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By Jim Heid | Thursday, September 05, 2013

Paying attention while shooting wildlife: The Practicing Photographer

Ben Long explores wildlife photography.

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In this week’s installment of The Practicing Photographer, Ben Long discusses a fun and challenging photographic subject: wildlife. Whether it’s the birds in your backyard or the buffalo in a nature reserve, wildlife presents an array of photographic challenges—starting with the fact that you don’t have a lot of control over your subject.

This lack of control can lead to an interesting phenomenon: forgetting how to be a photographer. As Ben explains, when you do see an interesting critter, maybe one you haven’t seen before at close range, it’s easy to get so caught up in the experience you neglect those aspects of photography you’ve spent so much time learning—like the need to really work a shot, to move around and experiment with different compositions, focal lengths, and exposure settings.

By Jim Heid | Thursday, August 22, 2013

Shooting macros with your phone: The Practicing Photographer

Using the Easy-Macro lens band

Watch The Practicing Photographer at lynda.com.

Cell phone cameras are compact and convenient, and they deliver better image quality than ever.

But what phone cameras aren’t is versatile. For example, their tiny, fixed-focal-length lenses usually can’t focus very close. Several companies have come out with close-up attachments that let you shoot macro photos with a phone. But most have two disadvantages. They can be on the pricey side—$60 and up is a lot to pay for a tiny lens that you may not use all that often. And they tend to be designed for a specific model of phone. If you switch brands or upgrade—or if your family mixes and matches models and brands—you’re out of luck.

By Jim Heid | Thursday, August 15, 2013

Creating a “tiny world” effect: The Practicing Photographer

tiny world example

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Sometimes the world seems so small. With some clever shooting and Adobe Photoshop techniques, you can make it seem even smaller. I’m referring to what’s often called the “tiny world” or “tiny planet” effect, and Ben Long explores it in this week’s two-part installment of The Practicing Photographer.

By Jim Heid | Thursday, August 08, 2013

Resist the urge to zoom: The Practicing Photographer

Resist zooming and explore fixed lenses.

Explore The Practicing Photographer at lynda.com.

The zoom lens was patented in 1902, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that zoom lenses became increasingly popular on the 35 mm cameras of that era. The zooms of the ’70s were expensive and often lacked the sharpness and contrast of fixed focal length, or prime, lenses.

Today, thanks to advancements in optical design, zoom lenses are common and often inexpensive. Indeed, the “kit lens” that comes with a typical digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera includes a zoom. And the images from a high-quality zoom can stack up against photos taken with a prime lens any day.

By Jim Heid | Thursday, August 01, 2013

Batch Processing with Photoshop’s Image Processor: The Practicing Photographer

There’s a lot of drudgery in digital imaging. Sure, shooting is fun and so is editing and enhancing photos in programs like Lightroom, Aperture, and Photoshop. But then the time comes when you need to send a batch of photos to someone who needs them at a specific size and quality setting. Suddenly, you’re looking at reopening, resizing, and exporting dozens or even hundreds of images.

Doing all that on an image-by-image basis is only slightly less tedious than swinging a pick-axe at a rock pile.

It turns out that computers are pretty good at performing repetitive tasks, and that’s the subject of the latest installment of The Practicing Photographer. This week, Ben Long crawls into one of Photoshop’s nooks and crannies to explore its Image Processor feature.

Photoshop's Image Processor

By Jim Heid | Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Practicing Photographer: Is a mirrorless camera in your future?

Digital SLRs are versatile and deliver great image quality, but are big and heavy. Point-and-shoot cameras are compact, but their image quality and versatility are often lacking.

Welcome to an episode of “Goldilocks Buys a Camera”—isn’t there an option that’s just right?

For a growing number of photographers, the answer is a mirrorless camera. This up-and-coming category sits between point-and-shoots and digital SLRs, and Ben Long talks about it in this week’s installment of The Practicing Photographer.

pract photog week 10 mirrorless screen shot

By Jim Heid | Friday, July 19, 2013

Working with reflections: The Practicing Photographer

Reflections are something you often don’t want in photography. If you’re shooting through a window, for example, you might attach a polarizing filter to your lens to reduce the glare and reflections of the world behind you (see Chapter 2 in Foundations of Photography: Specialized Lenses).

At other times, though, reflections can add a striking element to a photo. And that’s the subject of this week’s installment of The Practicing Photographer, wherein Ben Long reflects on the value of reflections.

By Jim Heid | Thursday, July 11, 2013

Give yourself a year-long assignment: The Practicing Photographer

Freedom can be overwhelming. When you’re free to photograph anything you want, whenever you want, it’s easy to end up not photographing much of anything at all.  Psychologists use terms like choice overload to describe the paralysis that can accompany a world of unlimited options.

In this week’s installment of The Practicing Photographer, Ben Long offers one solution to the overload: Give yourself a year-long assignment. Choose a time interval: daily, weekly, monthly. Choose a scope: your city, your street, your chair. And choose a subject: an object, a color, an emotion, an event.

pract photog week 9 screen shot

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