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…

Monday, 15 January 2018

Aylesbury Concert Band, St Mary's Eaton Bray 2018

I collected my daughter and her Bass Saxophone from near Aylesbury and headed to the first concert of the 2018 Aylesbury Concert Band  season at St. Mary’s Eaton Bray;  this concert takes place in the afternoon, and on this occasion it was bright with occasional glimpses of a shy sun. We collected some sustenance before going to park at the church.
Even though we were in good time, we were far from being the earliest of arrivals, and the car park is more than adequate and only a short walk with my camera gear and my daughter’s large heavy case. We both then separated to assemble our respective  kit and I investigated where to sit so I would be in a position where I had a good viewpoint and would not be obtrusive.
Once I had decided on what would be the most useful lenses, I then took a wander around to see where I might get the wider opportunities of varied images during the rehearsal since once the Concert proper was in play, moving around was not an option; I would then be reliant on using different focal lengths to suit what it was I wanted to capture, whereas I am able to choose my viewpoints provided I am not a distraction to the players.
During this period of moving around I was somewhat surprised by the sight of a butterfly, and I later learned they are not such a rare sight, as they often overwinter in the church!
I also wondered whether I might be allowed to shoot from the Organ Loft, and I was not disappointed, the gentleman in overall charge very kindly unlocked and switched on the lighting so I could negotiate the narrow winding staircase. The actual entry to the Organ was protected by a glass door which did somewhat surprise me by its presence! Fortunately, no damage was sustained either to the door or myself, but it did come as an unwelcome surprise!
It is a very tight fit for the Organist up there, and it was difficult to get to the centre, so for the empty shots at the rehearsal, I was not dead centre, but later during the first number of the concert, I did squeeze further in to take a few more meaningful shots with the audience present.
I found at one stage during the concert a lovely juxtaposition of one player with the Tuba beyond giving her a well-deserved halo! I also captured a few other light moments during the afternoon, and also found that in one angle from my position I was able to benefit from the blur of intervening musicians that allowed me to play with the differing rendition of that particular musician as the colours were so pleasing.
Although, the scene looks bright, I was quite surprised how high I had to raise the ISO to capture many of the images; I was generally barely a single stop from full aperture, and often shooting at 1/13th of a second, using 3200 ISO! I frequently refer to this type of work as ‘unavailable light photography’! But that’s part of the joy — a challenge!
At one time the gentleman in charge (sorry I do not have the name) spotted I was taking a shot of the Organ and kindly offered to put on a light to improve it further! It is a truly magnificent structure, but it was not featured treating us to its sounds, which was a shame.
And the most enjoyable piece of music from the afternoon — Shostakovich’s Jazz Suite.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Wilstone – The View from the Hide

Despite the recent wet weather I had decided that I would visit Wilstone Reservoir to see what bird life I could capture. and to that end, I parked in the Car Park, not as in the past at the small layby near the Cemetery, so that I could reduce the distant travelled carrying the fairly heavy tripod. To further avoid the worst of the mud, when I reached the bridge, instead of taking the route through the woods I skirted the edge of the field instead which was far less muddy and lessened the risk of my falling.
On my arrival at the Hide it already had three occupants two of which were photographers, the third a birder equipped with binoculars. I set up the tripod with as little noise as possible to avoid disturbing the others, but this made the task somewhat lengthier as I was very conscious of the noise I was making, but finally I was happy with the height and worked for a while until I realised that I was restricting my angle of view to my right which was the best direction for lighting, so I made some readjustments with as little noise as possible, and settled to take shots of what I found, two of the others then spoke saying they had spotted a grey wagtail, but it took me quite a while to find it, as it was a good distance away and dwarfed by the geese it was near.
The wigeon was one of the first birds I spotted for myself, then there was a White Wagtail, and Teal and then several Lapwing, the latter being the bird of which I took most shots.
It was darkening and the temperature was dropping and I realised I had the trek back to the car to negotiate and so gathered up my kit and left the hide and headed homewards.

Monday, 8 January 2018

Sun & Stewartby Lake – Sailing

I needed a fix of photographs having suffered withdrawal symptoms due to poor weather after the Christmas festivities, and now was greeted with a real chance as the sun was shining in clear blue skies. I reckoned that despite the cold, Stewartby Lake might offer either wildlife or Sailing. So that was where I headed as it was not exactly early, and the distance was negligible. I took a variety of lenses, but opted on the 150-600mm Sigma on the 7D MkII, and the heavy Gitzo Tripod and Gimbal Head since from car to the lakeside was no distance at all.
And as I had hoped there was activity on the water, so I was soon set up and shooting, with occasional glances around at the activities of others, mostly families with youngsters , or  people out to give their dogs and themselves some exercise, and quite a few runners of both sexes out to work off the excesses of the recent holiday break, some of those noticeably puffing from their exertions! I was in a spot off the path with a reasonably wide angle of view, and in the lulls, I did look around to see whether I could improve my position, but the spot I had selected proved to be the best as any spot beyond had narrower views or the iron fence came into view in the lower half of the frame.
I was surprised that with such a lack of wind, just how fast some sailors managed to achieve, and ironically when they all retired from the lake, the wind rose. I was rewarded with a fair number of interesting shots and came away very satisfied and even bagged a few shots of the wildlife, albeit fairly tame stuff. I also found a few people stopped for a friendly chat; so altogether a very worthwhile afternoon.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Marsworth January 2018 Reservoir Visit

After several days with almost no sun, this day held promise, but the high wind did require some thought be given to how to reduce windchill; in sheltered areas this was less of an issue and with no rain. I set off south via country roads in case trunk roads were congested or suffered from wind-related accidents, and headed towards Tring Reservoirs.
 I chose a heavy corduroy overcoat and my fingerless gloves with silk gloves beneath. I can say this was indeed a good choice, because when topped off with a woolly hat that came over my ears, I was not in the least bothered by the cold! The wind did dictate a heavy tripod, so my load could not be classed as light in weight, and necessitated changes over which shoulder I carried the assembled Gitzo-mounted, 7D MkII, with the 150-600m Sigma lens. This was as much to check nothing had worked loose as to give me a rest.
On the journey I was called back by a government-sponsored survey that seemed almost impossible to avoid, so although I concentrated on road safety, I put less effort into choosing the route I was taking and no sooner had this been completed, my phone rang again and it was the Water Bailliff for Tringford Reservoir, so I stopped in the wide entrance to a caravan park to take the call. Before leaving I spotted the Ivinghoe Beacon’s iconic shape in the distance so decided to grab some shots with it on the distant skyline before continuing, since Bob was just leaving having been there for some hours, so there was no hurry.
I had forgotten to bring my key to the parking area which was a shame, but at least there was plenty of space due probably to the cold. I assembled my gear and headed towards the canal, and found myself able to cover River and Canal Trust making their way through the locks which made interesting images of their transit. The reed beds had suffered a battering in the last few days of heavy wind, but every so often those that still stood made interesting pictures, and were a sufficient challenge to capture, as were a Pochard and Gull, and so rather than lump the three disparate groups of images into a single gallery, I have given them a gallery each, which are Canal Trust Transit, Pochard Preening, and Attempted Gull Landing Aborted.
So here are their Links – Click on either of the images to reach the relevant gallery thumbnails.
It was good to be outside taking photos again, this day at least had some sunshine!

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Creating the Final 'SOLUTIONS photographic' Christmas Card

I have created my own greetings cards since I was about fifteen or so, the first of which was an invitation to my sixteenth birthday, based upon the ‘Your Country Needs You’ poster of Lord Kitchener, exhorting the viewer to enlist for the First World War. It was a crude line artwork based upon a self portrait and even cruder representation of my pointing hand with the words ‘My Party Needs You’. I had no idea that some sixty years later I would still be printing my own cards! To digress; I was once at lunch with a Designer and we were entertaining a client around this time of year in a restaurant, when during the conversation my client the Designer was introducing me to his client, and said he was giving me work such that one day I might be able to buy my own Christmas cards rather than for me to have to keep making them, which statement has amused me from that day to this!
Since at the end of the financial year I shall be closing my company, the cards from now on will be devoted to family and friends’ birthdays, anniversaries, the gaining of degrees, the births, deaths and marriages of those close to me, I therefore decided I would try to record some of the steps in the process. Obviously the very beginning is where I look through recent images trying to kindle some idea for the theme of the card, I like to use reasonably recent images, and also sometimes I will set out to capture these very specifically.
The card for this year’s Christmas celebration was taken only a week ago, specifically with space for the words (my elder daughter gets really worked up about my adorning pictures with words), but that’s another matter – fathers have a duty to embarrass their daughters! I have done my fair share over the years; oh, and my granddaughters! The obverse image was taken at my younger daughters recent Concert in Aylesbury and the Vicar was exhorting his congregation from the pulpit and I took two shots, one with his hands clasped at his waist and then when he threw them apart to make a point. I simply merged the two and added the simple word ‘Peace’, and to add impact blurred all the background save the Crucifix beyond him as the image portrayed the very message I wished to convey too.
Photoshop came to my rescue for the merging and blurring on that image, and I found a suitable font, Dobkin Script to add the correct reverence to the message and then since I wanted that image to be the obverse, I selected all the layers and transformed it using rotate canvas, before then extending the canvas below to 200% vertically to then add the copy of the Holly image with its text into the new space. The text for the front was composed of two layers once I had enlarged all the Capitals slightly larger on one, allowing me to colour up those initial caps to simulate gold leaf. Separating the caps from the body text was done with a mask on the uppermost of the text layers.
That image was then brought back into Lightroom where I created a composite page of nine cards which I printed onto a sheet of Super A3 Premium Semigloss paper, well six sheets to give me 53 final cards – one unfortunately I glued the paper insert to the wrong side, which would have meant the gesticulating vicar would have become the the front which had not been my intention.
It is the sixth A3+ that then is the subject of the gallery for the next steps I took to complete the operation. My trimmer is just too small to do all the trimming of that size sheet, hence my resorting to my trusty scalpel. (A further aside – all my children learned to use scalpels from a very early age!) The first trimming is to separate the images so that they can be creased and folded to have the plain paper gummed to the back of the obverse vicar image. Each of the now white-bordered cards are now taken to another of my cutting boards where for the first time I adopted a different method to achieve the creasing (I wish I had thought of it a long time ago!) my main cutting board has the healing surface on both sides, but I realised that the other had a glossy very hard plastic backing, which I stuck just at the edge of my kitchen work surface, and then used the ruler to hold the line between the two images carefully across the hard, sharp edge of the cutting board, so that once aligned, I could use my thumb to crease the paper firmly to make the final fold really accurately.
Next step was to use the convenient raised edge of the trimmer to hold the folded card as I applied gum from a Pritt stick along the back, then before it dried out I slipped a plain white sheet of paper, pre-cut from an A4 sheet up against my fold then once correctly positioned I pressed it down firmly to stick it, folding it up then putting it under the guard, aligning the fold to the guillotine cutter’s edge and trimming off the surplus on all three sides. Now the inserted paper exactly matches the images and it can be easily written upon to carry the message for each individual recipient, where the back of the print does not take kindly to ballpoint pens and would smudge.
The other fifty odd cards were turned to JPEGs at the size I was printing them from the original master, and obviously I had to write a message apologising for the slightly less personal greeting, due to both time and cost restraints, but should they wish to print the file out it would still make a very acceptable print that they could place on strings or shelves along with others they received.
Over the years I have been doing my own cards, it has been my pleasure to be receiving an increasing number of similarly hand crafted cards rather than those that have less personal messages, and this has been a delight, and where the mass-printed ones will not all be kept, the handmade ones I still have, and cherish.

Should any readers of this blog like to see a copy of the final image, here it is in JPEG format:
Please note the image is my copyright, you may print out a single copy to view it, but please do not distribute it, especially as it does not represent the final quality of the original images

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Aylesbury Concert Band at Fairford Leys

Saturday morning was spent printing out Christmas cards for Family members and those without computers and their ilk, and I prepared these for printing out on Super A3 paper, which was highly efficient, and probably conserved ink which is always a benefit, and I managed to get a reasonable way forward, before I had to consider going over to help transport my Baritone Saxophonist daughter from Westcott to Fairford Leys for their Annual Christmas Carol Service in the central square. We arrived with time to spare and with no navigational errors, and this allowed for some time spent chatting before offloading the large and heavy case.
It is always enjoyable to arrive early enough to be able to wander around the band as they warm up, but though under the circumstances on this occasion, ‘warm up’ was not really on the agenda, since it was a bitterly cold afternoon, and neither instruments nor players work at their best when lips freeze to the mouthpieces and breath constantly condenses within such that the music has to be interrupted to be removed from the pipes. Playing many of the instruments in gloves does not add to the enjoyment, but is preferable to  tearing skin from the fingers! Fortunately the English are Stoic and display a stiff upper lip, possibly due to them being physically frozen!
When the audience applauded the resultant sound from gloved hands does not resound from the walls around the square, but my impression was that they enjoyed the event and certainly sang well in some of the popular traditional carols, and the band members seemed to be battling well with smiles and occasional laughter between numbers.
The final arrival of Santa pulled by a Four by four rather than sixteen reindeer was greeted with genuine enjoyment; the Christmas season is now well under way. When I made the return trip later in the evening, the roads were definitely icy, so the forecast of snow for Sunday seemed to be guaranteed, and when I awoke this morning, it was more than a smattering, and in fact was still snowing, an opportunity which I was not going to miss as snow has been largely absent over the last two winters, so hopefully I can top up my store of such images for future Christmas cards.
A Merry Christmas to all those who visit this blog, and may the time be spent in the relaxing atmosphere of family – who knows even with a chance of some snowballing, sledging, skating, and the building of snowmen!

Monday, 4 December 2017

Aylesbury Mayor’s Carol Concert

Aylesbury Concert Band gather at St. Mary’s Church to celebrate the start of the 2017 Christmas Season with a Carol Concert put on by the Mayor, Councillor Tom Hunter-Watts. At this time of year all those involved are heavily involved with commitments of every conceivable description, and this can be family involvement with schools and the stresses of preparation for Christmas then you add in the English weather and road closures, that everyone can come together in a festive spirit at this time is a minor miracle. I came over from the Bedford area to bring a Baritone Saxophonist; my daughter to the venue, and guess what her two children have been ill and off school, and disrupted her plans for work, but we still made it by the skin of our teeth, and the good fortune to find a car park that had spaces free.
The church was full of various different groups rehearsing in separate areas of the church, as I found out in my journey to pay a comfort visit before I could concentrate on getting my camera gear up and ready. I took a wander around to decide on viewpoints and found these were severely limited due to the number of reserved seats, but settled on the end of a row of four seats in front of the sound engineers’ desk manned by Richard Watkins and a colleague from Taliesin Musicraft. Both were busily setting up mikes and lighting amidst the throngs of participants and early-arrival audience members and families of either the band members or the children participating in the event.
Amidst this there were church staff milling around, and the band were soon assembled and running through pieces that were to form part of the concert – well-organised chaos reigned, and I started taking shots of the musicians from whatever vantage points were possible, at least at this stage free to roam, whereas soon it would be time to sit down and be well-behaved.
Somehow the afternoon progressed from last minute rehearsal into performance, and I was not sure when the transition took place except for the arrival of the local dignitaries, and after a most enjoyable time spent shooting, chatting and singing with gusto, I then went in search of, and found a lady from the States who had spotted me working and asked could I take a shot of her with someone from the council. I was able to take a few shots slightly away from the hubbub, and hope she will be happy with the results. Lighting on this occasion was at the edge of possibility for good images, especially as I do not use flash on such occasions as I want to preserve the ambience of the occasion, and my hands are not the most steady!

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Steppingley Reservoir Red Kite Visit

I had looked at maps to decide on where it might prove worthwhile to take advantage of the sunshine, and settled upon Steppingley Reservoir. I had not factored in the bitter wind, so when I arrived I was not as prepared for the cold as I should have been. Also upon arrival, I realised this was a spot I had previously visited, and had been slightly disappointed, but nothing ventured; nothing gained…
After a preliminary walk to the entry to the fields, the first decision was to add to my clothing, as the windchill was already getting to me! I added a woolly hat and a hooded jacket and my fingerless gloves with silk gloves underneath, then gathered the lightest carbon fibre tripod with the Acrotech head as this would offset my intention to use my heaviest lens, the Sigma 150-600mm Sports. Also, I took along my electronic shutter release due to this tripod’s choice due to the lesser stability.
I negotiated the downhill track taking to the grass alongside, to avoid caking my boots with claggy mud and at first investigated heading towards to thicket to skirt to the left around the banked reservoir, but soon retraced my steps and crossed the brook and headed for the right and some newly dug channels and then climbed the bank and headed right at the top. I came across a couple of anglers and asked how they were faring, and learned they had only recently arrived themselves, they were able to suggest where I might find a good chance of spotting the local wildlife, which they said included deer and in the fields they had just spotted some hares. I thanked them and made my way around anticlockwise, before heading towards the bank on the far side to enter the woods. I passed another pair of anglers, one of whom had caught a single fish which somehow had been considered of less import than having some late breakfast! I left them chuckling amongst themselves and carefully made my way down the bank again and entered the woods.
I had barely entered the path into the woods when I spotted two small muntjacs which immediately took fright and headed deeper into the thicket, I never saw them again. As I once again took to the grass margins of the track, I spotted red kite circling above, and then a small farm vehicle approached me, I hailed it in greeting and the driver pulled to a halt and switched off the engine, I asked whether there was much wildlife to be found hereabouts, and he said there was some, but was not able to elucidate much further and soon restarted the engine and went on his way – at least I learned I was not to be evicted!
For a while I attempted to get some shots from the cover of the woods, but this was far from easy, so I eventually moved to end of the track where it opened onto the field, and found that some of the birds were interested in prey within the field, so were far lower. I wished I had made this decision earlier, as the sun was becoming increasingly hidden by clouds. It was interesting to note that there was a high concentration of pigeons that moved en masse from one end of the track between one tree in the field and somewhere beyond me, every ten to fifteen minutes. Later another observation I made was that sometimes the red kite would adjourn to a clump of trees at the wood’s edge and the crows were not be fazed and remained in the same branches, the only lesser bird I saw chased by the kites was a jackdaw. Part of the reason the kites were often down at ground level was some carrion in the field, and on one occasion I saw one of their number with a small bird that was being devoured on the wing, but I could not be certain where it had been caught.
With the sun increasingly cloud-covered I retraced my steps to the reservoir, and continued widdershins and before leaving, spotted the two anglers I first met so I went to see how they had fared. I learned their names were Paul and Jay, and we chatted and found they had been less fortunate than me, having caught no fish at all. Like me at Marsworth, they had befriended a robin and had fed him some of their bait, so I took a shot of him as he took the occasional nibble. I showed them that shot and others I had taken of the kites and we chatted before I set off back to the car. I made the trip at a good pace which meant I was far warmer when back at the car than when I had set off!

Monday, 27 November 2017

A British L Bracket - Arca Swiss Compatible

On this occasion, there is no gallery of images, just the few here and the story behind them below.

I spotted a new and extremely useful bracket built for the Arca Swiss Quick Release mechanism featured on many professional tripod heads. It is designed specifically to allow those users who need to set up the level of their tripod just the once, yet swap swiftly between portrait and landscape orientation, it is sturdy and well-made, and it is made by SRB-Griturn in Britain.
It comes in three sizes, and the one I bought which is suited to the Canon 7D MkII and 5D MkIII is the largest of the trio. All are priced very competitively and I was able to visit the small showroom at their factory near Dunstable and check out which size I would need, and they also have an online presence as well as a printed catalogue which covers a very broad range of photography-related items.
I checked that it could be swapped from either side dependent upon which access was the most suitable, which is in fact with the upright on the left where the various accessories are likely to be fitted. Considering that the Arca Swill rail is primarily aimed at professionals this is very good value in this market and will be very appealing to wedding shooters and those shooting for the housing market sector.

I have no connection with the company beyond having dealt with them over several years and always found them to offer a wide range of kit at competitive rates, and they’re British!

Briefest of Visits to Brogborough Lake

It was sunny and Windy, so for the few, in this case by the time I arrived just two windsurfers were on the lake – Richard McKeating and Sam Barnes. Richard was practising his turns and Sam was checking out his choice of sails with his hydrofoil board.
I have no idea how long either had been out before my arrival, but the bitter wind was definitely keeping others from coming to the lake, and I could have captured a few more shots had I not delayed in setting up, so the paucity of images is purely down to my tardiness, so there is not much to see, and Richard had obviously decided that I was unlikely to visit so he brought his GoPro and wand to capture his workout on the water. I was not able to get much of Sam flying high, but I suspect that the wind speed was too high for the sail size as he came in for a smaller one soon, and both men decided that the cold was taking the pleasure out of the activity, so I spent more time setting up and  taking down than shooting, so the only other practice I got, was on checking out some black-out material I had scrounged off Steve White at Calvert’s Studio for when I might need it to take some movies at a later date.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Stockwood Autumn Richness

A few days ago I felt the chill of the coming season, but today, after a warm wind yesterday, the the wind had died but the warmth remained. From the abundance of berries, I had presumed that for a change, we might actually be in for a ‘proper’ Winter; with frost and snow, but then all change, and it is warm again!
I had several visits I needed to make in and near Harpenden, complete the payment of my plumber, buy an accessory for my camera and visit a colleague with a Mac issue. I was in Harpenden, and I had my camera onboard, so why not drop in at Stockwood Discovery Centre, since the light was so good; it was still early enough to miss the peak of the northbound M1 traffic, so I dashed in and grabbed a few shots of leaves and flowers in their autumn coats, bathed in the warm, low, slanting light of the rapidly setting sun. I actually found myself running on occasion to beat the sun, and get shots before it sank below either the trees or the walls of the garden!
I felt well-rewarded as I managed to capture sufficient images to create a two-page gallery, when adding a few shots outside the confines of the gardens. I hope they meet with approval, as I was pleased with what I managed to find.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Warm Sunny November Day

The Sigma 150-600mm Sports lens can have its firmware user updated, and since I have the USB Dock that makes the connection, I decided to download the Sigma Optimisation Pro software to check whether the lens firmware had an update. There was indeed an update, so I decided to see whether it had any effect.

I drove a short distance to Broad Mead which is close to the Chicheley Brook, and since this might have possibilities in the future for capturing images of wildlife, this seemed an opportunity to check out the lens, and the area. I spotted that there were two tracks one either side of the brook, I took a brief look at the right hand option that had a walkway with railings, presumably crossing over a stretch of the brook, but one it was lined with overhanging sting nettles and two, beyond that bridge, it looked very waterlogged! I returned and took the alternative path, and as I did so I met a man and young lady who may well have been an apprentice and since he spoke to me I asked whether there were wildlife opportunities hereabouts, but he told me he only visited to collect water samples, so was unable to help me.

This left hand path led to slightly higher ground and set-aside land around the field margin, it was far less muddy, and paralleled the alternative route with the brook separating each. There was a high pollarded hedge on this side, and the edge of the ploughed field had a very clean-cut edge suggesting it was very recent. I followed this path for some distance until there was a means of leaving the field to a narrow road beyond, and turning right spotted a small house with a kingfisher plaque beneath the gable, and since it would be really useful to find another possible site to see kingfishers, I knocked on the door, but no one was in, so I continued along the right of way through a gate and across a field which led to another gate on the far side, opening into parkland, and in the distance a large house with several greenhouses. I returned the way I had come and then took a look at the alternate route back, but I soon came to the flooded area I had seen from the other side, so retraced my steps to the car, and on this occasion met a lady who hailed me, so I stopped to chat in the hope she might know whether the kingfisher on the house meant this was a likely place to see them.

Ironically she had never ever seen one, though did tell me of a spot that her sister often saw them near Bradwell Abbey; so asking the question was far from fruitless. During our conversation there was a loud bang behind the lady, which turned out to be her husband closing a garage door, and he came over, and we continued chatting about the local birdlife – so I do think I shall be returning. I had taken a few shots up till then, and took a few more on the return leg, and the lens still functioned well, so maybe I will  be more adventurous and set up a few preset focus features going forward.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Aylesbury Concert Band St. Peter & St. Paul, Great Missenden

After a somewhat fraught journey to the Harvester in Fox Milne, which no doubt my son-in-law will no doubt delight in recounting whenever the opportunity occurs in the future, I finally arrived to collect my daughter and her baritone saxophone for us both to go to Great Missenden for her performance at St. Peter and St, Paul’s Church.
The church’s location is up a series of narrow lanes from the equally narrow High Street, and although the instruments can be offloaded by the church entrance the car park is quite some distance away back close to where we entered the village. I dropped Lizzy, Sax and my camera bag off, then drove back to park. However, (true to form as Tim would no doubt be reminding me later!) I learned I was not in the correct car park, as I realised on my return, and had to run and walk all the way back as I had not found a Pay machine to avoid an unwelcome surprise fine! As it so happened the car park was for visitors to the old people’s home, but fortuitously, the nurse was happy for me to stay as I had come for the concert.
By the time I returned to the church I was no longer cold, in fact quite the opposite! The rehearsal was underway, and Lizzy surreptitiously texted me to say there was a water I could drink, two rows back from where I was seated. It was very welcome, and catching her eye, I thanked her with a beaming smile! I then switched off the phone.
During the rehearsal I heard the solo Oboe piece which for me was the highlight of the evening. I learned it was its first performance and Alison was searching for someone to record it for her, luckily she was able to find someone who was able to do so during the concert proper. Later, I was hoping it might warrant a standing ovation, but despite my standing and trying to encourage the audience to follow suit, no one responded which disappointed me, since it was very deserving.

When the final encore subsided, I left my camera gear with Lizzy and headed back down the now, almost impenetrable darkness to the car park to collect the car, and return for Lizzy, the Sax and camera bag, take her back home, then head back to Marston Moretaine for me.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Silverstone - Race into the Night and Fireworks

Having done my best to avoid the M6 Toll once again, I found myself once again taking a circuitous route to head for Silverstone to meet up with my younger daughter and her two youngsters to enjoy some Formula Junior races and later, stunt drivers, before the main event the Fireworks Display.
I arrived at a layby on the A43 where I collected my ticket, in case I was going to have to pay extra for my car, as it turned out it did not matter and we travelled the last few miles together – parking alongside each other finally and then headed around the circuit where we had a good view of some of the races, when we moved again which gave us an excellent view of both the stunts and the Fireworks that followed. There were other families with young children and soon our two were following them and running around together; with minimum necessary guidance from the three adults.
Some of the racing we watched was very competitive, often with three cars abreast for  more than just a single corner, and on one occasion, this did not end happily with a loose wheel and tyre in its very own race along the tarmac before losing momentum and travelling towards a Marshal’s post. I have yet to sort through the images from the afternoon, so will complete this narrative once that task is complete. I spent some time experimenting with different settings to capture the essence of racing and stunts in the dark; so, many more failures than successes! The same was true of my capture of the fireworks – shots of this nature need a longish exposure to capture the trails, and as such are best taken with the camera on a tripod, but fortunately in the case of the fireworks there is an alternative after the event. Provided there is some space around any burst of a firework, the resultant images can be montaged back in a program such as Photoshop or Affinity Photo.
The stunts that were performed on the track after the presentations to the winners were performed under a clear full moon which rose from low on the horizon and became a part of some of my fireworks shot against the night sky.
This was a fitting end to the last couple of days in which I had driven from Bedford to Staffordshire and back down to Silverstone before returning home to Marston Moretaine. Subsequently I have spent several hours in front of a computer screen as I prepare and sort images for the galleries to go on the blog.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Staffordshire Visit, and a Country House

I tried my best to get to bed for an early start and part-load the car the night before, but there always seems a reason to be up into the early hours! I had printed out a list of Directions that I was hoping I would be able to follow, but the SatNav was of little help when it came to the M6 as there was collusion between the sign-posters and it to prioritise the Toll route which I had no desire to use. In order to not be trapped, I searched in vain for M6 only, but when the Toll appeared to be the only option, I tried to navigate blind by choosing places I thought might be on route, but was led a Merry Dance with no handy spots to park up safely to consult a map.
Since I was not driving fast the extra mileage was still cheaper, but I was not going to be blackmailed. And fortunately I still arrived before the appointed time at the Canal Cottages at Upper Haywood, and was greeted by mine host before he had abluted! I sat down to sip his proffered cup of tea, and get some of my overnight stuff from the car. Ben then offered me bacon and egg, and we began a longish conversation of catching up, since he had only just began to return to living in the cottage since his accident which had involved the breaking of both his legs from a simple fall in his kitchen.
Here was a man who had never visited a hospital, despite having served in war, worked on the railways, worked as a Warder in the Prison Service, been a coach driver and a Traffic Warden – all jobs with the opportunities for serious injury! He is still, at over eighty, an inveterate happy and optimistic man with a mischievous sense of humour; which was soon in full spate – he and I have never been able to be in each other’s company for more than five minutes without being fairly convulsed in hearty laughter. For this reason, I had to remind him that we had planned to visit some places he had told me would be of interest, and it might just be an idea to do this before nightfall!
I had three places listed on the back of an envelope from his last phone call, and we hit on a visit to a house steeped in the era of the Arts & Crafts era – Wightwick Manor. He had earlier mentioned it was pronounced very differently as ‘Whittuck’. I had no idea how far this was, and since I simply had to ask for “which way?” at every junction, I had no idea where it was exactly, and all this whilst both of us were chatting incessantly, which meant my only concern was road safety and Right or Left, or Which Exit to roundabouts?
There are two galleries, one really of Ben and the cottages, the other my trip around the House. After a night in his Campervan, it was an early start to meet with my daughter’s family at a Car & Fireworks Day at Silverstone, which is a gallery to come, later – much later!