Welcome to (The Occasional) Photo Tip of the Day! Please also visit my main site jeffwignall.com. Text and photographs Copyright 2015 Jeff Wignall.

“The best way out is always through.”

Friday, July 10, 2015

To Black and White, or Not to Black and White

It's been a long, long time since I did any "real" black and white photography and I kind of miss all those years when I worked with black and white film. For probably 10 years black and white was my primary means of expression. I had a darkroom in my basement since I was in my teens (my father, a photographer, taught me how to develop film when I was about 10 years old) and later I worked for several newspapers and so shot dozens of rolls of film a week at times. I probably spent more time in the darkroom than out of it. And I loved it. Just me, the radio, cigarettes (in those days, no more), coffee and my darkroom. It was the best.

Today the only black and white work I do is converting digital images to black and white in Photoshop (did you know that all digital cameras capture their images as black and white data?). The process is very easy, you just select that option from the layers-palette menu and then you can adjust the tonality based on the original colors in the scene (choosing to lighten or darken reds or yellows or blues, for example). You can convert an image with just a few keystrokes and it's a lot of fun.

I shot this image of an old building not far from my house. It was once a famous costume museum on the grounds of the American Shakespeare Theatre believe it or not. (Thus the title of this posting.) I really like the color version a lot, but I think the black and white variation is interesting, as well.

Which do you prefer? Please don't forget to stop by my main site jeffwignall.com

Monday, June 1, 2015

McDonald's Drive-Thru Photo Opps

I got in a slow line at the McDonald's drive through thru this week and fortunately had my camera next to me in the front seat. I'd noticed some interesting shapes in the back of this building on past visits and so I was happy to get in a slow line. The late-afternoon lighting was great and the saturation of the colors and the combinations of highlights and shadows and the very bold and graphic shapes were just great fun to explore. I shot about 20 frames in about four or five minutes. I had such a good time shooting that I know I'll have to go back. The food is pretty awful (the tea is great, oddly enough), but it's a visually exciting and colorful place to shoot--maybe they can attract more business by inviting photographers to shoot their buildings, lol. I shot all of these images with a Nikkor 18-70mm zoom lens; most of them were shot at a pretty wide-angle setting. I shoot in RAW 100-percent of the time, but did virtually no adjusting on these shots in post--what you see here are the frames exactly as shot. I didn't even crop them (I rarely crop). Also, I drive a van, so I'm up higher than you would be in a normal car, I think that helped a bit. You never know where you're going to find good photo opps, so keep your camera or your cellphone camera handy. Once the line started to move I had to stop shooting and I was pretty disappointed. Who knew I'd be hoping for a slow drive-up lane from now on?

Please visit my main site jeffwignall.com.

Monday, May 4, 2015

A foggy day on the Housatonic River

Just a foggy day on the Housatonic River in Connecticut. I shifted the color balance for each using the white balance setting during the RAW conversion process--one of the reasons that I always shoot in RAW. One of the nice things about the start of spring is that there always seem to be a few interesting days of dense fog.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

My interview with Michael Grecco is live on Motion Arts Pro Daily

I'm pleased to announce that my interview with the wonderful photographer and filmmaker Michael Grecco has gone live on the Motion Arts Pro Daily site to mark the release of his new Panasonic-sponsored film "Forever Young" (there is a link to it from the interview). I'm sure that you have all seen Michael's iconic celebrity still portraits and it's nice to see this ambitious new short film from him. It was a lot of fun to delve Michael's very creative mind and to study his work so closely--and it was a great pleasure to interview him. (Photos: Steven Martin photo by Michael Grecco and shot below of Michael at work on the set of "Forever Young." Both: Copyright 2015 Michael Grecco.)

Thursday, March 26, 2015


Not the sharpest photo I've ever taken, but I decided to haul out a lens I haven't used in a long time: a Sigma 400mm f/5.6 APO. I shot this photo of a coot on the Housatonic River in Connecticut using that lens with a 1.4x tele-converter (also Sigma). Coots are a real challenge to shoot because they just never stop moving, they are like perpetual motion machines when they're in the water--and they are small and fast. I was close enough to the riverbank that I found shooting from my van with the lens resting on a rolled up sweater in the window frame was the simplest solution. I shoot on a tripod about 95% of the time, but sometimes you have to improvise and being up high in my van gave me a good vantage point. I had to sharpen this quite a bit in Photoshop and it's still not blazingly sharp. I think the slight softness is due to the motion of the bird and the extreme focal length (with the 1.4x) more than the quality of the glass: on a dx Nikon body the 400mm is 600mm effectively and with the added 1.4x tele-converter, it's a whopping 840mm. It's a been a great winter/early spring for birding in Connecticut.

Friday, March 20, 2015

So long winter!

Today marks the last partial day of winter: spring starts at 6:46 p.m. on March 20th. And for all of us in New England who have endured one of the worst winters in recorded history, may I just say: Good riddance! Not that we don't love you winter, you were fun to photograph, but let's have some fun shooting spring for a change. Of course, there is snow predicted for today here in southern Connecticut--so we will begin with a white first day of spring. In the meantime, here's a shot from my bathroom window about two weeks ago with a haiku I wrote on March 19th. Happy spring.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Neck Banding Geese: What do you think?

I posted this photo on Facebook a few days ago just to show what a banded Canada goose looks like and there was an immediate firestorm about the way the goose has been tagged. Ornithologists and other environmental scientists use bands/collars like this so that they can spot and record the goose at great distances, so that they don't have to capture or even get close to the bird. In that respect it is a good thing for the goose.

But many Facebook readers thought this method of tagging was cruel to the goose--even though it's been in use for decades. What do you think?

Banding is used to track geese and other birds so that scientists can study their movements, habits and habitats. By knowing more about where the birds travel and when, they are better able to know which habitats need the most immediate protection--a good thing. But still, many bird lovers are apparently very upset at the method used to mark these geese.

And I'm sure that the geese (who feed on grains and small bits of plant matter, not fish) are able to eat and drink normally. I have no idea if the collars hurt the geese in any way. As one reader pointed out, the collar may not be as tight as it seems: geese (and all birds) puff up their feathers a lot in cold weather to stay warm and so the collar may look tighter than it really is. There are many types of banding on birds (this goose also has a small leg band on its right leg--look closely) and they are all authorized by this organization.

Leave a comment if you have an opinion or if you know something about banding/tagging of birds and geese. And, by the way, friend me on Facebook if you want, always happy to have more friends. Please be sure also to visit my main site. (Photo made with a Nikon D90 and an 80-300mm Nikkor lens.)