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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.

By Jim Heid | Thursday, September 05, 2013

Paying attention while shooting wildlife: The Practicing Photographer

Ben Long explores wildlife photography.

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.

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

Explore this course at lynda.com.

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.

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