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Jim Zuckerman's Blog
Cobb, Ireland
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Cobb, Ireland

One of my favorite shots from Europe is this image of Cobh, Ireland. To get this view, I had to climb a wall to get above houses and walls that blocked this beautiful view. Typical of so many places in the world, ugly power lines ran down this street in front of all those colorful houses. To me, beauty is uplifting and ugliness is depressing, but apparently not a lot of people agree with me because 'ugly' seems to be winning. Fortunately, I was able to eliminate all the power lines and poles through painstaking work in Photoshop to make this scene what is should be. It was worth it, of course, because I love the picture. I used a combination of the clone tool, the healing brush, and the ...

Challenging festival photography
Monday, August 14, 2017
Cobb, Ireland

I have photographed many festivals, and most of them are challenging to say the least. This elephant festival in Jaipur, India was at the top of the list for extremely difficult photographic situations. Other photographers and videographers were bad enough, but the biggest problem were the endless numbers of people wanting to do selfies in front of the elephants. I have no words for how frustrating, and angering, that is. These people weren't interested in photographing the elephants themselves; they only wanted a picture of themselves to show they were actually at the festival. To get this picture, I had to maneuver through the hordes of selfie-morons, be endlessly patient, and use ...

Critically endangered black rhinos
Sunday, August 13, 2017
Cobb, Ireland

Black rhinos are critically endangered, so when you can photograph one it's very special. When I was in Namibia in 2001, I met a wildlife researcher who told me that two black rhinos came to drink at a man-made waterhole in front of our lodge every other night between 8pm and midnight. He had built a blind near the waterhole, so on the night when the rhinos were expected, I waited with a Mamiya RZ 67 medium format film camera, a 500mm lens (equivalent to a 300mm for a digital format full frame camera), and a Metz 60 CT-4 flash. I estimated that the waterhole was about 70 feet away, and that was critical because I had to base my f/stop on the formula GN = distance x f/stop, where GN is the ...

Ring flash outdoors
Saturday, August 12, 2017
Cobb, Ireland

Even though I took this shot outside in my backyard, I used a ring flash. Ring flash units, when used very close to the subject, simulate the diffused light of an overcast sky. That's the ideal type of light for macro subjects, but the reason I used the flash was because it provided enough light for a small aperture. The wings of this io moth were flat and f/32 wasn't imperative, but the closer you get to a small subject, the more depth of field you lose. There are various planes in this shot -- the wings, the head, the bark, the foliage -- and I wanted them all to be sharp. If I tried to use a tripod, the moth could shift position or fly away in the time it took me to set it up, so the ...

Two white rhinos
Friday, August 11, 2017
Cobb, Ireland

I took this photograph of two white rhinos fighting over a dusty mud hole in Namibia as the sun was touching the horizon in the west. You can see a streak of faint reddish light in the foreground. That meant that the light level was quite low, and as I look back on my settings -- 1/200, f/4, 500 ISO -- I realize I made a mistake. The shutter speed was too slow, especially given the movement of the animals and the fact that I was using a 500mm f/4 lens hand held. My camera at the time was a Canon 5D Mark II, and admittedly it couldn't handle noise as well as cameras today. Still, the ISO should should have been higher so the shutter could have been faster. Too much noise can be dealt ...

A quick grab shot
Wednesday, August 09, 2017
Cobb, Ireland

I had wanted to get a classic shot of a giraffe drinking for many years, and when I saw this one approaching a waterhole at the lodge I was using in Kenya in 2008, I ran to position myself directly in front of the animal to get this head-on symmetrical shot. Giraffes are most vulnerable when they drink because should a lion attack from behind, the few second lost it would take for it to stand up and start running, or to prepare for the attack by getting into kicking position, could be fatal. That's why a giraffe will often stand at a waterhole for 30 to 60 minutes watching, sniffing the air, and listening before it bends down, spreads its legs, and drinks. As often is the case, quick grab ...

Digital reflections
Tuesday, August 08, 2017
Cobb, Ireland

I haven't written about Flood, my favorite Photoshop plugin, for a while, so I thought I'd remind those of you who don't have it yet that it's such a great creative tool. Flood (and now Flood 2) allows you to add realistic reflections in any of the pictures you've already taken. It's only $33 (you can also upgrade from the original to Flood 2 for $15), and I consider this the creative bargain of the century for photographers. Look what I was able to do with this desert nude silhouette at sunset. The original capture had no water, of course, so I added the reflection using this remarkable plugin made by flamingpear.com. The first thing you do in the easy-to-understand dialog box is establish ...

Making it happen
Monday, August 07, 2017
Cobb, Ireland

When I started shooting images for a stock photo agency in 1987, I quickly realized I couldn't rely on serendipity to take excellent as well as marketable pictures. I had to make good pictures happen. That's what I did in a village in Rajasthan, India. I saw the blue wall and steps and thought to myself how amazing it would be to have a woman in a beautiful sari walk up or down those steps. Instead of waiting forever for that to happen or leaving disappointed that I wasn't able to get the shot that I'd pre-visualized, I offered to tip a woman who was willing to be my model. I chose this particular lady because of the color she was wearing. Blue and yellow are complementary colors and they ...

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