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Jim Zuckerman's Blog
Twilight in Florence
Monday, October 16, 2017
Twilight in Florence

I'm now in Italy leading a photo tour to Tuscany and Cinque Terre, and our first evening in Florence allowed me to revisit the best vantage in the city. I had discovered this place when I was there in 1991 scouting locations to shoot stock photography. I took my group to the terrace on the top of the Baglioni Hotel for this beautiful twilight shot, and they all loved it. We had dinner in the rooftop restaurant, but not before we captured this classic picture of the 13th century church and its famous tower, the Campanile. My settings were .4 seconds, f/4, 200 ISO, and daylight white balance. 

Shooting into the light
Sunday, October 15, 2017
Twilight in Florence

The massive columns in many of the Egyptian temples continue to impress me. Carving them out of rock, moving them by boat, and then setting them upright -- 3200 years ago -- is simply mind-blowing to consider. This is Karnak Temple in Luxor during the sound and light show. For half of the program, you walk through the temple as various sections are illuminated. It's challenging photography to say the least because you definitely don't want to include the other tourists. In addition, the lights change quickly, the exposure is tough, contrast is extreme, the psychedelic colors used at times are contrived, and focus in low light may not be accurate. I still managed to get quite a few shots I ...

Perfect symmetry
Saturday, October 14, 2017
Twilight in Florence

This is the ceiling of the most beautiful mosque in Cairo, the Mohamed Ali Mosque. When you first walk in, the spectacular ceiling is disappointingly dark. All the stunning color and design is obscured to such a degree that it seems impossible to take an impressive picture. By adjusting the exposure compensation, though, I was able to bring out the detail that I knew was there. This was the first real test of my new Sigma 14mm f/1.8 wide angle lens, and I love the results. My settings were 1/100, f/2, 4000 ISO, and I increased the exposure by 1 2/3 f/stops from what the meter dictated. I laid on the flood, hand holding the camera, and it took a minute or so to orient the camera and my ...

Wide angle for drama
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Twilight in Florence

The spectacular Dendara Temple south of Luxor has massive columns and a lot of beautiful art on the walls and the ceilings that reveal the original colors from 2300 years ago. I took a lot of telephoto pictures in which I filled the frame with the ancient artwork, but to show how huge the columns are I used a 14mm lens. Standing very close to the base of the structure (about 3 feet away), I was able to elongate the perspective and, at the same time, show the color detail in the ceiling. Because light was entering the interior from a large entrance and illuminating the columns, and because the ceiling was at least two or three f/stops darker, I had to use HDR to balance the exposure. This is ...

Luxor Temple by night
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Twilight in Florence

Here is another night shot, this time of Luxor Temple that dates from the 14th century B.C. I used a 100mm focal length to give a sense of compression to the sphinx-lined road leading to the temple entrance, and I selected f/16 to insure that both foreground and background were sharp. The last thing you’d want here is shallow depth of field. My exposure was four seconds, and the ISO was 400. I used auto white balance because this renders the best color when shooting florescent, mercury vapor, or sodium vapor lights. 

The Pyramids by night
Saturday, October 07, 2017
Twilight in Florence

My photo tour group visited the pyramids and the Sphinx today, and then in the evening we photographed the Sound and Light Show. The show itself is theatrical and designed for the average tourist, which means that I wouldn't have gone except that the night time lighting on the pyramids is stunning. That's why I took the group here. The seating area, though, leaves a lot to be desired because the three pyramids are spread too far apart from each other, and if you use a wide angle lens to include all of them, they appear too far away. The place where I really wanted to shoot from was off-limits, so I knew the only way to create a strong image was to take component images and then composite ...

An environmental portrait
Friday, October 06, 2017
Twilight in Florence

I'm in Egypt now beginning a photo tour here, and in the old town of Cairo today we visited a bazaar and this 800 year old mosque. In many Muslim countries in the Middle East, many people, especially women, are reluctant to be photographed. I asked this young lady if she would pose for my group and she was happy to do it. The large majority of women here are dressed in modern clothes without covering their heads, but I seek out models that are exotic and mysterious to a Westerner because I'm always trying to show the uniqueness of other cultures. That's why I singled out this particular young woman. The semi-circular niche in the wall, highly decorated, is the Mihrab. This indicates the ...

Even predators have predators
Wednesday, October 04, 2017
Twilight in Florence

This is a 6-month old leopard cub that had been treed by its mother to protect it from two hyenas looking for a meal. From the land Rover, my photo tour group and I could watch the hyenas chasing the mother with her two cubs. I took this picture in one of my favorite reserves, Sabi Sabi in South Africa. This is a private reserve, and that means that vehicles are not restricted to the tracks. They can go anywhere so photographers can get the best shots. That’s a huge advantage, and that’s how I captured this picture. We drove over fallen logs, thick underbrush, and rocks to position the Land Rover perfectly for the best vantage. We got so close to the leopard cub that I was ...

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