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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Sunday, 23 February 2020

Lone Windsurfer at Brogborough

The wind was just below gale force in gusts, which I was certain would attract windsurfers to gravitate towards Brogborough Lake to take advantage of the dry conditions; the missing factors were sunshine and warmth! I gathered the serious kit as well as the mirrorless LUMIX, and as I approached the entrance I wondered whether the gate was open, and it was, which is always a good sign.
I pulled into the spot I generally used; and looking around, found I was only the third car into the car park. As yet, it looked as if only one person was considering taking to the lake — Geoff, and he seemed to be in no particular hurry to be putting on his wet suit.
The wind was brisk, and I soon realised that I was not as well-prepared as I had assumed. I had presumed that a coat was in the boot should I need extra protection, but when I opened it, I was soon disabused of that! So, my time was going to be spent exactly as I was dressed presently, as it was far too much trouble to go back for extra clothing.
For the first time for quite some time, I lost several images, and I think it was due to my using the same memory card in two different cameras. From now on having formatted a card for my Canon camera, I will avoid using it in a different manufacturer’s unless not only it is re-formatted, but specifically it was reformatted in the specific manufacturer’s camera. There were several shots of Geoff that I took on a card that had the remnants of a previous visit to Brogborough taken on my Canon EOS R, that became unreachable later when, I came to download them.

I will now designate specific cards to my Canon gear, and try to remember to Always reformat a card in camera after download has been completed, rather than just Occasionally. Also designate a Single, Specific card for the LUMIX. I was aware that many users format every time, but having never before faced this issue, possibly because all my gear was Canon till now, this situation had never occurred. So, my apologies to Geoff for so few shots.

Saturday, 15 February 2020

Harrold-Odell Avian Observations

In the lull between the wind and rain of recent days, I headed for the lakes at Harold-Odell; at first there was some sunshine, but that became milkier, as the afternoon wore on.
        At this time of year, the capturing of images is determined by the nuances of weather; dull days with wind can often be the source of dramatic monochrome shots that give drama, wind and sun can provide the drama on the nearby lake for its windsurfing community, sun with less wind can attract powerboats on a different equally close lake. The lakes at this location feature a variety of birds, and on this visit, the two species in greatest numbers were Swans and gulls.
One species I had not encountered before was the Goosander, and there was a pair, sadly at too great a distance for really good shots on this occasion as I had made the decision to use the LUMIX 10002 on this visit; it was the male I had spotted as being of interest as  a bird I had not encountered before. It was only in a conversation later in the afternoon that a local Warden to whom I was showing some of the shots informed me that I had in fact got some shots of the female! There is a lot to be learned from conversation with others.
The gallery started by my hoping to capture a sighting of a grey Squirrel in the trees on the left as one enters, but actually what caught my eye were clumps of flowers, the first tentative signs of Spring, no Squirrel on this occasion. I made my way to the fenced off bank by the break in the shoreline trees, where the more fearless of birds come, knowing that parents of young children are to be found offering seeds and bread to bring them close.
Mallard ducks and drakes were the most numerous, followed by swooping gulls squawking loudly in the hope of diving in earlier than other species on the water. A behaviour that surprised and baffled me somewhat was how presumably the parent swans would aggressively drag Cygnets away by the neck, or with heads low on the water, chase their young away.
The light was fading, and by the back of the Restaurant were some raised flower boxes with an array of coloured Spring flowers that caught my eye, so colour topped and tailed the gallery of birds.
My phone alerted me that the time had arrived for me to take my next antibiotic to calm my raging toothache, so I sought out a glass of water with which to take it, which was how I had come into contact with the warden who had told me of the Goosanders.

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Windy and Sunny at Brogborough Lake

               Sun and wind was forecast for the Saturday afternoon, and for a change I was arriving fairly early, as I expected that combination would attract some interest amongst the windsurfing fraternity and certainly there seemed to be a fair amount of interest, so I set to immediately opening the boot of my car and erecting the heavy Benbo tripod. The camera I chose was the EOS R and I decided to put the 1.5 Converter on the Sigma 60-600mm Sports lens. This combination would allow me to capture a good overall range from the shore to the anticipated distance, judging from those sailors already on the water.
                The first observation I made was that there were at least two sailors who were out on hydrofoils, so this aspect of windsurfing is gaining traction. As I noted that the jetty at the far end was already under water, I decided that working from the shore would seem to be a sensible idea, since with the wind, had I been on the jetty, my camera gear was very likely to be at risk of suffering from waves breaking over the end that was already awash.
I was pleased that the wind direction did give me some opportunities of the sailors heading straight towards me on occasion. I was soon shooting, but after those whom I had seen preparing their boards were out on the lake, I did not see the overall numbers growing, which did surprise me a little, as although what wind there was, was often in short gusts, there was both sun and a reasonable amount of wind for most of the time.
                It was good to see that the numbers of hydrofoilers was rising, and amongst their number they were gaining experience of staying aloft for longer in the turns. It will be interesting to see whether the numbers will rise still further as the year progresses.
                On this visit, I tended to shoot more, due to the quality of the light, and cull far more shots back here when I was putting the gallery together. Also, I only shot from the same spot as I did not fancy a trek through mud to select a different viewpoint.
                I did not stay all that long as I knew that I would not get through my editing in good time if I stayed too long taking many more shots. I hope they give as much pleasure to those whom I captured as they did me in their taking.

Friday, 7 February 2020

1st 2020 Visit to Harrold-Odell

I needed to practice how to get the most out of a recent acquisition, the Fujix FZ1000 MkII. How I came to purchase the camera in the first place was fortuitous in the extreme. It came about when I recently visited the London Photography Show by SWPP in West London. I was due to meet up with fellow Photographer, Steve Scrase, who joined a photographic studio just as I was leaving, many moons ago, and with whom I have remained in contact ever since. I was coming from out of London, parking up near a Tube Station then using the Underground to reach the venue where later we would meet up after his arrival. We arranged to meet on the Panasonic Stand, from where he was phoning, I met up with him moments later and he related that a colleague of his had bought the Fujix FZ 1000 MkII, and was highly impressed with the quality of the results. I did play with it and asked lots of questions
The clincher was the Show price. The price point was achieved by the use of plastic in its construction and the lack of extensive weather-sealing, it therefore meant there would be limitations to some of its use, but I possess kit that has that level and more of protection, so it does not compete, but with a Leica lens and such versatility it very definitely has a place in my kit! It was one of the fastest decisions I ever made for a camera, and placed my order at the Show and received it a few days later. I left the decision of buying a spare battery and charger till later, when I had had proper opportunities to understand and use it for real.
The outcome of the decisions I made can be seen in particular in the gallery of pictures on my blog, headed: ‘A Church and the River bank’, in which every shot was taken with that camera, and all handheld. Although I can say this camera will not supplant my use of the Sigma Sports 60-600mm lens, I can equally state I will not be using that lens handheld, so this is very much a case of ‘Horses for Courses’.
I took along both mentioned cameras lenses to this Lake and made just one mistake, I generally used the Sigma with the 2x Converter attached, which due to where my chosen subjects were was a wrong decision as I should have only added the 1.5 converter bearing in mind the low level of light on my subjects! However, it was worth my while to always keep both converters with me and their caps, but in this gallery, only the metadata will answer which camera was used.

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

A Church and a River bank

Relying on my Memory is increasingly an issue, and so it proved this particular morning. I was aiming to take a look at the state of the water level, at a particular spot on the River Great Ouse, so I duly set a destination at the village that my failing memory suggested was one of the previous destinations set into my SatNav. I was way off as my SatNav confidently said that my destination was now just ahead – in 200 yards! 
Well, I recognised the spot, but certainly not for this reason! I recognised that I had in truth visited this destination on a previous occasion, but it was most definitely not the destination where I wanted to be!
I searched for a suitable spot to pull in so that I could investigate further, and in safety. This took me a further mile before there was anywhere that I would not be a problem for other drivers, and as I had been travelling slowly, I now had a queue behind me, with the lead car sitting right on my rear bumper! It was almost another mile before I could see a spot that I could accelerate ahead far enough to avoid annoying the leader of the queue behind and then park up!
I then had a further look at both my record of journeys and a separate printed map and realised my mistake, and hoped that my new destination choice was correct. It was soon after setting off, I came into Felmersham, and there was the briefest of moments, when the sun broke through the gathering clouds, so I had to choose a suitable gap in the traffic to be able to stand in the road for the best angles, and obviously miss some opportunities when the cars were then in my picture, but my patience was rewarded and on each lucky moment the light was subtly different almost every time as can be seen in the shots I took. I soon returned to the car as by now the cloud cover was almost complete, so got back on the road.

Fortunately, this time my guess of the destination was successful, though the turning to the lane did not seem familiar, but as I drove further down it became familiar. After I had turned the car round to park up facing my journey’s return direction, I tried the door of a lady I had met on a previous visit, but sadly she was not in, so I took out my camera and walked to the water’s edge, and the water level was still very high, so no chance of walking along the bank, but at least there were a couple of interesting views, though in very lacklustre lighting. As I headed back to the car, I spotted the lady with whom I was hoping to meet. She kindly invited me into her house and we spent a relaxing time chatting over a cup of tea, and biscuits. Before leaving I took a few shots of some of the early Spring flowers, and hoped that they would survive the frosts that would soon arrive.

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Brogborough Test of Lumix FZ1000 MkII

The weather brightened for a while, and enticed me to consider taking just the Lumix FZ 1000 MkII, the mirrorless body with a fixed zoom equal to 25-400mm, out to the lake at Brogborough. Since there was a reasonable wind blowing I anticipated there would be windsurfers out on the water to take advantage.
  By the time I was ready to leave, much of the promise of sunshine was rapidly dwindling, but the chance to find out how this camera might perform was too great a draw, and my only slight disappointment was just how few sailors had decided to grab the opportunity. Certainly, compared to setting up my Sigma 60-600mm on the heavy Benbo tripod, to ready this camera, was a mere matter of removing the soft cover and switching the power on – a breeze!
  It was not long before I had taken a few shots of the meagre number of windsurfers who were out on the lake, and I broke off to chat to some of those on the lakeside, before seeing just how effective this new ‘toy’ was able to perform; certainly compared to the Sigma, this was way short in terms of the size of image I was accustomed to expect at the long lens end, so I needed to position myself as close to the shore as possible, even at the long end of the range, since the sailors were at a reasonable distance from me. At first this seemed a bit of a disappointment, but once I had ‘chipped and zoomed in on the shots I had managed, I was fairly happy with the results. The cloud cover had increased from the start, but after I had taken some two hundred images, of which I would only use a mere forty-five, I felt I had enough material to look through and assess this camera’s potential for use here in the future. My conclusion after creating the gallery, was that if time was short and this camera were at hand, it would definitely be usable, but it certainly was never going to provide the same coverage I can get with my Sigma Sports lens, more especially as that is absolutely excellent when I also can attach the 2x Converter!
  I now knew if this camera was with me, and there was activity on the lake, I did have an excellent backstop to capture some action. As a technical reference, these were all taken at ISO 2000, so the quality achievable is more than adequate. I now know there is still more potential here once I really understand how to get the best out of it.

Saturday, 1 February 2020

2020 1st DigiCluster Meeting – West Herts College

 
 
On this occasion, I travelled without company, and the journey was slow with heavy traffic, which was further exacerbated by a Breakdown Vehicle in attendance on the Exit Slip Road from the M1 Motorway, but I still managed to arrive reasonably early at the venue, the West Hertfordshire College Campus. Those already present were in several groups engaged in animated conversation.
Even as I assembled my camera and checked settings the room was filling and among several faces I knew I was greeted warmly and it was not long before I was capturing the growing numbers of attendees, and groups were forming with genuine interest in involvement, and there were obviously some newcomers. Whilst it was less than full, I took the opportunity to capture some images involving the majority of those attending so that there was a good chance that all were captured to individual advantage in lively conversation.
Many of those attending were gesticulating with great energy, and that is always something that attracts my attention, just as much as those to whom the actions were reinforcing either their individual descriptions or the underlying humour of situations they were retelling. Not being a movie taker, but a moment capturer, I have tried to record the varying emphasis being made by some of the moments I followed.
It was quite a time spent socialising before formality was brought to the occasion as speakers Jeremy Freeman of SmartGiving and Loiuse Towler of Indigotree took the floor to give their ninety second pitches, both of which were received intently by the audience.
There followed the Fireside chat, with Syd Nadeem introducing Lucy Mann of Gunpowder Consulting to the audience, and gently providing questions to maintain the momentum, and ending by inviting questions from the audience.
During these talks, I observed the audience activities as well as the speakers to give a balance to the atmosphere and later, the attendee interactions and further conversations both amongst themselves and with the speakers. I thoroughly enjoyed how much non-verbal communication in terms of gesticulations and facial and body language plays such a part in these human interactions. And, this camera I was using for the very first time gave me the opportunity to often distance myself further from my subjects because of the range of its zoom. For those interested in the technicalities: it was the Lumix FZ1000 MkII with its extended longer focal length reach zoom.
However, despite spending several hours beforehand attempting to familiarise myself with this camera, I came unstuck a few times, and so missed shots, despite taking a total of 640 and only putting out a mere 245, so the Cutting Room Floor, read ‘Bin’ was reasonably full! I hope those attending enjoy reliving the moments I captured.

Monday, 27 January 2020

First Visit to Stewartby Lake, 2020

         I noted that there was some wind and at the time I made this observation, the sun had burned through the overnight mist, so though rather late in the day, I decided it was worth taking a look at the boating lake with its sailing dinghies and catamarans.
         Initially after parking, I locked the car and went to take a look at the activity on the water, and was pleased that there were several boats sailing around the course. I returned to the car to assemble the camera and lens, and found that I had missed that my Benbo tripod was not in the boot, so I had to use a far less steady one, and also missing was my tripod head, so, Note to Self: check all the gear I needed before leaving in the car!
         I set up the less than ideal tripod and took a few shots of the activity, and it was just a shame that the sunshine which on arrival had been fading rapidly was now completely clouded over. This was a shame, but with the EOS R and the Sigma 60-600mm Sports lens with the 2x Converter, the distance I was from the boats was still within an acceptable range. The only available tripod however was very limited in its panning, making it necessary to re-site the tripod, shortly after I had initially positioned it. What I learned was that despite the minimal lighting available it was still possible to obtain adequate quality from where I had set up the tripod, and with the converter attached to the lens.
         After the weekend I will be taking delivery of another camera — the mirrorless Panasonic bridge camera which may well be able to allow me to travel with a long reach camera whenever I am unable to lug my dSLR with my weighty zoom, and heavy tripod. I hope to put it (and myself) through our respective paces as I am assured the quality is there, but really what I am interested in, is its burst rate and the serious possibility of being able to hand hold it, or at worst use it with my monopod.

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Arrival at Turvey

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

Monday, 20 January 2020

Very Brief Visit to Marston Lake

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

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Exploratory Visit to Sydlngs Copse

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

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


Monday, 13 January 2020

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


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

Friday, 10 January 2020

Searching New Locations — Two BBOWT Sites

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

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Close By the River Gt. Ouse

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

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Tring Reservoirs – Canalside Images

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