Welcome

I am Rod Wynne-Powell, and this is my way to pass on snippets either of a technical nature, or related to what I am currently doing or hope to be doing in the near future.

A third-person description follows:
Professional photographer, Lightroom and Photoshop Workflow trainer, Consultant, digital image retoucher, author, and tech-editor for Martin Evening's many 'Photoshop for Photographers' books.

For over twenty years, Rod has had a client list of large and small companies, which reads like the ‘who’s who’ of the imaging, advertising and software industries. He has a background in Commercial/Industrial Photography, was Sales Manager for a leading London-based colour laboratory and has trained many digital photographers on a one-to-one basis, in the UK and Europe.
Still a pre-release tester for Adobe in the US, for Photoshop, he is also very much involved in the taking of a wide range of photographs, as can be seen in the galleries.

See his broad range of training and creative services, available NOW. Take advantage of them and ensure an unfair advantage over your competitors…


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Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Arrival at Turvey

Today was clear and bright, and I did have an initial destination in mind, but Road diversions put paid to that, and I found myself on a diversionary route, and this meant I was losing daylight, so I ended up heading for Turvey, where I found a different subject of interest; architecture. On this occasion, not avant-garde, but historic. But a look at my route taken before arriving there, involved several ‘about turns’ because every time a convenient turning appeared oncoming traffic would have meant holding up those motorists behind me, so I drove on! This added considerably to the mileage I encountered, as simply stopping was not a viable option due to the available width. However, upon my return I did now know where I was able to turn around, and find a suitable spot to park up.
On this occasion, the choice of lens was straightforward, so I was back to using my 5D MkIII with the 24-70mm, and the subjects I chose were all well lit except for one. Also, since I am somewhat pedantic in relation to verticals being vertical, I was invariably shooting with spare space enough to make such adjustments on the Mac when in post-production in Lightroom. I only took enough images to create a single page gallery, but it was therapeutic, and satisfying, especially as it was the first occasion for several weeks that I was not shooting with my mirrorless EOS R.

Monday, 20 January 2020

Very Brief Visit to Marston Lake

Once again I started out way too late, but despite this I was still determined to make the most of my afternoon, by visiting my nearest lake, Marston Lake. There was edge-to-edge blue sky, and I parked right at the nearest shore to the entrance. And the number of birds on the water was way more than on my last visit which was heartwarming, and also as I scanned the water, I spotted one of my favourite birds, a Grebe.
It was surprisingly close, but sadly it took a while to get the camera mounted on the tripod, by which time it was at least twice the distance from me than I had first caught sight of it. Undeterred, I patiently watched to see whether it would come closer, but after each dive, it seemed to be increasing its distance from me.
At a much greater distance were Cormorants. Although not one of my favourite birds, Cormorants can sometimes have some interesting traits, and I was interested in the behaviour I observed of a couple near some stunted trunks of dead trees a good distant from my position. Their greater size slightly nullified the extra distance from my position, and there was some interesting interaction between two of their number as they occupied the branches of a long-dead submerged tree. It appeared the bird that was perched on one such stump was considered by another to have a good position, the other decided that s/he had been there for long enough, so was attempting to dislodge it, with little success; as the incumbent was unmoved, and stared the usurper down! Stretching its wings to dry them, the incomer seemed to be a tad threatening, but to no avail — the stand-off continued.
There were some Gulls, Coots, and a Swan also on the water, but all way closer to the farther shore, so I presume they knew that I was unlikely to venture to that far shore as I would be shooting against the light – birds are quite canny, and know quite a lot about humans; their behaviour, and what kit these pesky humans use to photograph them – on numerous occasions, kingfishers have approached really close, knowing full well that my long lenses have no chance of focussing that close! They are bright enough to perch on the static rods of Anglers, who in turn use those opportunities to get better shots than many a professional, by quietly using their phones to capture those fortuitous visitor events! We often study animal behaviour for any number of reasons; self-preservation, curiosity or to extend our knowledge, should we therefore believe that other species do not make similar observations and react accordingly. The time a Kingfisher circled twice really close to my camera, was I wrong to consider it might actually be fully aware that I did not track its movements when it approached close, from previous examples of such dismissive behaviour by others of my species?
My earliest sightings of Grebe on this occasion were when I had yet to assemble the camera on a tripod, and just before leaving, I ventured beyond my car in the direction of the dead-end of the lake path which is marked off-limits to anglers, when one Grebe came similarly close and I was shielded by high bushes on this occasion and was able to get my final shots.

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Exploratory Visit to Sydlngs Copse

This time of year, is a chance for me to explore the possibilities for new locations; to seek places offering photo opportunities. So out come maps and various books to give me new places to visit and explore.
‘Where to go for Wildlife in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire’ is just such a manageable sized book to offer a good selection of places to visit and help plan such trips, and Sydlings Copse seemed worth a look, so that was where I headed, but due to a mixture of mildly unhelpful signage, reaching its Car Park involved a tad more than my SatNav and three three point turns to actually arrive, but perhaps that was a cunning plan to ensure the small Car Park was not overwhelmed! 
I had not packed my gear in the ideal manner for the task in hand as the weather had been unkind to this environment as much of the area was waterlogged due to the recent rains. I wasted much valuable time changing shoes from those suitable for driving to plodding through mud and putting the chosen lens on the camera and monopod, because I was fairly sure there was a good trek before I would actually be shooting. Also, I decided to sling a second camera round my neck, to ensure I did not have to make a premature return for a lens change. That precaution proved to be superfluous, but it was hardly a burden.
The shots I captured were hardly world-shattering, but what I did find later that was not expected was yet another site with numerous anthills much like those I encountered at Pilch Field, and this little nugget of information was to come up in a conversation with a fellow visitor to this spot, as this gentleman had been unaware of the true nature of theses mounds! After a shortish, but careful plod through the slippery path, I was able to negotiate the kissing gate to the wide vista offered by the open undulating grassy slopes to which I had arrived.
It was an interesting venue that I will definitely pay a future visit, because I had seen but a tiny fraction of this place, and had arrived way too late for this time of year, and the sun was setting by the time I returned to the car, and the scraping sounds from the indefatigable Park Ranger as he bent to the task of clearing some of the mud from the parking area. Once I had completed the task of restoring my camera gear to the boot to the sounds of his ongoing battle with the mud, I stopped for a chat with him, but I was not alone in preventing him from his delayed labours, because he was deep in conversation with yet another visitor when I bade him farewell in the now deepening gloom!

One of the lasting memories of this short visit was the vivid saturation of green, in the moss-covered stumps of long dead trees. Another aspect was where I had photographed some of the other visitors and apologised for my intrusion upon their privacy, how easy it was to involve those fellow visitors in conversation, as they either walked as couples, or exercised their canine pets in the great outdoors. I hope I have captured the atmosphere of the place in such a brief visit, and hope to return for a longer and earlier visit when it is drier underfoot.


Monday, 13 January 2020

2020 New Year Concert – St Mary's, Eaton Bray


 
             A New Year and New Decade begins for the Aylesbury Concert Band, with its opening Concert for the Season. At the rehearsal the Car Park was filling steadily as I brought my Sax-playing daughter in, and as she went in to set up, a steady influx of Band members continued as I gathered my kit, locked up and walked in with the Day's Conductor.
               Inside St. Mary's Church, Eaton Bray, the atmosphere was alive with the sounds of animated chatter and the setting up of numerous music stands, and arranging of seating for the Band. The numbers of Band members arriving continued to swell, gradually giving way to the more musical sounds of tuning up – Cacophany in C; if there was any nervousness amongst the players it was certainly lost amongst the general hubbub of greetings, re-arrangements of seating and constant flux as Chaos gave way to Order. It was during this phase, I realised I was missing a vital component if I was to use my monopod. I left my kit on a couple of chairs close by the aisle towards the front, and when I returned two reserved tickets had been placed where my camera bag was, so I had to find an unreserved place, one row nearer than planned.
               The Vicar greeted me to generously offer access to the Organ loft, which I accepted gratefully, but from which, on this occasion I found I was unable to use. Once I felt sufficiently organised, I took a few shots to gauge the lighting levels and set my base exposure, and learning that a very full congregation was envisaged, realised that the majority of images of the Band playing were going to be gleaned not from the Concert, but during Rehearsal, where I was free to move around, and take shots of musicians who were in the rear rows or hidden behind pillars.
               It does mean that many views were framed by clothing over chair backs, and many of the musicians were in mufti, rather than their formal dress, and only certain players were visible from my static position during the main event. Hopefully though the spirit of the occasion is carried by the overall range of images I have captured, When listening to music, my feet take on a life of their own, but somehow my hands manage to keep sufficient control to retain their stability; sometimes in post production it does mean verticals do have to be restored, or judiciously cropped to ensure the viewer does not suffer vertigo! It is all a measure however of my enjoyment of the occasion – a Happy New Decade to all who read the blog and enjoy the images captured.

Friday, 10 January 2020

Searching New Locations — Two BBOWT Sites

I have been looking at maps, and most recently the Handbook of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust. I settled on investigating two that looked promising in offering photography opportunities, one was a lake, at Foxcote, the other a large Ridge and Furrow field, at Pilch Field near Great Horwood. The lake was large, with a substantial hide, but that was the one and only location from which to shoot, and that was my first destination. As I walked to the hide via a long straight track, numerous small birds flitted across my path which was a good omen.
However the view was of a very empty lake, and fully fifteen minutes elapsed before I sighted any birds on the water, on the far side I spotted two swans, then a small group of Goldeneye. This was a bird I had not photographed before, so that was promising, although I did manage to get some shots, they were never very close, and were crops from the full focal length of 1200mm (600mm and the 2x Converter!). I spent more than hour in the hide, and viewed from two opposing positions, but those birds on the water never came close unfortunately.
I had no idea what to expect at this second location, Pilch Field, and surprisingly, considering the overall lack of visible animal or bird life, I took more pictures here, because I was fascinated by the vast number of small mounds, and wondered which animal had created them. I phoned BBOWT, and it turns out they were created by ants — they must have been present in very large numbers, and have been very energetic! Presumably, the cultivation method, we humans used all those years back, was highly beneficial for these energetic insects, as they have populated the entire area.
So, despite my search for more exotic bird life was not fulfilled, my day had certainly proved interesting. I had known this was not the season for exciting discoveries, it was very useful in at least understanding what might prove to be worthwhile later in the year.

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Close By the River Gt. Ouse

               I am still scouring nearby areas close by the River Great Ouse in search of new spots from which to patiently capture images of Kingfishers, and to this end found myself down a lane leading to the fast-flowing waters of the river which meanders in oxbow manner through this county. It was certainly rushing by on this afternoon, and from the waterlogged grass and mud at the end of this lane  told that it had obviously exceeded the normal bounds of its banks very recently. However in reaching thus far, the other native birds were in noisy abundance in the bushes and gardens on either side of the lane, so I parked up, having turned the car around to allow me to leave later with ease.
               I did take a walk down the river's edge, but it was way too waterlogged to consider shooting from there. Also, the overall likelihood of this spot proving the ideal location from which to get shots of kingfishers was not good, as the far bank was open to fields beyond, offering no cover.
               However, the sounds and activity from the trees and bushes did offer a great opportunity of shots of numerous other birds; Great Tit, Bluetit, Dunnock, Goldfinch and Robin. This meant it was certainly worth erecting the tripod and mounting my EOS R with the 60-600mm Sigma Sports lens and 2x Converter. Interestingly the larger birds seemed less interested in feeding and stayed at a distance, but a couple of Collared Doves became silhoetted in a distant tree to extend the variety of species I was able to capture. I have normally found Robins with little fear of coming close to humans, but the lone one here was very wary of me.
               The light was flat and dull for most of my time spent shooting, which meant my only chances of crisp images was when the birds were calmly feeding or preparing to fly off, as I did not have the luxury of a fast shutter speed, but my patience was still well rewarded, and I will definitely return now I have found the spot.

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Tring Reservoirs – Canalside Images

               In that iterregnum between Christmas Day and New Years Day, I decided to pay the Tring Reservoirs and Grand Union Canal a visit. It was surprisingly warm and the sky was clear; the birds on the water stayed clear of the banks, and those I sought were absent – the Kingfishers, Grebe and Herons. Numerous groups of friends, families and dog-walkers were making the most of the mild weather to enjoy the opportunity, and the hopeful anglers were few.
               I had my EOS R with the Sigma Sports lens and 2x Converter and a lightish tripod, but on this occasion, I was mainly using the wideangle end of the range, due to my hopeful subjects not making an appearance. I had come for relaxation, and so I was not overly disappointed, and had numerous brief conversations with other photographers, and simply imbibed the tranquility that pervaded.
               So, as a result the gallery of images is but a single page of pictures of personal observations of a quiet afternoon, in an unseasonably warm and windless December approaching the end of this decade. However, the end of the afternoon found several of those visitors stop along the path to witness a truly fabulous murmuration of Starlings perform, as the sun was setting – all that was missing was Music, as a growing gathering of people stopped to watch this almost silent display of massed birds, swooping and circling above the margins of the Lake.
               All of us watched in wonder and quiet conversation as the flying group was gaining ever more small groups of birds to swell their numbers as the light dwindled. Whilst we watched, after the overall size grew ever larger, it would separate for a while, then coalesce once more as the mass semed to be weaving like fine lace in a breeze.  This body of birds circled ever closer to a stand of trees beyond the far shore of the lake, and teased us by then climbing higher. As the light further faded, the straggling smaller groups still came; until the right hand edge of this body of birds, suddenly dived for the trees. But this was barely one third of their total number.
               The remaining group returned to their swirling display, and tantalised all the gathered assembly of people for a while longer before diving down again, but slightly to the left of where the earlier group were settling. This still left a sizeable number of birds in the air, as more stragglers had been absorbed into the mass. Then, the next group flew down to the trees. The remainder still circled for a couple of circuits before they dived for their place in the trees. But, even as they headed for their night's rest a smaller group circled and finally the display ended. All the assembled group of watchers   stood awhile to comment on what they had just witnessed in wonder, before breaking up and heading away. It had been a wonderful way to end the day.

Monday, 23 December 2019

Afternoon Sunshine and Waterlogged Fields

On this afternoon the early clear skies after the rain tempted me to consider getting out and doing some photography; I was hoping for some birds, ideally kingfishers, but that was not to be. I headed first to Biddenham in that there seemed to be a possibility of reaching a stretch of river with trees along its banks, but that proved to be of no luck. On the journey to my next village, I saw a vast open, low-lying field that had succumbed to the recent rains so I parked up just beyond and returned to the viewpoint from which I felt I could take a series of images and create a panorama within Adobe Lightroom, the program I use for my galleries. (The subsequent image is not as wide as I had hoped because of the positioning of one of the young saplings in the foreground).
  I returned to the car and headed for Bromham and where I parked a short walk from one of its bridges having found a suitable slot and took out my camera, popped another couple of lenses into a camera bag and slung that over my shoulder and walked back to where I had seen the Mill, choosing that as a start point with its fast rushing waters, that created interesting eddies swirling past its piers.
A little later I walked across one of the bridges to the small riverside park where some of the trees had recently been cut down, and where I met and chatted to a lady taking her young dog for a walk, during which I asked about spots that I might catch sight of kingfishers. It was during our conversation she showed me images she had on her phone and she mentioned the name of a photographer called Alan Goodger. I told her that I was certain that his was the name of a man I had met a few years back, and when I did a search using Google, I not only found his name, but just a few entries further my blog came up, as I had noted his name in the narrative of a trip to Woburn Park where we met!
The shots I took here were to be the last of the afternoon as the sun was going down, and I was lucky as I left the park to capture the church at Oakley, bathed in warm low sun, with even its reflection in a puddle in the road. I imagine my next photos will be of members of my extended family over the Christmas holiday period.

Thursday, 19 December 2019

The Spirit of Christmas…

               How is the Spirit of Christmas defined?

               Is it defined in the Western World by Christianity?

               Or, is it defined by Market Forces and the year's last ditch efforts to Turn a Profit?

               Or is it that time of year when we remember Friends and Family, and reach out with cards, letters, email and time; to reach those for which a hectic life has somehow prevented us from contacting for too long a time?

               Perhaps it is a smorgasbord of all of the above? Certainly in the Northern Hemisphere, it is often depicted by Wintry scenes of Snow; well, on that score we need to consider more strongly this Planet's tenuous grip on the World's Climate; on the home we have made of the Earth – of All the Species, Humans do have a measure of Control on the Outcome and Longevity of this Planet, so if Snow is to be depicted on our Christmas Cards, then we ought to come together Selfishly to Preserve this our Home.

               In reality that is not a totally selfish thought, but I felt it might appeal to more basic instincts.

               I have not used images of Snow in my Cards this Year, partly in truth because I always like to use fresh images whenever I create cards for Greetings, be they Birthdays or Seasons, and there has been no snow so far in my neck of the woods! No, I chose a couple of moments I captured very recently that expressed one very strong and universal emotion – Love.
I have been fortunate on more than one occasion to capture an action performed in front of me by Swans, and what has been surprising is that the performance on both recent occasions has been aligned perpendicular to my position. Now, since I have my camera on a heavy tripod with a long lens, can this be pure Happenstance? I would very much like to think Not! The Action is certainly one that conveys Love between the two Swans, And to me as Observer, they form the Heartshape we Humans consider – the Symbol of Love.

               Is this fanciful? Perhaps. But as a Message from another Species, it hardly seems specious. So at this time when the majority of my species have this theme at the top of their priorities, albeit some with the baser instincts of Profit, I feel the Images conveyed by my Card can be seen in the Positive aspect of Christmas. Please let it not be the Swansong of Life on this Planet upon which we Live.

Happy Christmas.

PS.
Apology to those who might have clicked the Headline on this occasion – there is no Gallery, but…

Feel free to print out the image below, fold along the middle and let it join all those who were able to give and receive a more tangible card. (This may well only be possible from a Computer or iPAD), in such a case click on it in your browser to view at least what I had intended.

All the Very Best in the Next Decade,

Rod


Sunday, 15 December 2019

Therapeutic Trip to Bromham

Every so often circumstances conspire to cause me stress, and I need to get relief in some form of therapy; the best I know is to grab a camera and take some images. On this occasion, I had lost time and was desperately trying to make it up getting a series of Christmas cards printed, alongside a series of emailed versions that I needed to sort for those for whom I had no addresses and so was trawling the address book to add to my master email. Hence, once this task was largely sorted, I opted for phototherapy.
I decided that a reasonable destination was the small Nature Reserve and lake at Bromham, however the SatNav was not particularly helpful with accepting a destination, so I had to opt to tap an intended destination on the map, since it consistently refuses to accept the destinations I provide unless it happens to have the specifics in its database, and even more irritating it deletes my entry! So much for the updated, SatNav! 
Upon my final arrival it was very muddy and the sun was dropping rapidly and was soon lost below the horizon of the wood surrounding the lake, and the paths through were waterlogged and interspersed along their length were large pools of water, that made it not worth my while heading to the lake itself, so I decided upon capturing shots of leaves, berries and views that at least recorded what I felt were deserving in the lowering light levels. Handily, the number of images I felt worthy of being of interest by the time I had worked my way through, came to exactly enough to create two gallery pages without my having to throw any out, and satisfied my need for the trip.
I commend them to those viewing the assembled gallery as interesting, though hardly world-shattering examples of photography, and I felt more relaxed once they were edited, assembled and these narrative words that are now complete. I only saw a lone bird, met one interesting man exercising his dog who seemed intent on inflicting wounds on itself, and needed constant recalls from danger! When I was finally leaving I met a couple who were just returning from their constitutional, and before I drove off we chatted briefly, and I said ‘yes’ in reply to the voice which greeted me asking whether I wished to head for ‘home’.

Monday, 9 December 2019

Fairford Leys 2019 Christmas Concert

Each year, Fairford Leys provides a Christmas Concert in the central square, and the Aylesbury Concert Band performs under the overhang of the colonnade to provide possible shade from the weather.
When we arrived, there were warming flames from braziers to welcome us, and the seats were already arranged for the Band, and as my daughter set up her Saxophone, I brought out my camera and placed the camera bag behind the players for security and chose the 24-70mm lens and checked its settings and took a shot of the nearby instrument to see what shutter speed I was having to consider, and despite the lighting being only from candles above us and the spill from numerous individual lights placed on the music stands by individual musicians, it was on the cusp of useable.
This was definitely going to be right on the edge of usability, as the ISO indicated was 12,800 and gave me a shutter speed of 1/5th of a second at f/7.1, which meant, I would often be taking multiple shots and 'chimping' to ascertain whether I had achieved an acceptable image. The one advantage that cameras with focal plane shutters have over shutters with iris blades is that the slit is travelling over the frame faster speed giving effectively a faster shutterspeed.
Another advantage the EOS R has over my other two camera bodies is this full-frame body has a higher pixel count than my EOS 5D MkII, which means the noise is less obtrusive, and with judicious use of noise reduction, the end result is slightly smoother. Towards the end of the afternoon, I was asked to take some group Band shots, and it was fortunate that I had brought along my electronic flash, because I would need to stop down further to encompass the greater depth needed for such shots.
The informality of the Concert here allows me to move around the band taking either individuals or small sections with reasonable ease, but with the narrow depth of the covered area, pillars and stands and other players, still meant getting perfect compositions unfettered by lights on music stands and banners, other musicians, or their instruments intruding, is unavoidable. Also at low light levels, I can easily miss the intrusions of these LED lights, clothes pegs, or sometimes, other instruments. There were no trombones on this occasion, which can sometimes be a challenge.
One noticeable absence on this occasion is Band uniforms, replaced by layers of warm outer garments, gloved fingers, festive headgear, flashing lights and large woollen scarves.
The programme of tunes was governed by the interspersing of other parties providing the Christmas narrative, which meant there were lulls in the Band's playing schedule, which often plays havoc with ever-changing notes due to cold instruments and often frozen lips of the musicians. It is fortunate that the Festive Spirit tends to accept these inevitabilities, and there are other diversions, such as the Cymbals, which add to the enjoyment of the players themselves! Altogether a very enjoyable introduction to the season of Goodwill.

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Harold-Odell Country Park

Wednesday dawned bright and crisp, and the car which overnight had been encased in a thick frosty coat, was slowly warming in the bright sunshine above the low lying mist, thawing the windows from the rear of the parked car going forward.
The mist was also burning off though more slowly, and the sky above was a cloudless blue, which enticed me to consider a trip out to record life on the lake to the North of me at Harold-Odell Country Park. I had a leisurely breakfast, by which time the last of the frost had thawed making it a matter of moments to clear the moisture from the front and rear screens, and a swift lowering of the front door windows to clear them, before heading northwards. The only heavy traffic encountered was on the section of the A421 currently narrowed and speed-restricted from the M1 Junction northwards till the dual carriageway.
When I reached my destination there were roadworks just before the turning for the car park, so I parked on the right before the entrance in the small very muddy lay-by. It is was at this point that my day’s luck ran out. Somehow my car key had been damaged earlier in my pocket, and I found that I was unable to use the open switch on it, and using the key manually left me no means by which I could open the boot! Add to my annoyance, my alarm sounded as well due to the delay in discovering that I had to turn that off whilst the key was in the Ignition! It took some while for me to work out a way to get around this Snafu! My woes did not end there, as I had left my monopod in the house, and it had my tripod head on it, so all my shooting was going to be handheld. It was therefore a blessing that at least the exposures were going to be fast enough for my long lens.
Before entering the Park, I wanted to get some shots of the lingering mist and the distant churches before the sun burned this off, and even as I was taking these the mist was lifting, and the distant scene was crispening.
I had hoped I might see Grebe on the water, but they were nowhere to be seen, gulls and Mallards were in the majority, and swan families were reasonably numerous too. Along the margins inshore I kept spotting a Robin, but it was too flighty, rarely still long enough for me to get a focus, before it was off elsewhere.
I only stayed long enough to capture a few representative shots, before it became obvious there were no new views to be had.

Monday, 2 December 2019

Aylesbury Concert Band — Christmas Carols — St. Mary’s Church

A crisply cold afternoon in the warmth and welcoming atmosphere that pervades this Annual event hosted by the Town’s Mayor, Councillor Mike Smith, with the Reverend Douglas Zimmerman officiating.
The readings were given by the Town Mayor, followed by His Honour Judge Sheridan DL, Fran Bourgeois-Wheeler, CEO Youth Concern, Julia Upton, MBE, High Sherriff of Buckinghamshire, Group Captain Katherine Wilson, CO, RAF Halton, Alicia Foster, Thames Valley Police Cadets.
  The start of the afternoon’s ceremony was heralded by the Band playing the Pavane from Aylesbury Dances by Wiffin, which brought the general level of Audience conversations down as the local dignitaries filed in from the rear to take their designated seats at the front of the congregation, and the Rector of St. Mary’s welcomed all to the Season’s singing praises to God.

It was less easy than some years to cover the event, as I was shooting from a comparatively low viewpoint, and current etiquette requires avoidance of the young children, which is almost impossible, so I have tried to lessen the lighting on those in the forefront where possible. I hope however that I have still recorded the ambience of the event without causing offence.

Friday, 29 November 2019

A Further Brighter Day

I was up early to pay my optician a visit at Luton, and after that, I took the opportunity to see what pictures I could take at the Stockwood Discovery Centre gardens. It turned out there was a problem — large areas of the gardens were on lock-down as preparations were being made to create a lighting extravaganza for Christmas.
The end result was that a major proportion of the gardens were unavailable, somewhat limiting the boundaries for my subject matter, but I rose to the challenge  as it would be a shame to waste all this clear sunshine. It just meant I would have to look harder in the search for suitable images. It would be a shame when the lighting was so pleasing, to fail to do my utmost to capture whatever came my way.

Another disappointment was I had no access to the Greenhouse due to a somewhat over zealous application of Health & Safety regulations, I hope that what I did manage to capture gives an indication of some of the beauty of late Autumn in the gardens.

Thursday, 28 November 2019

A Brighter Day — a Photo Opportunity?

I had an opportunity to be out for the first chance in a while, so gathered my camera gear and headed for the closest lake. Upon arrival at the gate, I entered the numbers to allow me access, and when it did not open I assumed that the number had been  changed, so phoned the Water Bailliff, but he was unsure, but he would contact one of the other. I therefore decided to try again, and this time it opened! I suspected therefore my earlier attempt had been thwarted, by the rain of the last several days. I immediately phoned the Bailliff back to say all was OK, and apologised for bothering him.
Once I was parked by the lake, I got out of the car and took a look across the water, at first only seeing gulls and some coot, all congregated in the middle, away from any shore, which was a disappointment. I stayed awhile trying to spot any more interesting subjects, and a couple of swans came into view, and a small group of gulls took to the air, and that gave me a chance to catch sight of a Grebe.
That was incentive enough for me to erect the tripod and mount the camera and lens. On this occasion I had remembered to ensure I had the 2x Converter, so that I had the full throw of my Sigma Sports 60-600mm lens on the EOS R body, which with every bird equidistant from any shore was going to be essential! Whilst I mounted the camera and lens on the tripod, I kept my ears attuned to all the sounds in case I heard the distinctive tapping of the woodpecker, but the only untoward sound was the stuttering exhaust note from a powerful car engine at the nearby Millbrook Test Circuit; the banking of which the circular track is visible from the lakeside.
Initially, I set up immediately by my car, just closer to the water’s edge, and as I did so, a Mallard noisily left the reeds and headed towards the middle, so much for me trying to keep a low profile! Luckily the duck did not spook the rest, but it did cause a few more of the gulls to gulls to take to the air, which allowed me to see the birds I was hoping to encounter; another young Grebe. I stayed in this spot till I found the Grebe pair heading further away, which prompted me to pick up the camera and tripod, and try to get closer to where the birds were heading, I found two other spots from which to shoot, before the light faded too much and darker clouds approached menacingly.

I was not too disappointed with what I managed to capture especially as one of the Grebe was successful twice catching one toddler and another slightly larger fish, I was too far away to ascertain whether it was successful or whether he swallowed it without me capturing the event. It was a satisfying afternoon from my perspective.