The New Nikon D5 Just Rocks!

in State College on Friday, April 29, 2016.

Reina Furuya catches a line-drive against Michigan in State College on Friday, April 29, 2016.

I cannot say nearly enough about the new flagship Nikon D5 camera body. Words just cannot do it justice. The photos I am producing are clearly focused and capture the action I need in my sports photography. In fact, the new focusing system is clearly a standout. I am accustomed to using the 3D tracking mode when focusing on athletes. When I turned this feature on in my new D5 I was amazed at the difference from my D300 and D7100. It just rocks! I am getting more consistently focused images even while the subjects are moving at breakneck speeds. If the focusing upgrade was the only improvement this new camera offered, it alone would be worth it.

BB160331 0812

Like with any new camera body, it takes a while to learn all the nuances and differences. However, moving from my older D300 and D7100 was a breeze in getting me shooting initially with the D5. It is comfortable in my hands and has all the common external buttons, dials, and features I need when shooting sports. It was a very smooth and easy transition so far for me. I am still reading through the manual to learn more about the new camera body but I can tell you this was the best purchase I made in a long, long time.

L160402 2299

The high ISO settings sound almost unbelievable. I still need to experiment more with these settings, but I am not seeing much, if any, noise in the settings I’ve been using so far. This was one of the reasons I decided to purchase this camera. I shoot sports most of the time and some wildlife, so lighting is difficult much of the time in my shooting conditions. Indoor field houses, high school gyms, and high school football stadiums are common places for me to shoot. Unfortunately, the lighting is usually not so good and I always seem to be pushing the envelope with the higher ISO settings in my D300 and D7100. The D7100 was definitely a big improvement that I noticed right away, but it still was not perfect, especially when shooting with my Nikon 200-400mm f/4 lens. Now, I cannot wait for the next indoor sports season to see how this D5 performs. Outdoor sports already were well under way when my D5 arrived, so it will be some time before I get to make these tests in-depth.

BB160331 0293

Time Behind the Camera

I like to say and I do believe, “There’s no better place to be than behind the viewfinder!”

If you enjoy photography, I think you will agree at least to on some level. Just to be able to spend time with my camera trying to capture the beauty of God’s wonderful and amazing creation is a pure joy for me. It is also one that I try real hard never to take for granted. I enjoy each and every moment I spend with my camera and the wildlife around me.

This week, try to find more time to spend behind your camera. Besides the thrill of being in the best place in all the world, you will also learn how to better use your camera and get better at the craft of photography. There is no doubt that spending more and more time behind the camera is helpful.

I will be behind my camera tomorrow. Will you?

Photo Tip Tuesday – Camera Repairs


Last week my Nikon D300 camera body went down. The shutter release would flip the mirror out of the way but it wouldn’t always drop back into its proper position. To say it was frustrating is the understatement of the day! I tried shooing one baseball game but it was a disaster and I spent more time trying to figure out what was going on than shooting the game. Total bummer!

I took the camera body to my local camera shop and they said it would have to be sent into Nikon, which would take 4-6 weeks minimum. Since this is pretty much an every-day camera, I did not like this option. Fortunately, my brother who is in the photography business, too, recommended a camera repair shop. He said he had good experiences with them and their turnaround on repairs was quick. This seemed to be just what I was looking for!

I quick email to Perfect Image and they sent back a repair quote almost immediately. Nice. I took the camera to Perfect Image last Friday, which for me was a two-hour drive. Perfect Image is in Lancaster and they do ship, but I wanted my camera back quickly and didn’t want to wait for shipping. Wes, at Perfect Image, told me knew exactly what the problem was with my camera body and that he would get the repair done within the week. Nice again!

Well, in the early afternoon on Monday my cell phone rang. I saw the 717 area code and thought, “No way.” But sure enough, it was Wes and he said my repair was completed. I paused and then said, “Wait! Is today April 1st?” thinking this might be an April Fool’s joke! Wes assured me that no, it was April 2nd and that the repair was indeed completed. Unbelievable!

I drove down today to pick up my camera body and then visited my mom who lives nearby.

If you ever need any camera or lens repairs, do yourself a favor and consider Perfect Image. They are fast and very friendly. I highly recommend them and will be taking all my repair work to them in the future. And tell them you heard about them from my blog. I won’t get any kickbacks, but it is nice to know where their referrals are coming from. Check out their website and get free repair estimates at:

Think about it: 4-6 weeks minimum verses a little over 24 business hours. There’s no comparison in my opinion!  And that’s today’s photo tip.

No Photos but Wow, What an Evening in the Field!

My son, James, and I recently purchased a portable blind at Cabelas. The main reason for the purchase is so I can photograph the birds here in my backyard. I inadvertently left the blind up in the mountains on a previous trip, so we decided to put it to use this past Wednesday evening. We practiced setting it up and packing it up while we ate supper around the campfire. It is not a fancy blind but it seats two comfortably. So off we went to give it a try. We assembled the blind and weren’t in it very long when James said, “There’s some elk.” Sure enough, there were four cows over on a distant field and then we spotted a bigger herd of elk just to the right of these first four. There were 40 elk in all! We also had deer come to within 50 yards of our blind. It was a very productive field test and we had a great father/son evening on the mountain!

We did see some elk this week. The highlight was Thursday morning when we saw an 8×8 bull–the biggest bull we’ve seen so far this year. Unlike our previous trip, we did manage to see more bulls, for which we were thankful. Their velvet is coming off and the bulls look uncomfortable with strings of velvet hanging all over their antlers and down in their eyes!

I will post some photos of our trip this coming week, but I think I jinxed myself. My most recent blog entry was about preparation. Well, I guess I jinxed myself because I got to camp with James on Monday around midnight only to realize I forgot my D300! I’ll bet Moose Peterson never did this! Thankfully, I did have my backup body–my old D70 and James let me borrow one of his lenses. I will post some of my photos in upcoming blog posts, but James definitely got much better photos than I did this trip! I guess I was just so excited for this trip that I overlooked grabbing and packing my camera bag into my truck. I even had it on my packing list! I can think of several words to describe what an idiot I am, but none of them are printable!

Now I really can’t wait to get back to the mountains of Elk County!!!

Just Got Back from the Farm

That’s right, I just returned from a week on the farm. Literally. Heifer International has several farms in the United States where they teach participants about their goal to end world hunger and poverty. We ate farm-grown vegetables all week, learned about composting and gardening, did daily chores with the animals, and, yes, I took a ton of photographs!

One photography learning I took away from this week is a lesson I should have learned a long time ago: Always keep your camera within arm’s reach because you never when or where the next great photo op will happen! This was so true throughout the week and I was more than happy to tote around my Nikon D300 with the 24-70 f/2.8 lens. This combination allowed me to capture the daily routine and those unexpected surprise moments that popped up now and then. This lens is becoming one of my favorites!

Spending the last five days on a farm brought back memories of long ago for me. I used to work on a dairy farm and some of those remembrances came flooding back to me. The smell of hay and manure carried my mind back many years to tasks and chores of long ago. The sights and smells of the animals and milking a goat were all I needed for a great time! Oh, it didn’t hurt that I had my camera in hand to record these events in a pictorial format. We all know the old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” and this week’s experience on the farm convinced me that some photographs even have the ability to bring back memories from our precious and long-lost past. How many times have you rediscovered an old photograph of a family member or some vacation, which carried your mind right back to a special memory?

I created a photo gallery of the photos I captured on the farm. You can view the gallery here. Take a look and see if your mind goes back to a time when you were on a farm. I think this is just one more added benefit of our passion for photography–the ability to bring back memories of the past with our cameras. There’s nothing quite like it!

Here are four photos from my farm gallery to get you started.


Is It the Camera or the Photographer?

We all hear comments about our photography. Positive feedback is always welcome and has a way of encouraging us to keep at our task in a very positive way. But sometimes the comments we receive are unintentionally backhanded. For example, have you have been told: “Wow, that’s a great photograph. You must have a really good camera!”

You see, the intention is probably well-meaning, but how do you feel when you hear this? Doesn’t it sound like anyone could have taken that photo if they just had an equally expensive or quality camera? So what makes a great photograph–the camera of the photographer?

Some may be quick to answer, “Both.” But let’s look a little deeper into this answer. Surely a better camera is going to produce results, but don’t you think a pro can take even an inexpensive camera and make it look good?

You see, I am of the mind that it is more the photographer who makes good photographs than the camera. I know some photographers who are excellent in their craft and make unbelievable photographs from film even today. It doesn’t really matter which camera they use, they put their knowledge of the craft into use and the results speak for themselves.

Yes, a good camera can make a good photographer better, but I don’t think a great camera can make a non-photographer good. What do you think? Is it the camera or the photographer that makes a difference?

Time to Be in the Mountians!

I can feel it. The weather is slowly changing as the evenings and mornings are getting cooler. The leaves on the trees are starting to show some hints that their colors might soon be changing, too. Yep, I can feel it–it’s time to be in the mountains again!

I absolutely love this time of year. It is so beautiful and even the wildlife is becoming more active. The breeding season of the elk feature bugle sounds and sights that are breathtaking and photogenic.

This weekend I will be in the mountains with my son, James, to see and photograph the elk. I can’t wait. It’s only going to be a one day trip but at least we will see firsthand how the elk rut is going. We hope to hear some ear-piercing bugles, see some sparing, and capture some of this action with our cameras. It’s going to be sweet!

There is no place like the mountains and there is no place I’d rather be than in the mountains behind my viewfinder!

Here’s a photo of my colleague and professional photographer, Dick McCreight behind his viewfinder.

The Circle is Getting Bigger

My photography experiences  over the years have led me to some amazing places and introduced me to some amazing people! Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy my quiet time behind the viewfinder out on a mountain as I am photographing the elk of Pennsylvania, but the places and people I’ve come to know is nothing short of exhilarating!

It is almost hard for me to believe how wide my circle of photo friends and places is now. The circle is widening and getting bigger all the time. It reminds me of when I was a kid and would throw a stone in the pond. The stone would create a circle once it hit the water and the circle would create a ripple of larger and larger circles until they eventually hit the bank where I was standing. Amazing!

My photography circle is amazingly similar. I’ve met fellow photographers who have incredible vision and are a blast to be with on a photo shoot. I’ve met incredible people who have touching stories to share. I’ve met people I would never have met were it not for my interest (or maybe passion) in photography.

We will be holding our Pennsylvania Elk Photography Experience later this month when the rut will be in full swing. This small workshop has allowed me to meet photographers and share some photo tips with them. Dick McCreight, a good friend and professional photographer helps me lead these trips and we always have incredible memories to take back home with us. We also learn a lot from the photographers we are teaching, too. This year marks the third year of these unique photographic experience and we are excited to continue meeting new photographers, teach them about the elk and how to respect them and the land they inhabit, and hopefully instill a deep respect for these beautiful creatures that God has created for us to enjoy.

I also have the opportunity to photograph awesome sporting events, too. I love baseball and am naturally drawn to this sport. The same goes for football. But the events I photograph always seem to lead me somewhere new and different all the time. To say it is fun sounds almost patronizing and is definitely an understatement. I am having the time of my life with my camera!

I do not know how wide my photography circle might get, but I know it is still getting wider all the time. I’ve photographed wildlife, seniors, athletes, coaches, landscapes, historic sites, small towns, big cities, and so much more. I am learning to enjoy both the places and the people I meet on this exciting journey. And I am counting on this being the case for the rest of my time here on earth until my circle will finally reach another shore.

In-Between Photo Shoots

What do you do on a day when you don’t have a photo shoot? Do you dream of the next photography shoot? Do you just relax and forget about photography? What do you do in=between photo shoots?

I cannot sit still. Today I had to pack all my photo gear for a photo shoot I am scheduled to do tomorrow, but there is no assignment for me today. Still, I am thinking a lot about photography today. I just can’t help it. Maybe it’s in my blood; maybe I have ants in my pants, as my grandma used to say; or maybe photography is a passion for me!

After checking my favorite websites and blogs this evening, I will sit down and read through some of the photo books I packed along on this trip. Thankfully, I am staying at my in-law’s and they have a computer with an internet connection. This means I can get this blog entry out tonight quite easily even though I am on the road. My in-laws are great! They let me stay with them and even give me awesomely delicious food to eat. I love my in-laws!

So I might be in-between photo shoots, but I am still thinking about photography. I went for a bike ride earlier this evening and was wishing I had my camera with me to capture what looked like an upcoming perfect sunset. Oh well, at least I could imagine myself with the camera, adjusting to the proper exposure, and composing the sunset in my viewfinder.

Yep, I might be in-between photo shoots, but I am sure I will be ready for the next one. Preparation and mental rehearsals are key!

I Just Love Sports Photography, Especially Baseball!

Baseball, baseball, and more baseball! I love it! I am spending a lot of time photographing baseball these days and I could not be happier! The thrill of trying to capture the action as we make photographs at sporting events is not only an awesome challenge but it’s a whole lot of fun, too!

In the past month I photographed a high school District Championship, a State Playoff game, and a weekend tournament where my son’s team took first place!

All of this provides me with plenty of opportunities to learn how to be a better sports photographer. Most times I feel like I am getting better, but sometimes the growth is minimal or even nonexistent. There is a certain degree of luck that goes into this style of photography. I feel fortunate to have coached baseball for 11 years and I am a student of the game, so this definitely helps.  But all that I know cannot prevent an umpire from stepping between the action and my camera! I also find myself envying those photographers who have the 400, 500, and even 600mm lenses. I think to myself, “Boy if I could have one of those lenses, my number of keepers would go up drastically! The grass always appears greener on the other side of the fence, doesn’t it? Some day I do hope to purchase one of those powerful zoom lenses, but in the meantime I will just keep honing my photography skills and try to get better and better at this craft. Besides, I can think of nothing I would rather do in my spare time!

The other week I was very pleased to secure a media pass for the District 11 Championship that was played at the Iron Pigs stadium in Allentown. This pass allowed me the privilege of photographing from the photo wells beside the dugouts, which was a dream of mine for a long time. The icing on the cake was when the Pleasant Valley Bears defeated Parkland 5-0 in that game. I photographed Pleasant Valley throughout the year and got to know the team quite well. I witnessed their strong offense at the plate, their aggressive base running skills, and their stellar defense. There were several games where the opponent wasn’t even close. It was obvious that PV had a good team and they made a great run at the end to win the Mountain Valley Conference and then the District 11 Championship. And they did it in an impressive manner!

It was hard not to cheer too loud from behind the camera. I understand that my photographic privileges allow me access to the very edge of the playing field. I also spend time very close to the opponent’s dugout. I do not want to discredit this special photographic privilege , so I try to keep my mouth shut. This was not an easy year to do that! These boys can play baseball and watching their coaches manage the game and the boys was a pure pleasure! They had an incredible year and I was honored to be there behind my camera to tell the story photographically.

I did learn a few things and re-learned a few more that I had forgotten. Here, in no particular order, are a few of them.

First, the background to a photograph can be completely distracting. At Pleasant Valley’s field, the view from the first base side and the home dugout looks directly toward the school bus terminal. Yep, yellow buses are everywhere! Talk about a distracting background! It is terrible. I actually limit my time on this side of the field for this reason, but I do like the first base side for some shots at first base, attempted steals, and, of course, the home dugout to capture the player’s facial expressions and banter that sometimes occurs.

Second, I really strive to show the action by capturing the baseball in the frame of my photo. This is not an easy task. My Nikon D300 does a great job to help me in this endeavor, and the MB-D10 Vertical Grip increases my shots per second to 8. The distance from the pitcher’s mound to the batter is 60 feet 6 inches. An 85 mph fastball gets there in a hurry! So even with my camera capturing 8 frames per second, I still need some good timing and a little luck, but when the baseball is clearly in the frame, I love the action it portrays!

Third, I love trying to show the base running action. This is a detail lost by some teams and even coaches. I remember a coaching seminar I attended many years ago that was led by the head baseball coach at the University of Kentucky. His entire talk was about the importance of getting on base, getting over to the next base, and then getting home. It was an impressive session and I learned a lot of fascinating details I never ever thought of before. They say that baseball is a game of inches. Well this is true for sure, but baseball is also about paying attention to details. And the team that does this consistently is definitely going to be more successful. There is no doubt about it. Immediately after that coaching seminar, I went up to that coach and thanked him for such an impressive presentation. We got to talking and I mentioned how I was trying to coach our team on the little things that make a big difference. He then offered to send me his PowerPoint (TM) presentation by email. A few days later the coach kept his word and I was able to learn even more to help me coach our team on the finer points of base running. Well, several years later and this is still paying off for me! Whenever Pleasant Valley had a base runner, I tried to anticipate where the action would next take place. I did not always get it right, but by having some basic understanding of the details of base running and trying to always be ready helped me get some nice photos of a runner stealing a base or a catcher throwing a runner out at the bag. Man, I just love those shots!

Fourth, try to get the player’s or coach’s face in the photo. This not always easy especially if you are photographing a right-handed batter from the third base side of the field. But faces in the frame make for a much more lively photograph. I imagine this is even much more difficult when filming football games since players wear helmets, but even at baseball games it can be a challenge. Also, facial expressions can depict the demeanor of a player and even the general sense of how the game is going. Oh, yeah, and don’t forget to photograph the losing pitcher with his head in his hands. That tells a story, too. I do have a guiding principle I always try to adhere to: never embarrass a player or a coach. Baseball is probably the most difficult game to play in all of sport. A very good player is going to fail 7 times out 10 at the plate. He will be hitting .300 at that rate. So, I try to never publish a photograph that shows a terrible swing or a batter who missed the ball as it goes into the catcher’s glove. I also try not to depict an error in the field when a player bumbles a grounder. Now there are times when a coach can learn a lot from a player’s failure, especially with photographs that break down a hitter’s swing or a pitcher’s delivery to the plate. And my son is a catcher so I do try to focus on all catchers during a game and this will include some strikes that get by a swinging batter’s bat. But I never purposely try to demean or embarrass a player with my photographs.

Fifth, I recognize that I have a whole lot to learn. Even with being around the game of baseball much of my life, I still learn all the time. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve heard the PV coaches say something I never heard of or even thought of before. I even learn from opposing coaches as well. Baseball is a fascinating game and I recognize that I have much more to learn before I can truly capture the game perfectly. And I just love the game and the challenge of trying to tell the story of the game with my camera!