Jim Zuckerman's Blog
Take two
Tuesday, July 28, 2015 12:22AM

When you are traveling and you see a person doing something that would make a good picture -- but you missed it because you weren't fast enough or perhaps your camera was put away in your photo backpack -- ask the person to do it again for the camera.  Instead of being frustrated that you weren't able to capture a great shot, step out of your comfort zone and simply ask for a second chance. Usually people are very nice and they will accommodate you.  Not always, of course, but most of the time it's been my experience that they will do it a second time -- or even a third if you ask.  In Burma, I asked this young monk to leap across the structures of this monastery because I ...

Low light shooting
Monday, July 27, 2015 7:52AM

In extreme low light when shooting people, you have no choice but to shoot wide open and to use a very high ISO.  No one likes to raise the ISO high due to the increase in digital noise, but the choice is between (1) not taking the picture, (2) getting a blurred picture with a low ISO, or (3) getting a sharp picture with a high ISO.  If you use a tripod, you can get away with a lower ISO if and  only if the subjects are perfectly still.  However, most people can't be perfectly still long enough for a slow shutter to give you a sharp picture.  In this photo of monks in Mandalay, Burma, I raised the ISO to 6400, used 1/50th of a second at f/4, and then lessened the ...

Hazy color foregrounds
Friday, July 24, 2015 11:15AM

The only times out of focus foregrounds look good is when they are a complete haze of color.  If they are too defined, they will be distracting if not visually annoying.  In order to create a haze of color like I did in this shot of tulips in Keukenhof Gardens, Holland is to use a long telephoto and place flowers very close to the lens.  The foreground tulips in this shot -- the ones that create the color haze -- are 5 to 10 inches from the 248mm focal length I was using (I shot this with the new Canon 100-400mm telephoto zoom).  In addition, use a large lens aperture.  For this picture, I shoot wide open at f/5.  I hand held the camera, and the shutter ...

The blues
Thursday, July 23, 2015 9:15PM

Many photographers use post-processing to eliminate bluish tones in their pictures.  In the past, shooters used color correction filters for the same purpose.  I usually keep the blue tones from deep shade or overcast conditions because I find them to be beautiful.  A case in point is this shot of Kicker Rock in the Galapagos Islands (click 'view more').  This was taken before sunrise, thus the heavy blue cast on the seascape.  I think the color is one of the reasons why this picture works so nicely.  The blue color adds mood to this isolated rock literally in the middle of nowhere.  I took this picture in 1995 from a boat with Fujichrome 100 film in a ...

Dark backgrounds
Wednesday, July 22, 2015 6:35PM

By manipulating the tones in a photograph during post-processing, you can emphasize and de-emphasize various parts of the picture.  In this shot of an old truck at the Gold King Mine in Jerome, Arizona, I darkened the background and added subtle highlights to the red paint of the truck.  You can do this in Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom, and you can also do it in Photoshop itself.  I manipulated this picture in ACR.  Notice how dark the bottom part of the picture is as well as the wooden structure in the background.  We still see the rustic environment, but it's the truck that commands our attention simply because of the technique I used to change the tones for ...

Painting with light
Tuesday, July 21, 2015 1:50PM

A favorite technique of mine is painting with light.  This is done with a flashlight or penlight over the course of a long exposure in a very dark environment.  For example, I photographed this old truck at the Gold King Mine in Jerome, Arizona, and in the 8 second exposure at f/12 I 'painted' the vehicle with a flashlight.  The accummulated exposure contrasted beautifully with the dark background.  The exposure, initially, is experimental.  You have to try a few shots to see how long the shutter should be open, what the ISO setting should be (ideally less than 500), and what f/stop is best.  You need a tripod, of course, and the spirit of trial and error. ...

Think fast and know Photoshop
Saturday, July 18, 2015 4:20PM

I photographed these rock hyraxes in Namibia recently.  There were dozens of them running around a cliff face near one of the lodges my photo tour group stayed in.  Their den sites were in the shade, and therefore I didn't have the luxury of using a small lens aperture for depth of field because, first and foremost, I needed a fast shutter speed with the 100-400mm Canon lens on the  7D Mark II -- which gave me 640mm of focal length.  So, when I shot this picture, I focused on the left hyrax and the one on the right wasn't tack sharp because it was a few inches farther away.  I recognized that immediately, and I quickly took a second image and focused this time on ...

Macro flash
Thursday, July 16, 2015 8:21AM

When insects are moving and you want depth of field so their small bodies are sharp throughout, the best way to photograph them is with a flash.  And the best flash to use when the camera is very close to the subject is a ring flash.  For this American dagger moth caterpillar I photographed yesterday here in Tennessee (I found it crawling on the bricks of my house), I used a 50mm lens, the Canon 5D Mark III, and a Canon ring flash.  The background is a print of out of of focus foliage to prevent it from going black. I held the print about 7 inches behind the caterpillar, and I used manual exposure mode on the camera and ETTL on the flash.  I could thus set my lens ...

The moon's exposure
Tuesday, July 14, 2015 12:31AM

You can not include the moon in a twilight or night shot and accurately expose for both a landscape or cityscape -- or in this case an individual tree -- and the moon.  If you expose for the land, the moon will completely blow out and become solid white.  If you expose for the moon correctly and reveal detail and texture in the lunar surface, the land-based portion of the image will be much too dark.  The only way to get a picture like this in which both elements are exposed correctly is to shoot them separately and them composite them together.  For the moon, the correct exposure is 1/250 at f/8 with 200 ISO.  You don't need a tripod for this unless you are using a ...

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