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…


View any Gallery by Clicking the relevant TEXT Headline

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!

Sunday, 20 January 2019

My First Serious Gallery of EOS R Images

         I went up to London on the opening Trade Day of the latest SWPP Photography Show in the Novotel Hotel in London’s Hammersmith and met up with an erstwhile colleague from my days as a photographer for the same proprietor, but whereas I moved on away from being a Photographer and into selling, after a few years he actually bought the company. I went from taking pictures to being a Salesman for a Colour Laboratory where, by the end of the first year became their Sales Manager, for which one of the perks was films and processing. When that company looked like it was going to close, I jumped ship and set up ‘SOLUTIONS photographic’ selling Retouching and other photographic services in the main for that company’s Retouchers who had also broken away and became independent.
          Back to the narrative – my reason for attending the show was to glean further information on the Canon full-frame mirrorless camera; meeting up with Steve Scrase meant that not only was I asking questions of various companies in relation to the camera, but Steve was discussing some of the points I was raising with regarding what I considered failings in this first full-frame Mirrorless Canon body. I had come to the Show really to convince myself that this offering was NOT yet ready for me to contemplate, but the more the various sales people and Steve and I discussed it the more assurance I was offered that it was worth considering. Having also sorted two lenses and an earlier camera body out, ready for a possible sale to help finance a potential purchase, I was beginning to weaken, and the Want Glands were beginning to secrete their potent juices into my system – the figures offered potentially for my kit made the drain on finances lessen…
          To cut out any further reminiscences I bit the bullet and made the purchase, and agreed that I would return the following day with my earlier gear and in the fullness of time will receive somewhere close to the estimated values to offset the cost. The handover was made to the young salesman outside the hotel on the Friday, and although I did some playing around to familiarise myself with the very different handling, it was not till the Sunday with a heavy frost and reasonably bright sunshine that I got to grips with the unfamiliar operation of this body and a couple of my lenses to take a wander through the nearby Marston Forest Centre woods.
          This was not a project that was going to bring back numerous masterpieces of photographic art, this was purely to capture the essence of the park and give me some idea as to how to handle this body with understanding and learn how to get the most from it. I certainly suffered quite a lot of frustration in trying to get it to work as I wanted, but this was not a criticism of the camera, but simply my failing to operate it with familiarity. I knew what I wanted it to do, but found it difficult to work out how to achieve it simply and speedily. I learned one very valuable lesson – I would need more charged batteries due to leaving it on in readiness! I spent more time in manual focus because of the screen blacking out when trying to move the AF point around the screen.
          However, despite the fading battery power limiting my trip (only a walk away from home!) I found myself slowly understanding how to control the beast, and certainly the technical quality of its 60-70MB files was impressive, the gallery of images does not really show the quality that can be achieved, but I noted the potential, I do wonder how I might fare with the Sigma 60-600mm Sports lens when that arrives?

Monday, 14 January 2019

Aylesbury Concert Band New Year Concert – 2 – St. Mary's Church Eaton Bray

    
     Finally, I have processed the shots of the New Year Concert itself, that took place on Saturday, there are fewer images than there were at the Rehearsal, since my movements were naturally constrained, and the view of individual musicians is more often than not limited by whether they are in the front rows. On occasion I can move slightly to get a clear view of some of those Band members in rows behind, but many, especially those in the percussion section, or the large horn section, it is simply not possible to feature them unless I can take pictures of those musicians at the Rehearsal.
     I also look around to note some details of the venue, that catch my eye (to ensure my hands are exercised and I am alert!) My feet have no difficulty in maintaining movement especially in rhythmic masterpieces, such as the Radetzky March, where frankly it is a challenge to keep my feet still!
     The engineering that goes into musical instruments is a source of great admiration, so there will often be close-ups or interesting angles of certain instruments that catch my eye, both static, or in the hands of the musicians. Likewise details I note at the various venues that I cover, such as on this occasion when  I took a shot of one of the figures in a stained glass window that appears in the Rehearsal gallery, and in this one someone changing their reed, but these are not distractions, but observations worth recording, and my galleries are peppered with these items that ensure my eyes are always actively sensitive to my surroundings.
     One item that gave me some frustration was trying to capture a lady’s hands playing her flute with the Band’s logo beyond, it has now been placed in the image header, to remind me of how difficult it was to capture the juxtaposition due to her hand and flute invariably covering the word ‘Aylesbury’ in the end I stood up to ensure I got the shot! My apologies to those in the audience behind me if I momentarily interrupted their view of the Band.
     I hope that my decision to separate the rehearsal from the Concert proper which avoided a delay in getting shots up to the blog, is not a disappointment, but at least, now that the concert pictures are up, it will have been worth the wait, with those who might well not have featured at all, now able to have some time in the limelight.
     From the packed audience, I think my enjoyment was equalled by all those who attended, so thank you to the Band and the Church for a memorable afternoon.

Sunday, 13 January 2019

2019 New Year Concert–St. Mary's Eaton Bray – 1— The Rehearsal

     The Aylesbury Concert Band celebrated their first concert of 2019 at the church of St. Mary’s, Eaton Bray, and as Roadie for my daughter I first drove to Quainton to pick her and the Tenor Sax up, then after a short wait as she collected her outfit and some snacks ‘n’ Sax we set off to Eaton Bray, where we parted, for her to join the Band and set up, and for me to get an idea of just how much light I would have with which to take photos, and also choose which lenses would be suitable. I also had a chat with the Lay Reader, Gordon Gray, who is the de facto head honcho, and asked whether I might be allowed to get up into the Organ Loft to take some high level shots of the Band, because it gives me a chance to have a clear view of every member of the band, and later a good proportion of the audience.
     Gordon very kindly unlocked the door to the narrow spiral staircase that winds its way to the Organ, with its even narrower space, between the back of the organist’s bench seat and the balcony, from where I hoped to get some higher level shots of the event later. I took with me two lenses to check the angle of view with each, the 35mm f/1.4 and the 24-70mm and they seemed a good choice.
     I returned to terra firma, and took a few shots to decide what ISO I would be using and realised to have a decent shot of sharpness, I would be using 3200 or 6400 for the darker shots and 1600 if I was blessed with more light and little movement, or needing only a narrow depth of field! Fortunately, using the EOS 5D MkIII Body I know I can keep control of the noise level, provided I do not have to crop too tightly.
     By the time I had ascertained all this, most of the Band had begun testing how well their instruments were tuned; they perform a rendering of “Cacophany in C” for this purpose as more and more of the company arrive and set up their stands and music sheets, amidst small clusters of those more ready, chatted; and numerous helpers prepared the church itself for the onslaught of the audience and distribute programmes and arrange seating. Having found a suitable seat from which to operate, I was fortunate to have an adjacent seat to place the three most likely lenses within easy reach.
     Because once the concert is in progress, I will be operating from a fixed location, I spend the Rehearsal constantly on the move, so I can capture every member of the Band, so everyone basically is given equal prominence in the subsequent gallery.

     I hope that I have captured the atmosphere of the rehearsal in this gallery, and whilst these images are up on the blog, I will once again put my head down to create a gallery of the Concert proper with slightly less pressure, and since there will inevitably be fewer shots because of my limited view of individual  members of the Band, hopefully it will not be long before those images are prepared. there will be two Conductors for this Concert, Rob Wicks and Chris Doyle.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Reconnaissance Trip Ending at Great Barford

I have an apology to make for anyone early who attempted to search for these images - I slipped up - Sorry,
They are now properly linked. So, do try again!
The early afternoon sky showed signs of the sun breaking through the overcast, so I gathered potential camera gear for trip to take a look at a lake that apparently according to a couple of anglers I had met at Marston Lake offered possibilities of seeing kingfishers, so I decided a visit was worthwhile to see the lay of the land, as I had taken a look using Google Earth and it was not too far away. The Lake was at Willington, but the only way is for me to locate the local Bailliff for access.
  I set off despite there seeming to be few opportunities to park up nearby, and that proved to be the case, so I travelled a short distance further to Great Barford and after an extended wait at traffic lights, set off over the bridge and after turning right on the far side, parked up close to the Anchor Public House. The siting of this pub and its bridge in the milky sunlight made choosing the EOS 5D and 24-70mm with macro lens the ideal choice, and I put the 35mm f/1.4 in my pocket as a possible addition, and locking the car, crossed the road and entered the riverside field beyond via a kissing gate.
  Only a stretch at the river’s edge is public; the field itself belongs to the private house beyond a smaller bridge to the owner’s garden. The view of the main, long bridge over the Great Ouse was bathed in the soft light from the wintry sun, and almost immediately I saw the chance of choosing a a spot from which to take a series of shots handheld to create a panorama. Adobe Lightroom has an excellent feature for this using Raw files, so selecting the best position, I carefully checked the necessary exposure, then set this on the camera and made this as my fixed exposure and manual focus and holding the camera vertically took eleven consecutive images from the left to the right extremities of the bridge, hoping to complete later the single image of its length. The resulting stitched image heads this piece.
I then reset the camera to Aperture Priority and continued taking photos from this side of the bridge, before returning to the kissing gate, and taking to the same side of the river, but on the other side of the bridge. The light persisted for most of my walk along the path and up to the weir and its lock, where I took a walk over the bridge and along the far side, before retracing my steps and returning across the far less inspiring bridge, where I got talking to a lone man who showed an interest in what photos I was taking. It was during this brief chat I asked him about where he had seen kingfishers and he mentioned Blunham, so this went into my notes of a further visit I should be making.
  On my return walk I began taking shots of the developing seeds of Ivy along the hedgerow, and finally, shots of the The Anchor’s signage and its environs. The completed panorama which stitched with only my shadow and an errant branch being retouched acts as the end piece to the gallery, so I headed homeward to process all the pictures I had been lucky to capture.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Marston Lake Walk, and 'Swims'

 
 
Rather late in the day, I will decided I would see whether the wind I had in Marston Moretaine was also blowing at Brogborough, but even before reaching the turn-off, I could see by the stillness of the trees I was passing there was not even a breath stirring the leaves on trees! As I came upon the gate to the Windsurfers’ parking area, it was firmly locked. I pulled into the small lay-by opposite the entry to the Anglers area, locked the car and wandered to the water’s edge to see whether there was any activity on the lake, and confirming there was not a soul or even a ripple on the surface, and strolled further along the shore to see if there were any walkers or birdlife, and having rounded the bend to see the full stretch, turned around and headed for Marston Lake.
Approaching the lay-by close to that lake, I crossed the road and parked so that when leaving I would be facing in the direction of Marston Moretaine. I had brought some crisps and a biscuit, so before grabbing my kit, I had a bite to eat. Just in case there was some birdlife around, I decided to take my long lens in its bag over my shoulder and belted to my waist. With the benefit of twenty-twenty foresight, I should have made the decision to forego that choice and relied entirely upon the EOS 5D and it’s 24-70mm lens that I had taken along, just-in-case! I did however take along my monopod having extended it to use as a walking stick, because my back was still weak from my last trip with the heavy Benbo tripod and the Sigma Sports 150-600mm!
I had decided that since the low light from a clear blue sky really enhanced the colours of the lake and the threadbare trees along its margins, I would be able to gather views of each ‘swim’ as I understand this to be the correct term for where anglers cast from. It struck me that putting together images of each and every spot around the lake might well be of interest for the club to promote itself either in print or on the Web. And purely from my angle it meant that the images would hang together as an entity when the gallery was visited.
I managed to cover just short of half the perimeter path around the lake before I realised that my back would probably give out if. I went too far, so I cut short my trip as the added (superfluous!) weight of the heavy camera and lens in the bag, meant I had a very good chance of doing myself further harm! The sun seemed to confirm my decision as being correct, as when I turned to retrace my steps the sun dimmed as the clouds began to slowly cover it and it began to head ever closer to the distant trees.
I also noted that there might well be a shortcut to my car, but it might prove to be tricky, especially as there was not only mature brambles, but a mound of mud and rubble to negotiate; having my monopod, came in very handy in checking the terrain, and also providing extra and very welcome support as I navigated a way through — successfully! This saved my back considerably as it meant at least four hundred less yards to cover with my unused burden of the heavy camera bag and totally redundant contents!
I felt that despite the additional burden, the images captured were worth the effort, and the exercise did me no harm, and it had been pleasantly warm throughout. I also met and chatted to three anglers along the way.

Sunday, 30 December 2018

A Visit to Tring Reservoirs and its Birdlife

          The sun shone hazily when I left from home, but by the time I reached the road towards Dunstable, cloud cover had become complete, and as I proceeded further south, mist came down getting denser till I reached Pitstone, when it began to lift, but any hope I had entertained that sunshine might prevail were dashed, as it simply became a typically dull British day.
          I drove to Tringford where I spotted the Water Bailliff, Bob Menzies  and another angler chatting by the entrance, and before I could get out to open the gate, Bob began doing so for me, allowing me to enter the field to park. Another angler soon joined the group before they all set off to the Pub. Before I could set up my camera and lens I had to close the gate as members of the Public just wandered into this Private Angling Club. I then began assembling the camera, gimbal head and tripod and closing the gate behind me headed across the road to Marsworth Lake.
          My trip got off a good start because the first bird I saw was a grebe, one of my personal favourites — it was at some distance which was a shame, but no worry I was going to be around for a while yet. I was using the Benbo tripod, and so did not close the legs to save time whilst moving along the path between the two lakes. I would stop every so often to change my viewpoint and thus the camera was immediately available. However as I write this piece, having edited the images, it is apparent that was probably not my best decision, as it meant that I was not carrying it well, as I am in quite a bit of discomfort from my back now. I just hope that a good night’s rest improves the situation.

          The tally of different subjects from the afternoon, covers a gull or two, a shoveller, swans and cygnets, a grebe and some pochard. So, considering I also broke off to chat to some other photographers, some of the anglers, and members of the general public, I had quite a relaxing and enjoyable afternoon.