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By Jim Heid | Thursday, December 12, 2013

Have a Holiday Photo-Scanning Party

Getting together with family over the holidays? Take advantage of all that togetherness by holding a scanning party, and scanning your vintage family photos, as Ben Long describes in this week’s installment of The Practicing Photographer.

It was inspired by an experience I had recently. During a trip to my hometown in Pennsylvania, a couple of family members showed me some photo albums containing riches that I’d never seen before—and that I wanted copies of. It dawned on me that every member of my family probably has an album of photos they’ve curated from their unique perspectives. So while I was in town, I ordered a $49 flatbed scanner from Amazon.com and had it shipped to my mom’s house. Then I told my family members to bring those albums over, and we sat around the dining room table as I scanned and scanned and scanned.

By Jim Heid | Thursday, November 21, 2013

Create a High Dynamic Range (HDR) Time-Lapse Movie

Creating a HDR time-lapse movie

In this week’s installment of The Practicing Photographer, Ben Long combines two techniques that involve capturing the world in unique ways—ways that we can’t see with our eyes but that photography lets us bring to life.

One technique is high dynamic range, or HDR, photography. That’s the process of taking multiple shots of a scene, each with a different exposure setting, and then merging them into one photo that captures a broad range of bright and dark tones. Ben describes HDR in detail in his course Shooting and Processing High Dynamic Range Photographs (HDR).

By Jim Heid | Thursday, November 14, 2013

Exploring your photographic themes: The Practicing Photographer

Ben shoots a bike

Whether you call yourself a photo enthusiast or a pro, whether you shoot with a phone or with film, you probably have themes that crop up frequently in your photography. By intent or by accident, certain subjects or themes surface in your photos—whether dogs or rivers or carefully crafted coffee drinks.

Or bicycles. Ben Long likes bikes, and he finds himself photographing them frequently. As he describes in this week’s installment of The Practicing Photographer, he hasn’t yet photographed The Perfect Bicycle shot, but he keeps practicing. And that’s what it’s all about. Maybe one day he’ll find a perfect bike in a perfect setting with perfect light, but in the meantime, he’s refining his eye and building a library of thematic shots—photographic studies of the lines and shapes of bicycles.

By Jim Heid | Thursday, November 07, 2013

Should You Bother Using a Lens Shade?

Ben Long demonstrates a lens shade

The lowly lens shade might just be the least glamorous piece of gear in your camera bag. It’s that plastic ring that attaches to your lens and helps guard against flare—those bright circles that appear when your camera is pointed near the sun or another bright light source.

Most new lenses include shades. So why does Ben Long confess to rarely using them—indeed, to having a “completely irrational fear” of the things? That’s the subject of this week’s installment of The Practicing Photographer.

By Jim Heid | Thursday, October 24, 2013

Advice for Wildlife Photo Safaris

safari photo

This week on The Practicing Photographer, Ben Long goes where the buffalo roam: to a wildlife reserve in Oklahoma, where he encounters a herd of American buffalo. It isn’t exactly a wildlife safari, but it is a good chance for Ben to talk about the opportunities and limitations of an actual big-game photo safari in an exotic location.

Wildlife photo safaris are hugely popular in locations ranging from Alaska to Kenya to Antarctica. They’re a great way to see exotic critters in their natural habitats. And if you go on a guided safari, you’ll have someone along who’s adept at spotting interesting animals and can share insights on their behavior.

By Jim Heid | Thursday, October 17, 2013

Varnishing An Inkjet Print

varnishing an inkjet print

In this week’s installment of The Practicing Photographer, Ben Long doesn’t go anywhere near a camera or a computer. Rather, he joins photographer, master framer, and lynda.com author Konrad Eek in looking at an inexpensive, hands-on technique to add richness and luster to inkjet prints: mounting the print on stiff board, then painting the print with varnish.

By Jim Heid | Thursday, September 26, 2013

In Search of Photo Opportunities

Ben Long on the road

Any time of year is a good time of year for a road trip, especially one without a specific destination. Pack some camera gear, get in the car, and keep your eyes open.

That’s what Ben Long did in this week’s installment of The Practicing Photographer, and he struck gold—or, more accurately, black and white. As he and a lynda.com crew drove down a two-lane road in rural Oklahoma, Ben noticed a small stand of fire-damaged trees whose trunks had dramatic patterns of black and white.

Time to pull over and remove the lens cap.

By Jim Heid | Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Romance of Polaroid Photography

Peeling a Polaroid photo

These days, the phrase “instant photography” is almost redundant. A photo appears on the screen of your camera (or phone) a moment after you shoot it. And in a lot of cases, the photo can appear on the Internet a moment or two after that.

But it wasn’t always this way. For decades, the phrase “instant photography” meant “Polaroid.” If you didn’t want to wait for film to be developed, you used Polaroid cameras and films, which enabled you hold a finished print in your hand within a minute or two after shooting.

Amateurs loved Polaroid for that very reason: no taking film to the corner drugstore and then waiting. Professional photographers used Polaroid to make test shots. And some, including Ansel Adams, Andy Warhol, and William Wegman, used Polaroids to create enduring works of art.

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