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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Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Marsworth Reservoir – Afternoon Bird Activity

Since the weather was cooler, but still bright, I decided I would drive down to the  Tring Reservoirs, park up at Tringford on the offchance I’d catch up with the Water bailliff, Bob Menzies, then see what birdlife was to be found on either Marsworth or Startops End lakes. I saw little of interest on the latter, but the former looked promising, and so it proved as I set up my tripod and camera.
There was a young Great Crested Grebe family with both parents and four juveniles in their striking stripes of black and grey. Seemingly the male parent was fully committed to looking after the young, but the female seemed less so. Of the four youngsters, one seemed to be somewhat rebellious, often paddling away from the main group, with occasional returns for short spells. There was also a large family of Cygnets with their Swan parents.
There were more Herons around than on my earlier visits, and they seemed less worried by the closeness of humans too. There seemed fewer Gulls than normal, but way more Cormorants, presumably much to the annoyance of the local anglers. I caught no sight of Kingfishers and the area of Marsworth where they were often to be sighted was even more forlorn with fallen or felled trees filling the pools hitherto fished by the Kingfishers, which was really sad.
At one stage I walked through a tunnel of bushes to reach a secluded part of the shore favoured by anglers, to find a lone juvenile Black-Headed Gull relaxing on the foreshore, and so I approached very carefully so as not to startle it, and was able to take several shots as the bird behaved with total disinterest in my presence, which was very rewarding. This was the same relaxed attitude I had spotted amongst the Herons earlier and later. Despite my not considering the Cormorants to be beautiful birds whether on the water or in the air, I did capture some in flight which is obviously good experience. It was a quiet afternoon in School holidays on a weekday, but the few, but growing numbers of people walking the paths as the day wore on were often interested in what I was finding to capture and more than willing to involve me in conversation, so altogether, a very pleasant afternoon.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

One Afternoon; Two Locations and Subjects

Either Click the Main Headline or the link above

Click Here for the second gallery of Birds at Harrold-Odell Country Park

I had set off to drive to Harrold-Odell Country Park, with the possibly forlorn hope of finding Kingfishers, due to the eponymous lake name, but along the way I was distracted by the signs of a Claas Combine Harvester at work. I parked up when I spotted it looking very much as if it had just completed that particular field, and walked over and learned my assumption to be correct! Fortunately the driver told me where his next destination was, and gave me directions, and he would be making across fields to reach it.
The directions took me to a spot just beyond the wonderfully evocative name of the village, Newton Blossomville, which I had visited on an earlier occasion. Having initially parked in a less than ideal spot, I walked further beyond the boundary of the village and found the obviously ripe field to which he had directed me and there was conveniently a far safer spot to park.
I got out my camera and lens and waited for the Harvester to appear over the hill, having grabbed a few quick initial shots, realised I could make a better choice of focal length on the next time the machine came my way. I also found out that with the prevailing slight wind direction in my direction, I was covered in dry husks that were in the clouds being created in the harvester’s wake! I stuck around till I felt I had covered the activity sufficiently to create a gallery of images, and headed off in my original direction to get to the Park at Harrold-Odell.
Fortunately by judicious means I have thus created two galleries from the one afternoon’s shooting, so will present them in a single narrative.
I knew that I was in for a fair trek, so rather than carry a heavy tripod in the stifling heat I chose my lightest one the Giottos Silk Road carbon fibre one, so that the 150-600mm Sigma lens could be my chosen lens, which by itself is a good weight! I headed into the woods on the right and followed this path anticlockwise around the lake, and was blessed with a tunnel of tree cover for at least part of my journey, stopping along the way to see possible viewpoints, finally ending up in a narrow gap that headed for a spit of land which lessened the distance from the far shore which was crowded by mainly preening birds ranging from Coots to Herons, but ironically my main interest was on a Great Crested Grebe and young Grebling, which originally were at almost the limit of my chosen lens.
A couple were already there, so I quietly erected the tripod and since they were not using the table, I managed to arrange it such that I could lazily sit on the end of the bench seat and have the tripod bring my camera to an ideal eye-level.
There was another table closer even than mine to the water’s edge, but I would likely disturb the three preening and sleeping swans, so I decided not to upset their tranquility by encroaching on their space. Perhaps also their peaceful presence might well serve to allay others’ fear of my being here. Certainly, the pair of Grebe that held my interest actually came closer to me as the afternoon progressed, so this was my reward.
Although I got some nice shots of the flights of the far less attractive Cormorants, my concentration was upon the fascinating interaction of the Great Crested Grebe and its young charge. Intermittently I followed the unfolding behaviour I was witnessing of this pair, and I am left intrigued by what I saw and recorded; I found it very appealing, and unless I was simply too far away to hear any sounds, I certainly heard none from either of the two Grebe I was so eagerly watching and recording.
I would very much to learn more about what I had witnessed, as a cursory look using the internet, there is an abundance of information on the courtship of Grebe, but I found nothing of parent / child relationship of this charming species of bird.

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Brogborough Lake’s non-human Inhabitants

 
After the intense winds of last week, only a mere gentle breeze disturbed the calm waters of the lake, and where earlier there was an abundance of very active dragonflies and damselflies, this Saturday had but a few, perhaps resting after the frantic searches for mates. Certainly the few dragonflies I caught sight of, possessed the distinct signs of wear on their fragile wings. In the case of damselflies whose numbers a week back far outstripped the dragonflies, I spotted very few unattached males, and just a couple paired up.
There were three different types of bees still collecting nectar from the wild flowers that were along the field side of the bushes that line the banks, and only a very few hoverflies. Initially, I walked along without a camera in case it was not even worth setting one up, but I soon found that there were a few spots being visited by dragonflies which were the real target I sought, so after this recce trip, I decided that a handheld camera with a macro lens was the desired combination.
 Ideally, I should have considered bringing the 100mm, but the 90mm Tamron was what I had packed, so that was what I was going to have to use, which meant I was going to have to get rather closer, and rely to a degree on cropping the frame when post-processing, but since I was using the 5D MkIII, the crop corresponded to the 7D MkII using the same lens, so not a great loss. Had I brought the 100mm I would have had the luxury of not moving so close to my potential targets which would probably have improved the success rate. The foreshore is somewhat rugged, so trying to move in close with subtlety was a tall order, especially as I am not as nimble as I would like.
I spent sometime waiting or moving from one spot to another, but ended up with several quite nice shots, so the afternoon I deemed a success. It was very muggy, and trying to keep still and often trying to lean forward with camera held in front proved to be more energetic, so my shirt was soon soaked through, because trying to keep still whilst extended is actually hard work, but satisfying.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Wind at Brogborough Lake – at Last!

General Gallery - (same link as from the Title)

Jumps 1

Jumps 2


Saturday looked really promising for wind, surely a godsend for the windsurfers of Brogborough, after such a long windless spell, but it did look as if it would be likely to end with rain.
I tried to clear the decks of all my essential chores, and gathered my kit for a trip down the road to the Lake. There was activity, but rather less than I had been expecting, but it was deceptive, since the activity was preparation; rigging the sails, and donning appropriate clothing, which ranged from the summer minimal to the regular full wetsuit. I wandered towards the water’s edge and found there several already on the water, but all at different points of the compass.
I returned to the boot of my car, and started to put the Benbo tripod up at least firm enough to risk attaching the camera with lens attached, which would by the EOS7D MkII and the Sigma Sports 150 - 600mm. I had also brought along the 1.4 Converter to give it an airing in the bright light. 
Heading to the jetty with the camera and tripod assembled, then rest the tripod legs to a convenient height, with its feet located at the junction of the jetty’s slats to ensure maximum stability for I knew from past experience, that in high winds the jetty could move considerably. I started by taking a few preparatory exposures to judge the lighting levels and apertures I might expect to be using. It soon became apparent that I was not as fully prepared as I thought — I realised I had not got my hat, nor put some sun cream on my hands; I also took the opportunity to grab my 1.4 Converter.
Later, I did attach it to give me the extended reach, but twice, it threw up an error and locked up, so I decided that was far too risky so removed it, I also took that opportunity to move the tripod further out along the jetty so the reeds to my left gave me a clearer view into that bay at the end, since many of the sailors were travelling that much further.
I knew from past experience bright and windy weather such as this meant I was making a proverbial rod for my back, in that I was going to be spending an inordinate time in front of the computer in post processing, but I seem to accept masochism is all part of a photographer’s lot.
At least during the first day the wind and rain made the task acceptable as it was a comfort since the great outdoors did not offer an enviable alternative, and my family were otherwise tied up. However, I was beset by my hard disc disappearing for stints of nearly an hour at a time, and I was unable to fathom exactly what was happening and it was frustrating as Lightroom had to rebuild the catalog each time, but resolving that issue would have to wait till after the images were up on the blog.
I have split the day’s shooting into the three galleries, one overall, and the other two contain various jump sequences I managed to catch, mainly of Colin Hunt.
I hope they give a hint of the joy of the day’s weather.

Friday, 27 July 2018

I Pay a Second Visit to Bromham Lake

 
I decided late in the day to pay a second visit to the small Lake and Nature Reserve at Bromham, but my navigation skills were definitely below par, as I got somewhat lost o this occasion, but where I parked to take a look at the map, I was fortunate to meet a chap who knew it well from what he described as his earlier misspent youth.
On this occasion I met absolutely no one within the grounds, but there was sadly evidence that the spot I had shot from last time someone had carelessly left a lager can and two trays of spent charcoal, which unfortunately due to my load, I was unable to remove to a bin. I set up my tripod somewhat lower and to the right of where I had earlier, so that I could see more of the reed beds.
The sunshine was less this time as clouds were gathering, and rain was forecast. I was slightly luckier with both the damselflies and dragonflies, but ironically I did not even see any hoverflies. I moved closer to the water’s edge and came lower, allowing me to work seated.
I managed to capture a dragonfly laying it’s eggs amongst the reeds by the shore. After a while here, I then decided that I would not remove the camera and long lens from the tripod, but carry it and walk further round the lake, which allowed me to venture inside the two hides, but sadly I got no shots from either. But the heron that I had seen from my earlier vantage point I was able to take some shots when it moved to the small island habitats. As I was nearing the end of the return trip to the car, I caught sight of two lone pillars, remains of an erstwhile gateway incongruously standing in a field, which must give the farmer a few headaches!
On this trip I was not as exercised as the last, in that I did not get lost within the park as before, but I left with the darkening sky, and arrived home as the heavens opened, but it was shortlived, so I only had to listen to the end of the piece on ClassicFM, before getting out and unloading the car without getting wet.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

A Small Lake near Bromham

I have been looking for possible locations reasonably close by that have kingfishers and dragonflies, and are suited to being frequently visited by either, and preferably less frequented by other humans, especially those out to exercise their dogs by throwing sticks and balls; not that I bear them any malice, simply that the groups do not sit well together. I spotted a small sign to this particular lake and it was designated of Special Scientific Interest, and at first sight did not look too promising, but fortunately I spotted a lady returning from a bridge at the end of this lane with her dog, and on questioning her, found that it would probably be worth my while taking a look.
Sadly, I did not gain the impression that it would definitely be what I sought, so decided to investigate on foot, sans camera. This proved my undoing – for at the end of a comparatively short walk, I found a very promising spot, so I now had to return to the car and collect my camera, and I was now very much less fresh than before. To further compound my misjudgment, I failed to take the same route, and I had travelled twice the distance along the wrong path and had to return almost the distance back to my car before setting off in the correct direction.
I was now almost completely soaked through due to my exertions, and to compound my woes, met my nemesis – a mother and early-teen daughter with canine accompaniment and a seemingly unending stock of twigs and the desire to ensure maximum exercise for her ageing four-legged friend. I was also fortuitously completely unable to do anything more than use the time to gather my strength, whilst drinking copiously from my small bottle of lightly flavoured cold orange-juice. I bore them no ill-will, the situation was of my own making, but they had lessened my chances of further visiting wildlife, but I was in no rush to seek out a different location as in the prevailing heat, I simply had insufficient energy to travel deeper on this occasion.
A few dragonflies did return, but fleetingly, however instead I was rewarded by some hoverflies, which have long been a personal favourite due to their flying skills often offering me the chance for in-flight images. I had already in the trek to this spot seen numerous butterflies, but only two close by where I placed my camera and tripod; a cabbage white that only opened its wings when flying, and the far more interesting Speckled Wood, but once it landed was little inclined to fly elsewhere offering me little ongoing interest, being as I was, more interested in the prospect of dragonflies. I was though, pleasantly distracted by some energetic water boatmen, and lucky enough to capture one at the moment of leaping from the surface.
I had also to consider returning as I was later going to meet up with Catherine, my elder daughter and her twin daughters midway between Cambridge and myself at Ashwell, and I needed definitely to shower for the second time that day! What I had not allowed for was the onset of the visual symptoms of a migraine attack, and whilst resting my eyes after the shower rose to find I had slept for an hour, and the time of my arrival had now become to time of my departure, I had not allowed for a mother of teenage daughters though, since whilst apologising, I learned they were only just setting off! We did have a lovely evening!!

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Brogborough Breeze – Advantage Hydrofoil

 
 
Visiting Brogborough allowed me to watch Sam Barnes trying to extend his technique and skills with his hydrofoil Windsurfing. He came close to mastering a complete gybe while still clear of the water, but found the general lack of wind somewhat exhausting in the heat, having often to pump up the board to break from the water’s grip. The sunshine generally helped me to capture these attempts, but despite the numbers of shots taken, did not result in more shots published on the blog, because without gybes and the like, the general spectacle is not exciting visually, though with just a tad more wind is certainly easier for the participant to keep sailing.
As on many such occasions I found myself taking shots of a pair of dragonflies, and also splashes of colour reflections on the surface from a passing windsurfer. These come in handy providing backgrounds for other images, often for use in cards with emphasis sometimes on visual puns, such as ‘making a splash’, or ‘adding colour’.
There was another sailor sporting a hydrofoil, but I gather its purpose was more about drag reduction than actually lifting the surfboard clear of the water, but though I was hoping to capture this effect, it would seem that the wind was insufficient for the purpose on this occasion, there were also a couple of other strictly conventional windsurfers, and i have included those as well.
I long for more wind, but I fear that when this arrives it will also bring rain which though vitally needed will hardly contribute towards exciting windsurfing images, though should return the colour green to our landscapes in place of the present more autumnal hues.

Sunday, 22 July 2018

A Warm Walk – through Marston Thrift

At the small Wood End Car Park at the edge of the woods, that form Marston Thrift, there are two entrances, and since on my earlier visit I had chosen the left one, on this occasion, I decided I would enter the more shaded of the two, the one on the right leaving the Car Park, where I had swelled the numbers by one hundred percent.
Although there was almost no sound within, from either birds or insects for the first ten minutes of my walk, eventually I did hear sounds of human activity, from a teenage couple on bikes from the parallel route, who had stopped by some branch-slung ropes with loops that were there for the purposes of swinging. I felt slightly saddened that my presence disrupted their innocent pleasures as obviously they had expected privacy, so they moved off.
Later I would encounter several dog-walkers, and a couple with whom I chatted to find out the location of some lakes purported to be somewhere nearby. Certainly everyone I met was friendly and would extend greetings, some willing to chat, some content to simply exchange pleasantries and wander on. I did hear a strange single bird calling in a burbled sound, but overall the woods were silent, which for a wood, I found odd. Later I did hear that there were supposedly a large number of butterflies to be found, but I only spotted two in all the time within the shade of the trees, and one outside in the open, of which I managed to get a shot; a Meadow Brown. Perhaps this long dry spell had taken its toll, for I was expecting more signs of life than I encountered.
One really helpful family were able to point me in the direction of two ponds, but the lady said that the water levels were very much lower than she had known from past visits, so perhaps this accounts for the low level of wildlife I had been experiencing; certainly strangely for a Englishman I am actually wanting the onset of some rain to refresh the scorched grass I encounter in my travels around this vicinity.
I also spotted a tiny rainbow fragment in the clouds, but certainly despite a fair amount of cloud cover from time to time, no sign of rain. Can anyone spot the Penguin?

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Festival of Speed 2018

 
 
 
I always really look forward to visits to Goodwood, and this year’s Festival of Speed was no exception, but it was tinged with a certain amount of concern for my guest on this occasion, my younger daughter Lizzy, as she was not too well, suffering stomach problems. I tried to balance my compassion for her not being well, with my longing for company for both the event and the journey to and from Bedford, and the long day’s travelling, and for her added trip back to her Ayesbury home after returning to her car parked at my place. Selflessly and hopefully, truthfully she assured me it was just fine.
The larger part of the outward trip was reasonably clear, but the very last section as we neared Goodwood, the traffic, now all headed for the same destination was a slow crawl, with only unaccompanied motorcyclists able to travel smoothly. However, I can report that every one of those around me accepted the situation with good nature and maintained adequate spaces between each other, and even held back at junctions for others to join the queue.
We arrived naturally later than hoped, but calmly gathered what we needed from the car and walked through the cool woods till we arrived by the house, and concours d’elegance cars displayed on the lawn. A visit to the house was our first port of call for relief and then to view the Porsche installation, and take a few photos before heading for the enclosure by the track to watch some of the cars heading up the hill, and sit down with a programme to decide where to visit. Mindful of Lizzy we stayed here a while before heading up the hill and to the Rally section in the woods, where my camera geared received a less than welcome coating of very dry chalk dust! I did get a few shots of those cars in the trees, but we soon made our way back towards the house, to spend time watching, shooting and chatting with a friendly couple we met from Staffordshire.
I also chatted to a photographer who was waiting to capture shots for Lexus. We shared an amusing cameo when we were both shooting the rotating actions of the drifting cars in the track by the House — I showed him a shot I had captured of one particular car, amidst the tyre-smoke, and he flourished his review screen with an identical image (probably taken at identical moments in time to within a thousandth of a second!) we shared identical smiles of pride!
Lizzy and our new friend from Staffordshire also shared shots, on their phones of a celebrity, Tom Hardy at an adjoining table, who for a short spell was swamped by others all hoping for photo opportunities, but the group moved on to probably find less attention.
I once asked my elder daughter whom I had taken along to a much earlier FoS, to give Lizzy a description of this event and she gave her a description, which is forever indelibly written in my consciousness — “Ascot with Cars” — I simply cannot beat that! The atmosphere at these two established annual events at Goodwood; the Festival of Speed, and the Revival Meeting, stand out as some of the most friendly and relaxed events in the British calendar of events related to motorsport.
Whilst mentioning established events, a very prominent feature of the Festival of Speed is the Art Installation in the front of the House. Since 1997, the works of Artist Gerry Judah have been the focal point of these events, as he produces tremendous creations which are also an advertisement of great British engineering by local welders, Littlehampton Welding and naturally numerous others who contribute to these structures each year since.
I have been lucky enough to be invited over several years, and it has always been a delight to receive these invitations and then live in anticipation for a couple of months till the day of the event arrives. It has now become an equally anticipated event for my family, and those days never disappoint.
The gallery of images from this year’s event, I hope gives a smidgeon of the atmosphere we enjoyed and represents a day we cherish. It is also both an ongoing library of my photographs, and often a way of testing myself, as in a few sequences of cars exiting the darkness of the woods after the Flint Wall into a short stretch of bright sunshine prior to a plunge into the last section of woods before the top. Anticipation is key, but also control, and it is easy to get ahead of oneself when panning from the darkness into the light, there is no glimpse before the cars exit the gloom.

Friday, 13 July 2018

A Summer Meeting of DigiCluster

On this occasion to celebrate the warmth of the season, This meeting was to be held at the Old Schoolhouse near Hunton Bridge and the Grand Union canal. I set off fairly early knowing that the M1 motorway has roadworks, but I overestimated how much that might add to my journey time, so I arrived rather early, which did have a benefit it allowed me to wander around the building and take some photos to add to the gallery of images and establish the location.
Since there are a lot of people working here, the car park was still fairly full limiting some of the angles to capture the building cleanly, but I did my best to minimise the loss as best I might.
Although the building has merit as a place to work, the proximity to a very main road does mean that the noise level is very high, which might well prove problematic in the summer months with all the windows open!
After a short while the guest began to arrive and I was able to Capture the build-up as numerous staff busied themselves adding to the array of food and drink, and I did wonder whether the food provision, in particular the array of cheeses might well be excessively generous.
I began shooting with the 24-70mm lens on the 5D MkIII, but towards the end of the evening, I went back to the car and brought out my 85mm f/1.8 and took a few shots using that before reverting back to the zoom lens. Towards the end I was shooting in the low fractions of a second and at ISO 5000, which brought the success rate down somewhat!
There were some interesting moments when flames rose somewhat higher than was anticipated, which gave me some atmospheric shots, that originally I had considered making into a separate gallery, but time was limited as on the Saturday morning I am due a very early start to travel to Goodwood with my younger daughter to visit the Festival of Speed.
Altogether, I have to say it was a splendid evening, though there were fewer members that I knew very well and so I was mixing less than on other occasions. I trust that the various moments I captured conveys the evening for all those who attended.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Fairford Leys Summer Concert

   
The Aylesbury Concert Band were once again invited to play in the Bandstand in the centre of Fairford Leys with the sun burning down from a clear blue sky. I came along once again with my younger daughter who plays Baritone Sax with the band, and we arrived early which meant we did not rush around and get overheated before the event even started. We even had time for me to turn the car around so we were facing the right direction for leaving as well as being close enough to transport the baritone sax case with ease.
It was also a day when England had a match against Sweden and after the concert I, with Lizzy joined Tim and the football enthusiasts who were watching the match on a large screen inside the hall.
The tunes the band had played included pieces that had a bearing upon nationalism and by association, with the match being played; England won which meant the beer was flowing, and even offered at a reduced price to entice.
Due to the bandstand being open-sided there is always some breeze present which means that one very obvious addition to every music stand is a plethora of clothes pegs, which does make for distractions to any photographs I take and the tight space means it is very difficult to avoid their presence in almost every shot, which can be a challenge. I try to capture the build-up as well as the playing, and was pleased to be early enough to capture scenes of discussion between the Conductor and Percussionist, and other interactions between the players, which capture some of the atmosphere of the group.
As there was also the attractions of a fair, I still have more images to process for the family.

Friday, 6 July 2018

By Stagsden Pond – Alive with Life

 
 
I had decided that it might well be worth paying Stagsden a visit with a longer lens than when on my last visit to the Pond that lies to the side of a new Industrial Park there.
Perhaps the long lens scared the inhabitants off, since just as I was setting up the tripod close to pond edge reeds, there was a loud explosion of flapping from the trees, and a Heron and Red Kite made a rapid exit, before I had a chance to remove the camera and lens from the unset up tripod, I had but a few seconds to at least record their departure! They were never to return, sad to report.
I decided to mount the Benbo tripod as low as possible, so that I was no higher than the pond-side reeds, and this took time as the sloping edge was difficult to find a sound support at a height that accommodated the central column, and I was determined to keep as quiet as possible in the hope that the two birds might return.
I had hoped that I might capture some of the dragonflies that flew along the reed tops, but they never followed a standard routine that I might plan where I might catch them in flight; they spent most of their time in the air, and in chasing each other, leaving only those in the far distance, which was out of reasonable capture range, despite my best efforts.
I spotted a grassy cut path off to my left, and decided this might prove more profitable, but only once did I briefly spot a dragonfly venture here, but one of my favourites from the insect kingdom were to be found – the hoverfly, and a few bees, and numerous wild flowers, so for a while I concentrated my efforts on these, and wandered the path’s length till it came out at the fields’ edge, but except for the start, there was no extra part of the pond to be found accessible.
The afternoon was not wasted, but neither was it what I had hoped I might find to satisfy my intention of taking shots of dragonflies in flight, and they barely even feature! I did however get to use the 1.4 Converter and begin to understand how best to use it, as it limits the positioning of the focus point for auto-focus immovably in the centre of the screen.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Brogborough Flying Insect Bonanza

Having used the Canon 100-400mm lens a few days back to record the flying insects of Brogborough Lake, mainly once they had settled for brief spells of rest and recuperation, I decided to return with something longer, and I decided that it might be beneficial not only to use the Sigma Sports 150-600mm, but to add their 1.4 Converter to gain a greater image size. Since the camera body was the EOS7D MkII, this in itself gave me a greater effective focal length over the full frame 5D MkIII, with also a faster response.
The slight drawback is the autofocus point is fixed at the centre, making it harder to place the subject off-centre, and so on occasion I reverted to manual focussing. Another snag when using autofocus, was how with moving reeds the focus would hunt or simply drift when foreground features came within view between the camera and subject. The bright weather we are experiencing currently gives me the chance to use the Converter and also to keep the ISO speed low with an adequately fast shutter speed.
Trying to find my subject fast with a long lens is difficult, so I experimented with pulling the focal length wider, to find my subject, then zooming in to bring it both larger and into focus, but this often meant that my subject had tired of that location and moved on whilst I was still either trying to find it or regain focus! From my observations the camera took less time and was more accurate, but suffered from losing focus fairly often, so I tended to attempt a compromise whilst manually focussing by adopting a smaller aperture to improve the depth of field to compensate for my lack of accuracy. It is not often in this country that we have this luxury; it is far more likely we are considering upping the ISO to give us a chance of a small aperture alongside a fast shutterspeed!
It allowed me to observe closely what was happening, and I am sure I was witnessing the female dragonflies laying her fertilised eggs beneath the water’s surface. Something else also was that much like crows mob red kite, I was watching the damselflies doing much the same with dragonflies.
I was sitting on a low bank with my tripod legs spread such that the camera was at eye level and really solid and this meant it was really comfortable, but did make it less easy when it came to later wishing to rise; I was also lucky for at the least the early part to be shaded from the heat of the sun under a blue sky with just a few mare’s tails for clouds, by a tall hawthorn bush to my left.
I was pleased with the end results, but it was a shame there was no regular flight path to give me the chance to attempt to preset my focus and have the insects fly into the sharp zone for them to be captured on the wing, but that’s just greed on my part!

Monday, 2 July 2018

Brogborough Lake – An Afternoon with Dragonflies

More often than not, when I decide I want to take photographs of a specific insect, my carefully-laid plans are thwarted by circumstance, on occasion this turns out to be a Happy Happenstance, but on this occasion, my intended subjects turned out to be the fulfilment of the gallery of photographs I managed to capture.
However, the main intention was to attempt the capture of dragonflies, preferably in flight, and that wish was thwarted, because I failed to find a spot that guaranteed a specific flight line. For this reason, I also used manual focus for most of the time, which meant several images were missed during my deliberations to ensure sharp capture. The specific shots that I missed completely were those when my subject almost filled the frame, and in the heat  that prevailed, they could keep in flight for very long periods, and I was constantly wiping my eyes from sweat pouring from my brow beneath a large floppy-brimmed hat.
One action that occurred on a reed bent low over the waterline was a presumably female dragonfly laying her eggs just below the water’s surface, I also noted that she suffered from the concerted attempts of damselflies to disturb her.
As a direct result of my adopting manual focus there was a far higher rejection rate due to my finding poor focus, also with the brightness of the light perhaps, with the benefit of hindsight I might have been more successful with my longer lens than the 100-400mm that I used. I might even consider going back with the 100-600mm and its 1.5 Converter.

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Woking in The Garden

 
No, it was not a spelling mistake! As will be apparent by your visit to the gallery of images.
It was good to be asked once again to help another Digital Photographer do some Computer housekeeping other than my own, and especially beneficial to travel away from my own locale, to visit someone whose photography is very different from my own. David has photographed the seasons in several European countries as well as Britain; from the Air, in Microlight aircraft, and the wider range of his work can be seen by visiting his site at <http://afbs.co.uk> I tend to think of his work from the Air, but by visiting his site it is self-evident that pigeon-holing him in that genre alone is to do him a disservice, and I heartily recommend visiting his site to verify this for yourself.
My earlier visits were additionally recompensed by a trip with David over London in a Twin Squirrel helicopter, one of the few aircraft permitted to fly over the metropolis rather than be restricted to flying just above the Thames, hence my tending to consider this aspect of his work primarily.
This gallery is my way of ensuring I do not get stale and also a means of allowing me to add some words that help to repay being asked to help him, by alerting others through the medium of my blog to the work he has done shooting from above. It is a very different perspective, offering as it does patterns not apparent from terra firma.