Jim Zuckerman's Blog
Light painting
Friday, August 29, 2014 9:25PM

It's risky doing light painting with people because they can't sit perfectly still during a long exposure.  That's why you need to minimize the length of the exposure and position your models in such a way that movement will be kept to a bare minimum.  I photographed these two Balinese dancers seated with this in mind.  In addition, I asked them to hold their breath and not blink.  The exposure here was 1.3 seconds, and of course the camera was on a tripod.  I used a powerful flashlight to illuminate the girls, and the daylight white balance I used insured that they would be imbued with golden color.  I used a 24-104mm lens with an aperture of f/8.

Blue fire
Tuesday, August 26, 2014 8:58AM

I photographed a remarkabel phenomenon in the Ijen Crater in East Java, Indonesia.  What you are seeing here is sulfur dioxide igniting from the hot lava in this very active volcanic basin.  It was extremely difficult to record this in any kind of meaningful way because this isn't exactly what it looked like.  Due to the blowing smoke and the long exposure in a moonless light, the blurred movement distorted the reality of what I was seeing.  After braving a treacherous and steep rocky trail that descended 600 feet in the dark at 2am to get to the bottom of the crater, I used a combination of a long exposure and a powerful flashlight to obtain a reasonable exposure on the ...

Human adornment
Friday, August 22, 2014 7:25PM

I am endlessly fascinated how people adorn themselves.  The face becomes a blank canvas, and the sky is the limit in various cultures around the world.  One of my favorite events to photograph is the Jember Fashion Carnival in Jember, East Java, Indonesia.  Children as young as five years old participate, and the face decoration, the costumes, and the creativity that goes into putting this altogether is second to none.  Most of the day was overcast yesterday, and that was ideal because shooting portraits outdoors is always best in diffused light.  That means that the subjects aren't squinting from a bright sun and contrast is held to a minimum.  In addition, ...

Dawn landscape
Thursday, August 21, 2014 6:42PM

One of the great landscape views on the planet is the overlook of the Tengger Caldera and Mt. Bromo in Indonesia.  I took this picture yesterday morning at dawn with a 10 second exposure at f/4 and 500 ISO.  Colors before sunrise can be beautiful with a little enhancement in Photoshop.  My photo tour group and I were lucky to get the low lying clouds several thousand feet below.  That made a big difference. I used several focal lengths to photograph this scene, but this one was shot with the 24mm end of my 24-105mm zoom.  I like the way the width of the angle encompassed the 'V' shape of the mountains in the foreground.

Ring flash
Sunday, August 17, 2014 9:18PM

A ring flash can be used in the field very effectively.  I photographed this bee on a cone flower with a 50mm macro lens and one extension tube to increase the magnification (this picture is not cropped). The background will go black, though, due to the light falloff from the flash as well the small lens aperture necessary for extensive depth of field.  Therefore, you have to go to Plan B -- which is to use a print of out of focus foliage mounted to foam core or taped to any piece of cardboard.  When the print is placed close to the subject, say 12 to 18 inches away, the light from the flash will provide enough illumination to make the green background seem entirely natural.

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