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Jim Zuckerman's Blog
Panorama of Fitz Roy
Wednesday, April 17, 2019
Panorama of Fitz Roy

Yesterday morning here in Patagonia my photo tour group had the most amazing lighting on the famous peak, Fitz Roy. Clouds obscured the sun at sunrise, but a half hour later those same clouds created dappled light on the entire range of the southern Andes Mountains. It was truly something to behold. This is an 8-frame handheld panorama. I used a 100-400 set to 214mm, and my settings for each frame were 1/6400, f/5, and 400 ISO. I could have slowed the shutter, but since depth of field was irrelevant in this shot (because all the elements were so far away), the shutter didn't matter except that it was fast enough for a sharp image. And the lens aperture also didn't matter because the scene ...

Notre Dame Cathedral
Monday, April 15, 2019
Panorama of Fitz Roy

n honor of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and in acknowledgement of the terrible fire today, here is a shot of this remarkable 800 year old French icon I took a few years ago. I digitally placed a gibbous moon behind the famous spire, and I photographed this from the back side to show the flying buttresses because I find them to be intriguing. This was the solution in medieval times for supporting the heavy roof and to prevent it from caving in -- which tragically it did today. I used a 70-200mm lens set to 100mm, and my settings were 30 seconds, f/16, and 200 ISO. I used auto white balance in this situation due to the mixed lighting sources. 

Panorama in blue
Sunday, April 14, 2019
Panorama of Fitz Roy

I am in Patagonia now leading a photography tour to this beautiful region of southern Argentina and Chile. This is the Perito Moreno Glacier, one of only three glaciers in the world that are advancing rather than retreating. This is a 7-frame panorama of a portion of the three mile face of this massive ice field. The overcast lighting conditions were ideal because this is when the intense blue color of the compressed ice shows best. I used a 24-105mm lens to take the individual vertical frames that made up the shot, and my settings were 1/1600, f/4.5, and 800 ISO. I could use a large aperture without concern for depth of field because when the elements in a scene are at 'optical infinity' ...

Roseate spoonbill in flight
Friday, April 12, 2019
Panorama of Fitz Roy

I took this shot of a roseate spoonbill in the bay around Tampa, Florida from a small boat. It wasn't easy because the boat was moving, the bird was moving, and I was arching my back so I could shoot straight up. And, the amount of time where the bird was directly above me was probably one second or less. Only in this position could I show the beautiful underside of the backlit wings with such symmetry. I used a 70-200mm lens, and my settings were 1/2000, f/9, and 250 ISO. This was the actual sky behind the spoonbill, but I realized it wasn't sharp due to the use of a telephoto lens with a medium-sized lens aperture. So, I took a separate, sharp picture of the sky and combined it with the ...

Through a window
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Panorama of Fitz Roy

There are several interesting aspects to this photograph of a blue grosbeak that visited the feeder just outside my office window. First, I took this picture through the glass of the window. I did this so the bird would be less likely to be frightened away by seeing my movements in the office. Second, I was sitting at my desk when I shot it. Third, I used a 500mm f/4 Canon telephoto plus a 1.4x teleconverter giving me 700mm of focal length. Fourth, because the bird was only 8 feet away from the camera, I had to use an extension tube placed between the lens and the body to focus that close. This is one of the coolest uses of extension tubes -- to allow long lenses to be used within the ...

Meerkat in the wild
Wednesday, April 10, 2019
Panorama of Fitz Roy

The best place to see meerkats in the wild is Namibia. They stick close to their den, so if you can spot where they live, it's easy to photograph their activities. I took this picture about 3 o'clock in the afternoon, and this is the time when the light starts to become attractive again after the midday harshness of an overhead sun. I used a 300mm f/2.8 lens for this shot, and my settings were 1/1250 (so I could freeze the fast movements of the animals), f/5.6, and 250 ISO. Notice the natural catchlight in the eye from the sun. It is off-center in the eye. When photographers use on-camera flash to simulate this, it never looks as natural because the artificial dot of light is centered in ...

Downey great horned owls
Monday, April 08, 2019
Panorama of Fitz Roy

When I was shooting film back in the 80's, I worked with avian researchers and rehabilitation centers to help me find nesting birds. These downy great horned owl chicks were a wonderful find. I used an on-camera flash because in those days, raising the ISO above 400 was just not feasible if you wanted high-quality transparencies. I shot this with a Mamiya RZ 67 medium format camera (meaning the slides or negatives were 2 1/4 x 2 3/4 inches or 6x7cm), a 350mm lens, and since the flash would sync at any shutter speed, I usually used 1/400th of a second. The flash was a large and powerful Metz CT-1 handle mount flash that I used on a modified bracket to invert the flash head so it was ...

A beautiful silver fox
Sunday, April 07, 2019
Panorama of Fitz Roy

One of the most beautiful foxes I've seen is this silver fox. It is a melanistic variation of the red fox, and like all foxes, it is extremely fast. Its movements are actually frenetic. I took this shot during one of my wildlife workshops, and even though this is a captive animal (it is running around an enclosure of a half acre), it is still extremely difficult to capture well. If and when it looks at the camera, it's a fleeting fraction of a second before it turns its attention to something else. Just keeping it in focus requires constant diligence in working the autofocus controls. I use AI servo, of course, and a fast shutter speed is essential to prevent blur. My settings were 1/1000, ...

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