as a corporal in the U.S. Army attached to the 321st Engineer Combat Battalion as part of the 96th Infantry Division (The Deadeye Division).  He scored well at the gunnery range receiving at the time the second highest score ever recorded in the battalion, second only to the sergeant in charge of the outfit.  As a result he was given special training in defensive preparations and was assigned the responsibility of being in charge of all the unit’s machine gun operations.  That responsibility included not only maintaining the 30 caliber light machine guns but the heavier water cooled 50 caliber guns as well, plus making sure they were transported, operational, manned, and supplied.  He often found himself manning those emplacements as well.

His unit was actively involved in General Douglas MacArthur’s ‘Return to the Philippines’ as they landed on the shores of Leyte in 1944 to support the combat units reclaiming territory the Japanese had taken earlier in the war.  The 321st Engineers were more than a support unit. They were actively engaged in combat rolls and many times went in ahead of the infantry to prepare the way.  Sometimes they took out seawalls that blocked exits off a landing beach, other times repaired or built bridges, often under fire.  Their charge one day might be to support an offensive, or assemble Bailey Bridges across a ravine or river, or to remove or mark a mine field, and to even take out concrete bunkers.  Whatever their call, my dad’s unit was often upfront in the thick of deadly fire.

As tough as the Leyte campaign was, Okinawa proved to be the largest and most difficult battle of the Pacific theater.  The 96th Infantry along with the U.S. Army 7th and U.S. Marines 1st and 6th divisions invaded Okinawa on April 1, 1945.  Being one of the home islands of Japan, it was defended with fanatical tenacity by one of Japans toughest and best lead military units…the Japanese 32nd Army.  The Japanese all through the Pacific proved themselves as tough fighters, and Okinawa proved just how tough, disciplined, and well trained they were.  Their underground fortifications positioned along a series of ridges and escarpments traversing a narrow pinch on the southern end of the island were specifically designed to inflict heavy casualties. What was encountered along this Shuri Line was the largest concentration of Japanese firepower that confronted the American forces anywhere in the Pacific theater.

The 96th was a major contributor to the breaching of that line and name places such as Kakazu, Tombstone, Nisharu, and Hacksaw Ridges…Conical Hill and Charlie Hill…are forever engrained into the history and exploits of the battalion.  The 321st Combat Engineers were there through it all.

Although during our recording session, my dad spoke of many experiences, there was one experience he spoke about in a more subdued manner.  His unit had stopped moving forward and setup for the evening.  As was his duty, he setup several machine gun emplacements around the perimeter as a defensive measure and assigned himself on point…the area most likely to encounter any kind of an attack during the night.  As it turned out, his commanding officer indicated that my dad needed to head back to the landing beach area and help unload supplies which was an all night, physically challenging thing in its own right.  Although he argued the point about needing to stay, the officer told him to head out and get someone else to take his post on the point.  That evening the Japanese attacked their position and the point location took heavy fire and the man he appointed to take his place was severely wounded and later died.  Many years after the fact, as he recalled the incident, I could still see in his eyes just how moved he was by what had happened.

One of the most revealing things I learned during our recording session was just how often the good Lord protected my dad.  Indeed, my grandmother often told me when I was younger how she and my grandfather would every morning and every evening kneel next to their bed and pray for the safety of their son…their only child.  Those prayers were most certainly answered more than once.

There was one incident where it appeared his unit was going to stop moving for an extended time, so he gathered a bunch of timbers and old tin roofing material and built a make shift bunker of sorts…one that would protect him from just about anything except a direct hit.  Shortly before sundown, the sergeant came by and told all of them they were moving out pronto.  During the night an intense artillery duel ensued with shells flying from both sides over their position.  By morning, things had calmed down, and he needed to return to his make shift bunker to get some supplies he had left behind as they had moved out so quickly the day before.  When he found his bunker…it had taken a direct hit by a Japanese artillery round destroying everything in and around it.  Had his unit not moved out, he would have been in that bunker…and I would not be writing this article now.

His unit was manned by a bunch of tough characters many of them coming from construction and heavy equipment operations before the war.  During the blur of combat difficult moments and snap decisions are often made, sometimes with tragic results…sometimes with uncanny insight.  In all of the carnage…during all of the stress of combat…my dad’s humanity saved the life of a Japanese soldier.  His unit had captured a scared and confused young Japanese private not much older than he was.  Things had been rather chaotic and some of the guys in his unit wanted to shoot the guy and be done with it for they didn’t have time to deal with him.  My dad stepped in and argued against doing so, saying that the guy was no longer a threat to anyone…couldn’t they see that he was scared to death.  They just needed to hang onto him for a while until they could find an officer to take him back for interrogation.  Before too long an officer did drive by in a Jeep and he flagged him down…and turned over the Japanese soldier to him...saving the life of not just a foe…but another human being.

Notice the camera?
 It's an old Argus C3
With the anniversary of the Okinawa campaign on the horizon and in light of the recent earthquake and tsunami disaster in Japan, it somehow seems fitting to reflect on just how much the world has changed since those tumultuous times.  Those who were once a bitter enemy are now a trusted friend and our hearts and prayers go out to the Japanese people and nation.

The legacy of the greatest generation and my dad is less about the political environment of the world in the 1940’s, and more about the character of a nation as experienced through the lives of those who lived it.  They were ordinary men, thrown into an extraordinary situation…and changed the world for the better.  We are all part of that legacy and are forever indebted to that generation…Although my dad would never say it…I will say it for him…I am proud that he can be counted as one from ‘The Greatest Generation’.

Keith Bridgman