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

"In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on."


Robert Frost

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Chateau Where da Vinci Died

For the past few months I've been working on two new books and, as usual, that requires me digging into the files to find enough photos to fill the books. I found this picture while scrounging around in some photos that I shot in France a few years ago and while it's a pretty horrid photo, it reminded me of an interesting moment. While poking around the Ch√Ęteau at Amboise (Amboise is a pretty touristy town in the Loire Valley) I came across a sign board that gave some of the history of the chateau including the astounding claim that Leonardo da Vinci died (and is buried) in a chapel adjoining this building. I'm not sure but I think this round portion of the chateau is that chapel. He is also apparently buried in there. Da Vinci, as a guest of King Francis, came to Amboise in 1515 and died there in 1519 and lived in the chateau during that four-year period.

The thing that was shocking to me was that I had no idea I would encounter Leonardo in the middle of France! The very thought that I might be touching a building that Leonardo had once touched was staggering to me. The fact that he was buried in there (though there is some skepticism about that claim in some sources) was even more profound. The lighting was awful on the day I shot this and, being tourists, we didn't spend a whole lot of time in one place, but I'd love to return again and do justice to this very interesting building (much more attractive when seen from a distance on the other side of the Loire River).

Anyway, just a fun find in the old photo files. I'm always amazed at the things you find when you're traveling. One minute you're buying postcards and stuffing yourself full of French pastry (oh, the bakeries!) and the next you're nearly trembling to be touching a wall that Leonardo, at the very least, looked at several years. For all I know he peered out of one of those narrow tower windows looking toward the area where I was happily munching lunch.

Photo Notes: Photographed with a Nikon D70s and a 28mm Nikkor lens. Converted to black and white and toned in Photoshop.

My Books: My latest book is Exposure Photo Workshop and it was described by Shutterbug magazine as "...probably the best book ever written on the subject." It's available as a Kindle book and is in full color on Kindle Fire, your iPad, etc.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Go Pats!

Need I say more?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Ugly Duckling...not!

I'm kind of busy trying to make a book deadline this week, so not much time for blogging. But I'm using this photo in one of my upcoming books and so I'll let a warm and fuzzy photo take the place of a photo lesson today. I shot this mute swan cygnet on the shore of the Housatonic River (near the mouth of the river) in Connecticut. I don't know why the story of the "ugly duckling" was based on a baby swan, they seem irresistibly cute to me. I shot this one in August of last year, so I'm guessing it's about 12 weeks old (they're typically born toward the end of May, beginning of June). The parents were just a few feet away from me keeping an eye on me (and my tripod) but I was able to get very close and to shoot several dozen frames. Mute swans are hugely powerful animals, but they are much less aggressive than people think; their posturing and hissing is mostly just a warning that you've crossed into their circle of safety. They are very good at setting a perimeter and will let you know when you've entered into their comfort zone.

Photo Notes: Photographed with a Nikon D90 with a 70-300mm Nikkor zoom lens. Exposure was 1/640 second at f/5, on a tripod.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Fantasy Tracks: Fun with the Channel Mixer

I created this image the other day while just doodling in Photoshop. Basically all that I did was to perform my normal corrections in the RAW converter (white balance, exposure, saturation, sharpness, etc.) and then I messed around with the blue channel in the Channel Mixer. In this case I just slid the blue slider all the way to the right and it left most of the colors fairly close to normal but turned the green grass a soft pretty blue. The photo has the look of a color Infrared slide (for those old enough to remember false-color Infrared slide film); a look that I have always liked. Very simple do, try it if you have a Channel Mixer in your editing software. I'm not sure if Photoshop Elements has one or not, but it probably does.

By the way, you can create a somewhat similar effect by misusing the Curves control. I use it to turn sunsets into moonlit scenes. I don't always get the look I want, but it's worth experimenting with sometime.

Photo notes: The photo was shot in Shelton, Connecticut using a Nikon D90 and an 18-70mm Nikkor zoom lens. It was shot on a Manfrotto tripod, in RAW, and the exposure was 1/2 second at f/20. The image was converted using the Adobe DNG converter and worked in Photoshop CS3. This is posting #490.