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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Monday, 18 March 2019

Briefest Brogborough Visit with Biting Wind

          I was thinking that with a stiff breeze, there might be a chance of some activity on the nearby lake, but upon arriving at the Car Park for Brogborough’s windsurfing and paddleboarder afficianados.
          It was a bitterly cold late morning, with an added bonus of a biting wind, perhaps the cold was enough to deter all but the hardiest of windsurfing sailors from venturing out on the lake. Only when the winds don’t blow do the paddle boarders take to the water. However, on this occasion the low temperature was enough to deter all but the most determined, unless some were hidden from view the total was a mere half dozen.
          Sam Barnes who runs the show reckoned the cold would not draw too many on this occasion, and it was a while before the number, rigged and on the water, rose to three, which meant it was worth my while to put the camera onto the Benbo tripod and set up on the shore or the jetty to get shots of any action that caught my eye.
          I cannot promise that what I captured was earth shatteringly exciting, but before leaving I did take a few shots of the Benbo with it as Hero, because last weekend I learned that the Distributors, Paterson would very much like to see shots of the Benbo in action.
          I moved it around the shoreline with the lake and windsurfers as background in a small gallery to say thank you for their very useful, and firm tripod. It takes to water well, since the lower leg sections are closed at the bottom, so can be immersed in more than a foot in water with impunity.
          Click this link to view the Benbo tripod I used for these shots with the 5D MkIII and Sigma Sports 60-600mm

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Aylesbury Mayor’s Concert – Concert Band at St. Mary's Church

Although the need for a ‘Roadie’ for my daughter is hardly necessary now she is no longer playing Baritone Sax, I still enjoy the excuse of her Concerts to meet up and keep my hand in (read shutter finger!) covering her concerts — I enjoy the music, the company, and it gives me the chance to keep in touch with her and the children, on a reasonably frequent basis.
I travelled over to her house with my camera and lenses, and on this occasion we went to the venue in her car, as my longer wheelbase might have proven a tad tighter when taking the spiral in the Car Park she intended using, so on this occasion it was I who was the passenger. We made our way through the shoppers and arrived moderately early and though we arrived at the familiar church, both of us found that with the layout being reversed relative to the last time we visited it was unsettling. However, the shock over, it seemed a far better orientation. Another bonus was our visit was in daylight, and the sun was shining brightly, and the church was surprisingly warm too!
On the last occasion, not only was it dark, but I found it necessary to use a monopod for stability, on this occasion, I was able to use even my long lens handheld, and without resorting to high ISOs and the attendant noise. Nevertheless, I spent the freedom of movement that the rehearsal offered to capture as much of the informality to record the life of the Band’s natural interaction, and record some of the Band’s members who are normally less featured through being hidden behind the front rows, such as the percussion section, and the lone guitarist.
This church offers no high viewpoint, which could offer the chance of  capturing some of the less visible musicians, but rehearsal gives me the freedom to make amends, and since my shoes were clean and dry, I took the opportunity to gain some height by standing on a chair every so often. The Mayor arrived early and immediately busied himself shifting chairs into an ordered layout that put the front rows a tad further back, which meant the Band had space and the audience’s ears stood a chance of a reduced volume of sound to improve their appreciation of the music. The opportunity of  projecting a hardworking Mayor offering a helping hand was too good a chance to miss!
The beauty of taking photos at the rehearsal is in the capture of some of the lighter moments, as well as the chance of differing viewpoints, and although I am sometimes close to the action I am careful to keep a respectful distance and tread carefully, and silently. However it does mean that outer garments and various bags do make their presence apparent, and often the less formal dress does mean the images tend to be less useful from a Publicity standpoint, but they do provide a record of the fun and enjoyment of the participants. On a previous occasion, I separated the Rehearsal and Concert images, but on this occasion, I have provided one complete entity, and I hope this gives the true flavour of the event. One last point; Carl Quaif and Marie Biswell, who compèred and signed from the distant platform are seen in the gallery far better than could be seen by the audience, by my using a long lens to drag them closer. I hope this means that the blog audience can put a face to each of these two distant figures and a disembodied voice.

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Stockwood Discovery Centre, National Wildlife Photography Exhibition

The Wildlife Exhibition offered an ideal opportunity to visit both the Gardens and the Gallery, so I arranged with John Sentinella, and Jan Tysoe to meet up there. It provided the chance to view the stunning work of others in the exhibition area, and the opportunity to take our own photographs of the bounty of new life within the garden at the beginning of Spring this year.
I arrived first, and John who had parked elsewhere joined soon after, with Jan coming in after a spell doing Pilates. I had taken a brief stroll around before their arrival.
We all took a look at the fine work of others, and John later left us after the wander around the Exhibition, Jan and I stayed longer before going around the gardens in the search of subjects that caught our eye. It will be interesting later to see Jan’s images, to see what I might have missed, because she has the advantage of knowing what is likely at this early time of the season. I must also find out what differences she found between a lens I lent her to compare with the one she uses.
On the whole we were lucky with the light and the weather, and later we adjourned to the cafeteria for a hot chocolate to catch up. We parted and I made a call to a fellow photographer, Colin Bowles to see whether I might visit him and his wife, to catch up on their news before heading back up to Marston Moretaine, and it was a good move because from there it proved a really good trip back, rather than up the crowded M1. Altogether, a very productive and enjoyable day.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Interesting Multi-Purpose Vehicle - Right Outside!

At the junction of Squires Road and Station Road, Marston Moretaine is a rectangular flower box on the left as one enters, and on the other a fire hydrant; this morning a large multi-purpose vehicle pulled up close by the latter. Since in an earlier life I had worked at a Photographers in Weybridge who had one very frequent user of our services for photographing their various body conversions to standard chassis, the sight of this vehicle  seemed to be calling me to bring out a camera and take some photos. That company from my earliest days in commercial photography was Hawson Garner. 
We would drive to the client and follow in our own vehicle, or be collected from our studios in Weybridge High Street, in the vehicle to be photographed, either way we would  be given a brief for the shots needed, if there were more specific details to be highlighted we might meet up with the client or take the brief from their driver, the most frequented site for the pictures was at a spot by the banks of the Thames. I just tried seeing whether using Google Earth I could find the spot after all these years — I failed! Perhaps after the length of time that has passed perhaps I should not be too disheartened!
Back to the present; I just felt that as the sun was shining, despite being from the wrong direction,  I just had to get out there and get some shots. I did wonder how many shots I might get before the man had finished his task, and helpfully the Stop cock attachment was the wrong size which forced a delay before one of his colleagues came by with the correct-sized key, giving me a few extra minutes. Eighty shots was not too shameful in the time.
Back in the day, I was shooting those shots on 5x4 sheet film with a Sinar, and on a tripod — these images are in full colour and have been tweaked, and available the same day, whereas I would be in the darkroom to unload the slides, heat the tanks to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, clip them in frames and stay by them in the dark for the Development time which was around eleven minutes raising and lowering the frame each minute, before transferring them via quick rinse into the Fixer for another ten minutes, they then had 30 minutes wash and twenty or so minutes in the Dryer —  that only got us to the Negative! The printing of the half- dozen or so shots would take probably another hour or two to get exposed, developed, and printed also in the dark before being washed and generally glazed on a heated stainless steel drum. With other work going through in the same time frame our regular turnaround would be three days, though obviously if needed more quickly this could be reduced, though not the price! Rush fees were the way to allow us the time to work efficiently rather than in mad bursts!
Today’s images taken in the morning, reach the blog in the same day and they possess both quantity and quality. And I am not even being paid for these!

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Marston Lake Bird Activity

          The sun was out and it was warm for late January, so a short drive to the nearby Marston Lake seemed like a good idea, since with no wind, the other lake at Brogborough would not be likely to be hosting windsurfers (the clue is in the name!) and Stewartby mainly hosts powerboats and sailing dinghies, and those two exponents tend to be weekend activities or require a wind.
          On this visit the Camera was the 7D MkII, the lens was the Sigma Sports 60-600mm augmented with the 1.4x Converter, since the birdlife on this lake tend to keep their distance.
          On my last visit I had spotted a lone young Grebe, but on this afternoon, there did appear to be a pair, and later there was a tentative exploratory dalliance,  but it petered out without the ritual offering of weeds. Unlike previous visits where I only spotted two Cormorants, there were at least half a dozen and some did take to the air to search for their prey, but the seemingly choice spot were two clusters of dead trees that seemed to warrant a territorial dispute, but the occasion I witnessed, the two established birds hung on and the attack failed.
          As ever, every so often the Coots would become bellicose and there would be some noisy flapping as one bird would launch an attack on another. From my observations Coots seem bad-tempered fairly frequently, often continuing for several bouts, but on this occasion, this petered out fairly speedily. A pair of Swans glid serenely across the lake fairly aimlessly, and unlike the last visit here, there were fewer gulls, and one Tufted Duck seemed to consider one gull to be on its patch, and made a menacing torpedo-like dart at one, but the gull simply took to the air before settling back on the water, comparatively unfazed.
          Alongside a pair of Tufties a single bird of a different species of duck had attached itself, and it was not simply a female of the species, I took an enlarged image, that I plan to send to my Birding Guru to learn just what bird it is, but if anyone else knows please let me know below in Comments.
          The visit was a pleasant way to relax, and get the feel of the lake, and already I have noted the signs of Spring appearing, though listening to the forecasts, this may be premature, since there are still warnings of snow.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Brands Hatch with the Jaguar Enthusiasts Club

No, I have not suddenly come into money, and become the owner of a Jaguar — I do have a friend though who does own such a vehicle and we met up and travelled down from Bedfordshire to attend a meeting of what amounted to a rescheduled event from last year. 
The day had begun in fairly thick fog and upon our arrival the sun was beginning to win the battle to burn off the mist bringing a glow behind Druids Hairpin that was being reflected in the windows of the hospitality suites between the Main Grandstand and Paddock Bend. The effect was beginning to fade by the time I had put the camera and lens on the tripod and captured the scene.
The portends for a good day at the circuit were gathering apace, and I took the opportunity to grab a few images of a largely empty rear area behind the garages that line the Pits. I used to be Assistant Chief Pits here for the BRSCC for some thirty years, and this the second reincarnation since I left, but the circuit still holds a place in my heart and still retains much of the character I remember, since when I first came the circuit was close to a third the present length.
The circuit in use on this day is affectionately referred to as the Club Circuit and means that spectators in almost any position can see the cars, bikes or trucks for a major part of the circuit. I have fond memories of my times here spent in all weathers from biting winds and snow to heavy rain, and unrelenting heat, and even night racing!
The numbers attending gradually rose, but perhaps because of the previous cancellation and the time of year, the attendance was not as large as I had experienced with John when he invited me to the Castle Combe event. Before anyone went out on the circuit there were preliminaries to go through to explain the procedures, and the rules of behaviour when out on the circuit. After that and with wrist bands attached that indicated who were driving, and who were considering being passengers and that they had listened to the rules outlined in the briefing, the audience members filed out to the Pits Paddock area downstairs.
By now a few more vehicles and people had arrived and I had taken a few shots that covered  some of the attendees and vehicles and I was watching the activity around one of the Swallows Jaguar Team as they were having some difficulty removing their car from the transporting ramps, and I could see that they could do with some additional weight in bodies to make it possible for the car to have clearance enough to move freely to the ground. I then made what turned out to be a fateful decision and splayed the tripod legs and put the tripod on the ground; I had thought it was balanced correctly, but as I turned to offer my help, I heard the heart-wrenching sound of my camera, lens and tripod crashing to the tarmac, then  saw that the lens had separated from camera body and tripod, and both lay a few feet apart! I realised that that decision to consider offering my assistance had brought this calamity upon myself and I was near to tears. I picked everything up and was in shock as I realised my day was ended before really having begun. I walked away unable to concentrate on anything but the terrible loss, and dwelling on the consequences. I cannot be sure of what happened for probably ten minutes as I was locked inside my own world… then one of the Swallows Team came up to me and despite just having witnessed the accident to my own equipment, had brought along his Nikon camera equipped with a long zoom lens and offered it to me! That was kindness of a different order! I was absolutely amazed that without a word he had gone away and brought along his camera and offered it to me, a complete stranger! It was truly humbling, and suddenly amidst all my gloom suddenly he had brought a gift beyond words. I cannot remember a time when such a gesture of human kindness has been bestowed upon me. It still brings tears to my eyes as I write this piece, days from when it occurred. I doubt I will ever forget the occasion, and later, the chance to be driven round the circuit for numerous laps, most of which we were the only ones on track.
During those laps, I became very aware that the driver was inching deeper into the apex of Bottom Bend to gain a greater benefit upon exit, and at the end my thoughts were that the driver really enjoyed that drive, and literally before I could voice that statement he made the declaration himself! I then mentioned my observation and it appears that he feels trepidation in that corner as a close friend had crashed badly there. I felt my observation was keenly understood, and I said that if he ever needs human ballast to continue exploring the boundary for that corner I would be more than happy to supply my reassurance.
During the day John Sentinella my generous host and I met several really interesting people, one of who remembered me from my time as a Marshal as he was once a Course Marshal and he also knew brother Ian during the time he was racing and worked for the club.
I will cherish both the drive and the selfless generosity I received that afternoon at a moment when I had the heartache of losing my latest lens and camera in the first days of ownership. The delay in getting this narrative and accompanying gallery is due to the consequences of the accident that befell my photographic kit on the day. All this week has been spent sorting out the repair and insurance and the travelling involved taking the lens to Sigma and the camera and adapter to Canon. All this during a record amount of sunshine for a February!

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Brogborough Windsurfers – EOS R, 60-600mm Lens + 1.4x

For those windsurfers hoping to see what I had managed to capture, I apologise for the delay, but other priorities occurred, and also I learned a hard lesson, bigger files, especially without a fully compliant profile with which to process them, also adds to the delay. The files are now over twice the size, so when you also add into the mix that I have yet to be able to understand just the best way to process the subsequent files, it has taken me way longer to prepare the gallery.
In the recent past, I have used the smaller-chipped 7D MkII to both gain the extra throw of the lens, and to maintain a high burst rate when shooting the Brogborough windsurfers and the Stewartby powerboats. On this occasion, I was using the full-frame EOS R, and to give me extra focal length using the new much longer range of the 60-600mm Sigma Sports lens, I added the 1.4x Converter. It had the effect of making the 600mm become 840mm and in place of 60mm that was now increased to 84mm; which was not too bad a loss when the windsurfers came close – compared to the closest focus of my previous 150-600mm used alone which meant if my subjects came close the cropping was obvious. On this afternoon I had little difficulty keeping the whole sail in frame when I was approached closely, yet equally able to get a good size when they were a good distance away!
I still have to find an effective solution to placing the cursor where I need it for both autofocus and exposure, so that I can vary the focal length to achieve effective framing and composition. Getting the ring that provides in my instance the means by which I can make quick changes to exposure compensation was essential to give me the level of control I need to work efficiently and speedily.
I apologise to those who feel there were too many shots of Sam and the hydrofoil board, but I was trying to see whether he might complete a successful gybe aloft, and I was impressed he was getting close; I think it was as much due to the fickle wind conditions. I was pleased to have captured some shots of multiple sailors spanning the width of my frame, especially as now the quality details of the individuals in such frames is so much better. I did not stay as along as I might have, because I knew I had little available time to get this gallery up, and now it is late Tuesday as I write this narrative to get the gallery up tonight. I hope it was worth the wait.

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Marsworth Reservoir with Sigma 60-600 Sports on EOS R Body

The title should really include another important piece of information — I also added the Sigma 1.4 Converter, and was amazed by how well this combination worked. So that readers of this piece can fully understand just how well this combo performed I have taken a shot from the same standpoint at the wide angle end of the lens’ range to give an indication of where I was when taking the subsequent pictures. Frame 3 shows the exact view from my position when the lens was at its shortest focal length, albeit still with the 1.4 Converter still attached! So you can see how impressive the images are; immediately below the distant view at frame 9, is an enlargement from the previous picture, showing just how much detail there is, and I was amazed! So, all praise to Canon and Sigma, for the sensor in the EOS R, and Sigma for both this excellent range telephoto and their 1.4 Extender — it makes me wonder how the 2x Converter would fare on this body? Perhaps Sigma might loan me a 2x to check it out.
At this point I shall digress; I drove down to Sigma to borrow this lens due to a really frustrating situation that was brought about by the carriers, UPS who managed for no less than the second occasion to fail to read the postcode on my package beyond the first three characters, and dropped my package into the Amazon Depot which due to Amazon’s high-handed arrogance, only acknowledges the Entire Delivery, and any package not due to Amazon, simply place it in a cage for when the carrier next collects, and does not reflect this in the tracking, so the tracking at this point reads ‘Delivered’. It is only subsequently revived once the original Courier has returned it to their Depot. This is a gross failure on Amazon and UPS’ Duty of Care, and should be utterly condemned. It completely undermines the Tracking System and since the fact that this has occurred twice to me personally, it must be only the tip of an Iceberg, and has but one result that packages lost completely are untraceable, and claims on Insurance simply compounds the losses, and increases everyone’s prices for Deliveries. This must be tackled at Government level. If anyone reading this piece has had similar issues of packages being delivered to Amazon and suffered delivery delays please tackle your MP, so we can prevent this from escalating.
Back to the narrative; I had been concerned that perhaps the Sigma Sports 60-600mm  lens might fail to focus when on this mirrorless body, but though on occasion I did have to  occasionally twist the focus ring to initiate autofocus,  I believe I may be able to use the Custom Presets on the lens to obviate that. I shall be enquiring of Sigma on that after the weekend. 
One observation I have made in relation to the EOS R is that it is rather easy to have wide range subject exposures suffer from irretrievable highlights, but whether this is due to Adobe not yet having an EOS R-specific profile. I am relying currently on a previous, but seemingly otherwise workable profile. If I have subjects with bright whites, I am taking a similar approach to how I handled transparencies in the days of film, and choosing to under-expose in such circumstances. The dynamic range of sunlit swans is such an example, it is definitely better to under-expose and then lift the shadows ‘in Post’.
I wonder how long before My lens arrives having gone ‘Up the Suwannee’ — the shoe on the lens though a little longer than some is not as long as the separate full length one which I had for the earlier 150-600mm lens, as I was loathe to put mine on this loan lens, so I await the return of the one due to arrive when UPS get it back onto its route to me.
The 60-600mm lens may be heavy, but using one lens and one body for sports and wildlife is a boon, and with the marginally lighter mirrorless full-frame body giving such image quality has certainly been worthwhile, but there is a learning curve, and  I still have a way to go to reach the ease of use to which I had become accustomed with the 5D MkIII and 7D MkII…

Monday, 11 February 2019

Brogborough — a Few Heroic Windsurfers!

Is it a surprise that Brogborough Lake was not inundated with sailors taking advantage of the wind? Hardly. Despite a reasonable degree of sunshine, the wind that blew was bitter, and on my arrival only one sail was to be seen on the water. However, as I put my tripod up, and added the gimbal head, the numbers increased one hundred percent! On this occasion my longest practical lens was the Canon 100-400mm, augmented by the Sigma 1.4 Converter. This combo brought about due to my wait for the 60-600 Sigma Sports, due I am assured this coming week.
I was not daunted by this prospect, as  I have checked out this pairing in the last few days, and it proves reasonably workable. Overall, I was reasonably satisfied, but I did face one issue that meant I did miss some shots; the reason being that it was all too easy to find my focus point being taken way off, unintentionally. I shall have to work out a better way to keep my focus point static until I decide I wish to relocate it. So, there is further work needed for me to feel confident in the procedures I adopt when using this EOS R body.
On at least three occasions I missed some of the action, in part because the last burst was being processed, and this frame was now in the viewfinder because of my having lifted my finger from the shutter release. I am unsure how to remedy this at this time — more burrowing in the PDF Instructions!
Later this week, I should be taking delivery of a lens that will avoid any converters, the Sigma Sports 60-600mm lens,  I parted with my 150-600mm Sigma Sports in order to obtain and fund the purchase of the longer range lens. l hope that it will allow me to use this one far more at events like Goodwood for motor racing, Stewartby for powerboats, taking shots of wildlife such as kingfishers, and this location for windsurfing. On this afternoon I was able to capture swans and cormorants, though due to the focussing issue I encountered on this occasion, I failed to record a grey wagtail that hopped around the foreshore at one stage. I was pleasantly surprised by what I managed at this afternoon’s visit with the MkI Canon 100-400mm lens using the 1.4x Sigma extender. It is noticeable just how much sharper this lens is when used on the EOS R body compared to either the 5D or 7D with the same lens — so I am really looking forward to using the 60-600mm on this body.
Through all the testing of this new mirrorless body, I have had to adopt a very different way of working which has already impacted the handling of my earlier DSLR bodies, which cause me to find them confusing when I return to using them!


Thursday, 7 February 2019

Bromham Lake – EOS R Familiarisation

 
 
When I first ordered the Canon EOS R body in addition to the straightforward adapter giving me access to the direct use of my pre-existing lenses, the ring that appealed was the one that gives the user a ring that allows instant access to a feature that otherwise would mean several key presses through menus to make a single change to a needed setting.
The most useful one that I ever need when using my cameras to shoot rapidly changing subjects such as wildlife and sports, is when lighting situations change due either to backgrounds beyond a subject having an adverse effect on my metering, or when my pre-determined settings are rendered suddenly beyond the preset limits — the beauty of this ring is that I can use it to make a compensation for the circumstances, with my finger taking first pressure on the shutter release as I turn the ring, to add or subtract from the measured exposure, then press the shutter further to take the shot. No taking my eye from the viewfinder and menu-diving to make the change.
This trip was the first occasion to put this to use as the ring arrived in the post that day, and I was considering going out to search for new locations despite the overcast sky as it was not raining and it was surprisingly mild. Having had a poor connection with the phone’s SatNav to the car’s speakers I never reached my original destination, but I did spot the sign to one I had visited previously — a small Nature Reserve at Bromham. So I took the long lane to where it’s entrance provided a small parking area. For this venture I took my Canon 100-400mm MkI lens and my Sigma 1.4x Converter in case I needed the extra throw.
I also added the monopod, to give me a steadier shooting platform as well a a support when negotiating slippery banks. It proved its worth in both modes! This year’s weather has been definitely out of kilter, the last week has been unusually mild, and this was apparent as not all the Autumn leaves had been shed, and the catkins were gently sway in the light breeze.
There were a few birds to be seen flitting across the paths as they flew between the meagre cover either side, a sparrow, a robin, and a rook briefly caught my eye, but there was little birdsong to be heard for most of the time I was there. I put out some birdseed in case there was a chance I might get some shots of these birds, but none came to my carefully dispersed piles on tables or tree stumps, so I moved deeper into the woods, taking stock of possible images that might allow me to check out the new camera body further.
The aspect I still found problematic was using the screen to move the cursor around the scene I was viewing through the eyepiece; I found it was often difficult to move to where I wanted it, as either my finger’s proximity to the eyepiece would move the cursor, or when. I lifted my finger, it would jump to follow my finger as it moved away! I think this maybe down to my being a spectacle wearer, and therefore being farther from the eyepiece. I can see myself having to adapt the way I move the cursor! However, when I get it right the sensor does an excellent job of getting my shots sharp, and the extra file size means the graininess of the higher ISOs I often use is greatly reduced, meaning I can get far more from my longer lenses in difficult lighting.
I am waiting upon a new delivery to Sigma of the 60-600mm Sports lens so that I can  see how the lens performs with this body, as it would be a real boon if it really performed well bearing in mind the mentions I have made relating to this full frame sensor. Time, as they say, will tell!

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Digi-Cluster January 2019, West Herts College, Watford

The weather for the evening’s meeting of the Digital-Cluster group of Creatives was wet and windy, with a threat of snow for the return trip, but the spirit of those already gathered by my arrival was both warm and positive.
On this occasion I drove down alone, and two designers I would normally have met were not going to be there, which was a shame, as they had prior engagements. This engagement was going to be the first occasion that I would be using the new mirrorless full-frame camera body from Canon, the EOS R, and it was now that I put all that I had learned from my earlier outings to the real test.
I was nervous, and the first few shots I was very aware that my hands were shaky,  and when using the screen to select where I wanted to focus, I found it difficult to find the square cursor to move it into place for the subject I wanted to focus on, before realising I had to remember to keep my fingers away from the eyepiece, as this pulled it off-screen. I had to keep reminding myself to keep all my other fingers well away. The nerves abated once I started to be careful about coming to wards the screen from below, and avoid other fingers from getting close to the eyepiece.
I was very aware that I was working far less smoothly, with less confidence than normal, and ‘chimping’, far more to check focus and framing. However, what I soon realised was that the image within the eyepiece was so much brighter than the scene I was shooting, which had not been apparent from all the outdoor testing I had been doing in the preceding week.
Occasionally I did show a couple the people the images I had taken to give them an idea of the improvement in quality over what I had been able to achieve with my earlier DSLRs using the same lens.
The evening began by Syd Nadim apologising that one scheduled speaker had not been able to make it for personal reasons, but had recorded a message which Syd duly played on screen, he also explained that there were some 90-Second pitches, and a ‘fireside chat’ covering a range of topics, and questions from the audience.
At the end of all this formal section there were a range of pizzas and drinks kindly provided, and later for those interested a trip to the bodega. The gallery of pictures I took of the informal networking and the talks, hopefully captures the spirit of the evening, and certainly proved to me that the EOS R definitely provides high quality images.

Monday, 28 January 2019

Forest Centre EOS R Testing

Monday afternoon was surprisingly bright and fairly cloudless, so in the middle of the afternoon I made yet another trip out to try to more fully understand how to get the best out of the EOS R Canon’s full frame mirrorless body; I have sat down reading the online manual, on the iPad, as well as tried watching various videos from those who have been able to spend time with Canon and get to grips with the different way of working with this camera. The most notable outcome so far with the hours I have spent experimenting happened this evening when I went back to my ‘conventional’ DSLR,  the EOS 7D MkII, and to my surprise I was actually befuddled by it! This was because of the time spent with the new beast – I actually started laughing at myself!
I decided to cycle round to the Forest Centre with the camera and a couple of lenses and the latest Sigma 1.4x Converter, and see what I could find to test my increasing understanding of how to get the best from it in relation to how I wanted to work. The biggest issue I have found thus far is how to be able to see all the necessary settings simply and speedily. Each time I set myself a task, I find at least one setting that eludes me.
I need to quickly set a specific aperture, preferably with variable auto ISO within a certain range. I also need to know  how many frames I have left, and how much battery charge is available, and when actually shooting I need to be able to make exposure compensation due to either lighting conditions or subject brightness. I do not want to have to delve into several different menus to achieve all this, and so far such speedy alterations have eluded me. I do know that the one component that I have on order will make this far simpler as it is a ring that can be preset to allow me to make some of these adjustments with a simple turn of the ring, but there is no stock of the ring in the country presently!
In order to fund the purchase of this body I have parted with my favourite long lens the 150-600mm Sigma Sports lens, in order to buy the longer-ranged 60-600mm, but that is also not in the country, hence why I am ‘out in the country’ with my 100-400mm Canon lens with the Sigma 1.4x Converter in its place, so the single-paged gallery that accompanies this narrative shows what I did manage with a bit of difficulty – to capture gulls flying at some distance with this combo handheld – to this end you will see some examples where I show the generally full image, and then a crop that shows what detail is present. By way of example frame 10 shows the full image and frame 11 shows a tight crop of the gull; same goes for 13 & 14. (Same also applies for 8 & 9, 16 & 17 and 20 & 21). Using my 5D MkIII and the same lens and Converter renders a far smaller image, so this increase in megabyte size, coupled with no vibration due to the mirror operating, means a far crisper end result. However, actually panning a moving subject is not as easy, hence why in frame 13, the gull is way off centre, yet sharp.
I feel a complete novice, and do not yet have the same level of confidence in my ability to deliver the results I would be happy presenting, and by the time this piece is available on the blog, I have an evening where I am hoping I can shoot a gathering at a networking event to the level I have in the past. It will definitely not be as smooth as I would like, but I am hoping that if all goes well, there should be a measurable jump in the quality I can achieve, as the level of shutter speed should be of a higher order. Normally I might find myself shooting at as low as 1/13th of a second, and this time I am hoping to never go lower than 1/60th. Time will tell.

Sunday, 27 January 2019

EOS R at Bitterly Cold Marsworth

              I set off in sunshine and it was not desperately cold, but the sun soon hid behind cloud cover and the wind strengthened, and I began to wonder about the wisdom of continuing, but I wanted to attempt to take the EOS R body along to venues that will be where this body is put to work, even though reservoirs at this time of year are not at their most interesting.
              On this occasion I certainly was not going to lug around a really sturdy tripod and so settled upon the carbon fibre Silk Road tripod, since all my others are metal and weighty. Even as I crossed the road from Tringford Lake, the sleet and rain began, but having travelled this distance I was not going to wimp out. Having come out of the cover of the trees, the wind had ratcheted up and it was very unpleasant and several f-stops duller, meaning the likelihood of noise intruding on the quality of the images was now a lot higher, so the ISO speed would correspondingly rise and the depth of field would narrow, especially so as I was using the Canon 100-400mm lens and, adding the Sigma 1.4x Converter to give me the throw. This definitely real world testing, or perhaps I could describe it as typically British Weather! The reason for this lens selection was that in order to make the new full-frame Mirrorless Canon affordable, whilst also purchasing Sigma's new 60-600mm Sports lens, sadly my 150-600mm had to go – very bad timing as there are no 60-600s in the Country presently!
              Once I was on the pathway between Marsworth and Startops lakes, I took shelter from the wind and rain, as countless groups of people were heading in my direction at a brisk pace heading for home! Each one with whom I spoke lamenting the the same message "It was sunny when we first arrived!" I should add not everyone was heading away, or, perhaps their homes lay in the opposite direction?!
              After a short stay the sleet and rain thinned, and I ventured further, but soon took shelter  at the hide that faces Startops, though for the greater time I was there, I faced the Marsworth lake, as I had been visited by a Robin and a Dunnock, perhaps lured by my putting several small piles of seeds atop the fence posts, though for the most part both went for the more meagre scatterings I put on the ground. I was a little surprised that both considered this area home turf as Robins are notoriously territorial. I moved further along the path towards the T-Junction where the options of which lake's shoreline you walk, where there several cygnets and numerous Coots and Mallard ducks, and though I spotted a lone juvenile Grebe, it was too distant for my lens especially with such unfavourable light. There were also swooping Gulls, and Cormorants, and I returned to the hide and saw the Robin again, but after a fruitless further hour, I decided to admit defeat and returned to the car and headed home.
              I had learned that Autofocus worked poorly in these conditions, whether this was due to poor settings on my part, or the very low temperatures due to the biting wind, I was unsure, but nine-tenths of the shots that appear in the gallery were obtained manually, and my success rate was low! My hands and reflexes do not perform well when frozen; I did not suffer frostbite, but they took a long while to warm up on the journey back.
              I do hope I do not have to wait too long for Sigma to receive another batch of 60-600mm lenses! Lastly, once again I have done several pairs of images where the first is approximately full frame, and the second is a crop from the same image to indicate the quality obtained. ISO speed ranged from 5000˚ to 12,800˚ ISO, to give some indication of how low the light was, and most were shot at an aperture of f/7.1.

Saturday, 26 January 2019

EOS R – Doing my best to Get to Grips…

Testing Continues Using the EOS R…
The purpose of the testing is more to do with familiarising myself with the very different way of working with this camera, and two things cropped up today which, for the present I am putting down to my ignorance. Certainly, I am not confident enough to use it for a live job, for I do not have the confidence I can deliver, to the same degree of certainty with which I know I can, when using either of my other two Canon bodies; the full-frame EOS 5D MkIII, or the smaller framed EOS 7D MkII.
I have found that despite being set to AF, two of the Canon lenses need sometimes to have their focus changed before they snap into locking on correctly. Also, I need to work out how to stop the delay when shooting, caused by the processing of the frames, which seems odd when I have little interruption when using a mechanical shutter on my DSLRs. So, as I say, this is a criticism of ME – obviously too old in the tooth! I am determined I will get there though, as the results I am seeing suggest the quality of the images is there.
After a morning spent doing some delayed housework, and definitely missing the best of the sunshine, I set off towards the lake at Brogborough for hopefully some windsurfing action, but seeing a lone pheasant as I turned into the road leading to the lake, I pulled into a layby and took the camera with the EOS R body and 100-400mm MkI lens locked it onto the monopod, and headed towards where I spotted him, but he was wily enough to have spotted a photographer, and despite looking around and taking the likely direction he may have taken, I entered the field beyond the hedge where I had lost sight of him through the marked Public Footpath. It was nowhere to be seen, but now I was here and there was a pathway through the high weeds, I decided I would venture further. I did take a few shots, but my heart was not in it, so I headed back to the car and the windsurfing lake, meeting one of them who was leaving!
Before any more left, I took the camera on the monopod out and took a few shots of the remaining three sailors out on the water, before they came in and headed off too. Using the monopod in an occasionally gusty wind and grey overcast meant that I was using 2000˚ ISO, but, a test was what I sought, so I grabbed a small number of shots, and again was pleasantly surprised. The extra megabytes over say the 7D MkII with its small frame size, despite the high ISO does give a cleaner result. Had I the luxury of more sailors on the lake, I could have considered shooting at a wider aperture and lower ISO, but I started at f/5 which also gave me 1/2000 to at least compensate from my waving monopod!
I have made duplicates of the few shots I took with some fairly tight crops to illustrate the inherent quality relative to the full size, so the first of a pair of images is full-frame or close to that after straightening the horizon! You can tell when they are from the same frame by the filename. And the very last image I have done an extra and tighter crop, to show that even at this high ISO, the image holds up.
I am waiting on the delivery of the adapter ring that can provide presets and will likely use this for either an ISO change or Exposure compensation when shooting Sports activities as in Britain non-stop bright sun is rare! If snow is on its way, then I can see just what this body can do.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Canon EOS R Further Testing

          This was a trip where I travelled light; no tripod, just the monopod, the new EOS R body and the 100-400mm, and 35mm lenses, and the 1.4x Converter.
          I needed to try to find a setup for the new Canon mirrorless body where I felt confident that I could achieve the best settings in changing circumstances, so I went out yet again with just that mindset. Every so often the light was moderately bright, but overall the mistiness gave the scenes I captured a somewhat dull feel, even though the noticeable result showed that the detail was crisper than I could have achieved on my EOS 5D MkIII, or 7DMkII under similar circumstances. To this end I have taken an enlarged section from two images that show this noticeable amount of extra detail that would appear in a print, than can be shown on the screen in the galleries.
          I have yet to quickly alter settings which I knew I wanted with this body, because those changes required too many steps; I am hoping that this is purely down to my unfamiliarity. I found that if I wanted to make a change, I had first to go elsewhere to reach the starting point to make that change; it always seemed to take several clicks rather than one.
          The extra five to ten gigabytes in image size means that from the same lens, I was always getting a smoother result than on my other bodies, I could crop more tightly with less fear of intrusive grain, and many of the shots taken on this outing were taken with the 1.4x Converter on the MkI 100-400mm Canon zoom, and the distant water tank illustrates just how much extra detail I was able to achieve from the inherently larger file this body gives.
          I found this location, the Sandy Smith Nature Reserve, close by the old wartime airbase of Chicksands by pure happenstance, and it is an area close to minor tributaries of the river Great Ouse. I only met two other people, but from the second person, a man walking two of his dogs, I gleaned some hopefully, very useful knowledge of how to get to some more wooded areas by the river, possibly giving me a chance of finding some aquatic birds, so this is a location I will be visiting again, but choosing a different direction when heading from my car.
          When I first contemplated a mirrorless body, I was always concerned about the view through the eyepiece, but on this occasion, I was highly impressed, I have no qualms in stating that the quality was excellent. To help in making this purchase, I have sold two lenses and an earlier body, and I feel that this will prove to be a good move, I just hope I can master the controls, because presently I am a learner driver!