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Jim Zuckerman's Blog
Male lion at sunrise
Sunday, April 22, 2018
Male lion at sunrise

I'm headed to South Africa and Namibia on Tuesday to lead another photo tour there. It's interesting that every safari I lead, the pictures I take are so different than the one before. The sightings are different, animal behavior is always different, and the lighting and the backgrounds always change. This is a male lion I captured last time in sunrise lighting, and what's interesting about this shot is the lighting in the eyes. This picture underscores the two best times of day to photograph wildlife -- sunrise/sunset and overcast. A low angled sun illuminates the eyes beautifully. And diffused light, like you can see in the lion's left eye, prevents too much contrast. Therefore, detail is ...

Glacial blue lake
Friday, April 20, 2018
Male lion at sunrise

The color of the glacial lakes and rivers in New Zealand is astonishing. The intense turquoise color comes from the absorption of mostly the red spectrum of light due to the presence of clay and silt particles in the glacial run-off. This is Lake Tekapo on the South Island, and the brilliant yellow colors of the autumnal poplar trees were everywhere to be seen and they were spectacular. I could never find a lone poplar in the perfect position, however, to make the kind of composition I saw in my mind. So I took two separate pictures -- one of the tree and one of the lake -- and pasted them together in Photoshop. I selected the tree using Topaz Remask 5. For this kind of intricate selection, ...

An iconic tree
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Male lion at sunrise

One of the iconic shots of New Zealand is this lone willow tree in Lake Wanaka on the west coast of the South Island. Because pictures of this tree have gone viral with social media, there can be 100 people or more vying for a good position every day. Fortunately, there are several angles from which you can get a great shot. I wanted the water to appear like glass, so I used various lengthy shutter speeds to see what looked best. Because it was fairly windy, excessively long exposure times weren’t a good idea. The leaves of the willow would blur and that’s not what I wanted. I shot this in the late afternoon with a gray cloud cover as well as at sunrise the next morning with ...

Twilight landscape
Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Male lion at sunrise

I rarely include a road in my landscapes, but the S-curve of this highway leading toward Mt. Cook, New Zealand's tallest mountain, was too attractive to eliminate. At twilight, the streaks of the head lights and tail lights of passing cars added to the interesting quality of this scene. The problem was that there were very few cars passing by, and the 20 second exposure I used wasn't long enough to capture the entire length of the streaks from the furthest point to the closest. It took about 60 to 90 seconds for a car to cover that much distance. Therefore, I took three separate exposures as the cars drove either toward me or away from me. I then cut and pasted the various streaks into a ...

A beautiful duck from ground level
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Male lion at sunrise

I'm not particularly excited about photographing ducks, but some species are, in fact, beautiful. This is a female paradise shelduck that I captured on the shore of Lake Tekapo here in New Zealand. To get the lowest possible angle, I laid down on the ground and shot with the lens about 6 inches above the dirt. I used a 100-400mm lens at the longest focal length and watched the bird through the lens, waiting for it to stand upright and look alert before I took the picture. Most of the time it was hunting for food with its beak in the ground. My settings were 1/200, f/7.1, and 800 ISO. I had to be very careful not to overexpose the image and lose the detail in the white feathers. This is why ...

New Zealand seascape
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Male lion at sunrise

On the Otago Coast of the South Island of New Zealand are these unique and intriguing Moeraki Boulders. What makes them particularly interesting -- and photogenic -- is their spherical shape. My photo tour group and I visited them both at sunset and sunrise. Weather here is extremely changeable, and we had a mixture of gray clouds as well as direct sunlight. In any kind of lighting condition, the boulders make compelling subjects. One of my favorite techniques is to compose a picture such that I place a wide angle lens very close to the subject. This creates a bold and beautiful image with a dominant and disproportionately large foreground. I shot this with a 14mm Sigma wide angle at f/16, ...

A famous New Zealand icon at night
Friday, April 13, 2018
Male lion at sunrise

My photo tour group and I had a clear sky here in New Zealand's South Island tonight, and we were able to capture the Milky Way arcing above the famous Church of the Good Shepherd at the edge of Lake Tekapo. To add a bit of color to the stone church, I used a small LED light that looked faint to my eyes but provided enough light to embellish the image. I captured this image with the Sigma 14mm f/1.8 wide angle lens, and because of its incredible light gathering ability, I was able to lower the ISO as well as shorten the exposure time. This meant that the stars were pin points of light instead of appearing oblong due to the rotation of the earth. My settings were 15 seconds (most ...

Beautiful Milford Sound
Monday, April 09, 2018
Male lion at sunrise

I am in New Zealand now leading a photo tour to the South Island of this beautiful country. One of the highlights is visiting Milford Sound, but it is one of the wettest places on earth. The average annual rainfall is 252 inches per year. The possibility of never even seeing the dramatic mountains due to low clouds is quite good. We stayed here two nights to increase the odds that we’d be able to take some good photographs, and fortunately that paid off. The famous form of Mitre Peak was quite visible this morning as was its perfect reflection. The colors were quite monochromatic, though, due to overcast conditions. Therefore, I embellished the scene with a sunset sky taken ...

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