Jim Zuckerman's Blog
Travel photography strategy
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 4:54AM

One of the strategies I use to get photos of famous places, like the opera house in Paris, is to get there when they first open.  The opera house opens to the public at 10am, so I was in line at the entrance at 9:15 and, as I expected and hoped, I was the only one there.  By 9:45am, there were about 30 people behind me.  As soon as the door opened, I went in, paid for my ticket, and I raced to the most photogenic places as quickly as I could. As a result, I had the stunning interior to myself for about five minutes.  I had to shoot very fast, but I was able to get to the best places and take classic images without crowds of people.  For another 5 or 10 minutes, ...

Motion blur
Sunday, April 20, 2014 4:37AM

As much as I love sharp pictures of motion, for a variation on a theme I will use slow shutter speeds for an artistic interpretation of movement.  The question is what shutter speed to use.  I typically choose between 1/6th and 1/30th of a second, and that depends on the lens I'm using, how fast the subjects are moving, and how much of the frame is filled with the subjects.  The truth is, though, this is a trial and error situation.  Sure, based on years of experience, I can make a reasonably accurate guestimate of the shutter that will give me ideal results, but a photographer can never really know the best speed until the initial shots are examined on the LCD monitor. ...

Super fast shutter
Friday, April 18, 2014 11:29AM

In order to freeze the action in this photograph of two stallions battling for dominance, I used 400 ISO in the bright, early morning sunlight.  This gave me a shutter speed of 1/2500th of a second, and my aperture was f/6.3.  Depth of field wasn’t a factor here; it was the shutter that was of primary concern so I could capture each hair as sharp as possible. It would be easy to assume that 1/250th or even 1/500th of a second would be fast enough here, but that wasn't the case.  When the two horses came together, things happened extremely fast, and only the super fast shutter could freeze all of the elements with tack sharp clarity.I used Program mode in this situation, ...

Black on black
Thursday, April 17, 2014 7:26AM

For my photo tour in the south of France to shoot the beautiful white horses of the Camargue, I set up a special session with exquisite horses in an indoor arena. My favorite was a black Lusitano horse from Spain.  One would think that a black horse in a very dark indoor environment wouldn’t photograph well, but the opposite was true.  With dramatic stage lighting that was already in place, the lines of the horse looked phenomenal.To expose for this black on black situation, I simply took a first test shot and studied the image on the LCD monitor on the back of my camera.  I then tweaked the exposure using the exposure compensation feature until I liked what I ...

Tradeoffs
Monday, April 14, 2014 9:06AM

When photographing action, depth of field is not a luxury you can afford.  It’s all about shutter speed.  A fast shutter freezes the movement, and in this case the 1/640th of a second shutter froze not only the movement of the horses but the water drops as well.  That’s exactly what I wanted.  Sure, a small lens aperture would have been nice, but I wasn’t willing to raise the ISO to get it.  In this context, if the background became slightly soft that was a price I was willing to pay to keep the quality of the image high (i.e. by using a relatively low ISO of 640).  As you can see, the day was overcast and the light level was low.  ...

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