Jim Zuckerman's Blog
Door light
Monday, November 30, 2015 8:00AM
Door light

Light coming in through an open door, assuming it is diffused with no direct sunlight, is among the most beautiful types of lighting.  It flatters almost every subject.  You have to increase the ISO to deal with the diminished amount of available light, but it is worth doing that to get such beautiful illumination.  I photographed this young Himba girl in her hut in northern Namibia with a 24-105mm lens using light from the open door.  I raised the ISO to 1600, and that gave me 1/60th of a second at f/5.6.  One could argue that the background is messy and even distracting in this shot, but this is how she lives and I wanted to show that.  I hand held the ...

A Hint of Color
Sunday, November 29, 2015 8:00AM
Door light

I turned this portrait of two young girls in Havana, Cuba into a painting using the software PhotoArtista-Oil, but I didn't like the color tones I was getting.  So, I desaturated the image and left just a hint of color.  Desaturation is a unique and compelling look.  I tweaked the colors using Photoshop's pulldown menu command Image > adjustments > hue/saturation, and by moving the saturation slider to the left until most of the color is gone is a way to give many pictures a fine art look.  As much as I love brilliant color, this technique is at the opposite end of the spectrum, so to speak, and I think it is just as attention-grabbing.  I shot this with the ...

Exposing in Fog
Saturday, November 28, 2015 8:00AM
Door light

Fog is one of my favorite conditions for outdoor photography.  You have to be careful, though, that the bright, white mist doesn't adversely affect the meter reading.  Because fog is so bright, like snow, it can cause underexposure especially if it dominates the center portion of the composition.  Check your exposures on the LCD screen on the back of your camera often when shooting in fog, and if you feel that the pictures are a bit underexposed, correct this using the exposure compensation feature built into all digital cameras.  Adjusting the ISO doesn't help; you must adjust the exposure compensation to lighten the pictures.  This is Bled Castle in Slovenia, one ...

Hotel Choices
Friday, November 27, 2015 5:34PM
Door light

When I travel, I like to choose hotels, bed and breakfasts, and lodges that offer photographic opportunities.  This might be an incredible lobby, a rooftop restaurant or view, or traditional architecture indicative of the local culture.  These kinds of places are all over the world, and as long as I have to sleep somewhere, why not take cool pictures, too?  For my photo tours, I do the same when possible. This beautiful courtyard is in a bed and breakfast in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.  I ran it through a new piece of software I just purchased, Aurora HDR Pro, which gives you the choice of doing realistic or surealistic HDR.

Monitoring the weather
Thursday, November 26, 2015 3:30PM
Door light

There are some places that are spectacular in the snow, but the problem may be that it doesn't snow often in these locations.  Such is the case with Monument Valley, above, Yosemite National Park, Bodie Ghost Town in California, Venice, Italy, and many others.  If you really have your mind set on shooting a unique or famous location in the snow, monitor the weather every couple of days during the winter. Sooner or later, you'll get your chance.  Just this afternoon, I bookmarked a web cam site on St. Joseph Lighthouse in western Michigan because I'm hoping to photograph it this winter during a winter storm when it is covered in ice.  The Internet makes this so easy now, ...

Monday, November 23, 2015 8:00AM
Door light

Twilight is the most beautiful time to photograph cityscapes and architecture, and the great news is that it is not weather-dependent.  It can be raining, dusty, smoggy, cloudy, or clear, and twilight pictures look good no matter what is going on with the weather.  This picture of the Victoria Memorial in Calcutta, India is an example.  There was a tremendous amount of dust in the air, but you would never know it from looking at the picture.  It is important to use a tripod a low ISO (such as 100 or 200), and my recommendation for most twilights shots is daylight (or sunny) white balance. Regarding tripod use, don't raise the center column.  You increase instability ...

Aurora HDR software
Sunday, November 22, 2015 8:00AM
Door light

I've been having a lot of fun with the recently released Aurora HDR software.  It offers the best controls regarding processing HDR composites, but it also gives you the ability to go off the deep end with your pictures.  You can do single image HDR processing or the usual multi-frame HDR composites, and you have the choice of producing real as well as surreal results.  In this case, I combined a wide angle closeup of a 1958 Ford Edsel with striking tower in the city of Trinidad, Cuba.  I then moved several sliders to their extreme positions and changed the original red paint on the car to magenta.  This software is addictive!  You can be subtle, wild and ...

Seeking the best
Saturday, November 21, 2015 8:00AM
Door light

Great subjects make great pictures.  That's why when I am on safari in Africa, I am constantly on the lookout for male lions with the fullest manes, elephants with the largest tusks, and rhinos with the most impressive horns.  This applies to all other subjects as well.  For example, birds with the most beautiful colors make better pictures than LBJ's . . . little brown jobs.  Similarly, the most striking architecture, the most compelling faces, the most sensual dancers, the most bizarre insects, and the most adorable puppies all have one thing in common:  They make great pictures.  This is a theme that you should keep in mind when looking for subjects to ...

Black backgrounds
Friday, November 20, 2015 8:00AM
Door light

Black is a powerful color, and when used as a background it can completely transform a subject.  This ancient bronze statue originally from Cambodia but stolen by an invading Burmese army was displayed on the grounds of a temple complex in Mandalay, Myanmar.  The background wall in the original setting was busy and distracting, and the best way to focus all of the attention on the subject was to make a precise selection of the statue (with the pen tool in Photoshop) and then replace the background with solid black.  Now it really stands out and we can appreciate the artistry and workmanship of this 15th century Khmer figure.  The lighting on this is simply diffused ...

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