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.

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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.

Update on the 9th edition of Complete Digital Photography

We’ve had a few requests recently for information on the status of the 9th edition of Ben Long’s Complete Digital Photography, so it seemed to be the right time for an update.

While I really do wish that the new edition was finished and ready for sale, I can tell you that the book’s production is well underway. Ben has been diligently working on the book for a while now, and I’ve started on the editing and the design side. The biggest challenge for Ben has been the change in the postproduction landscape since the 8th edition, which has meant that most of those chapters need to be rewritten from scratch.

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Practicing Photographer videos free until May 28

Ben Long has been producing the weekly Practicing Photographer video series on Lynda.com (now LinkedIn Learning) for five years. To celebrate, LinkedIn is making the series available free to all viewers through May 28:

In The Practicing Photographer, photographer and teacher Ben Long shares a weekly serving of photographic instruction and inspiration. Each installment focuses on a photographic shooting scenario, a piece of gear, or a software technique. Each one concludes with a call to action designed to inspire you to pick up your camera (or your mouse or smartphone) to try the technique for yourself.

The series includes more 450 videos, with most of them well under 10 minutes in length. (You’ll need a full day—and then some—if you want to watch them all.) There is a list of topics on the Practicing Photographer home page.