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…



Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Bamville at Home to Carpenters' Arms Cricketers

Bamville Cricket Club only have use of the ground for playing on a Sunday afternoon, as they share the pitch with the local Golf Club, and the parking of cars is in a former ‘Three Horseshoes Public House Car Park at East Common.
On Sunday two local teams from Carpenters’ Arms and the home team Bamville were playing, and the forecast was for Showers, and on my arrival, I thought perhaps I might be lucky as the sun was shining…
I assembled my camera and lens with little time to spare before the Home team took to the pitch and play began. I was determined to ensure I caught the first over, and in my haste, I forgot two items, my ideal glasses for viewing the back of the camera and a second lens for any more general shots, Peter Carr who was scoring, I thought would be heavily involved in that all afternoon, but shortly came over in my direction, and I asked whether he might at least rescue the lens from my car’s boot, which he kindly did; I managed however to forget to ask for the more vital second item, my other pair of glasses!
The first few shots looked an interesting sequence from which to create an animated GIF, and so after taking the shots on the day, I actually wasted some considerable time trying to do just that before the task of gallery creation, hence the delay in these reaching the blog.
That is getting ahead of myself. I started shooting from outside the clubhouse moving slowly round the boundary widdershins. Occasionally taking some shots using the 24-70mm lens handheld, and here I must apologise as the clocks in the two different camera bodies are not in synch, so some of the shots are not correct chronologically, but I manage to keep forgetting to reset them!
I was happy to have got one shot of airborne bails reasonably early, but sad to miss a a splendid catch. Also, though I did get another bails airborne shot, Some of the fielders seem to possess eyes in the backs of their heads and align themselves between the action and myself, and moving and resetting the heavy tripod often takes too long, and on occasion this afternoon, when I did do so, they moved with perfect synchronicity! And a certain Law came into play here as a clean bowling occurred at the crease completely obscured from my lens.
There was one youngster whose talent really shone through and impressed me despite his diminished stature; he seemed a good all-rounder, had great style and oodles of energy, but looked very disappointed to be out – at that time; not a happy bunny. I have subsequently learned his name is Ashish Padki; if he perseveres, I reckon he will be someone to look out for in Cricketing circles – he reminded me very much of the young Lewis Hamilton.
The rain did not hold off to the end of play and as the first drops fell, I moved ever closer to the clubhouse to protect the camera and lens in changes of over. It was also getting darker which would have forced me to increase speed and suffer more from noise, so I ended watching from the shelter of the clubhouse, later bringing the car over to put the gear back in. Only the second cricket match covered this season, but thoroughly enjoyable still.

Monday, 21 August 2017

A Visit to Luton Town Centre

My reason for the trip to Luton was for an eye test; as my right eye, which for most of my life had been dominant had shown to be suffering the onset of a cataract a year ago, and was beginning to show a further slight degradation. After last year’s update I began keeping two pairs handy at all times, to cater for the different priorities involved in my activities. For driving at night in particular the pair with that most recent prescription was essential, as the halo caused by oncoming bright lights was at its least and the long distance resolution was also at its keenest. The bifocal element was less than ideal for a glance at the dashboard.
However, this same lack of clear focus at shorter distances still, was a more severe handicap when using the review screen on the back of my cameras – it was this aspect that caused me the greatest concern and why on this morning I appeared at the Optician’s with a camera, an iPad and numerous earlier frames with a variety of earlier prescriptions to help me define those different needs to the optometrist Vijay Hirani, who had been so understanding of my eyesight and those requirements over several years.
The pair which had had the best overall balance for both distance and the dashboard was absolutely fine for daylight driving, as in sunlight the margin for distance was more than adequate. It also had the distinct advantage that viewing the images on the back of the camera was spot-on. I had a bright red spectacle case that therefore contained this second pair when driving most of the time, and then came with me when I reverted to using these for general use with the best long distance pair within.
My meeting with Vijay was somewhat protracted, but really helpful and the end result was the joint decision to arrange an appointment with Bedford Hospital for the cataract operation on the right eye which would, for the near future, resolve the balance between the two, with no immediate need for an operation on the left eye.

After a trip around the central Mall, I came outside to the area in front of the courthouse where my eyes took in another example of Luton’s ongoing planning failure – it provides an excellent area for people to congregate with initial good and attractive design, then spoils it with crass lack of thought thereafter – there are abundant and colourful flowers and in a curved area of bricks it has attractive insets, it then obscures three out of four of them with vast and heavy, unsightly bins, with no further thought for aesthetics of the initial design – the Planners need to visit the Opticians en masse, the verdict from this report is – Must Do Better! Also, there is absolutely no excuse for a broken moulded concrete step to be replaced by the laying of a ‘blob’ of tarmac – Come on, Councillors – Get your act together, set an example!

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Cross Keys, Pulloxhiil – Classic Vehicle Show

A friend of mine from my earlier villages of Slip End and Caddington told me of his intention to visit a Classic Car event at the Cross Keys, Pulloxhill to display his excellent Jaguar saloon car, and suggested that I might be interested in joining him there, and it seemed a photographic opportunity not to be missed. John told me he would be arriving at around nine o’clock, so that was going to be the time I would aim for, and I was only late by a few minutes.
The Public House is blessed with a handy sized field behind its premises, and has hosted the event over a few recent years, and today local broadcasts and previous visitors ensured that with such excellent weather, the field soon filled up with exhibitors’ splendid classics and visitors own very varied marques, with some vehicles definitely not classified as cars, such as trucks, fire engines and a smattering of bikes and a Massey Ferguson tractor from a bygone age.
I first met up with the aforesaid John (Sentinella) to thank him for mentioning the display, and to catch up with each other’s news, then I took a stroll down the lines of exhibiting cars to get a feel of what was on show, and occasionally stopping to chat to the owners. As the numbers of visitors increased, I made a few more sorties returning some while later and sitting with John where we had a drink and something to eat under the shade provided by umbrellas supported from the arms of canvas folding chairs. Once the field was nearing capacity, I wandered again, before once more returning such that John might get the chance to look around. I had a long chat and saw some excellent photos from the owner of a car used on many occasions to promote a scene from Fawlty Towers.
During this next stint I began to wonder whether I might locate the owner of one of the two Fire Engines and ask whether I might be able to climb on top to get some shots of the cars from a higher viewpoint, but for some time no one was around. When one man returned, I tentatively asked whether this might be possible, to which he surprised me with his response that he had let me do just that at a Luton Hoo show many moons ago, and it would be just fine! I remember the event and the request, but was amazed that someone should remember me so specifically from some nine years previously, so David Rowell, you deserve ‘an Honourable Mention’, and I humbly thank you for offering me the same courtesy once again – thank you; it was most appreciated.
Since returning, I have turned the panorama into a Zoomify item that allows you to zoom around the image and get a good idea of the datail present in the image made from a dozen individual handheld frames.
Later I was to meet another gentleman with whom I chatted for some considerable time, and who pointed out his splendid and rare Nissan 260Z; the conversation was widely varied and most interesting. I am most grateful to John for bringing the event to my notice, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the day; in great company and splendid sunshine.
I hope it comes across in viewing the gallery of images displayed from the link in the main headline to this piece.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Brogborough Lake – Only Occasional Gusts

Having not been to the lake for some time, I decided to go despite the wind being fitful and not overly strong. When I arrived there, there were a surprising number of sailors out on the lake, but after only a short while the wind lost much of its power, and the clouds began to roll in.
However there were some reasonable gusts every so often, so patience was required, it was the opportunity for some of the more skilled to practice general control and gybing, and here the wilful wind took its toll, the sailor would choose to initiate a turn only to find that at that precise moment the wind needed to complete the action, had deserted him! I was watching one person in particular and he was caught off-guard several times and I avoided taking the last moments out of compassion, but finally, I decided just the once to keep my shutter-finger pressing for the dying moments when the sail hit the water; full marks for perseverance though!
Due to the numbers on the water, I also tried hard to take shots of groups as much as individuals for compositional purposes and for the picture that would head the piece on the blog. I did take short series of one sailor with outstretched arm, and later found it to be Mark Maryan, who through his company has helped sort out my pensions situation, I love his sense of humour in choice of company name – Gee7; it has a certain resonance for me, for it was during the time of that summit in London, I was airborne in a Twin Squirrel helicopter taking photos over the city, which can be seen by using the blog’s Search box and entering: ‘Aerial London’ (omitting the inverted commas). It was a wonderful experience that came about because an aerial photographer for whom I was giving Photoshop tuition offered to take me up with him, and he generously gave me a spell controlling the pilot, to get some specific shots I wanted, using: “Nose Up, Nose Down, Nose Right, Nose Left…” and so on, to allow me to compose less randomly. It was a wonderful experience I would love to repeat, though I imagine it is less easier to do with the current situation regarding security.
The shots from this afternoon will likely not be too exciting, but might at least be of personal interest to those participating, as a record of their enjoyment.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Parked at Warden Street to Photograph Aerobatics

I had heard there was a possibility of the Red Arrows paying Old Warden’s Edwardian Pageant a Flying Visit, so I picked a spot at the end of a long cul-de-sac at Warden Street in the hope that I might just be fortunate, but I was unlucky on that count, though I still got shots of biplane aerobatics, large flocks of birds, mainly taking advantage of farmers ploughing their fields. The road I was in was very narrow and where I was parked was local residents turning circle I soon learned, although everyone was very friendly.
I met a charming couple who lived in the last cottage before the gate to a large farm, who were the first to use this spot to turn their car round, and I learned he was a Nikon Man, who forgave me for my own choice of Canon equipment! The lady asked whether I knew when the Red Arrows might arrive, but I was unable to help, I learned from the man that he would be looking out for them whilst mowing the lawn, but a short while later it was his wife whom I spotted with a mower, so I joshed with her that he had meant he would watching his wife mow! A few moments later he came out with another mower, so I asked whether he had been rumbled and had felt guilty so followed suit! It turned out he was mowing the tougher stuff, whilst his wife mowed the more level areas.
Since there was not much human flying machine activity, I brought out my macro and photographed some of the wild flowers, I also spotted a seed being snagged by a spider’s web, and the owner felt his luck was in and retraced his footsteps shortly after when he found it was a false alarm – possibly a bit miffed by being disturbed unnecessarily!
Whilst waiting for a possible arrival of any aircraft, I took opportunities to photograph some of the wildflowers nearby and one horserider returned to her parked car that was present upon my arrival, and visited the stabling beyond the gate I was parked across. When she was ready to leave, I helped and was duly thanked, for guiding her reversing by my car. A little later still another lady rider arrived, entered the stabling and came out leading her young male, brown spotted cream horse, and I opened the heavy gate for her, and grabbed a few shots of him. I later found her on a phone leading him back and hearing comments saying she was “OK…” suggesting she might well have taken a fall, I enquired, and learned the horse had been bitten by a horsefly and ended up kicking her in the stomach and grazing her arm; she was definitely still in considerable pain, so I opened the gate entirely on my own to save her from more strain. She said it was not the horse’s fault, and certainly from the brief shots I took of their return, his equine body language suggested he was concerned.
I did get a few shots of some biplane aerobatics, and a Lysander, a plane type I believe my father flew over to Holland from RAF Tempsford in WWII, though the gallery is more about flora and fauna and an afternoon in the English countryside – fairly relaxing.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

A Mentoring Session at Stockwood

Jan Tysoe has been an Important Gardener at the Discovery Centre in Luton for some years, and recently retired. During the time I have been visiting she has helped me by showing me some of the plants she has tended, and often rescued. I made a special visit to the gardens to help her when she came, not to labour, but to take photographs with her newly-acquired digital SLR camera and lens – I was here to return the favour.

Jan texted me to say that she was by the Water Feature, so on arrival, I headed there wending my way through the throngs of families by the cafeteria and the play area. She had a friend with her sitting on the nearby bench, I joined them and hand Jan a small card device I had made specially to get across the idea of Reciprocity; the way to maintain the same Exposure, by balancing the size of the Aperture against the length of Time the shutter was open for any given amount of Brightness in the image. I then explained why she might wish to choose a particular Aperture so as to define the Depth of Field, and use this to make the subject of her photograph stand out from its background.

I had created two strips which could be moved in tandem for any given exposure to display a pairing of Shutter Speed and Apertures and explained why she might choose a wide aperture such as f/2.8 for a narrow depth or f/22 for a wider depth, I only touched lightly upon the limitations of the shutter speed for the freezing of any motion. I gave her the device to work with later. I did however move to some nearby blooms to explain how for any focussed distance the aperture chosen defines a depth that extends slightly further behind than in front of the focussed point. At this juncture I also explained that for this exercise setting Aperture Priority was important and set the camera for around f/8 and to give her a good chance of successes, I left the ISO speed at 1600˚ which was where I found it, but did say in passing that was a tad high for the camera body I had given her a while earlier, a Canon 10D and might result in some noise in the pictures.

I also tried to impress her the importance of framing her picture and using half-pressure on the shutter button to acquire focus from the centre, then place the subject within the frame. To get this message across, I asked her to place the flower first on the right of the frame, then the left and explained how this might be important for composition and possibly later to add some text for say, a greetings card.

After this, we began strolling around the gardens, with my occasionally giving further suggestions as to viewpoint and backgrounds, or when she was intent on a particular picture grabbing a few of my own and sometimes showing how and why I had taken the individual frame.
The time we spent was all too short, but hopefully helpful, and I look forward to her results; meantime here is the small gallery I created at the time.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Waddesdon in Sun & Showers

I was invited by my daughter to visit Waddesdon with her two children for a Day with Scooters, and naturally another visit to the splendid setting of house and gardens, the first this year was an opportunity I was not going to miss. They now have a car park area in the lower part of the park, and one then takes a coach to the fountain roundabout that is the start of the main drive to the front of the house, one of several houses belonging to the Rothschild Banking dynasty. The guide we met was bubbly, helpful and on seeing the scooters, she said if we hand these to the driver, he will stow them in the front of the coach, and after taking the ticket from us we boarded, with the two children heading straight for the back seats!
Soon the coach filled with other families, but on that coach we were the only ones with scooters, and seemingly we were early as when we reached the drop-off point we only saw a couple of others with scooters in the distance by the house. We headed for the small tent to get our maps for the ‘Tour de France’ trail and chat to further, friendly volunteer guides – you are made to feel warmly welcomed at every turn.
My daughter had prepared lunch for us all, so we headed for a bench and whilst she prepared everything the two children happily scooted back and forth along the path, eventually coming to sit down to eat and drink, then we consulted the maps and began the trail, after the first stop which had been reasonably level, the path sloped more steeply and the boy’s brake on the rear wheel proved difficult to slow down safely, so for a spell he had to walk (not what he had hoped), but we were not killjoys: we had already had minor spills and with thin summer clothes, knees and elbows are easily grazed.
Every so often I took opportunities to take photographs, though generally close at hand should mishaps occur. The two of them found a den that appealed and later when the rain came all of us found welcome shelter there.
We broke for tea where we did have a minor disaster with our little girl whilst trying to sit on the chain between heavy iron barriers managed to pull one over on herself, which did open the floodgates for tears, but fortunately though she did receive a bump, it was mainly the shock that caused her to sob.
As we collected or drinks and both children had ice creams, it began to rain and we sat down at the front of the house, with both children seeking temporary shelter beneath a table! We donned wet weather gear and headed for the children’s ‘base’ before heading back to the trail after the rain, and soon the sun returned.
On completing the trail we headed once more to the tent for the collection of their trophies. It was while we were there we noticed the three step plinth, on which some parents were placing their children for photos – one inventive father placed his child on the top step, then dived his head beneath her legs and carried the child off on his shoulders! I was impressed by his lateral thinking!
We left after a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon. The gallery of images has flowers, leaves, butterflies, bees, landscapes, and colour.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Dull Day, and Tiniest of Butterflies

At Lunchtime, I put out some washing and spotted three of the tiniest of butterflies, or maybe moths, I now have the task of learning just which?

Certainly the eye structures would possibly point to some sort of day-flying moth, but either way I had never seen such colourful butterflies of that small size before, so when I also consider the wing structures maybe this is another pointer towards moths. With the camera out, when they disappeared, I concentrated on a few bees instead, until they returned. When one settled on the wall, it was no larger with wings open, than the mortar between the bricks!

In case anyone reading this happens to know, I would be most grateful to learn; it was certainly good practice at trying to shoot such energetic and small insects, and in the end, I was grateful that the camera body was the 7D MkII as this has flash, and being so dull, this at least gave me a slight chance of seeing what they looked like close up. I did try without using a high ISO, but the success rate was poor.

A postscript – The tiny moths are Mint Moths, which is confirmed by where I found them – close by a patch of Mint!

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Insects that caught my attention…

I have spent time using Google to try to find out what the weird insect (in positions 30 and 31 in the gallery) was that looked so fearsome with this tall antenna with the red stripes, and wondered just what its purpose was. So far I have been unable to find anything close, but since many of the times  I have put up galleries of images from this macro world that I find so interesting seem to have appealed to the readers of this blog judging by the visitor numbers when they have appeared, I am genuinely interested to know just what its name is and why it has this ‘mast’ aloft? It seems at once ungainly, and threatening.

 The two very flat butterflies/moths were flying around in the shadows of the thicket then landing and lying absolutely flat on the leaves. I did catch sight of other butterflies but they were far to restless and unpredictable for me to get any shots, and I was lucky to catch the cricket/grasshopper at all as he was bounding for cover and only stopped for a second or two. At least the ladybird was decent enough to keep out in the open, and though he momentarily took to the air, it was only to another nearby thistle.

For all the abundance of insect life, what was surprising was the lack of birdsong; I rarely saw any birds, and in the two or three instances they were fleeting trips across the pathway and at a good distance, I did however hear the call of the woodpigeon just the once – “My toe hurts Betty”, but no reassuring return call from Betty.

A light aircraft was in an oval loop presumably doing occasional ‘circuit and bumps’ and every so often cutting his engine to be able to understand how to restart should any emergency occur in the future. When I hear an engine die, it always grabs my attention, as my heart misses a beat!

During the entire ride and when I stopped, I never saw another human, though there were frequent reminders of the passage of horses. I wish they would at least have the courtesy to move to the edges when the call of nature beckoned, as to avoid these hazards I invariably had to navigate potholes or loose gravel. My human fellow travellers might also have taken their cans and bottles back with them as it makes it harder for authorities to fund these paths when also having to pay for, or find volunteers to carry out the task later.

I did wonder whether there might be a lack of variety, or a poor choice of vegetation in this landscape that accounted for the distinct lack of birds – I have more birds and greater variety in my pocket handkerchief back garden. Starlings in abundance, Jackdaws, Magpies, Sparrows, Pigeons, Bluetits on occasion, Blackbirds, surely this is down to what has been seeded in this obviously reclaimed land?

Cycle Ride to Wood End

I decided to take a trip into some of the wilder parts of the local area that were inaccessible by car, so put the camera and lenses aboard the bike's front carrier basket, alongside a few tools to avoid any bike-related mishaps and a broad-brimmed hat to keep the sun off when was not riding, but shooting.

I found the route signposted well for locations, but not quite so helpful in terms of distances, and headed towards Cranfield. I arrived at a wide junction of paths where the hedgerows were alive with a variety of butterflies, hoverflies, bees, ladybirds and some strange orange-red beetles.

I caught the latter at a very opportune time in that I was able to record a scenario played out across the natural world, the selection of a mate and the intrusion of a jealous rival determined to undermine their successful coupling. I have since learned it has actually acquired the name of “The Hogweed Bonking Beetle”– so, whilst I continue to complete the gallery of the rest of the afternoon’s shots, I leave you with a sequence of shots where the Red Soldier Beetle lived up to its new moniker!

I also found a very strange butterfly, that could well have been a moth, and another very strange form of beetle, with a somewhat scary appearance.

It was extremely hot, and not being in prime physical fitness, I was grateful to stop cycling, cool off, don my wide-brimmed hat and capture the lives of this range of insects. It was during this period that I also spotted an overflying heron, but a wideangle/macro lens was not the tool to capture this bird! I stayed in this one location for the entire shooting on this occasion, then packed everything back into the front basket and set off for the return trip to Marston Moretaine.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Unexpected Gallery of Garden Interest

 had a need to show the effect of a narrow Depth of Field to illustrate how to throw an image of a flower away from its background and suppress detail beyond with a pleasant soft blurring, popularised by the term ‘Bokeh’.

According to the Law of Unexpected Consequences, which I might have  expected given the season and the warm weather after some rain, I became distracted by the hum of bumble bees pollinating some of the flowers, and the very typical flight pattern of the humble hoverfly – a particular favourite of mine. Instead of two minutes outside  before returning to process the aforementioned couple of shots, I spent my lunch half hour following the hoverflies and a couple of large green flies, possibly green bottle flies, two of these spent a short while just looking at each other, before flying off.

 The Buddliea is just coming out which should mean a splash of colour from visiting butterflies, but for now, I just spotted three; a Cabbage White, Comma and Red Admiral. None stayed long, obviously there are more developed Buddliea elsewhere! Last week whilst I was mowing the lawn which was covered in clover flowers, the bees were making the most of it before I finished clearing it to reveal the grass, and it was interesting to note the density of bees increasing as their food source was diminishing, and I was careful not to injure them, which meant I was forever stopping and starting to give them the best chance to survive.

I hope that last night’s rain and today’s warm sun puts some green back into the khaki  lawn that has been prevalent for the last month or so. I cannot complain about the opportunity to get another gallery of images to the blog, so the time taken was not wasted.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

The Aylesbury Concert Band, Fairford Leys 2017

It is that time of year again when the Aylesbury Concert Band play at the Fairford Leys Fête, right in the centre, with all the fun of the Fair, a Helter Skelter, Bungee Bouncing, Carousel, Cake Stalls, Hot Dogs, Candy Floss, and on the Bandstand, the headline event of the afternoon – The Aylesbury Concert Band to play bright and popular music.
I have been coming for the last three years and thoroughly enjoy the afternoon, listening to the music, and capturing the moment for the band which includes my younger daughter playing Bass Saxophone.
On this occasion I was using the 5D MkIII and the 24-70mm and the 100-400mm, it is one of those occasions when composition is not too easy, as it can sometimes be very difficult to avoid music sheets coming into frame when trying to feature the player and their instrument, or a pillar intruding, so very often I resort to framing in varying formats.
I hope the shots show how the Band enjoy playing at this venue – it is a very small bandstand and it cannot be easy playing in such a tight space, I for one thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon’s music and the challenge of recording the players.

A Trip Towards Cardington

Many moons ago, my father had been Deputy Station Commander at what was then RAF Cardington, it was his last posting before retirement, and now the latest chapter was beginning at ‘The Cardington Sheds’, with Hybrid Air Vehicles newly-repaired and modified Airlander, she was no longer confined to the hangar, but now is tethered outside whilst each new flight’s data is analysed before taking to the skies again for further testing.

I drove out to see her and work out where it might be possible later to take shots of her in the air, and in order to assist me in my aim to be around when it was airborne I managed to enlist the help of one of the nearby neighbours who has promised to give me a call when there seemed to be activity and the possibility for takeoff – I am near enough to drive over in time to be there with her hopefully just taking off.

Since my trip on this occasion was to find a suitable location to park, I decided to come to the airfield perimeter and at least get shots of the craft on the ground, and it was while there with my camera that I met up with an engineer from HAV to chat about Airlander and explain my personal interest, and was grateful to him for at least accepting my card to pass to those in charge of publicity. Even before then I took other shots of activities nearby where a farmer was watering his crop, as well as long distant shots of Airlander that showed its relationship with the famous sheds, and also I was pleasantly surprised by the abundant butterflies and bees at the margin, allowing me to get a shot of Nature’s flying insects with our human attempt in the background.

I will be back!

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Brogborough Hot Afternoon – Dragonflies Abound

Far too hot to be indoors, so in the afternoon, I resisted no more and grabbing my camera and the lenses most likely to come into service for capturing dragonflies, hopefully in flight, I set off for Brogborough lake. I chose the 100-400mm Canon lens with the 1.4 Converter and initially I mounted it on my lightweight Silk Road tripod with the gimbal head, but it was too restrictive so every so often I undid the quick release and worked handheld.
I also gave up the attempt to capture them in flight; they were far too energetic for that, and also far too erratic. Without consistency in flight I had no chance, so tried to find  the most likely spots for them to land and I spent more time watching than viewing in the camera, then moved to the most likely standpoints. The amount of activity waned for a period; so they do run out of steam! I now noted that a few were alighting on some of bricks and concrete presuming that the heat was restorative, so I was back into shooting mode, so I began to get a few shots in, but often at too far a distance, and working with the 1.4 converter meant the autofocus was hunting and on several occasions failed to lock on, so my overall success rate fell, but without the extra throw the distance meant heavy cropping.

I had opted for the full-frame 5D MkIII plus the converter, but perhaps the 7D MkII with hindsight might have been a better choice, I will try that combination to decide for the future – my life is full of compromises and experimentation, which has its fun moments. For the time spent, I was happy with the results.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

A Quiet Afternoon at Marsworth Lake

I met another photographer as he was leaving a spot where we have both in the past caught sight of kingfishers, and he mentioned that earlier he had spotted a couple of voles and duly put out a fairly substantial quantity of food in the form of seeds for them, and a couple of different Robins had felt Christmas had arrived, but a while later when the Robin had been elsewhere finding fresh food in the form of damselflies, on of the voles returned, and I managed to get one moderately sharp shot which heads this narrative.

Very early on I managed to get a shot of a Pied Wagtail who also seemed to favour a similar diet, but my most frequent visitors were two Robins, one ringed, one not, the unhinged one is the one I meet most often, and he seemed to be constantly checking different ends of his territory, crossing the water on numerous occasions, it seemed he was performing a round robin!

It was one of the quietest spell for visiting wildlife I have encountered at Marsworth, and I suspect it has been because with little water flowing and a large surface coating of blue-green algae, it is not easy for many birds to spot the movement of small fish beneath the surface, so in my selected spot easy feeding is not possible to fishing birds are seeking sustenance elsewhere.

I moved to another more open spot and tried to capture circling Common Tern as they dived close to the reeds at the point where the dividing path between Startops End and Marsworth lakes meet the Grand Union Canal, but overall they were way to fast for me to follow with any degree of accuracy – from my observation one bird was successful on every third or fourth swoop, but the catch was small on each occasion, and was swallowed swiftly so I managed no shots with its prey. It was a t this spot' I got involved in conversation with passers by and whilst chatting with one gentleman, he spotted something drop from my tripod and I was most grateful as it was the small hook at the bottom of the tripod centre column from which to hang steadying weights, and fortunately it caught the light when I parted the grass, and I was able to retrieve it, as I had not seen it drop!

Not the most productive of sorties, but I had never seen a vole before, so that at least was a bonus.