Jim Zuckerman's Blog
Early morning shooting
Wednesday, July 27, 2016 8:00AM
Early morning shooting

If you like shooting cities without people, get up early and photograph at dawn and sunrise.  This is especially true on Saturday and Sunday.  There may be a few people out that early, but usually the streets, sidewalks, and running paths are devoid of people.  Places that may be packed later in the day are clean and uncluttered for good photography, and at dawn you can capture the cobalt blue sky contrasting with the warm artificial lights just like at twilight in the evening.  I took this shot of the Harbour Bridge in Sydney, Australia just as the sun came up with a 24mm lens. 

Sunset glow in Sydney
Tuesday, July 26, 2016 10:13AM
Early morning shooting

It's usually difficult to capture artificial light on architecture and still have a sunset glow in the sky.  Sometimes, though, the lights come on early enough for this to happen (without having to make a composite of two images).  Such was the case in Sydney, Australia a couple of days ago.  This is the famous opera house and the Harbour Bridge, and you can see with the proper exposure I was able to capture the unique contrast of the lights on the building plus the beautiful sky.  In order to show detail throughout the image, I had to use HDR with two f/stop increments between the three exposures that comprised the composite.  I shot this with the new Canon ...

Fire dancer
Sunday, July 24, 2016 7:34PM
Early morning shooting

The finale of the kecak fire dance in Bali is a performer who gets up close and personal with fire.  He dances in it, he kicks it with his feet, he plays with burning embers in his mouth, and he sits down in it.  It's pretty astonishing.  After the performance, I spoke with this man and he told me he'd been doing this for 24 years, and then he showed me his tongue which was black from the ash of the smoldering palm husks he had put in his mouth during the show.  In order to photograph this and capture the peak moment,  I used the Canon 5D Mark III on continuous shooting at six frames per second.  My settings were 1/200, f/8, 2500 ISO, and I used a 24-105mm ...

Elevated viewpoints
Saturday, July 23, 2016 9:01AM
Early morning shooting

Elevated points of view tell a story.  Whether you are shooting landscapes, cityscapes, or a stage performance, shooting from a commanding position gives an overview of what you want to communicate.  In this case, I captured the Balinese kecak fire dance from a seat high up in the audience with a 100-400mm lens.  The telephoto allowed me to eliminate extraneous elements as well as create an establishing shot that included most of the performers.  At the same time, I was able to give a total sense of what was happening on stage.  Had I been shooting from floor level or from one of the seats in front, I'd have a depth of field issue plus the performers in the ...

Volcanic lakes of Flores Island
Friday, July 22, 2016 6:12AM
Early morning shooting

One of the places I included in this photo tour of Indonesia is Kelimutu on the island of Flores. It consists of three volcanic lakes that change color depending on biological and meteorological factors. You can't capture all three in one photo except from an airplane. Here you see two of them separated by a narrow rock wall. I shot this with a 14mm lens, and my settings were 1/40, f/22, 400 ISO, and aperture priority. Normally I prefer to take landscape shots at sunrise or sunset, but in this case the intense aquamarine color of the water shows up best when the sun is overhead. 

Komodo dragon
Thursday, July 21, 2016 8:00PM
Early morning shooting

One of the highlights of the Indonesian photo tour was photographing Komodo dragons, the largest lizards in the world and a direct link to the age of the dinosaurs. They live primarily on three islands in the Indonesian archipelago, and they are prehistoric and definitely intimidating. The giant reptiles are low to the ground, and to really convey their power I had to shoot from as low an angle as possible. I wanted to capture their flickering tongue as well as their musculature as they moved over the ground, and I did that with a 100-400mm lens to compress perspective (as well as to keep a safe distance). I shot at 10 frames per second to capture the tongue at full extension. This picture ...

Freezing action in Bali
Wednesday, July 20, 2016 4:43PM
Early morning shooting

One of the setups I do in Bali is to have a group of boys jump off a waterfall into a river. They have a great time and we get great pictures. What I love about what these kids do is the clowning -- the expressions, the antics, and the exuberance make the shot. I used a fast shutter speed -- 1/1250 -- to freeze the boys as well as the falling water. Because the vertical plane of the foreground waterfall was about 15 to 20 feet in front of the background, I used f/11 that gave me enough depth of field so both areas of the picture were in focus. My exposure mode was Manual and I used auto ISO. 

Long tailed macaque baby
Monday, July 18, 2016 5:17PM
Early morning shooting

In the Monkey Forest where I photographed the Balinese dancers from the previous post, there were -- obviously -- a lot of monkeys. They were all over the place, actually. Lots of mothers with very young babies. I wanted to fill the frame with one of the little faces, particularly as it was nursing, and I worked hard to get the picture you see here. The mothers were constantly moving, and the babies were constantly squirming so it was a real challenge. Eventually, my persistence paid off and I captured exactly what I wanted. I used a 100-400mm lens for this, and the settings were 1/640, f/8, and 2500 ISO. It was very dark under the thick jungle vegetation, and that's why I need such a high ...

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