Jim Zuckerman's Blog
Having fun with chocolate
Wednesday, November 19, 2014 9:00AM

If you like to do studio photography, have some fun experimenting with various types of chocolate forms.  I ordered this high heeled woman's shoe online for my new greeting card line (for a Valentine's Day card), and I created this little set.  The candies inside the shoe were part of the purchase, but then I added rose petals and made the reflection digitally.  The red spot light in the background, also, was a digital embellishment.  When doing studio work, every detail is important.  For example, the surface of the chocolate had some small imperfections in it, so I used the clone tool and healing brush in Photoshop to smooth them out. Chocolate melts, so you must ...

Blown highlights
Monday, November 17, 2014 9:00AM

I usually stick to the idea that blown highlights -- areas of a picture that have become solid white with no detail or texture at all -- are bad. However, in art and in photography, there are always exceptions.  I feel this portrait of a model in a 16th century palace in Venice (taken during my photo workshop there) is one of those exceptions.  There was nothing of interest outside, so revealing adjacent buildings with a good exposure (such as HDR) would be distracting.  The overexposed windows, which I would usually say are at least visually annoying, make the scene more ethereal in my opinion.  Perhaps it's the fantasy nature of the costume that makes me see this ...

Macro photography
Saturday, November 15, 2014 9:00AM

Wind is the enemy of macro photographers.  Even the most subtle breeze will disturb small subjects and move them ever so slightly.  With the long exposures required in macro work (because complete depth of field is needed, and the f/32 aperture forces the shutter to be slow), this means the pictures you take will not be sharp.  That's why I love shooting in public greenhouses.  There is no wind at all, and in addition the light is usually diffused because the windows are whitewashed.I took this picture of exotic tulips in Keukenhof Gardens in Holland.  In addition to their outdoor floral displays, which are the best in the world, Keukenhof also has an incredible ...

Composition concepts
Thursday, November 13, 2014 9:00AM

The compositional concept of leading lines is a classic one in both art and photography, and it serves an important purpose.  It draws the eye into the center of a picture, and that's usually where the subject or at least the interest is.  In this case, the pier in south Florida is the leading line.  Note I used complete depth of field in this shot.  I feel that's very important for virtually all leading lines.  That means, of course, that a tripod is essential so you can use a small lens aperture like f/22 or f/32 without worring about the speed of the shutter. In muted light circumstances, like the cloudy day I had to work with, the shutter is going to be slow. ...

National Corvette Museum
Tuesday, November 11, 2014 9:00AM

If you like cars, especially Corvettes, a great place to visit and photograph is the National Corvette Museum -- Hall of Fame in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  There are dozens of beautiful cars on display, and in addition there are sets that are indicative of the 50's and 60's such as in the image you can see here.  The photography is great because the elements are placed artistically and the lighting is beautiful, and of course the cars are stunning. I shot this with a 16-35mm wide angle lens, and my settings were 1/15th, f/2.8, and 250 ISO.

Silhouettes
Sunday, November 09, 2014 9:00AM

What determines whether or not a silhouette will be successful is the shape of the various elements that you photographed in front of a bright background.  If the shapes are not inspiring, the photograph will be less than ideal.  If the shapes are amazing, then the result will be amazing. I realize that great shapes are not always in evidence, but that's what you need to look for. This is a composite where I combined the silhouette of the Samburu warrior with a sunset in Amboseli Nationa Park in Kenya. Notice that the edge highlights on the man match the placement of the sun.  In other words, those highlights on the man's head and hip were made by natural light coming ...

Large skies
Friday, November 07, 2014 9:00AM

It can be very effective to compose a picture such that the horizon line is very low and the sky is appears to be large and expansive.  This is particularly true when the clouds or the colors in the sky are  dynamic.  This was a remarkable cloud formation over middle Tennessee, and I placed this classic barn and silo in the lower right corner so most of the emphasis and attention centers on the angry sky.  I shot with with a 24mm focal length (on my 24-105mm lens), and the settings were 250 ISO, f/6.3, and 1/80th of a second.  I hand held the shot. What I especially like about this picture is how the bottom edge of the clouds is parallel with the land-based ...

Darkened skies
Wednesday, November 05, 2014 8:04PM

I first learned about the effectiveness of darkening a sky from studying the work of Ansel Adams.  Many of his black and white images featured a black sky, and that added visual impact to many of his famous landscapes.  While this picture of polar bears (a mother and two almost-adult cubs) on the shore of Hudson Bay in Canada doesn't have a black sky, I did darken it to help focus our attention on the bears.  I do this most of the  time in Adobe Camera Raw (Lightroom has the same tool) with the graduated filter.  It's like pull down a window shade from the top of the frame.  With sliders on the right side of the dialog box, you can contol the density, color, ...

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