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Jim Zuckerman's Blog
Bold contrast
Thursday, November 23, 2017
Bold contrast

As much as I love capturing white on white, as I showed in yesterday's post, there is a lot to be said for contrast. This Japanese crane flew right over me, and the intensity of the blue sky made a striking backdrop for the black and white bird. Bird photography requires a fast frame rate so you can capture the nuances in wing position as a bird flies. I learned this a few years ago before I got really serious about photographing birds in flight. During my first Pantanal trip, one of my clients had the Canon 1Dx with the capability of shooting at 12 frames per second. I was still shooting with the 5D Mark III and 6 frames per second, and when I saw what he was getting I instantly ...

White on white
Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Bold contrast

One of my favorite color themes in nature is white on white. These are Japanese cranes I photographed on the island of Hokkaido in Japan during their courtship ritual. Fortunately the sky was overcast; otherwise the contrast would have been too much for the digital sensor to handle. I used a 500mm f/4 Canon telephoto, and my settings were 1/2000, f/11, and 800 ISO. The challenge, of course, was exposure. The snow was so bright that the meter, designed to understand 'middle gray', would underexposure the scene in an attempt to make everything middle gray. With film, we had to make an educated guess as to how much we should overexpose the shot which would then counter the inherent ...

Scottish landscape
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Bold contrast

This is one of the classic landscape shots from Scotland -- the Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye. I made a mistake when I took this, however. I used a 24-105mm lens set to the focal length of 35mm, and instead of using my tripod like I should have (after all, I carried it up the mountain) I hand held the image with an aperture of f/6.3. Because the foreground was fairly close to me, the first 15 feet or so isn't sharp. I hate out of focus foregrounds because they are unattractive, visually annoying, and terribly distracting. So, to address the issue and save the picture, I took a large rock from another landscape image from the same area -- where I did use a tripod and small aperture -- ...

Storm clouds for drama
Monday, November 20, 2017
Bold contrast

In a sense, a photography tour never ends because you can always go back and revisit images from the trip to relive the experiences and to continue to work on the pictures. I often give a second or third look at the RAW files to see if there are compositions that I want to enhance in post-processing. I am planning another photo tour to Scotland for May 2019, so I'm looking to add new places to the original itinerary. Here is one of my favorite photographic destinations in Scotland -- the ruins of a massive cathedral in St. Andrews. After the religious Reformation in the 16th century when Scotland became Protestant, Catholic cathedrals like the one you see here were abandoned. Over the ...

Action photography
Sunday, November 19, 2017
Bold contrast

When photographing action -- horses, birds in flight, kids playing sports -- the first decision, always, is shutter speed. If you want sharp pictures, then you need a super fast shutter to freeze the action. The faster the subjects move, the faster your shutter needs to be. For birds in flight (except for hummingbirds), this needs to be 1/3200th of a second to freeze the tips of the wings. For horses running through water, 1/1250 to 1/1600 works well. For kids playing soccer or football, 1/1000th of a second and faster should give you the sharp pictures you want. If you want 'artistically' blurred images, then you have to do a few test shots to see what speed gives you the kinds of images ...

Night safari
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Bold contrast

When a lion looks at you right in the eyeballs, you know what he must be thinking: "I'll be that guy tastes really good in soup!" This was a night safari in South Africa at a private reserve, and my flash caught an intense stare that to this day I still find chilling. The weird thing, though, is that when people are in a vehicle -- even an open vehicle with no sides or roof -- lions don't bother you. Land Rovers and safari vans are bigger than they are and that intimidates the big cats. But should a person take one step away from the shape of the vehicle, that's an entirely different matter. I shot this laying down on one of the benches, and after I'd made the exposure I heard rustling ...

Blue hour in the rain
Friday, November 17, 2017
Bold contrast

What's interesting about the colors of twilight -- the blue hour -- is that it doesn't matter if the sky is clear, cloudy, or if it's raining. You will still get the beautiful cobalt blue color in the sky if you shoot at the correct time -- just before dark. You can see in this picture of the Eiffel Tower that the ground is wet. There was a light drizzle and the cloud cover was complete, and yet I captured the classic colors that make this time of evening so photogenic. I shot this with a 16mm focal length (using a 16-35mm lens), and the settings were .4 seconds, f/2.8, 100 ISO. I captured complete depth of field at f/2.8 because, with a 16mm extreme wide angle lens, depth of field extends ...

Conceptual imagery
Thursday, November 16, 2017
Bold contrast

When stock photography was a good way for a photographer to earn a living, I used to create conceptual images since they sold very well. I used a lot of composites involving mannequin heads because they represented mankind. Without hair, they are neither race nor gender specific. The image you see here was done with the concept 'artificial intelligence' in mind. I put this together about 20 years ago, and it consists of two photos: the mannequin head and the circuit board (that I borrowed from a computer repair shop). I made the red perspective grid by creating individual lines with the rectangular marquee tool and then filling each narrowed selection with red (Edit > fill). The abstract ...

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