By Jim Heid | Thursday, November 21, 2013
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
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
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
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, September 26, 2013
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
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.
By Jim Heid | Thursday, September 12, 2013
Explore the Practicing Photographer at lynda.com.
In last week’s installment of The Practicing Photographer, we joined Ben Long at a wildlife preserve, where he photographed buffalo and prairie dogs—and shared some wildlife photography tips along the way. This week, it’s back to the buffalo—but this time, they’re on Ben’s computer screen. Something went wrong during Ben’s wildlife shoot: A lot of his photos were slightly overexposed and washed out. Camera light meters aren’t perfect, and when they don’t read a scene accurately, exposure problems result.
Fortunately, Adobe Photoshop—and other imaging programs, such as Lightroom, Aperture, and iPhoto—can often fix exposure problems. And if you shoot using your camera’s raw mode, you have that much more adjustment flexibility. That’s because raw mode saves every bit of data that your camera’s sensor recorded. By comparison, when you shoot in JPEG mode, your camera’s internal software—in its zeal to create a compact image file—throws away roughly one-third of the information that the sensor recorded.
By Jim Heid | Thursday, September 05, 2013
Watch The Practicing Photographer at lynda.com.
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.
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