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, 27 May 2020

Brogborough Lake Path Walk

Since the Lake is not open for Windsurfing or Angling currently, I parked to one side of the gate to avoid blocking access, and entered the path that encircles the lake along with my currently ever-present LUMIX camera, ironically in the hope of capturing this year’s Dragonflies, but although they were around, they rarely settled, or hovered awhile, and also rarely came close, whereas the damselflies were numerous and were even to be found In the field margins.
There were spiders either hanging around or very busy linking up several different branches or leaf groups. I also noted a strange winged insect with long tails, but my first interesting bird was a distant Wagtail which, as I quietly manoeuvred closer would loop past me to hop around the same distance from me, but on the other side of me! I moved closer to it, but even more slowly, and have relied on cropping the images to use at a fair size. It kept me busy for a while, as it was rarely still for long, and they are interesting birds. I did get some shots of one Dragonfly, but at one stage the reed he was on fell into the water, and wet its wings, so when I spotted that it had become partially submerged, I got a small branch, and lifted the reed out of the water, so that it’s wings could dry out, and after five minutes, was relieved to witness him dry enough to flap his wings, and moments later take to the air. I was mightily relieved, and it lifted my spirits in realising I had likely saved its life.
Two Geese families soon appeared slowly from the right of me as the respective parents carefully watched me to see if I represented a danger, the appraisal lasted a couple of minutes, then both the Greylag and Canada Geese families slowly brought their charges gingerly past. They had judged that I was not a danger, and both sets of parents kept their young close as they passed by; so they were still taking no chances.
I had thought that the Dog Roses would soon have finished flowering since I had seen the first of them quite some time back, but they were still making a good showing as I continued walking further around the lake. The still waters on this trip meant that it the bottom of the lake clearly showed the origins of their past life as the numerous bricks were evidence of where they had been unceremoniously dumped if they were damaged or otherwise sub-standard. At least now the large planting of trees and expanse of water coloured by the reflection of extensive blue sky and high thin clouds made a most attractive sight, which once the current Lock Down becomes a distant memory will return to, become the background to joyous human activity for Windsurfers, Hydrofoilers, Paddle-boarders and Swimmers, not forgetting the Swans, Ducks and Geese that call this expanse of water their home too.
On this trip, I spotted later a gap in the bushes where a small makeshift bridge had been built over the stream, and decided to risk crossing over, and found myself on a raised bank, with a path bathed in shafts of light from gaps in the cover of leaves which attracted the flying of hoverflies. I decided here was an interesting challenge for this camera, to try to capture then in flight, or possibly static on the back of my hand, but this is one activity that is hard to master using a mirrorless camera, but I do like a challenge, and I spent fully half an hour in attempting to capture at least one, in flight. It was not going to be a great shot, but that was no reason not to make the attempt! They do not match the quality of the rest of the images, but it occupied my brain hand and arms, and I hoped the hoverflies might take a leaf out of the lone fly’s book, by realising I meant no harm.
My last two shots were of the shadows cast by shafts of sunlight through the trees that silhouetted some of the taller weeds in the wide verge.

Friday, 22 May 2020

A Country Garden; Flowers, and Birds

I travelled further afield, and put the camera to the test once again to capture the Summer Colour of late Spring in an English Country Garden, and the beauty that abounds. Some flowers are now beginning to fade, but new ones begin to take their place, all under a cloudless sky and in very warm sunshine.
On my journey, it was noticeable how recent talk from the government had already had an effect on the volume of traffic, both of vehicles, and upon both families and individuals taking advantage of the great outdoors. Fortunately, I found that overall behaviour seemed controlled and relaxed, I just hope that the coming weekend retains the same reserve, and that common sense prevails and restraint is observed, so that no rise occurs in infection.
The gallery on this occasion depicts interesting young birds being fed by a parent, and the colours of flowers at this moment in the season. I feel very privileged to be given the opportunity to capture the results of the owner’s hours of diligent work.
Once again, all these photographs have been taken using the eminently versatile LUMIX FZ10002, and handheld, and had I not been wearing a bright blue shirt,  I might have been able to approach a tad closer on occasion, and it was certainly a joy to work silently and not disturb the young Starlings whilst being fed. I am exceedingly pleased that I bought the camera earlier in the year, because my much heavier gear being toted around during this enforced Lock Down would definitely have attracted adverse comments whereas this camera attracts no interest by either humans or the wildlife!
I was rather surprised by a Mallard on a nearby roof ridge, that was not what I expected of a duck! Altogether a very satisfactory way to spend an afternoon.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Riverpark, Bedford — What LockDown?

I decided that although I was very much aware that almost anywhere I chose to visit would be crowded, so would require careful navigation — there were two possible Bedford locations large enough to make keeping my distance acceptably straightforward. On this occasion, that destination was Riverpark. Close by the car Park, was a quiet enclosed area which naturally drew me in! Though my camera was  to hand, the reaction of a Muntjac is way faster, especially for a mirrorless camera, but despite my speedy reaction, it had disappeared from view way faster than I was capable, I did marginally better with a rabbit a while later, but rear ends of most animals fleeing are rarely of great note! But, I kept the two shots of its exit.
An overflying light aircraft gave the chance to practice my skills at shooting distant, moving subjects when out and about with this mirrorless LUMIX FZ10002. The most serious handicap with this camera is focussing in fussy scenes, or more detailed backgrounds behind a small or diffuse subject. I need to speak to someone with an understanding of how to set up custom controls so I can speedily alter apertures to define the depth of field I might need.
Other subjects that I managed at least some shots were damselflies and Demoiselle butterflies, ducklings, goslings, Swans and Jackdaws, and an overflying helicopter, which is testament as to how versatile is the LUMIX with its fixed zoom lens. I enjoyed the exercise, and it was good to see that all the youngsters behaved well with the birds and their young, and everyone I came across were very respectful of distancing at all times.
There are numerous well-shaded paths, that wend their way around small lakes, and I spent quite some time sitting on a conveniently sited stone by one of those small lakes capturing shots of the activity in amongst the reeds. When I next venture out I will likely visit the river Great Ouse, but walk in the opposite direction to the one I took on my last a fortnight or so back.

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Second Choice Location

I spent quite some time looking at Google Earth and the Ordnance Survey map to investigate a potential lake that might have public access with possibilities of varied wildlife, so I found somewhere nearby to park and investigate whether there was an available entry. There was a building nearing completion at the corner of the road, and I spotted two men chatting outside the front entrance of what looks like becoming a new hotel or restaurant. I enquired whether I might park the car for a while. The man to whom I spoke was happy for me to park in the front by the boundary.
I grabbed the camera and took a wander by the boundary of the lake area, but soon spotted signage denoting that the area was private, with no public access, which was disappointing, I did also look elsewhere, but there were no other entries, so that location was ruled out. I had not wasted the time however, and as I walked around the boundaries, I had captured some attractive shots of some dog roses and leaves. On my return to the car, I met up with the man who appeared to be the most senior man on site, so I did chat to him about the possibilities of progress photographs for his project. I offered my backup business card for him to capture my details in case to his phone; there was a possibility I might be able to offer him my services.
My original plans scuppered, I headed back to Stewartby, where I parked back by the roadwork gas pipe laying, and chatted with the builder who was just considering finishing for the day, and for the second time that day offered my details in case there was a future possibility of some photographic opportunities. I then took a chance of further images to capture, and was rewarded by a rabbit, more dog roses, and a a poor shot of a lone butterfly,due to the scarcity of blooms for its supply of nectar. I did not stay long as the wind and the overall lack of variety of blooms meant there were fewer photo opportunities, but I had not spotted earlier that the ruins of Houghton House were also visible from this spot, so I took a shot of that as well.

Friday, 15 May 2020

Brogborough Lake PhotoTherapy

After a trip to two separate supermarkets for food supplies, with moderate success in these straitened times, I returned to do a small amount of housekeeping, then made up my mind to see whether in the short space of time before a link up with the Adobe US Prerelease Team’s fortnightly Internet Meeting, I could capture some of the late afternoon sunshine at Brogborough Lake. Although the Windsurfers’ area is closed, there is a path which follows the shore, that is mainly a spot favoured by dog walkers. I took a stroll from the entrance to the left of the Windsurfers’ area, and finding the surface of the lake still in the absence of even the slightest zephyr stirring the water, took a few shots that told the story of the lake’s origins — having exhausted the supply of good brick-making clay, faulty brick detritus, littered the lake bottom in abundance, clearly visible in the shots that open the gallery of images.
I was out of luck if I had entertained any idea of finding Dragonflies, as although not cold, there had not been enough warmth to tempt them out in the late afternoon, but I stayed by the reeds for a short while in case I might catch sight of any such activity, but in vain!
I walked further along the bank looking carefully in the vegetation, before finding a tree that stood clear in the afternoon sunlight, and other lakeside scenes that caught my eye, as in the past when taking this walk, the pylons have always seemed like walking giants that have been frozen in time during a march across the landscape, and against a clear blue sky, this is not the first time I have taken photos of their strides. I also spied a lone poppy, and a conspiracy of ravens, that makes me wonder what the collective name for pylons should be? — a March of pylons?
Sadly, though I did spy a lone Grebe, and Swan, both were at a distance, so on this LockDown Walk, landscapes,and lake views predominate, but they lifted my spirits, and at the end of the day (to coin a phrase!) that was was the purpose of my trip. I hope they can provide viewers of this blog a similar lift in spirits. I took a long walk in the woods capturing shots of the overgrown paths, and some of the plants, leaves and blossom that caught my eye on the journey. I hope it will not be too long before I can meet up with family again, because my own company is less than adequate.

Sunday, 10 May 2020

A Marston Thrift Sunshine Visit

It was obviously very noticeable just how much effect the warm sunshine had on the Public’s desire to escape the confines of their homes, because this visit of mine encountered a full Car Park where around a week ago, only one other car entered to park when I arrived and when I came to leave on that occasion, mine was the only vehicle remaining.
In the main straight path, numerous small family groups passed me, as well as lone cyclists and a few singletons, in the main because having walked this route only recently, there were far less subjects of interest, so I was looking more closely for new subjects. Once I had completed the long tunnel of overarching trees and come out into the open, I chose the sinuous path that parallels the stream to see whether I might catch sight of the Squirrel I had encountered on earlier visits, but despite staying by its home tree for several minutes, I was not graced by its presence. 
I decided I would return via a parallel path to the small reed bed close to where I had left the wooded path earlier. I soon spotted a dragonfly darting from one of the taller reeds, and here was a subject that I definitely enjoyed trying to capture, also it was not a kind I had photographed before, and it was frequently on the move, so it meant the backgrounds would vary, as would the angle it would present itself to me.
The dragonfly soon grew bored of this area, and headed off elsewhere, and although I waited awhile in case others came along, seemingly that was it, so I moved on. Whilst I was walking alongside the grassy bank I spotted an intriguing plant for which I can find no name, so currently I have put out a call to my horticultural guru to learn whether she can enlighten me as to what it might be. I recognised the two stages in its life cycle due to its stem which I describe to myself as boxes, which stack themselves up along the central stem closed then when they have stacked enough they all then open to produce an abundance of fine green ‘hairs’ like a feather duster (on this occasion, Google was unable to elicit an answer for a name from my description!)
I was far more successful with this description for the butterfly whose name temporarily escaped me and so I entered the following description: ‘brown and orange winged butterfly with bifurcated wings’ — as soon as it came up, I realised that the name that had eluded me was one I would have known instantly normally, due to its link to punctuation — Comma! I am now trying to remove the inane grin from my face as I continue to complete this narrative!
One of the last images I took I have included was because I took advantage of the recently restored swing from a tree that I had decided to relax in; whilst I sat there I tried to capture the makeshift bridge, and due to the fading light the exposure was around one second, I then tried to create an attractive end result, and the third exposure is one that appealed! The swing had a habit of twisting, which gave quite that pleasing result.

Friday, 8 May 2020

Meeting the Neighbours, and Two Gardens

My reason for being outside the house, and with a camera was because of the sound of a piston-engined aircraft overhead that had caught my attention, but I was unprepared, so though I did manage a single shot, it did not merit appearing here, but I will give honourable mention to a young man I met later that morning, who did capture a very worthy example of that aircraft’s flyby. I crossed Station Road, to chat with the two ladies, one being the mother of the lad who took the shot. The mother had called out to me, so I crossed the road and joined them to more easily chat, but still at the required distance.
It was during this exchange that the opportunity to take some photos in my neighbour’s front garden was offered me, which I was very happy to accept, as she has put considerable effort into the flowers that adorn her house frontage.
I had already noted the flowers in the garden opposite, and so was thrilled to capture these blooms at their best, and in such bright warm sunshine. These shots will definitely make the basis of some excellent greetings cards to celebrate birthdays and other memorable occasions in the future. In the short term they appear below as a memory of a welcome break and meeting of neighbours for the Early May Bank Holiday, for which I am very grateful.
The rest of the day was spent preparing these images, interspersed with watching some excellent celebratory television programmes, observing the Two Minutes’ Silence, and a short film about our local hero’s Army career to commemorate Colonel Tom Moore, and his walk that raised all those millions of pounds for our National Health Service, which has now resulted in our Community’s new Blue Post Box to mark his achievement. There was even a commemorative franking of our mail to mark the occasion; so Marston Moretaine is definitely on the map.

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Marston Moretaine - Thrift Walk

On this occasion, I used my car to reach my start point for a walk around Marston Thrift and Rectory Wood, since once there I would be definitely walking far more than the trip to the entry to the Woods, but to no advantage! I wondered just what changes I would find since my last visit might be. The trees had acquired far more leaf coverage, and although only one car had driven ahead of me to the Car Park, we were the sole vehicles. The other person had taken the path to the right, so I took the left one.
My first images were of fresh new leaves that were heart-shaped, which from my scant knowledge were probably likely to be described as weeds, but to my eye it was their shape that appealed, not whether gardeners would categorise them derogatorily as weeds. It was whilst I was walking along this straight stretch, that I caught sight of a very busy, and unusual flying insect, but it proved to be utterly indefatigable and on the few occasions when it alighted, it barely remained beyond a twenty-fifth of a second, and certainly beyond my chance of getting a shot, but it was not a species I had seen before, so I wasted several minutes in a vain effort to see whether I might get a shot of it — this is my most serious disappointment with this mirrorless camera (the FZ10002), I might at least have had a chance were I using a dSLR. 
My reason for the persistence in using this camera, is that firstly, it is a very capable camera, that I am determined to master; it is vey light, produces excellent quality results, and the fault lies with my difficulty in adapting to its controls. Also, it does not advertise my activities that for some might consider to be nonessential. It is very capable despite its lack of weight, and has rewarded me with some excellent images. The greatest drawback lies in the way it’s operations are arranged via its numerous controls, and the difficulty is also very much related to my age and my brain is not blessed with much available storage space. However in my defence, I do believe that the controls are not ideally laid out, so if I could get someone to set some specific features I need to be immediately accessible I feel it would become indispensable.
I am aware that it is very possible to program the controls to suit differing ways of working, but if I play around I could well make matters worse, without some informed input, so whilst under Lockdown there is little chance of some informed guidance. I have certainly learned some ways to speed some settings, but all too often, if I hit the wrong button, suddenly I lose vital settings, resulting in lost shots!
Overall on this outing, I managed to capture most shots with minimal fuss, from close-ups of insects to landscapes and an overflying light aircraft, fill-in flash to balance contre-jour shots of leaves, and a five-shot handheld panorama. So, not too disgraceful, but having learned deer roam these woods, it is a shame I did not get that opportunity! I did manage low-level close-up shots of bluebells, so definitely not a waste of time for the amount of walking I did to keep fit. And importantly very few contacts with fellow humans.

Thursday, 30 April 2020

Marston MOOREtaine on the Map!

                    Promotion to Colonel, promoting Marston Moretaine, and single-handedly saving our NHS by walking and capturing the hearts of so many, at this testing time for all.

Here is a man who rightfully has earned our respect, and reminded us all of the sacrifice those of his generation made for the Country we live in, how in its aftermath the NHS was born, and how its Staff are now sometimes also paying the Ultimate Sacrifice in helping those in Countless NHS Hospitals across the Country suffering from this Corona Virus.

We Salute and Thank You
Tom

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Another Very Short Walk

This week was scheduled for an end to the Spring Sunshine we have enjoyed for the last fortnight, and began dull with drizzle. So it was to be a day of catching up on cleaning, but the forecast weather was not as dismal as forecast, so it dried up enough for me to consider buying some milk from the local Co-op. 
The walk up Station Road to join the queue put a better light on the day than I had anticipated since on the walk up the road I noticed that the seeds were far more advanced on the trees, and much of the blossom was fading fast, so after buying what I needed, I decided to use the opportunity to get a few images before the rains returned. On arrival at the top of Station Road I had found that the queue had only one person ahead of me, so I walked fast after I had finished offloading my purchases, get back out to return with my LUMIX camera.
During the early minutes of my shooting, a man came up and said he was a journalist who had come to learn more about the Captain Tom Moore who had recently put this village on Britain and the World’s maps by the Funds he had raised by his walk around his back garden! He was enquiring about the background, and was interested in interviewing me, after he had visited the Post Office and Bill the Manager, so I gave him one of my makeshift business cards. So far I have heard no more.
I continued my shooting walk, then returned to process them and write this narrative, aware that despite this being a single page of images, it was almost certainly the last photos I would be taking for a few days with rain and isolation hardly likely to provide interesting or attractive images.

Monday, 27 April 2020

Priory Country Park, Bedford 2020

Before all the travel and other restrictions became the new norm, I had visited the Priory Country Park in Bedford, but that had been from its main entrance, and since I was trying hard to distance from my fellow humans, that was definitely not going to be where I was heading. I took a long look at the Bedford area using Google Earth, and also my Ordinance Survey Map of the area. I also decided to call my earlier fellow BRSCC Assistance Chief Pit Marshall, because he had spent some time living in Bedford, to sound him out for local knowledge. From this telephone call, I received an interesting wake-up call, Peter reminded me it was over twenty years ago, since he retired from the company for which he had been a Director; and the area, and had been living on the South Coast ever since! 
Doesn’t time fly?! Perhaps I should take a moment to realise that we ceased marshalling around the same time, and my marshalling ended at the same time as I set up ‘SOLUTIONS photographic’, but I am still in touch with other marshals from that time, and am still very much interested in motor racing. Yet my photographic interests still span the peace and solitude of small insects, birds, flowers, landscapes and skies as well as powerboats, windsurfers, 
and venues such as Goodwood, Brands Hatch and Brooklands. I find no contradiction between these two categories.
On this trip, I found a lone swan had commandeered a short stretch of the bank to perform its grooming, and noted that white downy feathers were around, so it was obviously a favoured spot. Later when the swan vacated the location three Mallard ducks came in to claim the spot at high speed! Yet they knew better than to make any attempt to share the spot whilst the Swan  was in residence!
I was also lucky with some of the butterflies, and a Magpie, and the lighting on a very closed riverside Pub. The Canoe section was acting as a nursery for algae, so I imagine that will be probably attended to before that is opened once more. I do hope that we do not have to wait too long before the freshness of the young leaves is all lost.
I suspect this trip will be the last for at least a week, because the forecast appears to be far less favourable, so will mean I have no excuse not to attending to cleaning my kitchen floor, and other household chores that have featured less over the last week! Once those have been done, I will spend some more time reading the LUMIX manual to try to set the camera up better to suit my way of working, because speedy access to certain controls is still very hit ‘n’ miss — or to be more specific — often very much ‘Miss’! It is still not fluid enough for me. And since the chance of my using my other much heavier gear is still a long way off, I need to get the hang of this little beauty, while have some time on my hands.

Sunday, 26 April 2020

River Gt. Ouse Behind Riverpark Drive

I had a two-fold reason for my trip to Bedford; foodstuffs the Co-op did not stock and to investigate the sightings of kingfishers on the river from an angler I met on the last trip out, whilst he was walking with his wife.
Some items of food shopping are not found at my two local Co-op stores, and it was the Tesco and B&M Stores that stock specific items such as Fray Bentos ‘Landmines’ (so called due to an unfortunate accident that Michael Cane might have been moved to comment upon, had he seen me put one in the oven without removing the lid!) When I saw just how long the queue stretched, I decided to return to the car and dig out my camera; this sunshine was too tempting to waste standing in a queue, I can live for a while longer with the food stocks I hold! 
As I entered the waterside grassy walk I wandered by one of the park benches and noted a couple were relaxing in the shade, occasionally sharing some of their bread with the ducks. Much later having walked some distance on this side of the river taking photos, and crossed over to the far bank and eventually returning and going beyond my start point in the other direction, the couple were still there and we began to chat. During our conversation the man mentioned he had actually seen a kingfisher fly by here, which confirmed my angler’s assertion that this stretch of river was where I might be rewarded with opportunities to photograph one of my favourite birds.
On this trip the highlight was catching sight of a Mallard pair with its young chicks at the water’s edge, so I can definitely see myself journeying here much earlier in the day sometime in the not too distant future, as I also caught a fleeting sight of a squirrel in the branches, and a Holly Blue butterfly, so though brief I now had found a spot worth a second visit. I did not bother with any Supermarket visit, but returned to sort out the shots I had managed to capture, knowing that coming to this spot on the river at a later date, and much earlier in the day was likely to prove fruitful.

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

A Different Destination, Still Interesting

It is often interesting to set off for a prescribed destination, and minor disappointment when that becomes not possible, but often that can still prove to be worthwhile, and that was the case in this instance, for the result was I met some interesting people. Yes, we kept our distance, but this did not prove to be a hindrance, I learned something from those I met, and we all seemed to enjoy our chance meeting, and I was allowed to take photographs up close in some of the front gardens.
The original plan was to find access to a group of lakes, but they appeared to be entirely inaccessible to the public, and so, undeterred, I move on elsewhere, and soon find subjects for my camera — the subject soon presented itself to me — as I drove away from my initial disappointment, ahead a field of Gold was revealed; the first fields of rapeseed I had so far seen this season, so I pulled the car over to a convenient spot to park. I noted that I had been to this spot before, around three or more years back, and captured an evening sky. On this trip, I had parked in the spot as before, and taken a stroll along the nearby road towards the field where I captured a few landscapes of rapeseed, before returning along the lane for shots of a distant horse, a chat with a couple who had been passing me after traversing the path through the field of rape. The man turned out to be an angler who was able to suggest a good spot to see kingfishers.
On the journey back to the car, I met two more of the residents of these cottages, allowing me to record some shots in their respective gardens, and to stop long enough to chat, whilst maintaining at a respective distance. I also crossed across a small planking bridge to get a couple of shots through the trees to an open grass area that was a right of way to distant fields. I managed a glimpse of a robin just before leaving this spot, and heading for home after a brief chat with a man mowing his large lawn between his current cottage home and his erstwhile large home, now his son’s family abode. I hope that his break to chat to me did not delay his completion of mowing, since this was no small lawn! A church bathed in sunshine later attracted my attention as that was also having its lawns mown, I was offered a chance to view the interior, but on this occasion I declined, but perhaps I will take up the offer at a later date.
I stopped once more, on a bend with a view of the large former Country House at Ampthill, that is now divided into flats that I had earlier photographed from Stewartby with my long Sigma lens a while back. The reason for this brief stop was the abundance of trees sporting mistletoe balls of varying sizes, but I took advantage of a shot of the big house as well.

Monday, 20 April 2020

Two Nearby Nature Locations

A successful walk around the paths of the Forest Centre after a short spell closer to home, and all in aid of exercise, and fresh air. Once again, my handy recording tool, the LUMIX FZ10002 was brought once again into service, to keep my eye and brain active, especially since the natural world does not stand still, and this season brings freshness, and the juxtaposition of the one that preceded. Sadly, due to human behaviour, Winter seems to have passed us by in this part of the UK! And it is my contention that the lack of that cleansing period of hard frosts has had a detrimental effect on our ability to limit the transmission of the Coronavirus in England.
I wonder whether we will take note of our adverse effect upon this planet and in the future, work harder to preserve this vital ecosystem. I gather there is evidence of less pollution due to our reduced travelling, and I think there was mention that the River Thames is becoming less polluted. But, in my walks of late, I have been appalled by the surge in discarded packaging on many of the routes I have been taking, and far more disturbing, the amount of extra dog excreta along many walks (on this particular trip, there were several examples that had not been even bagged, which is totally unacceptable behaviour!) — I feel ashamed of my fellow humans, and am very concerned for our children and their families if this disrespect continues for the planet which provides our home. This behaviour has to be severely curtailed, since we are also polluting the space beyond our planet with the detritus of past Space vehicles’ spent engine stages; just because a removal procedure is somewhat fraught with difficulty, should not be an excuse to simply do nothing.
I made a serious mistake on this trip, I failed to take note of the battery charge level, and hence why the trip involved two different locations, as I had to hasten home to get another fully charged one! However, it does add to the variety. It also gave the opportunity to get shots of a very different type of bee, which I spotted on the ground close to a gate, it has a very pointy proboscis, but although I have seen one before, I know nothing about it, so will spend sometime trying to learn more about it.
Overall, it was a very satisfying time in the warm sunshine, with a pleasant breeze, and some interesting shots for me to ponder later.

Friday, 17 April 2020

Forest Centre Lock-Down Cycle Ride

A more distanced cycle ride around the Forest Centre - I kept my distance from both other cyclists and from those travelling alone, or in small family groups whilst on this excursion ride around the numerous paths that wind their way around this woodland retreat. I had set out on this ride initially with a very different destination in mind, but had found that access to the local Anglers’ lakes had been curtailed, hence why I returned to the Station Road entrance to the park.
It was some three minutes’ ride before I even saw anyone at all, and so I dismounted, leant the bike carefully against a tree, and took out my camera from the front pannier. I had spotted some luscious green Horse Chestnut leaves with a cluster of candles which seemed to form a circle. I then spent several minutes capturing further examples of the burgeoning  and crinkly young leaves making the most of the warm sunshine to herald the new season. I walked around this small area for probably ten or so minutes, oblivious to any others that may have passed by, as I focussed entirely on the beauty of nature blossoming in this small area. I then put the camera in the front pannier, and cycled slowly deeper into the woods with only the minimal sounds of birdsong, and occasional clatter of pigeons flapping frantically to avoid nearby leaves as they flew from branch to branch.
Although the predominant colour was a vibrant green, the splashes of white, red and pink against the fresh green, was what caught the eye of my lens, then the occasional young insects, when I moved in closer. The first of those I managed to capture was a Ladybird, but there were others that were too fast or restless for me to capture.
I would stop at various spots where I had caught sight of a specific plant, and either lay down the bike, or find a convenient fence or tree to lean it upright, and take off the soft camera cover and scout around for likely subjects. On one such foray, I looked into the rounded scar of an erstwhile branch and was amazed by what I had found! The healed wound itself was interesting in itself, but what I spotted within was a delight — I had discovered an entire family of snails! To capture the scene did present me with a slight problem, but fortunately the camera I have been using of late, the LUMIX FZ 10002 has just the tool to come to my rescue — it has a pop-flash, and it was but a moment to decide which way to orient the camera to ensure that the interior of this small cave was illuminated by the flash without an annoying shadow — the over-exposure of the exterior of the tree trunk I would sort later when in Lightroom. The evidence of the history of the tree’s earlier wound that gave rise to the Snails’ home had a beauty and charm all its own! As I searched for other subjects close by, two family I felt groups came past, so I shared my discovery with them, as both had young children, for whom this would be fascinating. To one group I withheld the description of what to expect, the other I described what they might expect — both were happy for my sharing the discovery.
I could see the lazy turning of the Wind Turbine across the nearby lake, but from the path, it was obscured by scrappy branches, but the lure of the scene was enough for me to leave the bike partly hidden on the far side of the path whilst the camera and I made the slightly tricky descent to be clear of the trees to capture a shot of the turbine across the intervening water.
Returning to my bike, I packed up the camera again, to continue my journey of discovery.
I soon spotted a Peacock butterfly, and it was not as edgy as an earlier encounter with a recent butterfly, and I managed a couple of shots of it on the path, before spotting alongside some rusting iron gates the equally rusting evidence of four concrete, anchorages probably World War Two vintage possibly used to anchor a barrage balloon. It was not long before I returned to the point at which I had entered the Park and headed for home having enjoyed fresh air and exercise, and the chance to maintain my sanity and gain further valuable experience of this excellent camera and its foibles.