Jim Zuckerman's Blog
Bryce Canyon -- an amazing place
Tuesday, October 18, 2016 11:38AM
Bryce Canyon -- an amazing place

Bryce Canyon is one of the most stunning landscapes on earth, but it's not really easy to photograph such that a viewer gets a sense of how amazing it is. It's easy to do tight, graphic shots of the unique shapes, and everyone does that. A simple shot with a wide angle lens of a large canyon area just doesn't really convey what you see and feel when standing on the rim. I try to include an interesting foreground to give a sense of depth, and that works well, but the truth is that I've never seen a photograph that gives you the remarkable feeling of standing there looking at a fairyland of orange and pink rock formations. Maybe that in and of itself tells you how special this place is. This ...

Mule deer in the early morning
Monday, October 17, 2016 1:33AM
Bryce Canyon -- an amazing place

While in Bryce Canyon, my photo tour group and I spotted quite a few mule deer in beautiful locations. Even though they are quite comfortable near people, they can still be challenging to photograph well. I captured these two in early morning light with Canon's new 100-400mm lens, and my settings were 1/400, f/6.3, 500 ISO. I hand held the shot. A tripod is too inhibiting in most situations when photographing wildlife. I used Program mode because it is biased to providing almost the fastest shutter speed possible given the light and the ISO. This is a great mode to use when you don't have time to think about the camera controls. Let the automation take over providing you know what to expect ...

The Totem Pole formation
Friday, October 14, 2016 11:40PM
Bryce Canyon -- an amazing place

An iconic shot of Monument Valley is the Totem Pole formation with sand dunes in the foreground at sunrise. My photo tour group and I photographed this a couple of days ago, and it was tough finding an area of the sand where other tourists hadn't disturbed the beautiful designs in the sand. After a few minutes running around the desert I found some good areas and we all got the kind of classic shots one would want from such a beautiful place. My settings for this were 1/25, f/22 (for complete depth of field which all landscape shots require), and 500 ISO. I used a tripod, a 7-frame HDR composite, and a 24-105mm lens. 

Beautiful graphic design in stone
Wednesday, October 12, 2016 7:17PM
Bryce Canyon -- an amazing place

One of the classic shots of Monument Valley is Teardrop Arch. It has an elegant shape, and in the afternoon the sun illuminates the landscape seen through the rock opening. I shot this many years ago with film when HDR wasn’t even a sparkle in anyone’s eye, but now with digital technology it’s possible to capture complete detail in the shadows and highlights of this contrasty situation. This doesn't look contrasty because of the technique I used, but normally the arch would be considerably darker than the background and much of the beautiful detail in the foreground would be lost. This is a 7-frame HDR composite, and I used f/22 for complete depth of field. It was ...

A grand view
Tuesday, October 11, 2016 11:08PM
Bryce Canyon -- an amazing place

Just a few miles from Arches National Park is a spectacular vista of the Colorado River -- Deadhorse Point. My group and I arrived before sunrise so we could find a good vantage when the sun first started lighting up the incredible colors and shapes of the canyon below. I usually look for an interesting foreground to give the picture depth, texture, and interest, and that's why I included the rocks in the immediate foreground. Note how they are disproportionately large compared to the background. This technique is a powerful visual tool, and the formula is to use a wide angle lens, a small aperture for complete depth of field, and the camera has to be placed very close to the foreground -- ...

By moonlight
Monday, October 10, 2016 11:21PM
Bryce Canyon -- an amazing place

Last night here in Arches National Park, Utah, my photo tour group and I took pictures of Double Arch after dark. My original intention was to paint it with light using a powerful flash I'd brought along, and we did do a few shots that way. However, we had a half moon in the sky, and I realized that the light from the moon was enough to provide a very interesting natural light on the arch. So, this picture is there result of a 20 second exposure at f/2.8 and 1600 ISO, and I used daylight white balance. I wanted to limit the exposure time to no more than 20 seconds to prevent the stars from becoming oblong shapes due to the rotation of the earth. 

An awesome place
Saturday, October 08, 2016 11:17PM
Bryce Canyon -- an amazing place

I am in Moab, Utah now leading a photo tour to the American Southwest. We arrived in Arches National Park -- one of America's most spectacular parks -- but I haven't taken anything yet that's worthy of posting (too many thin clouds in the sky, thus the light was mostly flat), so I wanted to share this image I took about 2 years ago. If possible, I now choose to stay in hotels that are great to photograph, such as a dynamic lobby, or that offer a great view. The picture here is the 64th floor of the Labua Hotel in Bangkok; this is what you see when you step out of the elevator. It is the illuminated walkway to a rooftop restaurant with an incredible view of the city. What an amazing place to ...

An impossible situation
Thursday, October 06, 2016 7:46AM
Bryce Canyon -- an amazing place

This is a stunning bronze work of art buried for 2200 years in the world’s largest tomb along with the terracotta soldiers in Xian, China. It is displayed in a museum adjacent to the tomb itself, and typical of the most populous country, there was a huge crowd around the glass-enclosed display. At first, a decent picture of this seemed hopeless. First, it was impossible to get near the glass because the crowd was about six people thick. Second, it was extremely dark. Third, brain-dead people were constantly doing selfies. Forth, reflections in the glass meant that the camera lens had to be up against the glass itself -- i.e. touching it. And fifth, an ISO of 10,000 was required to get ...

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