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, 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.

Saturday, 29 December 2018

Brogborough Lake — a Short Spell of Wind

 
          I did not harbour high hopes of high winds or sunshine; just a keen desire that I might be lucky enough to get a decent breeze to encourage some sailors to choose this time for some outdoor exercise on the lake, and upon arrival there were certainly a fair number of windsurfers out on the lake, and there was certainly more wind here than I had experienced at Marston Moretaine, just up the road.
          At this point it did not look particularly promising, so for a short while, I just stood and watched, however, the wind improved, and the sun at least was attempting to break cover from the clouds, so that made me get back to the car and breakout the Benbo tripod, attach the gimbal head and take the 7D MkII with its Sigma 150-600mm Sports lens and lock that in place. I spread the legs, set the central column vertical, and locked the tripod and set the lens balance in the long Arca Swiss shoe, and hefted it on my shoulder after closing the boot, and locking the car, headed for the jetty.
          The legs were not perfectly aligned with the slats; but two out of three was not too bad! Holding the camera and lens firmly, I loosened the bolt, put the last leg in place, aligned the central column vertically, then locked everything firmly. I loosened the gimbal head’s two nuts, did a quick check of ISO speed and exposure, and was ready for action — just in time for the very first jump of the afternoon. The omens were good!
           The sun even brightened a tad and although while setting up I had spotted Sam on his hydrofoil and without having to pump his board to begin planing, I was too late to capture any shots of his activity. However, I did manage to capture some more jumps by Richard and Geoff, and also a newcomer from the North, so I felt rewarded for my decision to head out to the lake. The spell of reasonable wind did not last for too long, so for a change, I was left with a good time to get the gallery of images up on the blog before the end of the same day as the action. This was a great way to end the year on a high.

Friday, 28 December 2018

Marston Lake — a Second Photo Visit

 
          The day started overcast, that brightened by around ten, but l got involved in relaxation having lain in a dream state before heading to a wash and shave. Breakfast over I decided to head towards the small lay-by I had used on my previous visit, but on this occasion I intended shooting with my heavy Benbo tripod and the 150-600mm Sigma Sports lens.
          Having assembled it, I planned to turn right as  I came to the junction by the lake and walk the short distance to the end of that track, where I met an angler called Andy, who had been there since the morning before. We chatted as I set up the camera, and I learned he had never seen any kingfishers here, which was not the news I had been hoping to hear! He had been to a spot in Germany where there had been several — not the reassurance I was seeking!
          In the course of further conversation, he did however say he would keep an eye out, and let me know if any ever appeared, and where he spotted them, and so I gave him a card should the occasion arise. I was most appreciative of that offer, because he was a frequent visitor and always for longer periods than I could manage, so that was very welcome.
          On my arrival, the cloud cover was almost total, but for a while, it lessened breaking into parallel lines, with pale blue beyond — a pattern I saw just once before earlier in the year, though on this occasion it was less clearly defined, and beyond, in the middle distance, the pattern was repeated but at ninety degrees to the first group! On the water were several small groups of Coots, occasionally chasing each other with gusto, for reasons only they understood, but it just seems Coots are just noisily antisocial as a breed. Of greater interest to me were a fair-sized group of Tufted Ducks, and I glimpsed possibly the same lone Grebe I saw on my last visit.
          I saw that a circling Gull had landed, and I was lucky enough to get a short burst as it took off a short while later. Although Cormorants are not one of my favourite birds, one came just within reach, so I grabbed a few shots as it passed by. Also, the Robin paid us a visit, but despite being offered some fish bait, it kept its distance and was always behind intervening branches, so does not feature in this gallery. The light became too low eventually, so I bade my angler friend farewell, and headed homeward.

Monday, 24 December 2018

Marston Lake — a Possible New Venue

         Since the rain had stopped, I decided to nip round to the lock-up and get the bike and reconnoitre a nearby lake just beyond the turn off to the station beyond the Allotments. I was heading towards Lidlington, but before there, there was a gated entrance to a lake reserved for anglers and just beyond, a small lay-by. I checked this out first because I had in mind that it would be ideal for me to park the car, if I were to visit with a heavy tripod and the big lens at some time in the future.
         On this occasion I travelled light; without any camera; there is a small pedestrian gap beyond the gate, that I wheeled the bike through, then I parked it beyond the bend, so as to be hidden from the road, and leant it against a tree, and followed the road around yet another bend, and came to a junction, where the track went around the perimeter of the lake in both directions. Ahead was a parked estate car with its rear door open and its driver engaged on his phone, I nodded that I’d wait patiently till he was free and withdrew to a distance to allow him the privacy to continue his call.
         Shortly he wound down his window, I enquired as to whether he felt that since I was not an angler, whether it was possible for me to enter the area to take photos. He answered immediately that there was no objection, and during the ensuing conversation I discovered that he was the local Water Bailiff; so I had definitely found the very best person to learn more about the lake and its wildlife. Most importantly I learned they did have kingfishers, and he even suggested where they were most likely to be found. He explained that the path to the right was short and only went as far as the last jetty from which the anglers fished.
         I decided to investigate this path first, and found it was a very short distance. I returned to his parked car and continued our conversation, and even in that short period of time I noticed that there was a fair amount of bird life. We chatted a while longer, then I set off around clockwise from the junction, having asked his name having volunteered mine and given him one of my business cards.
         I strolled slowly along the path, every so often taking paths towards the foreshore to get an idea of the viewpoints each offered. As I returned to the main path, I tried to remember the man’s name, and realised that it had not registered at all in my failing brain! I was going to have to embarrass myself, by asking him when I next met up with him! I refer to the route around the lake as a path, but it is in fact a road in that it is wide along its entire route with enough width in parts to accommodate cars being parked without blocking it for others going further round.
         Every time the route forked off to give access to a small area from which to fish, I would investigate, though in some cases, I did not go right to the water’s edge, because either I did not want to disturb the angler, or I could see that it was very muddy and steep due to all the recent rain. I soon reached the bank directly opposite to the bailiff’ car, and soon after that I spotted that on that side, there was no enclosing fence, and between there was an area of scrub with a public footpath beyond.
         I walked as far as I could in that direction then turned back and returned to the bailiff’s car, where I apologised for so swiftly forgetting his name, and learned it was Mark, which I realised was so easy to mark for the future, had I made that simple mental note on the first occasion! We chatted some more, before I then headed back to my bike and rode home.
         At that time I was not sure when I would return, but in the afternoon of Christmas Eve, I returned with my lightest long lens the Tamron 150-600mm and this time parked in the lay-by just beyond the entrance, set up the lens and camera on my carbon fibre tripod with the gimbal head, locked the car, and headed in towards the lake. I decided that as the sun was already getting low, I would head to the right and the short distance to its very end, where I set up the tripod on the short and somewhat fragile wooden jetty. After a while I heard the whistle-like call of a robin who came to investigate. I also caught sight of a blue tit, but it was far shyer, as was a blackbird, out on the water I spotted a couple of cormorants, several coots and a lone young grebe, and I was lucky enough to capture its good fortune to succeed to secure itself a reasonable sized fish for tea.
         I soon found that the sun was falling into clouds as it fell towards the horizon, so I took a few further shots as I headed for the gate and my car, and a couple of the setting sun over Brogborough. Though brief, it was a very good way to head into Christmas.

Monday, 10 December 2018

Fairford Leys Christmas Concert in the Centre

After a dash back to Marston Moretaine to change into clothes that were more suitable for the afternoon in the centre of Fairford Leys and to also offload the pictures taken at the lake of Windsurfing activity so there was no danger of their suffering any mishap before I was back to processing that afternoon’s images, I collected a group of lenses that I felt would be suitable for the inevitably low light levels I would encounter.
I gave myself a reasonable amount of leeway as I knew there would be a higher level of traffic as the route involved passing Milton Keynes, and to add further insult the A421 road now has a 40mph limit which actually simply backs up the traffic such that even that speed most of the day is an unfulfilled dream; it tends to be a series of 20mph spurts between 10 second standstills, I found it pays to hold back and keep a steady speed of around 18-22mph and save fuel, frustration and brake wear, and fortunately the driver behind seemed to agree as he did not come up and sit on my rear bumper – that was a pleasant surprise.
Although the traffic was still fairly heavy after the spell before the new sections, at least it moved at a fair pace, so I arrived in reasonable time such that my daughter and I were able to take a relaxed pace as she collected her music and most importantly some pegs to anchor it to the music stand, though she did find she was missing some of the necessary pieces she was due to play.
We arrived early and found a place to park with ease and headed for the centre, however, actually reaching the venue had still proved to be somewhat circuitous, as it was later to be repeated when leaving! As we took the saxophone and music bag from the car it dawned on me that my camera gear was still sitting in Quainton with Tim, Lizzy’s husband and the children – they were due to follow shortly, and when Lizzy broke the news to Tim, he had very fortunately not left the house! Acquiring the missing music sheets fortunately presented no problems and the afternoon went well, so whilst Lizzy got herself organised I simply stood around like a spare part, but was soon very relieved to see Tim with my camera bag (some Professional Photographer I turned out to be!) Tim very generously did not make a meal out of it.
I set up the most likely lens I would be shooting with; the 35mm f/1.4 and took a few shots and set ISO 3200˙ and found I could get by at:


Yes, ‘get by’! – if I needed more speed, I had a stop in hand but at least I could cope with the inherent grain at this speed – Thank Goodness for Image Stabilisation or what my friend Adam refers to as Anti-Shake, also when you have my level of unsteadiness I am grateful for the burst, because sometimes the second image can be usable if the first suffered from my tremble.
I think I did occasionally open up to f/2.8, and 1/8th of a second I think was my slowest shutter speed, so I am grateful for the technology jump from my earliest days when 400 ASA still meant I had to use auxiliary lighting and a tripod! Even in Brighter light levels!
Flash under the situation such as this was out of the question as it would have been extremely distracting to those who were playing as well as killing the ambiance of the scenes I captured.

Brogborough Lake Saturday Early

The forecast promised wind, and from a good direction and certainly as I set off, it was living up to that, so after a chat with some of those already, and just unloading, it looked very promising; so I returned to the car and started to set up the camera and Benbo Tripod.
A short while later I had the Sigma 150-600mm on the 5D MkIII body for a change. Normally I go for the 7D MkII as it has a faster burst rate, but it seemed worthwhile checking out just how the different body worked in practice, and I can report that generally it seemed fine, though the distant shots maybe failed to focus accurately on occasion, but that was down to me rather than the camera I reckon! The wind however was not behaving as forecast and was as fitful as the day previous.
There were a few brave souls already on the lake, one of those being Richard McKeating who was not alone in choosing to cover his face well as the windchill was definitely evident. This visit was not going to be a long one for me, but had nothing to do with the weather; I had learned only the night before that my daughter who plays Sax, was due to play at the Fairford Leys Christmas Carol event, and I always enjoy the Aylesbury Concert Band playing.
I set myself up on the pier, and every so often it was severely rocked, and on the second time I looked round to see why – the dog had leapt onto it then back onto the land! I had mistakenly assumed it was one of the waves, even though they had not seemed that large. Sam Barnes was out twice using the Hydrofoil; the second run with greater success.
Since there were not too many takers early on, I did also try to keep my hand in shooting passing cormorants and gulls. I was lucky enough to catch a few jumps performed by the afore-mentioned Richard, but missed one when suddenly I realised my preparations for Lizzy and her Concert had made me make a silly mistake which was not to reformat my Compact Flash card and so it swiftly ran out of space, and to make matters worse, the pre-existing shots were of my last visit to this lake, so working out which had to be deleted was in danger of removing this day’s images. Sorting this out took me valuable time, as I had specifically only put one card in the bag because I needed everything for later in the day.
I stayed long enough only to leave when the wind began to improve, but since I was Roadie for my daughter I could not arrive late and I had to change into smarter clothes before driving over, and, for safety, offload these images, so they were ready on the computer for my return. I apologise for my abrupt departure.

Friday, 7 December 2018

December Wintry Sun at Brogborough Lake

  
  
  
There was a slight breeze in Marston Moretaine, but that was no definite indication it would be equally windy at Brogborough Lake, but no wind here definitely meant No Wind at the lake, so it was worth a trip to see whether any windsurfers had turned up.
I packed both cameras and set off in hope, and was rewarded; as I turned into the entrance, I spotted two sails out on the lake, though there were not too many vehicles parked, but with the anemometer spinning the omens were good, but, until I was sure, I did not tempt fate by unloading the boot so locked the car and wandered to see who was around and Sam was togged up, so I chatted to another windsurfer and it seemed I was in luck, so returned to the car and started to set up the tripod. On this occasion I was going to use the 5D MkIII rather than the 7D MKII body, and the Sigma 150-600mm lens to see how I fared with this combination as at least I then had the full frame even though not the fast burst rate.
Sam decided he would risk a run with the hydrofoil despite the gustiness of the wind, so initially I concentrated on that, but it was apparent the wind was too gusty and although he did get it up, it was not sustained, so he came back out with a conventional board, so I then took shot of the others on the lake, the wind dropped after a short spell, and came came back in for another attempt and on this occasion at least for a short spell he was airborne, so I managed a few shots, before he returned to swap again to a conventional board.
I was also lucky as I was treated to a couple of jumps, even though I gathered the wind direction was less than ideal, I also managed some shots of three sailors in a group which is always handy.
I stayed as long as I could, as standing at the water’s edge in a high cold wind the windchill soon began to get though my light clothes as I held onto a cold camera and lens, with only minimal movement unlike those on the water who by expending much more energy were able to keep reasonably warm.
I did notice that using the full frame body the distant images seem small, but upon examination were just fine, but when close to, it was noticeably easier to frame, knowing that the quality was there. In the past I was always more concerned with the burst rate, but in the situation here this was far less of an issue compared to trying to capture birds and insects in flight, where the speed of the cropped frame sensor body was a definite benefit. I shall use this body slightly more often in the future.

Monday, 3 December 2018

2018 Aylesbury Mayor’s Carol Concert

Not only is Warming Global, it is local to Aylesbury for December, and the atmosphere at St. Mary’s Church in the centre of Town is equally welcoming as it is the time of year for Carols Sung to the Aylesbury Concert Band’s backing to the Choir’s and Congregation’s cheerful singing of familiar and happy tunes to celebrate Christmas. The Conductor of the Band was Rob Wicks.
The Congregation’s singing is augmented by the voices of the Aylesbury Choral Society’s Singers and the Bedgrove Junior School Choir. There were no less than six Readings, read in order by the following people: Aylesbury Town Mayor, Councillor Mark Willis,
His Honour Judge Sheridan, DL,
Group Captain Katherine Wilson, Station Commander RAF Halton,
Mr Stephen Archiebald, CEO Carers Bucks,
The Right Honourable David Lidington, CBE, MP,
Sergeant Joe McNicholas, Mayor’s Cadet.
Father Doug Zimmermann officiated and gave the Christmas Address to the congregation and invited everyone to stay to partake of the Mulled Wine, Fruit Juice and Mince Pies served by the Councillors of Aylesbury Town Council  and Volunteers from Ayesbury Lions.
I can personally vouch for the excellent sounds provided by the Aylesbury Concert Band and the enthusiastic singing by all present, a very enjoyable evening and much milder than we could have expected and the rain held off making packing all the musician’s instruments less of a stress than might have been the case were it raining heavily or been far colder.

Friday, 30 November 2018

Brogborough Lake – Late Autumn Sun

Despite the Eve of December, the Sun shone brightly across the Lake at Brogborough, and the wind came in gusts, but it was Friday and the lake eventually had a lone Windsurfer braving the conditions to take advantage of the whole expanse of the lake to himself and the occasional birds.
Initially I brought only the 24-70mm lens to take shots of interesting leaves and the views of the lakeside coves, but once I had caught sight of the windsurfer, I went back to the car and put the 150-600mm onto the full-frame 5D MkIII, but because this brightness seemed to be fleeting, I only added the monopod, so that I could hastily return and capture a few shots for which this lake is best known.
On the side of the lake from which the wind was coming, the clouds were slowly gathering, but for the moment the sky was a crisp, clear, rich blue with just the very occasional small puff of cloud. It was certainly difficult in the gusts to keep the camera and lens steady, but had I brought out even the lightest tripod, I might well lose the opportunity that now presented itself.
What acted in my favour despite the gusty nature of the wind was the sun was bright and the air clear, so I was able to use a fast shutter speed, so long as I held the monopod and lens as firmly as possible and focussed carefully.
I surprised myself by capturing a couple of moderately crisp shots of a cormorant flying by, but the percentage success was barely 35%!
I had not put any gloves on and had only a pullover, so the wind finally proved to be the deciding factor in when I stopped shooting and put the gear back in the car, and found a spare plastic bag to put the now well mud-clogged wellies in the boot and don some shoes for the return drive after a hasty cup of warming tea.
Nothing spectacular to show for the sortie, but competent considering the conditions, however the lens I would have liked to use I had re-packed and returned to Sigma the day before because I had not anticipated such a bright day, and also knew there was a journalist waiting his turn to give it a test.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Sigma 60-600mm Lens Test II – Harold-Odell Country Park

  Having lost the Good Weather and the lens due back to Sigma, I paid a visit to the Harrold-Odell Country Park a bit north of me in Bedfordshire. What sunshine there was was on the milky side, and although Gulls and Ducks were the most prolific of the birds on the lake close to the restaurant, I started shooting from there but my first subject was a raven strutting its stuff and occasionally sounding off as if it was annoyed.
There were numerous gulls just moving lazily on the water, and occasionally diving, presumably for small fish, every so often taking to the air briefly before landing back again nearby. In the distance but on the bank on my side of the lake a heron was on the foreshore, so whilst moving past some of the grazing cattle, I gingerly made my way closer to it, and taking a shot or two before moving again – all the while it had its beady eye on me, obviously fairly cognisant of the focal length of my lens, because just before I came into a decent distance from it, off it flew to the far shore, but I had been going for quality so was using a low ISO, so once in flight it was not possible for me to continue shooting, bearing in mind it was increasing that distance with each flap of its efficient wings! – I was already at 600mm and also because it was the 7D MkII, was cropped too!
The cattle also seemed to be moving towards me all the time, and they had weight and numbers to their advantage, and discretion, a long lens that was not mine and the heavy tripod meant the decision was taken from my hands and was replaced by my gear! Also the clouds began to look more threatening and was definitely suggesting that I should continue in the direction I was now heading which was leading me back to my car, but nevertheless I still took a few more shots at the shorter focal lengths of the lens of the distant church and swans in the foreground – these two swans were also very much keener to preen than pose elegantly for me, so valuable time was lost by my waiting for the heads to be above water and hopefully displaying their elegant necks.
In both these recent Lens Test galleries I have therefore ensured that I use the full range of this lens in fairly real world scenarios, and though I had been warned that at the wider end there might be some slight Chromatic Aberrations, what I encountered was subtly different, and was not directly correctible – a shot of some branchless trees at a distance against the brighter side of light from the occluded sun exhibited a red edging either side of the silhouetted branch, hence being uncorrectable using the edge-shifting of the individual channels within Adobe Camera Raw. I do not think this is actually Chromatic Aberration, I think it more likely that the sensor is swamped and is overloading nearby Red photosites. However, it would be very wrong of me to highlight this issue as overall, I did not find any other major issues at the 60mm end throughout all the shooting I did with this impressive lens. Also, this is not attributable to the Sigma lens but the camera.
I would have no insurmountable problems at all in the envisaged situations where I might encounter the need to be able to frame my windsurfing shots when the sailors approached closer, or racing cars and powerboats similarly forced me to widen my framing of the subjects.
By way of describing a typical situation I have on numerous occasions faced, has been that a Windsurfer has gybed coming towards me, the beginning and end of the manoeuvre are uncropped in relation to the full sail, but at their closest point midway through, the crop is severe both on the hull and the sail, because the subject is way too close at a focal length of 150mm, however with is extended range dropping to 60mm we are almost the equivalent of a Normal, Standard focal length lens.
Currently there is not a specific Lens Profile for this lens, but as a start point, I chose the Sigma Sports 150-600 profile without a major issue ensuing, except in the single somewhat ‘centre-jour’ situation mentioned in this narrative
Once Sigma Stock levels return to being available, I shall be making a purchase!
This is a full-width section of the 7D MkII file at 1024px wide. Note the red fringing of the two major  skeletal trees, it does not appear in the gallery, just here as a postscript to show the only issue I encountered, and one that is down to the camera's sensor, not the Sigma lens.