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Jim Zuckerman's Blog
Dawn blues
Wednesday, February 06, 2019
Overcoming the laws of optics

Using daylight white balance at dawn and dusk produces bluish pictures. Rather than adjust the white balance, which takes time away from focusing on a composition, I allow the pictures to go blue because, often, I like the results. If I don't, I use the 'temperature slider' in Adobe Camera Raw (or Lightroom) to tweak the color in the image to warm it up. I photographed this hoarfrost-covered tree at dawn in the Grand Tetons National Park and decided the blue color cast made this especially beautiful. Photography doesn't have to capture what you see. It certainly can, but it's not a requirement. That's why I like to manipulate images so much. I create pictures that I see in my mind and not ...

Winter in Yellowstone
Monday, February 04, 2019
Overcoming the laws of optics

The picture I wanted most out of the Grand Teton/Yellowstone photo tour was a bison covered in snow or frost. Our first day in Yellowstone was beautiful and there was a lot of snow on the ground, but the trees had no snow on them at all. That night it snowed, and the next morning was magical. The entire park was white. Bison use their massive heads to make a clearing on the ground from which they can eat grass, so it’s easy to find animals with white faces. But I also wanted their bodies white. We came upon two large bison along the Madison River, and this is exactly what I wanted. My only regret was that the animals were about 20 feet below my shooting position, and I don’t ...

Hoarfrost at sunrise
Friday, February 01, 2019
Overcoming the laws of optics

Overnight in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, low-lying fog rolled in, and due to the cold temperatures, the moisture in the air formed hoarfrost on the trees. It was dazzling. When the sun rose and backlit the white trees, every branch and twig glowed with brilliant light. HDR was necessary to hold detail in the shadows as well as the highlights, so this is a 5-frame bracketed sequence, handheld, with a 16-35mm wide angle lens. I used f/22 for maximum depth of field, and in post-processing I had to manipulate the sliders in Adobe Camera Raw to make the tonality across the image to my liking. My ISO was 500. 

White on white
Friday, February 01, 2019
Overcoming the laws of optics

In the winter, the sun stays relatively low in the sky, so even in mid-morning the angled lighting creates beautiful texture. I took this shot in a frozen section of the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park. I tried to take the blue tone out but decided I preferred the picture this way. Blue implies cold, and it was definitely cold. I shot this from the road with a 100-400mm lens set to 400mm, and my settings were 1/3200, f/10, 640 ISO. It was very bright, and I could have lowered the ISO because I didn't need a shutter speed that fast even though I was handholding the camera. With modern digital cameras, however, 640 ISO is really the same in terms of noise as using 100 or 200 ...

Portrait composite
Tuesday, January 29, 2019
Overcoming the laws of optics

This is a composite of two images: the portrait of the young girl of the Hamar tribe taken with a telephoto, and the village shot exposed with a 24mm wide angle. In this way, I was able to have complete depth of field that would have been impossible -- given the frame-filling composition of the girl -- with a single shot. Notice I matched the light on the girl's face with the background, and that makes this look like a single capture. I used f/11 for the portrait to make sure the face and all the hair were sharp; otherwise, this wouldn't have looked correct. 

Semi-silhouette HDR
Monday, January 28, 2019
Overcoming the laws of optics

To create a strong semi-silhouette of this Karo tribesman at sunrise, I first scouted the right location and found a place where I could shoot from below ground level. Then, through my interpreter, I asked the young man to position himself in such a way that his shape looked good graphically. I asked him to hold his stick at a diagonal, to look to my left to define his profile against the sky, and to turn his right foot out. This attention to detail made all the difference. I then asked him to be perfectly still and did a 5-frame HDR sequence, handheld (handheld HDR images can only be done with a wide angle lens; telephotos show too much movement to align the frames). I took this with a ...

A sunrise portrait
Saturday, January 26, 2019
Overcoming the laws of optics

I thought this was a unique juxtaposition of elements -- a man with his son with a Kalashnikov rifle. This is the Karo tribe of Ethiopia whose village is above a river, and this makes for a great environmental portrait. I used a 16-35mm lens for this shot set to the widest focal length. It is a five-frame HDR sequence taken at f/16 and 500 ISO. I hand held the shot, and Photoshop aligned all of the frames perfectly so there is no 'ghosting.' The golden tones of sunrise along with the relatively low contrast contributed to the success of this image. The camera-subject distance was about four feet. Using a wide angle lens close to the subject makes it disproportionately large compared to the ...

A unique frame
Friday, January 25, 2019
Overcoming the laws of optics

There are many ways to frame a face. This way was new to me. Two Surma girls held a large leaf above them and I loved the visual immediately. This is the dry season in Ethiopia, and there was not a cloud in the sky. That meant the sun was harsh and contrasty, so I photographed the tribal people mostly in the shade. This prevented the contrast problem, and it also meant the subjects weren't squinting from the bright light. My settings here were 1/60, f/16, and IOOO ISO, and I used a 400mm focal length. 

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