Jim Zuckerman's Blog
Venice palace shoot
Wednesday, February 22, 2017 9:27AM
Venice palace shoot

My photo workshop participants and I had a fantastic photo session on Monday in a 16th century palace. With the help of my friend Robin Yong, I brought in six models to pose in various places in this awesome environment. The mixture of daylight coming in through huge windows and incandescent light added to the beauty and elegance of the images. This photo shows the classic staircase with three matching stunning costumes. I used a vertical composition to include the remarkable painted ceiling. My settings were 1/60, f/4, 1600 ISO, and I used the new Canon 16-35mm III wide angle zoom. My shooting position was dead center on the staircase to underscore the symmetry and balance of the ...

Balancing act
Saturday, February 18, 2017 1:50PM
Venice palace shoot

In a dark environment like this dawn shot in Venice, you have to raise the ISO in order to balance the exposure on the flashed subject with the background and, at the same time, get a sharp picture throughout. If the ISO is too low, the foreground and background can balanced with respect to exposure but the shutter speed will be slow, thus possibly blurring the background and causing a ghosting on the subject. This is true unless you use a tripod, as I did here. Then the shutter can be longer assuming the subject can be perfectly still. The higher the ISO, the shorter the exposure time which obviously prevents the subject from being less than sharp. But the higher the ISO, the more noise is ...

Frames per second
Wednesday, February 15, 2017 3:07PM
Venice palace shoot

One of my favorite pictures of my two dogs is this one when Teddy, the cocker spaniel, was only eight weeks old. He was fearless playing with Princey, the great Pyrenees, even though Teddy's entire body could fit into Princey's mouth. Even with situations like two dogs playing, a fast frame rate is essential so you don't miss nuances of the action. This is also true with kids at play, any kind of sports, horses running, birds in flight, water splashing, and more. One of the first things to consider in buying a new camera is how many frames per second is the camera capable of. Given what's available now, I wouldn't go less than seven fps. However, if you love capturing birds in flight, then ...

Revisiting film images
Sunday, February 12, 2017 1:42PM
Venice palace shoot

Sometimes I revisit pictures I took with film decades ago and make improvements using Photoshop. In retrospect, shooting with film was like taking pictures with one hand tied behind my back. We were so limited in what we could do with respect to managing highlights and shadows, replacing backgrounds, color saturation, eliminating imperfections, and more. I photographed the Sphinx in 1998 with a medium format camera (Mamiya RZ 67) and Fujichrome slide film, and the sky was solid blue. Everybody who visits Egypt gets the same picture. With the ability and knowledge to replace the sky with something more powerful, the results are often so much better than the original. Deserts in this part of ...

Long lenses and DOF
Friday, February 10, 2017 12:16PM
Venice palace shoot

Depth of field is a constant consideration. I photographed these Siberian tigers in China on one of my photo tours with a 500mm f/4 telephoto, and as you can see one of the cats was slightly behind the other one. That meant that in order to get both sharp, I had to use a fairly small aperture because long lenses have such shallow depth of field. I chose f/11, but it wasn't enough. The tiger in the lower part of the composition is just a little bit soft and that's not acceptable. The reason I couldn't see how much of the image was sharp was because it was so cold -- minus 35 degrees Celsius (at minus 40 both Fahrenheit and Celsius are the same) -- and the LCD on my Canon 5D Mark III was ...

The good old days of film
Thursday, February 09, 2017 10:45AM
Venice palace shoot

I took this picture of an albino barred owl many years ago when I was still shooting medium format (6x7cm) film. The owl was privately owned and cared for because it could never survive in the wild. White owls have no camouflage, and their prey would see them coming from long distances. I purposely cropped out the feet because there were jesses on each ankle -- leather straps used in falconry to prevent the bird's escape. This was prior to Photoshop, and at the time there would have been no way to eliminate the leather. The eyes of the bird were actually brown, but I used flash and I positioned the flash just above the lens -- i.e. virtually along the lens axis. This created 'red eye' -- ...

The most beautiful shopping mall
Wednesday, February 08, 2017 9:42AM
Venice palace shoot

The most beautiful shopping mall that I've seen is the Galleries Lafayette in Paris. It is done in the Art Nouveau style and opened in 1912. The ceiling is just stunning -- but then everywhere you look it's stunning. For this shot of the ceiling I used a 14mm lens, and my settings were 1/400, f/2.8, and 400 ISO. I used daylight white balance which is why the dome is properly colored and the interior architecture is yellowish. I hand held the camera because understandably tripods are not allowed. I positioned myself as dead-center as possible on the dome to underscore it's symmetry and graphic design. 

Focus stacking
Tuesday, February 07, 2017 12:58PM
Venice palace shoot

I'm experimenting with focus stacking now. The image you see here is a blue carpenter bee from West Java, Indonesia. It is a composite of 28 images in which I focused on very thin sections of the insect. I photographed it with a bellows and a Canon microscope lens set at f/8. I moved the camera manually along the rail supporting the bellows in approximately 1/3 millimeter increments to focus deeper and deeper on the bee. The lighting came from two $5 desk lamps I bought at Walmart. The colors in this picture are real. The distance between the two eyes is 3/16 inch -- that gives you a sense of scale here. Although you can do focus stacking in Photoshop, it is very cumbersome. Instead, I used ...

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