Jim Zuckerman's Blog
Dynamic range
Friday, September 19, 2014 10:46PM

When faced with a serious dynamic range in a photograph -- i.e. bright highlights as well as darker shadows -- where detail is important, you have two options.  First, you can use HDR and that will give you the type of exposure that you see with your eyes. In other words, the highlights will be well exposed showing excellent detail and so will the shadow areas.  Second, you can use the sliders in Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw to brighten the shadows (the shadows slider) and darken the highlights (the hightlights slider).  If the contrast is too extreme, then the best technique to use is HDR.  In this particular example of a ceiling in one of the rooms in the Bled Castle ...

Cloudy skies at twilight
Thursday, September 18, 2014 12:31PM

No matter what kind of sky you have when shooting at twilight -- cloudy, clear, rainy, etc. -- it will always complement and enhance a picture of a building or a cityscape.  In the picture you see here, I photographed a portion of the Excalibre Hotel in Las Vegas, and the low clouds didn't prevent me from capturing the dynamic contrast between the artificially illuminated architecture with the natural low light of the sky.  So, when you are photographing at twilight, don't think your pictures will be diminished by inclement weather.  The truth is, the weather is irrelevant with respect to the great colors you'll get when shooting at this time of the evening.The settings for ...

The sun's influence on metering
Monday, September 15, 2014 8:07PM

When the sun is placed away from the center of the frame, it has very little influence on metering. This is true because most of the data the meter gathers in determining a proper exposure comes from the center of the frame.  The spot metering mode reads the center 3 to 5% while center weighted mode reads about 9% of the frame.  Both modes only read the center of the picture. Matrix metering also takes most of its data from the center but also takes into consideration (as a small percentage of the reading) from the periphery.In this picture taken in Santorini, Greece, for example, I positioned the ball of the sun near the bottom of the frame.  Therefore, when I took a meter ...

Increasing depth of field
Saturday, September 13, 2014 6:45PM

When you photograph something flat, make the back of the camera as parallel as possible to the plane of the subject.  That will increase depth of field.  When doing closeup work where depth of field is inherently shallow, this technique will help insure that the image is tack sharp from edge to edge.  You can also use a small lens aperture if the camera is somewhat oblique to the subject, but since f/8 is considered the sharpest f/stop, using this parallel technique allows you to have complete DOF even if the aperture is f/8.  If you are not sure if the back of the camera is parallel, look at it from the side and it's easy to know.This is a picture of lichen I captured ...

Contrast issues
Friday, September 12, 2014 11:45PM

When photographing a dark subject, like this young porcupine, against a brighter background, the exposure can be tricky.  The background may eclipse the subject -- in other words, it may be relatively bright and therefore draw attention away from the subject.  Or, the dark areas of the foreground subject may lose detail in deep shadow.  Your exposure may be fine, but it's the gain in contrast that's characteristic of digital sensors that is most likely the culprit.  Be prepared to work on the image in post-processing.  In other words, in Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom, use the shadows slider to lighten the dark portions of the picture and the highlight slider to ...

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