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Jim Zuckerman’s

PH OTO I N S I G HTS November 2016

Landscape photography Paste into command Metering modes Photo tours Ask Jim Student showcase 1

On the cover: The Totem Pole at one minute aftersunrise, Monument Valley. This page: Lower Anteleop 22 Canyon, Arizona.

4. Landscape photography 12. Paste into command 16. Metering modes 22. What’s wrong with this picture? 24. Short and sweet 25. Ask Jim 26. Photography tours 29. Student showcase 34. Back issues


n the last few years I have seen a massive increase in tourism all over the world. A lot of this is due to the increased wealth in China (a few hundred million more tourists adds up!), but a lot of it is also due to the proliferation of iPhone photography and the affordability of travel plus the multitude of articles and blogs about all of the great places to see and experience in the world. For the serious photographer, this is a major challenge. Narcissistic selfie-stick users are constantly in the way, crowds -- even an hour before sunrise -- leave few vantage points from which to shoot in many places, and most of the time hordes of tourists are simply in your composition. In the last year I’ve seen this personally in Cambodia, Vietnam, China, the American National Parks, Montenegro, Paris, and Bali. It’s still possible to take good pictures, and my groups and I do, but it’s not like it used to be. Now it’s more difficult, more frustrating, and more aggravating.

On my recent photo tour to the American Southwest, for example, I took my group to Lower Anteleope Canyon. This is truly a stunning place to shoot, but it was literally packed with people. In the summer, approximately 2000 people go through there a day! In the off season, when we were there, the number is about 1500 per day. The ‘photo groups’ they take through the canyon are going to be eliminated on January 1, 2017 (the extra fee we pay as a photo group allows the use of tripods and gives us about two minutes to shoot a particular place before they let the crowds pass through and before they push us through to the next place). No more tripods will be permitted in the future which means good photography will be impossible. The Navajo owners are doing this so they can accommodate even more people. I will never go back there again. The only solution to this, as far as I can tell, is to seek out less traveled places -- places where dozens of tour buses can’t go, won’t go, or hordes of tourists haven’t discovered yet. But even these places will start to become crowded as well once the pictures start appearing on Instagram, Facebook, Smugmug, 500 pix, and Pinterest. The world of photography has changed in so many ways in just a handful of years. Amazing. Jim Zuckerman


Landscape Photography E

veryone loves photographing beautiful landscapes, but few people do it well. I would like to offer pointers that I think will help you to improve your landscape work. I just finished leading a photo tour to the American Southwest and this is fresh in my mind. 1. Virtually without exception, you need complete depth of field. This means that most of your pictures should be taken at f/22 or f/32. Yes, I know, that these lens apertures are less sharp than f/8 or f/11, but if you need depth of field, this is the only way to get it (notwithstanding focus stacking).


2. Small lens apertures require the use of a tripod in most (but not all) situations. No photography likes carrying around a tripod, but plan on shooting landscape pictures with one if you want top notch images. 3. Include a dominant foreground element, such as the tree roots in the photo below at the edge of Bryce Canyon or the small bushes sticking out of the snow in the Grand Tetons National Park at the top of the next page. This adds a sense of depth as well as a focal point of interest. Serious landscape photographers spend much of their time in the field looking for interesting or beautiful foregrounds.

What makes a visually pleasing and/or compelling foreground? Many things in nature offer this: nicely shaped rocks, wildflowers, a fallen log, bushes, textured sandstone, a pool of water, and tide pools. In the photo at right, I used something unique: the remains of a decaying tree stump in a South Carolina swamp. 4. Use a wide angle lens not because it ‘gets everything in the picture’, but because it (1) dramatizes the scene, (2) exaggerates the size of the foreground, (3) contributes to the complete depth of field which is essential. The camera and wide angle lens must be placed very close to the foregound -- say around 3 to 5 feet. Do all landscape shots have to be taken with these four incredients to be successful? No, they don’t, but they should all have the fifth in-


credient: A strong graphic shape. 5. To be successful, virtually without exception, a landscape photo has to have beautiful shapes. These shapes can be any kind of natural subject matter such as a mountain ridge, a graphic tree, nicely shaped boulders or a serpentine river. It’s great if both the foreground and the background have great shapes like the image above in which the rock striations in the foreground as well as the formations in the background both have strong designs. However, if there is only one strong shape in the composition, as in the black and white photo at right, the picture can work as well. 6. Lighting is essential also in photographing landscapes. There are three primary times to capture landscapes: sunrise, sunset, and when 6

the sky is overcast and the lighting is soft and diffused. Low angled sunlight produces rich texture, long shadows, golden tones, and lowered contrast. All of these qualities contribute to the beauty of landscape imagery, and you can see examples on the cover of this issue as well as in the photograph of Mt. McKinley in Alaska,

above. Had either or both of these photographs been taken when the sun was high in the sky, contrast would have been excessive and the light would have looked garish. Can successful photographs be taken with an overhead sun? Yes, but only in certain circumstances and only with certain subjects. For example, when shooting turquoise blue water in places like the Caribbean or the South Seas, an overhead sun is necessary for the intensity of the color in the water to show. The picture at right is one of the Motus (tiny islands) surrounding Bora Bora, and the aquamarine color is deep and saturated because of the mid-day sun.T Translucent subjects like autumn leaves can be photographed when the sun is high. If you



compose the picture so the sun is behind the leaves, the backlighting is brilliant. The aspen trees I photographed at the base of the Eastern Sierras in California on the previous page illustrate how luminous they look. At sunrise and sunset, the leaves will also look good but the light is not as strong and therefore the color won’t be as saturated. The other approach I said on page 5 that not all successful landscape photos must be taken with the first four factors I listed at the beginning of this article -- using a wide angle lens, choosing complete depth of field, a using a tripod, and placing the camera close to a dominant and attractive foreground. The other way to approach a landscape is with a telephoto lens. You take advantage of the compression characteristics of a long lens as well as the narrow angle of view, and you focus on

patterns and designs without the sense of depth that wide angles have. The picture of the Tianzi Mountains in China, below, and the dead trees in Namibia on page11 are examples. It’s still important to have complete depth of field because out of focus foregrounds or backgrounds in a landscape are visually annoying. We photograph nature because of its beautiful and intricate detail. To render part of a landscape out of focus defeats the purpose in my opinion. Soft backgrounds work when you want to isolate a specific subject and draw attention to it, such as a bird, flower, or insect. However, when you want to capture the environment, everything should be in focus. I usually like to avoid using super telephotos for landscape work because they have such shallow depth of field, and even with f/22 or f/32, you can’t get both forground and background in fo-



UPCOMING PHOTO WORKSHOPS Carnival in Venice workshop Outrageous costumes in a medieval environment! Venice is great to visit and photograph any time, but during carnival it’s magical. There is nothing like it anywhere in the world.

Feb. 17 - 23, 2017

Frog & Reptile Workshop Close-up encounters with poison dart frogs and exotic reptiles such as chameleons, geckos, snakes, and more in St. Louis, Missouri.

Jan. 14-15, 2017

Wildlife in Autumn Colors Photograph beautiful North American animals -- wolves, bears, mountain lions, lynx, bobcat, skunks, etc. -- in the stunning colors of autumn.

Oct. 5 - 8, 2017


cus. I prefer lenses in the 100 to 300mm range, although sometimes I’ll stretch to 400mm if the distant subject matter doesn’t have a lot of depth -- such as a vertical hillside of autumn color, middle right. However, if the subject is far enough away, then depth of field won’t be compromised by a long lens. For example, the acacia tree at upper right was approximately a third of a mile away. I used a 500mm lens plus a 1.4x teleconverter on a full frame camera giving me 700mm of focal length. The aperture I used was f/14 which provides only a moderate amount of depth of field, especially with such a long lens. Note the sharpness throughout the image. Both the tree and the distant mountains are sharp, and this only could happen because the elements in the landscape were so far away. The further subjects are to the shooting position, the more depth of field you will have. §


Photoshop’s Paste Into Command


ne of the most powerful tools in Photoshop is the paste into command because it allows you to place one element behind another. Note the triceratops dinosaur, below, and how it looks like it is walking behind the trees. Simply pasting the dinosaur in front of the trees wouldn’t be as convincingly real compared to what you see here. In Photoshop CS6 and the recent versions of the subscription Photoshop CC, you access this command with the pulldown menu: Edit > paste


special > paste into. However, in order for this command to be active and available, you must have a selection already defined. That’s what paste into means -- you are pasting one image into a selected area. The strategy I used for the image below, then, was to first meticulously select the tree trunks with the pen tool (see the February, 2016 issue of Photo Insights for an article on using the pen tool), and then I used Select > inverse. That selected everything except the tree

trunks, which of course was the background. With the background behind the tree trunks selected, I copied to the clipboard the image of the triceratops and then used Edit > paste special > paste into. This placed the dinosaur into the background and behind the trees, and then I sized the animal correctly using Edit > transform > scale. The photo at right that I took on one of my Carnival in Venice workshops is also a composite, but it looks completely real. I took the picture of the balcony from the public water taxi as we motored past this building, and then I cut and pasted the model into the architecture such that we could see her costume through the balusters. Here is the step by step procedure I used:

the spaces between the balusters including the space above the red fabric decorating the railing. I did this with the pen tool. You can see the selected area, i.e. the mask, at lower left. When there are non-contiguous areas to select (in this case all the spaces between the balusters plus the area above the railing) you simply treat each selected area separately. Use

1. I made a selection of

The above black and white image is the selected area into which I pasted the model.




Photoshop taps into your creative potential like nothing photographers have ever had in the past. Once you feel comfortable working in this program, the sky is the limit. You can do anything your mind can imagine. Pretty amazing, indeed! This eBook explains many of the techniques that Jim uses all the time. These include replacing the sky, compositing images, adding textures to photos, introducing natural looking streaks of light, realistic HDR, combining black and white with color, Jim’s favoritre plugins, using the blend modes, and more. Use this as an idea book as well as a reference. If you’ve limited yourself to Lightroom’s abilities, consider expanding your horizons and learn Photoshop. It’s about time.

Click the cover to see inside the ebook


the pen tool to outline the area (this creates a path), convert the path into a selection with the make selection command in the paths palette (again, see the Feb. 2016 issue of Photo Insights), and then choose Save > selection. When you save all of the indivdiual selections, you can add them together by going to the channels palette. Hold down the Command and Shift keys on a Mac (the Control and Alt keys on a PC) and click each of the channels (i.e. the saved selections). You have now combined all the individual selections. 2. I expanded the selection by one pixel with Select > modify > expand and then softened the edge slightly with Select > modify > feather. This makes the composite perfect. At this point, choose Save > selection again so the master selection is saved permanently with your image. 3. I opened the image of the model and, again, used the pen tool to make a selection of her.

4. I copied the model to the clipboard, Photo shop’s temporary holding place for a photo or part of a photo, with Edit > copy. 5. I clicked the architecture photo to activate it and used Edit > paste special > paste into. The model was now behind the railing. 6. I chose Edit > transform > scale to size the image of the model until the composite looked perfect. I used the same procedure for placing the storm clouds behind the Sphinx, below, although I only had to select one area -- the sky. The clouds appear behind the ancient structure because I used the paste into command. Similarly, the cover of my eBook on Photoshop seen on the previous page shows a background wall pasted into the area behind the model on the couch. Paste into is an amazing tool. §y


Metering Modes


igital cameras offer several metering modes such as matrix (evaluative in Canon’s terminology), spot metering, average, and center weighted. How do you know which one to choose? I am asked all the time on my photo tours which metering mode should be used for various photographic situations. The truth is, it’s easy to select a metering mode. I’ve used just one mode since I bought my first serious Canon digital camera in 2005: Evaluative mode. No matter how challenging the lighting situation may be, like a bird against a white sky, below, or the beach shot at right where I was shooting directly into the sun and contrast was significant, I find that evaluative (i.e. matrix metering) is extremely accurate. It doesnt result in perfect exposures in all lighting conditions, but most of the time it is excellent. If the exposure isn’t perfect, it can be tweaked in post-processing.


Become a better photographer with


Click on any ebook to see inside



By sticking to one metering mode, this is one less thing to deal with when taking pictures. If I tried to determine which metering mode might be better, I’m sure I would miss every photo opportunity that involves moving subjects. The two kids I photographed on a terrace in Spain, below, is a good example. I didn’t have time to choose a metering mode, decide on the number of focus points, lock focus on the subjects, compose, choose an ISO, and determine the best lens aperture and shutter speed. It’s just too much for a human brain to deal with in a fraction of a second. By eliminating the decision about a metering mode, you can shoot faster. If we were still shooting film, my strategy would be different. Spot metering mode is what I used all the time because I didn’t have the advantage of immediate feedback on an LCD screen. Therefore, I had to be critically accurate with


exposures, but I was much more limited in my ability to capture great action shots because of the time it took to calculate exposure. With the ability to manipulate exposures in post-processing, critically accuracy in exposure isn’t as important as it was in the past. Therefore, we are able to capture peak action like never before because we can direct most of our attention to the factors that enable us to get amazing shots of movement. §


online course

by Jim Zuckerman

The ability to ‘see photographically’, to really grasp how your camera and lenses capture a subject or scene (which is different than how we see with our eyes) underlies successful picture taking. It is the bottom line that you’ve been looking for to take that quantum leap forward in your photography. The great thing about online courses is that they can fit into any schedule. Life gets in the way at times, and Jim puts no limit on the time you can submit your work for his critiques. CLICK THIS PAGE to read more about this course.


New eBook for beginning photographers I’ve not seen a book on beginning photography that I thought was clear, concise, and relevant to taking good pictures, so I wrote one. If you are insecure about your knowledge of how f/ stops, shutter speeds, and ISO interact, or what exactly the various exposure modes on a camera are for, this is the eBook for you. Or if you know someone who just bought a camera and is having a hard time understanding the manual that came with the camera, the information in this new publication is essential. It will take much of the frustration in learning photography out of the equation. Instruction


manuals for cameras do not teach photography. All of the basics of photography are covered including depth of field, the simple mathematical relationships between lens apertures and shutter speeds, the issues surrounding digital noise, basic fundamentals of composition, the features you should look for when choosing your next camera, the different kinds of lenses and how to use them, how shutter speeds and lens apertures allow you to express your artistic vision, and creative considerations that enable you to start taking photographs rather than mere snapshots.

PHOTO TOUR to KASAKHSTAN August 23 - September 3, 2017 Dramatic landscapes

amazing architecture

eagle hunters exotic culture


What’s wrong with this picture?


his image has two major problems with it. The two wild aracari toucans had come to a perch just above a feeder in Costa Rica, and the one on the left is out of focus due to shallow depth of field. The two problematic issues are (1) out of focus foregrounds are almost always distracting and visually annoying, and (2) when there are two subjects in a photography, both of them should be in focus. I used a Canon 500mm f/4 for the shot, and that meant the depth of field was limited since I was shooting wide open. The light was quite low in the jungle environment, and if I wanted more depth of field I’d have to raise the ISO. I was already shooting at 1250 with a Canon 5D Mark II (this was taken a few years ago), and I wasn’t happy with the noise from this camera at ISO settings much above this. Therefore, I was caught between a rock and a hard place, so to speak. What I was hoping for was a moment when the two birds might arrange themselves on the branch so they were equidistant from the camera. Then, even at


f/4, both would be sharp. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. The best I was able to get was a single shot of one of the birds after the other one flew away. The shutter I used was 1/320. I was shooting from a tripod, so that allowed me to use a speed slower than I would normally use had I been hand holding the super telephoto. However, even from a tripod, long lenses require faster speeds simply because the magnification is so great. I would have preferred 1/500th of a second, but again, I was trying to keep the ISO down. In buying a new camera, one of the main qualities to look for is a minimum amount of noise in the pictures. The ability to raise the ISO to 3200, 4000, and beyond without paying the price of too much noise is very important in producing the kind of pictures you want. As time goes on and technology improves, the noise structure in new cameras will get better and better. §


SHORT AND SWEET 1. Sometimes highlights blow out and it’s perfectly ac-

ceptable. A case in point are these light bulbs in the boudoir shoot in my Carnival in Venice workshop. That’s why I suggest to people to turn off the ‘blinkies’. They can indicate a problem where no problem exists.


Hand held HDR images are possible only with wide angle lenses. Movement is too apparent when using a telephoto lens, and the software can’t align the bracketed exposures well. There will be ghosting that Photomatix, Nik, Aurora, or Photoshop can’t remove. This is sunrise in the Masai Mara, Kenya.



Blue monochromatic images are an interesting variation of black and white photography. More than any other color, including sepia, blue tones add mood, drama, and visual impact. Once an image is b & w, use Image > adjustments > color balance to add blue.

4. Sometimes it’s necessary to brighten the eyes of ani-

mals and birds to make them look like we saw them at the time of shooting. In a case like this snowy owl, the eyes darkened because of the white environment and the meter’s response. Therefore, I lightened the eyes to make them look correct -- and for more impact. §


Every month Jim will answer a question from his online students, from people who participate in his tours and workshops, or from subscribers to this magazine. If you have a question you’d like Jim to answer, please drop him a note at


Jim . . .I often use my 24-70mm lens for outdoor portraits, but I don’t like the results. I can’t put my finger on the problem, but my pictures are not as strong as other types of portraits I see. Can you tell me what the problem is? Augustine Ortiz, El Paso, Texas


This is a subjective answer, but my favorite types of portraits are done with a telephoto lens in the 70200mm and 80-300mm ranges. I say that for several reasons. First, the background is typically thrown out of focus so much it becomes a blur. That directs all of the attention on the person with out interference from background elements. Second, telephotos compress elements, and that means that the nose appears smaller than it really is. That is virtually always a good thing. And third, the photographer is further away from the subject and that usually means you can get a more relaxed, candid expression. If the camera is in someone’s face, they tend to be more stiff and unnatural. I took the picture below of a little girl in the Falkland Islands with a 105mm focal length. The background is so blurred because (1) it was far away, (2) I used a telephoto, and (3) I was close to the girl when I took the shot.


Photography Tours 2016 - 2018 CARNIVAL IN VENICE Feb. 2017


EGYPT Oct. 2017



NEPAL Mar. 2017


SNOWY OWLS Jan. 2018


MOROCCO May 2017




For a complete list of all the photo tours/workshops Jim conducts, go to his website:

South Africa & Namibia photo safari April 25 - May 9, 2018

Awesome wildlife exotic birds huge dunes

Drinking leopard photographed in 2015 right in front of our lodge at Sabi Sabi, South Africa

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KASAKHSTAN PHOTO TOUR August 23 - September 3, 2017


Student Showcase Each month, Jim features one student who took beautiful and inspiring images on one or more of his photography tours or workshops. It’s really fascinating how photographers see and compose such different images even though we may go to the same places. Everyone gets great photographs on Jim’s trips.

Burt Rein, West Hollywood, California American Southwest photo tour.

© 2016 Burt Rein

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Student Showcase, continued

Š 2016 Burt Rein

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Student Showcase, continued

Š 2016 Burt Rein

37 31

Student Showcase, continued

Š 2016 Burt Rein

32 34


Sat. & Sun., April 8 - 9, 2017

Photoshop is a photographer’s best friend, and the creative possibilities are absolutely endless -- like replacing the background behind this 1947 Delahaye 135M. In a personal and ‘homey’ environment (I have a very cool classroom setup in my home), I start at the beginning -- assuming you know nothing -- but I quickly get into layers, cutting and pasting, plug-ins, using ‘grunge’ textures, modifying lighting, replacing backgrounds, using layer masks, blend modes, adding a moon, and a lot more. I promise to fill your head with so many great techniques that you won’t believe what you’ll be able to do. I go over each technique several times to make sure you understand it and can remember it. Photoshop instructors approach teaching this program from different points of view. My approach is to be as expansive in my thinking as possible in creating unique, artistic, and compelling images. In addition to showing you how to use the various tools,

pull down menus, layers, and so on, I spend a lot of time giving you creative ideas that will inspire you to produce amazing images with the pictures you’ve already taken. I live in the Nashville, Tennessee area, and if you fly into the airport (BNA) I will pick you up. If you drive, I’ll give you my address and you can find my home on Mapquest or with a GPS. For the $450 fee, I include one dinner in my home (prepared by my wife who is an amazing cook and hostess) and two lunches, plus shuttling you back and forth from my home to your nearby hotel. Contact me if you would like to participate in the workshop and I will tell you how to sign up ( All you need is a laptop and a lot of your pictures. If you don’t have a laptop, I have two Mac Book Pro laptops I can loan out for the duration of the workshop. §


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• Topaz Glow • A different approach to composition • Photographing puppies • Kaleidoscopic images • Online photo course • Student showcase • Photo tours


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PH OTO I N S I G HTS June 2015

• Realistic HDR • Selective focus • Simulating bokeh • Sepia & Dark Contrast • Online photo courses • Student showcase • Photo tours 1


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PHOTO INSIGHTS® published by Jim Zuckerman, all rights reserved © Jim Zuckerman 2016 email: mail address: P.O. Box 7, Arrington, TN 37014



Photo insights november '16  

An eMagazine devoted to inspiring photography and Photoshop techniques written and published by Jim Zuckerman.

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