Ben Long: Practice the Art of Seeing

Ben would really, really like you to buy the upcoming 9th edition of Complete Digital Photography, but he adds that there’s nothing that will help make you a better photographer than to practice. Specifically, to practice the art of seeing.

Get out there and practice, practice, practice!

Sign up today for our email list, and we’ll send you information on the 9th edition as we have it, including sample chapters, discounts and more.

The Rise of Computational Photography

Computational photography is coming up more and more as a topic these days, driven largely by developments in the smartphone world. Apple and Google, specifically, have worked diligently over the past few years to overcome the inherent limitations in the cameras of their pocket-size phones—small sensors and tiny lenses—to produce better images than would be available solely from the phones’ optics alone. By using custom chips, advanced software, dual lenses (in the case of newer iPhones and some Android phones) and more, these phones can create photographs that once required high-end cameras or painstaking compositing to produce. (For more, see Jeff Carlson’s piece on DPReview.com about the computational aspects of the iPhone XS.)

The result is that our phones now use this technology to provide impressive images, ones combined in the phone from multiple “shots.” They include things like automatic high-dynamic range (HDR) photos, seamless panoramas, and portraits with shallow depth of field. Sure, you can find many online commenters who rail against the bad portrait shots and wonky panos as proof that this iPhone or that Pixel is not as good as a basic SLR or mirrorless camera, but that misses the point (something we talk about extensively in Taking Better Pictures Doesn’t Mean a New Camera). Read more »

First proofs of Complete Digital Photography 9 have arrived!

We hit an important milestone this week with the 9th edition of Complete Digital Photography: we received the first proof copy of the book from our printer, and it looks great!

In the last couple of weeks, we prepared the first half of the book to be printed as a test. We wanted to check the general layout, making sure the margins were correct and the fonts readable. We also wanted to get a sense of the look and feel of the book in its new, slightly larger, format. Plus, since it is a book about photography, we also wanted to make sure that the images looked good when printed on our chosen paper type.

Overall, we’re very pleased. The cover looks awesome, and the feedback we’ve gotten from others is that it’s clean and readable inside, with a good balance of images and text. It’s a great feeling to see the physical fruits of something that you’ve worked on for so long, and know that you’re getting closer to the finish line.

We should have the 9th chapter of the upcoming book available as a free download in the next few weeks. If you’re a subscriber to the blog, we’ll let you know as soon as it’s ready. If you’re not a subscriber, it’s quick and easy to sign up for our low-volume mailing list. (You’ll also get the first shot at the book when it’s released in December.)

Complete Digital Photography proof copy is inFor more information about the book, check out the Complete Digital Photography 9 video update from Ben Long.

Jeff Carlson on Lightroom CC 2.0

Jeff Carlson has a look at the new features in Lightroom CC 2.0 over on DPReview.com. Version 1.0 was announced last year at the annual Adobe MAX conference, and Jeff looks at what’s new in the second generation of the cloud-centric image management and editing app. He also talks about what’s missing, and where he thinks Adobe might be headed with Lightroom CC:

Adobe is wisely undertaking a more gradual transition, continuing to develop both Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic simultaneously without an apparent rush to supplant the latter….

Will Lightroom CC ultimately become the one true Lightroom in the future? I believe so, but Adobe doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to get there yet. In the meantime, I think Lightroom CC is becoming more compelling, but Lightroom Classic photographers, especially if they rely on Classic-only features, will continue to watch for it to get more interesting.

 

Photoshop on the iPad Coming in 2019

This week marks the Adobe MAX conference in Los Angeles, Adobe’s annual centerpiece for product announcements. While there is little major news in the Lightroom Classic/Lightroom CC space (beyond some small updates, which you can read about over on the Lightroom Killer Tips blog), Adobe demoed Photoshop CC for iPad, a brand-new version of the company’s flagship image editor, which “shares the same code base as its desktop counterpart, so there’s no compromise on power and performance or editing results.”

Redesigned for a modern touch experience, Photoshop CC on iPad will deliver the power and precision of its desktop counterpart. Photoshop CC on iPad will let users open and edit native PSD files using Photoshop’s industry-standard image-editing tools and will feature the familiar Photoshop layers panel. With Photoshop CC across devices, coming first to iPad in 2019, you will be able to start your work on an iPad and seamlessly roundtrip all of your edits with Photoshop CC on the desktop via Creative Cloud.

Unlike previous attempts at porting Photoshop to tablets, Adobe appears to be doubling down on the future, which it believes is centered around cloud- and tablet-based editing. The new app (and corresponding desktop versions of Photoshop CC) will use a new format, called Cloud PSD, to sync edits between the cloud and mobile and desktop devices. This new format appears to be similar in intent to the way that Lightroom CC syncs images and edits across devices, albeit in a more Dropbox-style environment.

Adobe gave the Verge an exclusive on the new app, and they have both a good overview of Photoshop CC for iPad and the new Cloud PSD format, as well as a hands-on preview of the app that is well worth watching:

“I’ve been using Photoshop for the iPad for the past week, and it feels distinctly like Photoshop with a few design choices optimized for a touchscreen. It doesn’t have every tool available in desktop Photoshop; in fact, it’s missing the entire upper task bar with the drop-down menu. Instead, you’ll find tools like adjustment layers in the collapsible right-side toolbar.”

[Update: Adobe has made the MAX keynote available online; the Photoshop iPad section starts at approximately 1 hour and 1 minute into the presentation, and lasts about ten minutes.]

Jeff Carlson: iPhone XS a “leap forward in computational photography”

Over at DPReview this morning, our old friend Jeff Carlson has a very interesting review of the camera in Apple’s new iPhone XS and XS Max. It’s not a traditional, all-you-need-to-know review, however.  Instead, Jeff focuses on the “computational power” found in the phone’s hardware, and how it drives the improved HDR and Portrait modes:

“Aside from folks who still shoot film, almost nobody uses the term ‘digital photography’ anymore – it’s simply ‘photography,’ just as we don’t keep our food in an ‘electric refrigerator.’ Given the changes in the camera system in Apple’s latest iPhone models, we’re headed down a path where the term ‘computational photography’ will also just be referred to as ‘photography,’ at least by the majority of photographers.”

This concept of computational photography will be one of the driving forces in the camera world over the next few years. As we move (slowly) away from big SLRs to mirrorless cameras and vastly improved smartphones, companies like Apple, Google and Samsung could very well be the leaders in this space, leaving traditional camera makers like Canon, Nikon and others to play catch-up.

Photoshop Elements 2019 Ships

Photoshop Elements 2019Adobe today released its annual update to Photoshop Elements, sporting a few new automation features, additional guided-edit functionality, and performance enhancements.

Photoshop Elements 2019, which is available now for $100 (upgrades $80, directly from Adobe), remains Adobe’s sole non-subscription image-editing and organization tool. Sometimes referred to as the “poor man’s Photoshop,” Elements is an extremely capable photo editor, offering most of the important tools found in Photoshop, support for raw photos, and a number of automatic “guided edit” features designed to help you fix or enhance your photos without having to dive into layers and other settings. It also includes an organizational tool, called the Photoshop Elements Organizer, that can be used to import and track your photos. Read more »

Ben Long: looking at photos with a fresh eye

Ben remains hard at work on the 9th edition of Complete Digital Photography (“chained to his desk,” says Rick.) And yet, he still found time to send us a short video about how the creative process of publishing — i.e. the “slog” — informs his photographic work, even when he can’t get out and shoot.

It’s all about looking at your photography with a fresh eye.

Setting your work aside

Ben’s observation, that we could see our work in a different way by setting it aside for a while, is a good exercise. It can separate you from the moment you took the shot, giving you an alternative process for analyzing your photos. (Mixing things up from time to time is also a great way to give you a fresh perspective on your photography.)

While we were working on this post, we learned, sadly, that one of photography’s great practitioners of the “set your work aside” school, Henry Wessel, had passed away recently. Wessel was one of the more interesting photographers of the past 50 years, obsessed with the light — and the sense of place — of the West in all its forms. Part of the infamous “New Topographics” movement of the mid-1970s, Wessel was well-known for developing a roll of film, printing a contact sheet, and sticking it in a drawer for a year. We loved this quote from the New York Times obituary:

“If you let some time go by before considering work that you have done, you move toward a more objective position in judging it,” he said. “The pleasure of the subjective, physical experience in the world is a more distant memory and less influential.”

Give it a try. And, while you’re at it, don’t forget to sign up today for updates to Complete Digital Photography. Get sample chapters, discounts, free ebooks and more.

Fall Foliage Tips

fall foliage close-up
©Hudson Henry Photography

Autumn—one of my favorite times of year—is coming on quickly here in eastern Oregon: The nights are cooler, and each morning, the air has a hint of crispness in it. As a photographer, this change in the weather brings with it the anticipation of fall foliage, and I find myself itching to head out to shoot. I have been scoping out locations, planning my time, looking for the peak windows, and getting my gear ready. I have also been chatting with Ben Long and Hudson Henry about the best approaches for capturing fall color. Among us, we have a few tips for getting the most out of your fall-foliage shots.

Hudson: Let light dictate your scene

Hudson has found himself in some amazing places during autumn, but he also finds inspiration in his home area of Portland, Oregon. Here are a few of his tips for getting the most out of fall color:

  • When I photograph fall colors, I let the light dictate my subject choice and composition. Overcast days are wonderful to work with fall color. Under clouds or fog I can shoot in deep colorful woods without the pesky highlights and shadows that get in the way on blue sky days. Just be sure to keep that dull grey sky out of the frame.
  • Puffy white clouds with blue between soften the highlights each time the sun passes behind a cloud, while allowing me to include the blue and white of the sky to offset the other fall colors I am photographing. On bright sunny days, I use a long lens to look for small details in shadows and reflections while avoiding any direct sunlight or sky in the frame.
  • I rarely leave my polarizer behind, but I always want it for fall colors. Polarizers don’t just add contrast to the sky and help control reflections, they also make fall colors more intense. This is especially true in a misty, wet forest of color. The polarizer cuts through the wet shine on the leaves allowing me to capture more saturation.
  • Finally, I’m not at all above carrying a particularly lovely leaf specimen to place in just the right spot in the frame. Props have been a part of photography since the dawn of the art, and if it helps me capture the image I’ve envisioned, then I’m all for it.

Read more »

Complete Digital Photography 9 video update from Ben Long

Ben Long sent us a short video update from his top-secret writing lair. He tells us that is working hard to finish the 9th edition of his Complete Digital Photography book. Well, mostly…

If you would like to find out more regarding the next edition, check out our recent post, Update on the 9th edition of Complete Digital Photography. To stay informed about updates, sign up for our upcoming books list, and we’ll let you know when the book is available. We will also send information on free sample chapters, book discounts and much more.