Welcome to (The Occasional) Photo Tip of the Day! Please also visit my main site jeffwignall.com. Text and photographs Copyright 2014 Jeff Wignall.

"Look deep into nature, and you will understand everything better."

Albert Einstein

Monday, July 21, 2014

My new book on color is now available

My new book on color The Photographer's Master Guide to Color is available on Amazon--and it's about a month early, which is great. I started the book just about a year ago and finished it this past winter. The book covers a lot of ground and begins with a survey on the history of color theory, starting with the earliest cave painters and their attempts to mix colors and then goes into some detail about Sir Isaac Newton and his creation of the first color wheel. The book then takes a fairly detailed look at the way that color can be used, exploited and manipulated in color photography. It is, in short, a pretty comprehensive look at the subject of color.

I think the most interesting thing in writing this book was the research that I did before I actually began writing. It was a very hot and humid July when I first started the research and I spent about two months on my couch in front of a fan reading every book I could find about color and color theory. While I thought I was already pretty well versed in the topic before I started my research, I learned so very much--and it's a fascinating story. There is nothing like having an excuse to focus on one interesting subject for a long period of time.

I've also just been told by my publisher that the book is now available for pre-order in the U.K., New Zealand and in Australia!

I've published so many books on photography that I've (seriously) lost count, but this is one of my favorites and I'm happy to see it become available. I hope you enjoy it.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Approach Shorebirds Slowly

I'm lucky that I live near a lot of beaches and close to a tidal river so there are always a lot of shorebirds to photograph. While a lot of photographers think that having huge telephoto lenses is the key to getting close to this kind of wildlife (and long lenses will certainly make your life easier), the truth is that shorebirds are very accustomed to human company and they'll tolerate your presence more than you might think. The trick to getting close though is to approach slowly and appear to be moving somewhat randomly.

Don't just hop out of the car and make a beeline for your subject, for instance.  Instead, get out of the car slowly and stand beside it for a few minutes. Then, gradually make your way closer to the shore by walking in a somewhat circuitous route--edging closer and closer. And try to appear uninterested in your subject: never look directly at it, avoid eye contact and try to look at the ground, the sky--anything but the subject. Hesitate every few feet until you're close enough to shoot but not so close that you'll scare off your subject. All animals have a "circle of safety" where they feel secure and as long as you stay outside of that distance they will accept you as a reasonable risk. You can tell the instant you've crossed into that circle because the bird will stop hunting, will pay more attention to you, or may just up and fly away. If that happens, make a mental note of the distance and use that information next time.

Getting close to any wild animals, and shorebirds in particular, is a matter of patience and letting your subjects gain confidence that you are not an immediate threat. In shooting this egret I parked the car about 40' away and was able to gradually move to within less than 10' in under 20 minutes. Once I reached what I felt was the bird's safe zone, I stopped moving and just became a part of the background. I was able to shoot for nearly a half an hour while the egret fished.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Having fun with the new "Oil Painting" filter in Photoshop CC.

I've been playing a lot with the "Oil Painting" filter that I discovered in Photoshop CC. I started a subscription to Photoshop when I got my new Mac Mini and I'm kind of enjoying not having to buy the software. This filter is a blast and very addictive--it allows you to apply an oil-painting look to your images very simply. But click the photos to see the full effect--you really can't see it on a phone or as a small image. I'm sure lots of people think it's tacky and it probably is, but I love it anyway. Lots of fun! Cool.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Just Published: Read My Benjamin Von Wong Profile on DP Review

Recently I've begun writing for the wonderful DPReview website, certainly among the biggest and best photo sites in the world. My first published piece is a profile of the amazing young Canadian photographer Benjamin Von Wong. Ben is not only an incredibly talented, creative and hardworking artist but he has quite an inspiring story to tell: he quit his day job as a mining engineer just over two years ago and in that short time has won client and fans all over the planet. His behind-the-scenes videos, showing how he creates his amazing images, have had nearly two million views on Youtube! Ben's photos are a wild mix of surrealistic vision and hyper-reality and he uses every creative device at his disposal, including walls of fire, elaborate costumes and sets and a broad range of very talented models and actors. But what will blow you away most of all is the fact that the vast majority of his images are created right in front of the lens--there is almost no Photoshop!

My DPReview profile will run in two parts and the second part will publish on Mach 15, 2014. Also, be sure to check out Ben's own site for galleries of his wild photos. By the way, the cool photo here is a self portrait by Von Wong--photographer, visual engineer, storyteller...and fire spitter! (Photo Copyright Benjamin Von Wong, courtesy of the photographer.)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Good news: jeffwignall.com is back online

After a long sleepy online nap of about a year, I finally decided to re-launch my main site jeffwignall.com. I had taken it down for several reasons. One reason was that I was extremely unhappy with the host (a horrible company whose initials are "NS"). Since then I have found a terrific hosting company called Fat Cow based on the recommendation of a friend. Fat Cow offers some great and very cheap hosting services and a great web-creation software called Weebly.

One of the other reasons that I took my site down was that it had more than 100 free tutorials posted there and I decided that, in addition to the fact that a lot of them were getting outdated, I also wanted to *sell* some of the information found in my tutorials as part of ebooks. In the next year I hope to begin a self-publishing venture where I can teach photography via ebooks and have total control over the content and appearance of my books. I don't know if a single soul will ever buy one, but it will be a fun experiment. And, better still, I'll own the company. I am also considering starting a series of online digital photography classes with critiques, etc.

Yet another (and I think important) reason that I took my site down was that I just wanted to put more space between my life and the cyberworld. Every day it seems like the Internet becomes more and more like George Orwell's Big Brother from 1984 (a book that is on my list for rereading this winter--I hope I can find my old paperback copy!) and it felt good to be less entangled for a year. In fact, I think it's a good idea for anyone that doesn't depend on their site for income to shut their site down now and then for a few weeks or a few months or, in my case, a year. Yes, I lost a lot of ground in my search-engine standings, but who cares? I know how to get it back and that is all that really matters.

So, I'm not sure how much useful information will be on the new jeffwignall.com (right now it's pretty much just a resume) but I will find interesting things to write about and ideas to share. And soon, on this blog and on my site, I'll introduce my new book that is coming out in the spring, being published by Ilex Press in Europe. I'm very excited about the book and I can't wait to see it!

Happy Christmas, War is over (if you want it) and I hope you'll join me in welcoming the return of the sun on Saturday!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Photographic Issue #20: I wrote the entire issue!

If you're headed out to the newsstand soon, keep an eye out for Petersen's Photographic, Issue 20--I wrote the entire issue from cover to cover. The issue features profiles and portfolios by eight master photographers that I interviewed about their specialties--why they chose them, how they've managed to thrive in the very competitive photo business and what they love about their work. Each of the photographers also shares a lot of inside secrets about how they do such incredible work. Really, this issue is like a master class in magazine form. The photographers included (and their specialties) are:

Janet Loughrey: Garden photography
Ron Niebrugge: Alaska wildlife
Jill Reger: Classic and antique cars
Brian Oglesbee: Fine art photography
Jon Van Gorder: Food photography
Greg Hartford: Maine landscapes
Derek Doeffinger: Wilderness waterfalls
Steven Hyatt: Architectural/church interiors

The reproduction in the magazine is superb and there are no ads so the magazine is 100% editorial content. It's a super issue and the editors and production staff did a fantastic job. I couldn't be happier with the look of the magazine. You can read two sample articles from the issue on the Photographic site. By the way, I'm about to finish a brand new book and I'm pretty excited about how it came out--so I'll post more about it soon.