Jim Zuckerman's Blog
Dawn landscape
Thursday, August 21, 2014 6:42PM

One of the great landscape views on the planet is the overlook of the Tengger Caldera and Mt. Bromo in Indonesia.  I took this picture yesterday morning at dawn with a 10 second exposure at f/4 and 500 ISO.  Colors before sunrise can be beautiful with a little enhancement in Photoshop.  My photo tour group and I were lucky to get the low lying clouds several thousand feet below.  That made a big difference. I used several focal lengths to photograph this scene, but this one was shot with the 24mm end of my 24-105mm zoom.  I like the way the width of the angle encompassed the 'V' shape of the mountains in the foreground.

Ring flash
Sunday, August 17, 2014 9:18PM

A ring flash can be used in the field very effectively.  I photographed this bee on a cone flower with a 50mm macro lens and one extension tube to increase the magnification (this picture is not cropped). The background will go black, though, due to the light falloff from the flash as well the small lens aperture necessary for extensive depth of field.  Therefore, you have to go to Plan B -- which is to use a print of out of focus foliage mounted to foam core or taped to any piece of cardboard.  When the print is placed close to the subject, say 12 to 18 inches away, the light from the flash will provide enough illumination to make the green background seem entirely natural.

Composition tip
Saturday, August 16, 2014 8:35AM

Many times I see students of mine compose a picture in which they inadvertently cut off the tip of something, such as a wing, an ear, a hand, a foot, a tail, etc.  This is not a good idea.  If you want to crop a subject in-camera or in post-processing, do so decidely.  Otherwise include the entire shape of the subject.  This buckeye butterfly, for example, would not look good at all had I clipped one of its wings.  That would have been injurious to the picture because our eye would go to that area immedately and return again and again, and that's not what you want.  You want the eye to stay focused on the main subject, not on a peripheral element in the shot.

Strong graphic design
Tuesday, August 12, 2014 4:20PM

I created this image with the Photoshop plugin Topaz Adjust.  When I abstract images, the thing I look for is strong lines and design.  In almost all instances, that translates into artistic images no matter if the final painterly pictures are completely abstracted or if they are manipulated with subtlety.  In this shot, the cherry tree had bold, branching limbs and wonderful vegetation.  In art as well as in straight photography, visually attractive graphic design is the number one component or ingredient that makes pictures work.  Some will refer to this as good composition, but the underlying factor that makes compositions work is good graphic design.

Exposing for an albino peacock
Saturday, August 09, 2014 5:57PM

If you simply point your camera at this albino peacock and make no accommodation for the fact that a large white subject is in the middle of the viewfinder, the pictures will be dark.  So, how do you expose correctly?  The easiest way to do that is to use the exposure compensation feature built into every digital camera.  In this case, I used + 2/3 f/stops.  That means that the camera's meter will automatically lighten the picture.  I checked the LCD monitor on the back of the camera to make sure I was getting a perfect exposure.  A hand held meter is not needed.My settings for this picture were 1/800, f/7.1, and 400 ISO, and I used a 70-200mm lens hand held. I ...

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