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

"All children are artists. The problem is how

to remain an artist once he grows up."


Pablo Picasso

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Audubon's "Birds in Focus" Contest Deadline is September 7th!

Got bird photos? If you're an avid bird photographer (pro or amateur, there are separate categories) you should check out the annual Audubon "Birds in Focus" competition--the deadline is September 7th though, so no procrastinating. Prizes include all-expenses-paid trips for two to some very exotic destinations!

You'll find all the details on my new Winning Digital Photo Contests blog. I just posting a reminder here in case you haven't yet seen my new blog. You can read a bit more about this amazing photo there, too--shot by Rob Palmer and featured in my book Winning Digital Photo Contests (Lark Photography Book). What, you don't own the book? You're waiting for a sign from above? Consider yourself signed.  (Photo Copyright Rob Palmer)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Frame Flowers Against Black for Drama

One of the problems of photographing close-ups of flowers is that there is usually a lot of clutter around them. You can use sticks and tripod legs and things to try to keep some of this scrub out of the frame, or limit your depth of field to just your subject (use a wide aperture to limit depth of field) so that the background is out of focus, but it's still there. One way to get a nice clean and dramatic look in flower photos is to use a black background. I carry around a big piece of black fabric and also some pieces of black poster board (about a buck a sheet at craft stores). Then when I find a flower I want to isolate, I slip the background in a foot or two behind the flowers (to keep it totally out of focus and with no reflections or bits of white lint showing up).

I used a sheet of back fabric (slung over a lawn chair a few feet behind the flowers) to photograph these bleeding heart flowers in my garden and, just by good fortune, the fabric was in shadow while the flowers were in sunlight. The added contract of sun against shade helps too. I did, however, also use a small amount of fill-in flash because I wanted more depth of field than I was getting and turning on the flash helped me shoot at a smaller aperture (I was working, as always, in the aperture-priority mode) of f/22. Again, because the flash was several feet away from the black fabric (the flash was only about a foot from the flowers), there was no chance of light picking up folds in the fabric, etc. Later in Photoshop I also used the selective color tool to make sure the black was very black.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Nikon International Photo Contest Almost Here!

The very prestigious Nikon International Photo Contest is about to begin accepting entries--check out my Winning Picture blog for full details! The contest is open to amateurs and pros and there are lots of Nikon cameras as prizes!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

It's a blog, it's a book: It's Jeff Wignall's Digital Photography Crash Course Book!

I have a new book out:  Jeff Wignall's Digital Photography Crash Course! And here's the really fun thing about it: the book is based on and was inspired by this blog. When I started this blog about three years ago, I had an idea that someday I'd like to gather the "best of" the tips from it, expand them and then publish a book of them--and that's exactly what I did. The book, published by Lark Books, was just released today and it features around 150 expanded and illustrated tips--most of them inspired by postings in this blog. One nice aspect of the book is that there is no beginning and no end--you can just flip through it and stop wherever the spirit moves you or the topic interests you. And most of the tips are just two-pages long, so there's no heavy-duty reading--just a lot of fun, quick tips that you can use immediately to improve your photos. The book covers everything from how to photograph carnival rides at night to taking great close-ups to meditating your way to a deeper understanding of your subjects. The book is so new that I haven't even opened the case of them that arrived today from the publisher, but in the next few days I'll give you more of a run down on the table of contents. Or you can just go ahead and order it from Amazon immediately!

Friday, August 13, 2010

National Geographic Photo Contest: Win $10,000

Have a shot you think is good enough to be in National Geographic? They'd like to see it! The annual National Geographic photo contest is underway--get the details on my new Winning Digital Photo Contests blog. Grand prize is $10,000 and publication in the magazine!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Lost Ansel Adams Masterpieces--or No?

Perhaps you've read in the news that a guy named Rick Norsigian from California found a box full of glass-plate negatives that he--and apparently a lot of other folks--believe to be lost Ansel Adams negatives. If they can prove that, the negatives have an estimated value of $200 million. But a lot of folks, including several of Adams' former assistants and members of his family, believe that the photos were not taken by the famed landscape shooter. Rather, the latest theory suggests, they were shot by an unknown (until now) photographer named Earl Brooks. If so, they are probably worth nothing more than spare change. There is even a documentary being made about the find and the search for the real photographer behind the negatives. Whoever shot them, it's a pretty fascinating story and it has drawn a lot of media attention, including this nice story in the Los Angeles Times. Just the thought that a small box of glass negatives could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars is something to ponder!

Photos: Comparison of photos of the Jeffrey pine in Yosemite. On left is a print owned by Marian Walton that she says was taken in 1923 by her uncle, Earl Brooks. Credit: Photographer(s) in dispute/Marian Walton. At right is an image made from a negative that Rick Norsigian found 10 years ago and attributes to Ansel Adams.  Credit: Rick Norsigian Collection

Monday, August 2, 2010

New Digital Photo Contest Blog!

I know what all of your friends have been telling you over the years: your photos are good enough to win a contest. Well, your friends are probably right! But there's only one way to find out--start entering your pictures in contests...and that's exactly what my book Winning Digital Photo Contests is all about. The book has gotten a really great response and lately I've been getting a lot of info about new photo contests and so I decided that contests were such a fun topic they deserved their own blog. So I created one! I'm going to use that space to talk about what it takes to win contests, where to find great contests and to share your winning pictures with the world. So check it out! And do me a favor while you're there, click on the "follow" button (do it for this blog too if you haven't already)--it's a good way for me to know how many people are reading the blogs and you'll also see the latest postings listed on your own Dashboard.

By the way, how good are the prizes you can win in a photo contest? One of the photographers that I wrote about in the book won a photo safari to Tanzania--and another had the front cover of Popular Photography!