Jim Zuckerman's Blog
Night reflection
Wednesday, May 04, 2016 4:20PM
Night reflection

This is a unique shot of Kotor, Montenegro showing the illuminated fortification wall built centuries ago to protect the city from a land invasion.  I took the picture from the other side of the Bay of Kotor with a 24-105mm lens.  In order to show the detail in the mountains and, at the same time, not grossly overexpose the lights, I had to use HDR with a three f/stop increment between frames. This is a three frame composite.  My ISO was 800 and the lens aperture was f/5. The white balance I chose was daylight. 

A grand view
Tuesday, May 03, 2016 10:33AM
Night reflection

I am in Kotor, Montenegro right now, and this afternoon my tour group and I climbed stone steps up the side of a mountain to gain a beautiful view of the city and the bay. The town dates from Roman times, but the old center you can see today is medieval. All of the buildings as well as the extremely narrow streets are made of stone. I shot this picture using HDR with two f/stop increments and three brackets frames comprising the final composite. I used a 24-105mm lens and hand held the camera. 

The clarity slider
Monday, May 02, 2016 2:46AM
Night reflection

The clarity slider in Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom sharpens the midtowns of a photograph.  It also adds a lot of visual impact. The colors seem more intense, contrast is boosted, and the overall effect is quite dynamic.  If you like absolute realism in your photography, then you have to use this slider very judiciously.  Just a slight movement to the right is enough.  But if you are more into photographic art as opposed to photographic realism, then apply clarity to your taste.  This shot of the white horses of the Camargue in France was embellished quite a bit and that's why it seems so visually powerful.  My settings for this shot were 1/1250, f/5.6, 640 ...

Awesome interior
Sunday, May 01, 2016 5:38AM
Night reflection

I am in Podgorica, Montenegro now about to start another photo tour, this time to Slovenia, Croatia, and Montenegro. A photographic highlight of this city is the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ. The interior is stunning as you can see from the photo I've uploaded. Today is Easter for the Russian Orthodox religion, and the cathedral was packed with people. I don't know if a tripod was permissible or not, but it would have been very hard to use one in the middle of the crowd. Therefore, I raised the ISO to 1250 and took a hand held 3-frame HDR composite with a one f/stop increment between the images. The lens was a Canon 14mm ultra wide angle.  I used tungsten white balance, and ...

Defying the laws of optics
Saturday, April 30, 2016 11:38AM
Night reflection

Sometimes you can defy the laws of optics when compositing pictures and the results still work.  In this shot, notice how large the sun is behind this Samburu warrior I photographed in Kenya.  This could only have been taken with a long lens -- a 500mm f/4 Canon telephoto in this case. If the Samburu subject had been standing in this position relative to the distant background, there is no way he would be sharp even at f/32 if the mountains, the tree, and the sun are also sharp.  I could have focus stacked the image, but he couldn't possibly be perfectly still for the many seconds it would take to capture multiple frames.  Therefore, I used Photoshop to add the Samburu ...

Auto ISO
Friday, April 29, 2016 8:17AM
Night reflection

I never used auto ISO until recently when I realized that in order to guarantee a fast shutter speed as well as the best lens aperture for depth of field control for subjects like flying birds and running horses, auto ISO the best strategy.  I use manual exposure mode, choose my shutter speed (in this case 1/1250th of a second) and select the f/stop (in this shot I chose f/10).  If I used shutter priority, I'd have no control over the lens aperture.  By choosing auto ISO, I am basically saying that I'm willing to have the ISO go up in dark circumstances in exchange for the shutter and the f/stop I want.   

Horse action
Thursday, April 28, 2016 4:59PM
Night reflection

My photo tour group and I had another session with sparing stallions today here in southern France. It was overcast so we didn't have to worry about unwanted shadows. To freeze every hair, I used 1/1250, f/6.3 and 400 ISO. It was really amazing to watch these two beautiful horses in action. Everyone in my group was blown away by the display of power, grace, and strength. I hand held the 100-400mm Canon lens and didn't use the image stabilization for fear it would slow down the autofocus. 

Focus points
Wednesday, April 27, 2016 8:36AM
Night reflection

With action shots, choosing the right configuration of focus points is very important.  For birds, for example, I use all the focus points the camera has available so they can lock onto the outstretched wings if the bird becomes off-center in the frame.  With stallions battling for dominance, I use a cluster of 9 or 15 focus points in the center of the frame.  In order to make sure the autofocus mechanism can operate at maximum speed, I turn off the image stabilization feature.  With a fast shutter speed -- in this case 1/1250th of a second -- IS or VR is unnecessary, anyway. 

White horses of the Camargue
Tuesday, April 26, 2016 4:01PM
Night reflection

The first evening of the horse shoot here in France was very exciting. Over and over again we ran the horses in front of the sun to produce some very dynamic silhouettes. Everyone got amazing pictures and I'm sure the horses had a lot of fun, too. I used a shutter speed of 1/1250 to freeze the splashing water and the details in the horses, and f/11 guaranteed enough depth of field. I used a 24-105mm lens handheld. Auto ISO made sure the exposure was correct. We were all standing in water wearing waterproof boots as we shot the galloping horses, and sometimes we got a bit wet as the horses ran past us. It was amazing. 

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