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Jim Zuckerman's Blog
Gannet colony
Monday, June 26, 2017
Gannet colony

Yesterday my photo tour group and I spent the entire day photographing a spectacular bird colony at Cape St. Mary's here in Newfoundland. There are approximately 50,000 birds here, mostly northern gannets. It was astonishing. The air was thick with birds -- and never a mid-air collision! We all got great pictures of them in flight. I used my standard settings for birds in motion: Manual exposure mode, 1/3200 shutter speed to freeze their wings, f/11 for a decent amount of depth of field, and auto ISO so the exposures will be correct. I used two lenses depending on how close the birds were -- a 100-400mm and a 500mm sometimes with a 1.4x or 2x teleconverter. I've included two pictures here, ...

Cape Spear Light
Sunday, June 25, 2017
Gannet colony

This is the old decommissioned lighthouse at Cape Spear just outside of St. John's, Newfoundland. To get this dawn shot, my photo tour group and I had to leave the hotel at 4am because it gets light so early at or near the summer solstice . I took this shot before the sun rose with a Canon 16-35mm III set to 16mm. For maximum depth of field, I focused to 6 feet from the camera and used f/22, 1/4 second, and 500 ISO with the camera about 18 inches from the foreground fence. This lighthouse was retired in the 60's because a new, automated lighthouse was put into use a short distance away. To add the light back into the tower, I used the brush tool with a soft edge and added a dab of white ...

A lovely Newfoundland scene
Saturday, June 24, 2017
Gannet colony

I'm leading a tour in Newfoundland now, and yesterday my group and I photographed a beautiful area known as The Cribbies south of St. John's. Small cottages on a dirt road running parallel to the sea made wonderful landscapes. I shot this from a tripod with the Canon 16-35mm III set to 35mm, and my settings were 1/200, f/22, 500 ISO. I used the smallest aperture on the lens because landscape images, virtually without exception, require complete depth of field. 

A beautiful African bird
Thursday, June 22, 2017
Gannet colony

One of the prettiest African birds I've photographed is this red-cheeked cordon bleu finch. It has been drinking water from a dripping faucet in a small town in Ethiopia, and it allowed a surprisingly close approach after it settled on a branch above the water source. I waited to shoot until the bird turned its head so I could capture the beautiful red mark on its cheek. I stood about 12 feet away and moved very slowly as I raised the camera to my eye because sudden movements startle birds and usually makes them take flight. I used a 300mm f/2.8 Canon telephoto plus a 1.4x teleconverter, giving me 420mm of focal length. My settings were 1/250, f/4, 200 ISO. In this case, I opted for the ...

Geysers against the sun
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Gannet colony

One of the very special places to visit in New Zealand is Rotorua, an active geothermal area full of amazing geysers. I took this picture just after I purchased my first medium format Mamiya camera -- an RB 67 -- in 1981. I used Ektachrome 64 film at the time. This was before Fuji came out with slide film with such great colors. The camera didn’t have a built in meter, so I had to determine the exposure the old fashioned way . . . by knowing how to read light with my brain. I learned how to do that from the first editor of Petersen’s Photographic Magazine, Paul Farber. Using the “Sunny f/16 Rule” as the basis for daylight exposures, I attuned my eyes to be able to ...

Shooting fast
Monday, June 19, 2017
Gannet colony

I think skunks get a bad rap. No one wants to be close to them. But the truth is they are very pretty animals, and as babies they are adorable. That's the good news. The bad news is they are incredibly fast and never seem to stop moving. I photographed these babies at one of my wildlife workshops, and the only way my group and I could get a picture like this was if the animal handler held the skunks close together and released them just before we pressed our shutter buttons. The little guys were so fast that even this strategy only gave us about a half second to shoot before they were completely dispersed. The handler would scoop them up again and repeat the process until we all got good ...

Fire season in California
Sunday, June 18, 2017
Gannet colony

In the tropics, you’ve got the wet and dry season. In temperate regions of the world, there are four seasons -- winter, spring, summer, and fall. In Southern California, there are two seasons -- boring non-weather with a perpetual blue sky, and then fire season. After months and months of no rain and ultra dry conditions, the Santa Ana winds arrive in October and all the arsonists rub their hands with glee and start wildfires. One of the worst fire seasons in recent years was the 2003 Porter Ranch fire, and at the time I lived in Porter Ranch. Many residents evacuated their homes, and in my subdivision we were waiting and watching the direction of the fire and wondering if we had to ...

A lucky lightning strike
Saturday, June 17, 2017
Gannet colony

If you follow my posts on Facebook and Instagram, you know I work a lot in Photoshop, and you would immediately think this picture is a composite. It isn't. I was staying in a bed and breakfast establishment in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico a few years ago and had gone to bed. About 10:30pm I awoke to very loud thunder, and I tried to go back to sleep but kept seeing remarkable flashes of lighting through the curtains of the room. I thought, Ok, I have nothing to lose, I'll try to photograph the light show. I set up the tripod on the balcony with a clear view of the city, set the shutter speed to 30 seconds, the lens aperture to f/16, and the ISO to 200. When nothing happened in the first ...

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