By Jim Heid | Friday, September 18, 2015
You’ve heard the cliché: You have to crawl before you can walk.
In the non-pediatric world, the phrase means you need to master some basics before you can try something advanced.
It’s true in most fields: A pianist can’t play a Bach sonata without first learning scales and fingering technique, nor would a pilot take a Cessna for a solo flight without some ground instruction.
But does it apply to photography?
By Jim Heid | Saturday, June 21, 2014
Frank Lloyd Wright used to say there are two kinds of people: nesters and perchers. Nesters like to be tucked among woods; perchers prefer being high atop hills.
I’m a percher, especially when I’m on the road. In hotels, I always try to score an upper-floor room with a view. It’s great for cityscape photography and for one of my new photographic interests: time-lapse photography.
Inspired by Richard Harrington’s courses on time-lapse photography and on the GoPro HERO cameras, I’ve begun taking my GoPro camera and its suction-cup mount with me when I travel. When I check in to a room with a view, I know there’s a time-lapse movie in my future.
On a recent trip to Boston, my wife and I scored a room on the 36th floor of a hotel in the city’s historic Back Bay neighborhood. With views of Copley Square, the Hancock Tower, and some of downtown Boston’s busiest streets, it was a perfect perch for shooting this time-lapse video.
By Jim Heid | Thursday, February 13, 2014
Sometimes shapes tell a better story than details. When you photograph a subject in silhouette, you emphasize body language instead of facial expressions. A silhouette can be a powerful way to tell a story or convey a scene in an abstract way.
By Jim Heid | Thursday, February 06, 2014
A couple of months ago on The Practicing Photographer, fashion and portrait photographer Troy Word joined Ben Long for a discussion of the joys of instant photography—specifically, using a Polaroid camera along with beautiful black-and-white film manufactured by Fuji.
Fuji’s film works in what are called “pack-film” Polaroids. After you shoot a photo with these cameras, you pull the exposed film out, wait a specified amount of time, and then peel the print away from its backing. It’s that process that earns this format its other name: peel-apart.
And it’s that peel that holds such appeal to Ben Long in this week’s The Practicing Photographer. When you separate a sheet of peel-apart film, you end up with your photo (obviously) and a negative.
By Jim Heid | Thursday, January 30, 2014
Blur. We buy tripods and motion-stabilized lenses to avoid it, and we use Photoshop filters to try and fix it when it creeps into our shots.
But blur can also be a powerful tool for conveying a sense of motion in a static medium. A speeding car or motorcycle, a galloping horse or bounding dog, a cyclist on a track, a kid on a sled—subjects like these are natural candidates for some motion blur.
Blur is the subject of this week’s installment of The Practicing Photographer. Ben Long and his motorcycle are joined by lynda.com videographer Josh Figatner, and the two explore various techniques for capturing motion blur as Ben rides down a deserted highway.
By Jim Heid | Thursday, January 16, 2014
Last week, we published a new course called Photographing Clothes and Textiles. The fourth course from photographer Konrad Eek, it’s a detailed look at styling, lighting, and photographing everything from garments to beach towels.
Top-notch textile photography—indeed, top-notch product photography of all kinds—greatly benefits from dedicated lighting gear such as studio strobes or compact flash units. But what if you simply want to take an attractive product shot for an online auction or a webpage?
That’s the topic Ben Long explores in this week’s installment of The Practicing Photographer. Ben joins Konrad Eek for a look at some simple, inexpensive techniques for taking great-looking product shots without any external lighting gear.
By Jim Heid | Thursday, January 09, 2014
The best way to extract every bit of image quality from your camera is to shoot in its raw mode. A raw image contains the exact data recorded by the camera’s sensor. By comparison, when a camera creates a JPEG image, it discards significant amounts of data in order to make the image more compact.
But life is full of trade-offs. Raw files provide far more flexibility when adjusting exposure and color balance in a post-processing program such as Adobe Lightroom, but use far more storage space than JPEGs. Many cameras have a “best of both worlds” mode in which they create a companion JPEG file along with a raw file. This lets you use the JPEG for minor edits but fall back on the raw file should the image require significant adjustments that, with a JPEG, could compromise quality.
By Jim Heid | Thursday, December 19, 2013
Ben Long would like you to have an egg. As a photo subject, that is. In this week’s installment of his weekly series, The Practicing Photographer, Ben issues an assignment: Photograph an egg in a way that conveys emotion.
How do you get emotion out of an egg without drawing a face on it, Ben asks? Through lighting and composition. As this week’s two-video installment unfolds, we join Ben and photographer Troy Word in a classroom at the Oklahoma Arts Institute, where Troy gives his students this very assignment.
Troy demonstrates various lighting schemes, which you can replicate using anything from a studio light to a desk lamp or work light. As he moves the light around, changing its angle and its distance from the egg, the shadows on the egg change—and the mood in the resulting photos changes along with them.
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