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, February 20, 2012

Happy 110th Birthday Ansel Adams

Happy Birthday to Ansel Adams (February 20, 1902-April 22, 1984). Ansel Adams was, I believe, the greatest landscape photographer that has ever lived and was also one of the country's most articulate conservationists. Ansel's images are often pointed to as being technically brilliant (and they were) but more than this his photographs sang with passion and drama born of a lifetime devoted to waiting for light and land to meet in wondrous instants. Thankfully for all photographers Ansel generously shared everything he learned along the way in his many books. Here are the words of President Carter in presenting Ansel with the Presidential Medal of Freedom:

"At one with the power of the American landscape, and renowned for the patient skill and timeless beauty of his work, photographer Ansel Adams has been a visionary in his efforts to preserve this country's wild and scenic areas, both on film and on Earth. Drawn to the beauty of nature's monuments, he is regarded by environmentalists as a monument himself, and by photographers as a national institution. It is through his foresight and fortitude that so much of America has been saved for future Americans."

Photo Courtesy www.anseladams.com

Monday, February 13, 2012

Pretty as a Peacock: Dynamic Design Ideas

I've been writing a new book for the past few months and I have to say that I must be getting old because this one is exhausting me. I guess they all exhaust me, writing is tough work, but you just kind of chop them out, one day at a time. The current book has a lot of tips on composition and image design and one way that I'm coming up with ideas is to just look through my photos and see if I can suggest any design tips based on those photos. It's a kind of fun exercise. Here, for example, are some of the concepts that this shot (taken in Florida) triggers for me:
  • Fill the frame. Notice how there is not an inch or extra space in this frame--the peacock's fan fills the entire area.
  • Look for vibrant colors. Could you get any more vibrant than a peacock in full display?
  • Play with symmetry. Symmetry is sometimes regarded as a negative thing (it's considered too static an arrangement in the frame and has no dynamics the way that off-center images create), but it can also be very powerful when used carefully.
  • Use fill-in flash. I used just a tiny amount of fill-in flash here to light up the colors a touch
  • Look for patterns. I just love the patterns of the "eyes" in the feathers. Again, you'd be hard pressed to find any patterns more interesting than a peacock's display.
  • Use radiant design. This one isn't mentioned much in books, but if you're photographing a flower or a seashell, you get a lot of energy by letting the power of the design radiate out from a central point.
  • Envision your shot. I've always wanted a head-on photo of a peacock in full display. The moment I saw this one walking toward me I already knew the shot I wanted. Don't be afraid to daydream about the great shots you want to take--sometimes they may walk right up to you (and sometimes they screech at you in a shrill voice--as this one did).
  • Appreciate beauty.  Sometimes you just have to let beauty wash over you and try your best to capture it. Even if you don't get the photo you envision, you'll have shared some time admiring creation--and that is what it's all about--yes?
My photo books: My latest book is Exposure Photo Workshop. It's a very comprehensive and up-to-date look at all aspects of exposures.  It's available in both print and Kindle versions. (The earlier version is available in English, Spanish, Polish, Chinese and for the Kindle.)

This is posting #496.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Wildlife Photographer of the Year Open for Entries


If you're a wildlife photographer, listen up!  The Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012 is now open for entries. This is one of the most prestigious wildlife competitions in the world (it's the former BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Contest) and if you should happen to win an award, you will not only share in the £30,000 prize fund, but you will also:

Have your image:
    •    showcased in the Natural History Museum’s acclaimed annual exhibition, and toured nationally and internationally, reaching over 3 million visitors worldwide.
    •    published within a hardback commemorative Portfolio book by the Natural History Museum and co-edition partners, and translated into at least four international languages.
    •    published in BBC Wildlife Magazine.
    •    enjoy international exposure through the Wildlife Photographer of the Year website - more than half a million page views were received on the day the winners were announced.

There are categories for both adult and young photographers. You can read more about the contest at their site and there is a lot of info there, as well as galleries of previous winners. It's no exaggeration to say that if you win an award here, you've arrived.

Photo Notes: I shot this photo of a dragonfly at a small pond in Stratford, Connecticut. It was shot with a Nikon D90 body with a 70-300mm Nikkor lens (with close-up tubes), using an SB800 Nikon Speedlight, all mounted on a Manfrotto tripod and captured in RAW.