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Jim Zuckerman's Blog
A dying tradition -- fortunately
Wednesday, November 28, 2018
An HDR composite in the dark

In Burma today my group and I traveled to a very remote village seldom visited by tourists. The Chin ethnic group are known for women who traditionally have had their faces tattooed as a protection against enemy tribes kidnapping them. This 76-year old woman was tattooed when she was only 10. She tried to run away to escape the painful ritual, but her parents tied her to a tree to finish the 2-day procedure. The cuts in her face were done with a thorn, and she was swollen for two weeks. Notice even her eye lids have the tattoo markings. Fortunately, this is no longer practiced, and there are few women left who bear evidence of this brutal tradition. The beautiful lighting is simply diffused ...

Creating twilight
Sunday, November 25, 2018
An HDR composite in the dark

I am in Yangon, Burma right now to begin another photography tour here. I took this shot from the balcony of my hotel this evening, and the original sky was dull gray/brown. Had I been shooting upward from the ground at the illuminated pagoda, the sky would have been cobalt blue. Instead, I captured this image from the 8th floor of the hotel. Thus, I was shooting at the horizon and the air quality caused the picture to suffer. I selected the sky with the pen tool in Photoshop so it was precise, and then I filled the selected area with a gradient of color to match a typical twilight sky with clear air. Finally, I couldn't help myself but to add a crescent moon. The original moon was ...

An unusual portrait
Friday, November 23, 2018
An HDR composite in the dark

Those of you who know my Photoshop work assume, I'm sure, that this is a digital composite. It is not. One one of my photo tours to Namibia, my group stayed at a lodge with a beautiful African motif in the lobby area. The owner had raised a cheetah in her home from a cub (it was a rescue), and the cat was quite used to people. It even purred when we pet it. I asked if she could coax the cheetah to pose for my group on the sofa, and she said sure. We used daylight from large windows, and my settings were 1/125, f/7.1, 640 ISO, and I used a 24-105mm lens. 

Carnival in Venice
Monday, November 19, 2018
An HDR composite in the dark

When I teach a Photoshop workshop, in demonstrating various techniques I always put together composites that hadn't occurred to me previously. This is one of my favorite models during carnival in Venice, Jeanne-Renee Georjon, and I combined her with the stunning interior of San Marco's Cathedral in Venice. What's interesting about this image is that I photographed Jeanne-Renee with a 24-105mm lens, and I captured the cathedral with a 14mm ultra wide angle. I selected the model with the quick selection tool in Photoshop, and then contracted the selection by one pixel with Select > modify > contract. I followed this by feathering the selection with Select > modify > feather, again ...

Cocoi heron in flight
Saturday, November 17, 2018
An HDR composite in the dark

This is a cocoi heron I photographed in the Pantanal in Brazil. They are quite easy to photograph in flight because, compared to so many other bird species, they are slow fliers. In addition, they are large birds and therefore it's easy for the autofocus mechanism to lock onto the heron without losing focus. This image represents another composite in my 'impossible depth of field' series'. I selected the bird with the quick selection tool in Photoshop and then tweaked the selection to make it perfect with the lasso tool, working at 200% magnification. I was quite close to the heron when it took flight, so I used a 100-400mm Canon telephoto set to 200mm. My settings for the bird were 1/3200, ...

Green-barred woodpecker
Thursday, November 15, 2018
An HDR composite in the dark

For every picture you take, depth of field is an important consideration. It becomes especially important when (1) using a long telephoto lens, (2) when the camera position is close to the subject and/or foreground, and (3) when light levels are low. When I photographed this green-barred woodpecker in the Pantanal region of Brazil, I had to deal with all three. You can tell by my camera settings (1/3200, f/10, and 6400 ISO) that I chose a moderate amount of depth of field to hold focus on both the bird and most of the tree trunk, and I used a fast shutter because the bird was constantly in motion. In post-processing, I applied Neat Image software to mitigate the noise, and as you can see ...

Green on green
Wednesday, November 14, 2018
An HDR composite in the dark

One of my favorite Lepidoptera shots is this luna moth I photographed on a fern in Michigan. There are suppliers of certain species of butterflies and moths who sell eggs, caterpillars, and cocoons (depending on the month), and you can raise them at home. When the insects emerge from the chrysalids (for butterflies) or cocoons (for moths) and they've pumped their body fluids into their wings, they are in perfect condition. For the first two hours, they can't fly. You can place them on any background you want and take the time to make the shots perfect. For extensive depth of field, make sure the back of the camera (i.e. the plane of the digital sensor) is parallel with the plane of the ...

My albino collection
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
An HDR composite in the dark

I have a small collection of albino animals, and this is one of them -- an albino long-tailed macaque I photographed in a zoo in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I had to do a lot of Photoshop work to eliminate the wire mesh in front of and behind the monkey. To get rid of the wire mesh in the foreground, I usually use a telephoto lens placed up against the wire along with a large lens aperture purposely creating shallow depth of field to throw the foreground so out of focus it disappears. In this case, though, the macaque was sitting too close to the front of the enclosure. That meant I couldn't use a long lens if I wanted to include the entire animal. So, Photoshop allowed me to make this scene ...

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