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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Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Goodwood Revival Meeting 2019

The Duke of Richmond and Gordon seemingly has the Weather Gods in his favour, for in the more than ten years I have been lucky enough to be visiting his grounds to attend the Revival Meetings and the Festivals of Speed, I have only encountered inclement weather on two occasions, and only one of those was really a problem, but every last one has proved thoroughly enjoyable.
My early contact with Goodwood was through Peter Morley a neighbour of mine in Bromley, Kent. He was a Rally Driver and a Director of Tesco, who at the time was the Assistant Chief Pit Marshall at Brands Hatch, a role I later inherited jointly with a colleague Peter Melville, when Peter Morley became the Chief. The first occasion he invited me to Goodwood, it was a regular and fully functional race track, and a year or two before the fateful crash that brought Stirling Moss’ racing career to an end. On that occasion as we drove through some of the villages, people waved to us as we passed, and Peter told me that when he had come to a standstill for a longish time on some occasions, villagers had offered him cups of tea!
I cannot speak for all UK motorsport venues, but for an atmosphere of joyous camaraderie, Goodwood for me has been in a class of its own, followed closely by Brands Hatch, Oulton Park, Lydden, and Castle Coombe. Short of some major disaster befalling you, Goodwood never fails to deliver.
I always bring a camera, and on this occasion, I had decided to forego my superb Sigma 60-600mm and had brought my much earlier and far lighter Tamron 150-600mm on the mirrorless Canon EOS R body. I had one further ‘tweak’ — the 2x Converter — which meant I was actually using a 300-1200mm full-frame camera! Knowing There would also be opportunities for closer work, I also had the 24-70mm — which I used to get shots within the ‘Motor Show’ feature.
I will make an admission that despite my careful preparations there was one failure on my part; the one item which could have made my life far easier was still carefully nestling in the boot of my car — a monopod! However, that only surfaced once I was trackside, since to make the trek to the car would lose me too much time, I was going to have to rely on whatever support I could find, such as the top of fence posts, and my daughter’s willingness to provide her shoulder on one occasion! The sacrifices one’s family sometimes endure for their forgetful parents!
Goodwood as I mentioned is a friendly place and an example is a charming mother of two young children who was just in front of me at the banking, who opened a conversation wondering whether she was in my way whilst shooting, I assured her she had no need for concern. Later, she had insisted the boy and girl stayed together which was good advice, and later still when both were at the front fence, in return I suggested that they don’t watch from beneath the wire fencing as they were at that time, because they were unprotected. Somehow, interactions between strangers here at Goodwood is the norm.
I watched an old business colleague, Simon Diffey, do well in his race, and listened over the speakers to his delighted response to his good fortune whilst being interviewed. Later I briefly met up with him, still in high good humour. Another familiar face I spotted was photographer, Jeff Bloxham, but I failed to catch his eye as he was trackside at the Kids’ Pedal Car race and we were in the enclosure. Over the years visiting Goodwood rarely has there been a time when I have not come across old friends, but perhaps the clue is within the adjective ‘old’!
Also, most of my visits, I have bumped into Charles March during the course of the day, as in what I term my ‘former life’ he had been a client of the retouchers, The Colour Company with whom I had worked for many years — in fact it was through them that I had been twice invited to stay at the house to give him some Photoshop help. This day, I did listen to him over the Tannoy, give a moving tribute to his absent friend, Stirling Moss, and later watched him take Susie, Sterling’s wife around in one of the many cars he had driven to success over the last many years. I have tried since to find a recording of his piece, but thus far, in vain. It undoubtedly came from his heart and in his own words as a friend. Sadly, Sir Stirling was not up to travelling to be present.

The last pictures from our day were all taken on my handy 24-70mm, and this turned out to be one of the very few times when I never used its handy macro feature, but this lens if I ever am limited to just camera and one lens and weight, proves invaluable. Another, wonderful, warm, and welcoming day nears its end, just the journey home and the parting with my daughter Lizzy as she heads back to her husband and young family.

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Pre-Goodwood EOS R Test of Lighter Long Lens

The Goodwood Revival comes around again, and although I wanted to capture some of its spirit with a long lens on the EOS R body, I knew that all-day with my heavy Benbo and the Sigma 60-600mm was simply out of the question, so my plan to choose the Tamron 150-600mm with the 2x Sigma Converter was worth considering, but I needed a test to make up my mind. There was a reasonable breeze blowing, so to test both the lens and lightweight Carbon Fibre tripod was worth the short trip to the lake at Brogborough. I was fortunate that despite it being a weekday, there was a single windsurfer on the water to provide me with a moving target.
I learned that my presumptions of the suitability of this combo were accurate, but I also learned that with this Converter and the closeness to the shore favoured by my unsuspecting model, meant that the lens was being mainly used at the middle of the focal length range, so it would be sensible to take the lower strength 1.5 Converter along as well, since I would be missing the 60mm end of the Sigma.

I am glad that I had run the test, because also another feature of the Revival Meeting was the aerial display of aircraft, and my lighter lens made this far less of a strain, and this short trip has given me the confidence to opt for this lens alongside my general purpose 24-70mm. I wonder whether the sobriquet ‘Glorious’ Goodwood will apply to the weather on this occasion?

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

The Black Gallery Tring – Evergreen Africa Exhibition

After my most recent trip to Brogborough Lake to photograph windsurfers, I left for home after only the briefest of spells there, because I was heading for Tring to meet up with a fellow photographer, Dr Vanessa Champion who has spent several spells shooting in Africa; the most recent being the subject of an exhibition of her work with Evergreen Africa from her PhotoAid expedition to the Foothills of Mount Elgon.
Vanessa had invited me to the Private Viewing evening due to be opened by David Evans, MBE, but my arrival was horribly delayed, and my entry was embarrassing in the extreme, but as I listened to the end of Paul Votzenlogel’s words, I calmed sufficiently to take out my camera and quietly take some shots of him speaking. Up till that moment I was so disheartened that I had considered leaving the camera in the car because of how late my arrival had been, however, I rallied, and began silently shooting, and once I had some images, my self-flagellation subsided, and calm was restored.
Photography for me is therapeutic, I become absorbed in what it is I am watching, and as my eye spots the interactions of others who may be conversing intently, to either a group or an individual, or are self-absorbed, I try to move to a position where I can best compose the image that tells the story. It is interesting to see how some people use their hands, others use their eyes, or tilt their heads. I often spot interesting non-verbal communication and this evening there were for me some interesting interactions amongst friends, that certainly intrigued me. Perhaps Ness will enlighten me, or perhaps not! I do not use flash at events such as these, as it is far too distracting, such lighting also kills the inherent natural ambiance and character of the venue, yes it is a challenge, but where is the joy if it all comes easily, or the event is overwhelmed with flashes from all corners. Under such an assault it is more akin to a War Zone than an intimate gathering enjoying the atmosphere, the introductory speeches and the later interactive banter amongst friends and new acquaintances.
On all occasions such as this evening, I do not use flash which means that I do not intrude, however the mere fact I have a camera, can sometimes mean that if someone sees the lens is aimed in their direction they stare straight into the lens as if to enquire: “Why me?” Most times I will aim elsewhere, if only momentarily, but twice on this evening I took the shot. Generally, I try not to intrude, I keep my eye open for laughter, and for hand-waiving, finger-pointing, and certainly, Ness never disappoints! I hope that some of those attending will get the chance to see what I captured. I am certainly glad I did bring the camera, it was cathartic for the frustration I felt for the over-long journey and subsequent very late arrival.

I also hope the pictures I have taken will be a reminder of an interesting and enjoyable evening for all those attending this Private Viewing, and perhaps many of those in the following days, when the doors are open to all-comers.

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Brogborough Lake Trio of Windsurfers

Since I was due out in the evening to an event in Tring to publicise the work of Evergreen Africa with an exhibition of photos from a recent Photo Aid Expedition, entitled “From the Heart of Herts to the Foothills of Mount Elgon”.
I had been invited by Vanessa Champion to the fund-raising evening event at a Tring Gallery with an exhibition of some of her photography in Africa for PhotoAid Global and Evergreen Africa. I therefore spent only the briefest of times lakeside, taking shots mainly of a trio of windsurfers who were making the most of the reasonably strong wind which was unusually, heading directly onshore.
Despite this being apparently the least effective direction for anyone jumping, but possibly due to my presence with a camera, and a knowledge of my predilection for dramatic images meant they were generous enough to attempt to satisfy my needs! I do have to own up to have missed some of these events for a variety of reasons/excuses?
I have done my best to get these images displayed as soon as possible to retain correct chronology, but they are somewhat tardy, so I am hoping the audience will accept my apology and accept “better late, than never”!

I will aim to improve… (mind you I could say that should also apply to my planning to set off in plenty of time for my trip to Tring…)

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Marston Lake – Life Mainly Tiny

I suppose here I share the interest I remember the young Gerald Durrell found so fascinating but, he found that on the far more exotic Greek island of Corfu, bathed in warm sunshine for a large proportion of the Mediterranean year. On this warm English Summer Day, I had driven but a short distance from my home and entered a secluded lake given over largely to the sport of angling. 
The relentless passage of Time was very apparent, for where just a week back water-lilies could be found in bloom, now it was almost as if they had never been in this spot; there were but a low single figure left, and in poor condition, but I only learned that later when I ventured to the far side of the lake. On this visit, I spent time in the second or so Swim where in a preliminary walk I had seen some activity from dragonflies and butterflies. I tried to see whether the extra flexibility of working from a monopod might be viable.
I persevered for around fifteen minutes before I realised that with my heavy long lens, this was wishful thinking on my part, so leaving aside my monopod and flask, I returned to my parked car and fetched my sturdy Benbo and the Acratech Long Lens Head and, though I did occasionally lift it bodily aside to avoid intervening reeds from my subjects, I spent most of the time in the shade of an overhanging tree with a good view of dragonfly activity close by the water’s edge. Apart from the obvious stability advantage, the relief came from the vast reduction of weight and less waving around!
It is always fascinating to watch- Water-Boatmen walk on water, though the is not strictly true – they jump, but the semi-religious analogy is still apt for the ease with which these insects travel across the water surface. I was able to capture this in some detail on this occasion due their  comparative closeness and the use of the 2x Converter on the 60-600mm lens. I also switched away from autofocus in order to keep up with both these creatures and the Dragonflies, with a subsequent improvement in my overall success rate!
I have never given up attempts to capture insects such as Hoverflies, Dragonflies and Butterflies in flight, and on this occasion was extremely lucky to be rewarded more than once with some success! As the sun eventually left this location in shade, I packed up my kit and visited a few other spots , but with less success; I had managed to get the most out of my trip, and the shaded light by where my vehicle was parked tempted me to take a couple of shots of the car to conclude.


Friday, 30 August 2019

Brogborough Lake Microworld

Forecast days of wind for the weekend kept those who might otherwise have skipped work to take advantage of Thursday’s wind that blew at Brogborough Lake, so it was merely a few paddleboarders who were there when I dropped by. I had spent enough time in front of a screen processing photos from the Summer Proms at Aylesbury, with oppressive heat that had prompted me to buy a fan to keep it, and myself, cool!
I spent some time at the water’s margin with a 150mm lens and an extender on the EOS R on my monopod; at first with the smallest of the three, but later the middle one, to capture some of the life in the tangle of reeds, blackberries, flowers and weeds. The prime subject I sought were the Dragonflies, but I saw butterflies, bees and damselflies, and one unidentified flying insect just lucky enough to escape a predatory spider in the nick of time!
The wind was enough to disrupt one butterfly that dropped its wings flat to remain atop a thistle head it found particularly tasty, but overall the wind kept winged insects grounded, and far less abundant than when it was calm.
The time spent was good therapy, and as I was leaving a lone windsurfer ventured out on the lake, I briefly joined Sam chatting to a newcomer and parents before parting to sort through the few shots I had been taking.

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Aylesbury Concert Band — Park Summer Concert

The Concert in Aylesbury takes place each year in the Park adjacent to the Aquavale Public Swimming Pool. Due to the necessity for Band members’ vehicle numbers being registered before arrival at the Car Park on this occasion, I was not the chauffeur of my daughter and her Saxophone, but a passenger.
This year it took place on one of the hottest ever days, making it extremely heavy-going in the oppressive heat, resulting in the rehearsal being truncated due to not only the sun making it difficult for the players being able to see the Conductor, but also extremely tough if they were to survive till the evening’s performance. 
In addition there was a preliminary photo shoot of the Band members for future publicity purposes in their full concert dress and, with their instruments.This took place in the small amount of shade afforded by the trees in the Park opposite the Swimming Pool.
Due to the Band members’ vehicle numbers being registered before arrival at the Car Park, on this occasion, I was not the chauffeur of my daughter and her Saxophone, but a passenger. I had brought along three lenses to use, my general purpose all rounder zoom; the 24-70mm, the 70-200mm and the 100-400mm, and I would be using the EOS R body throughout.
I told myself I would be sparing in the number of shots I would be taking to minimise the subsequent time at the computer due to the high temperatures expected, however that did not happen, so it was not going to be a speedy run once back in front of the Computer. (Upper case — as at present with the larger file sizes of the EOS R has meant I have become its slave because it is taking more time to process the shots due to this increased individual size).
The high temperature brought another problem — keeping every instrument in tune, and in the interlude between rehearsal and Concert, considerable effort was made to ensure each instrument was in tune, and here technology was playing its part as individuals were being calibrated with the aid of small electronic samplers, so I captured these efforts in the cooler shade outside the inferno of the Stage.
The Audience had been swelling and sweltering all the while and as the sun lowered, it was shining directly into the players’ eyes as the Concert started, but the heat did not abate for some while, making hats and dark glasses ‘de rigour’, but the large gathering of families showed its appreciation by applauding, and several of the really young danced in the space between the front of the crowd and the Stage; cartwheeling and dancing, and waving flags.
Although there is an obvious difference in the Singers’ and Musicians’ attire between Rehearsal and Concert, to the Audience this transition is blurred, all is performance and fun, and enjoyed equally and informally, and simply the end of several days of enjoyment culminating in the Fireworks display after a short speech by the Mayor.
I hope that my images convey at least some of the enjoyment shared by all who attended and serve as a memory of family fun in the Park.

Saturday, 24 August 2019

Marston Lake – Flying Insect Life

Once again I was out with the EOS R, and the newly-purchased 2x Converter. I had recently made up my mind after much use in different activities that this would definitely be an asset with a good range of uses under differing categories of work. I had wondered whether the addition for instance to my 60-600mm Sigma Sports lens might hamper autofocus, but the experience has been heartening. I think I forgot to consider that the smaller apertures might actually  give me greater leeway rather than be hampered by the lesser amount of light.
The pixel density is greater with this full frame chip, so the impact of higher ISOs is lessened, allowing me to use a higher ISO with the long length of this lens, which benefits stability, which has meant that for those occasions where I need the extra throw, there is no negative impact from adding the converter, and the 60mm end becomes 90mm which is close to half the length I experienced with the earlier 150-600mm lens.
Recently I have also been using the Tamron 150-600mm and a monopod when the need to travel light is essential, so the transition to this body has been a positive, especially after a firmware update which was a great improvement for autofocus.
On this afternoon, I arrived to a well-attended lake by anglers as many prepared for a long stay extending over the Bank Holiday weekend, and my first destination was to check out whether the woodpecker was in the trees to the right of the junction of the two trackways that circle most of the lake, and since that seemed unlikely as there were no sounds of a woodpecker at work, I headed to the right unencumbered with a heavy tripod.
It proved to be the correct decision as there were no sightings by any of the anglers, and no tell-tale sounds, so I returned to my car and set up the camera on the tripod and took a walk just a few swims down where I spent some time with one angler, before heading in the opposite direction to investigate the far side of the lake. Dragonflies turned out to be my main subjects, and on the far side I even managed two shots of one in flight, which is always rewarding, as they change direction so rapidly.
The short distance to this lake was fairly rewarding despite the lack of Grebe and the woodpecker.
My next sortie – without the long lens will be to a Concert in Aylesbury.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Brogborough Lake Drop In

Thank you for a Rivetting Note to me, Barry, in Comments, for pointing out my unforgivable error in naming the file incorrectly, rendering it unavailable for those eager to see how Hydrofoiling is progressing on Brogborough Lake; I hope it was worth the Wait!
         On the spur of a moment,  I decided to see whether anyone was taking advantage of the wind at Brogborough Lake, and found that Sam was once again trying to master a gybe whilst keeping the board aloft, clear of the water throughout the manoeuvre. I spotted that he was successful on several occasions. I later learned he was generally successful in one direction, but was finding it difficult in the other. 
         There were others on the water, but I’ll apologise straightway, that  I was more interested in capturing a complete sequence of a successful gybe whilst clear of the water throughout whilst using a hydrofoil board.
I was a late arrival, so missed some of the earlier action, and so there is not a lot to show but I also slipped up by thinking that since the action was reasonably close to the shore I could dispense with the 2x Converter, but I found that I was mistaken, so also lost some time in having to return to the car to bring out the Converter. Once that was in place, the shots filled the screen far more fully.
I hope that the shots I took were useful for Sam; I learned that keeping the 2x Converter on permanently for shots here was definitely worthwhile, as it made all the difference, with no downside, and confirmed I made the right decision in upgrading from the 150-600mm Sports lens to the 60-600mm Sports lens. Certainly using this lens on the Canon EOS R body I see no downside on keeping the 2x Converter on at all times, unless the light levels are seriously low. The same would not be so when using the 5D III or 7D II as the EOS R’s file size is greater, offering higher ISO cleanly. Having a sturdy tripod is another benefit, especially when shooting the windsurfers, as it invariably means that whilst the participants are using the wind, I am fighting it! Ironically, also I find myself hankering after a dark cloth to improve my screen viewing.

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Brogborough Last Minute Visit

It was extremely fortuitous that I finished the last gallery and found myself free to venture out on a day with both wind and sun, so Brogborough Lake beckoned, and upon my arrival I learned that there was at least one sailor who would be taking advantage of those characteristics and be jumping!
In a trice once I learned of this snippet, I was at the boot of the car and extracting my tripod and placing the EOS R camera body camera and Sigma Sports 60-600mm lens together with the newly acquired 2x Converter. Not too long after, I was making my way with the assembled kit to the jetty. I soon  had it locked into the gaps between the aluminium planks, and was searching for the young lad with the red sail who was apparently the kid to watch out for who was a known jumper  –  I did not have long to wait. I missed the first jump he made in my presence, but I now had my marker, and more jumps followed.
There was a snag in my choice of platform as the waves breaking beneath me tended to make my position less than totally stable, so after a few shots, I removed myself to the solid ground alongside the jetty where my tripod was on firmer ground. I did still have another issue, it was difficult to move around the tripod legs when covering  close on 180 degrees of water ahead of me.
Thus I did miss some of the action when having to step over the legs whilst still keeping hold of the camera, I did alter the legs slightly to surmount this issue, and thus I was able to capture much of the action. By the time I had finished shooting, I had still amassed a large number of images that I would have to find myself in front of a computer screen preparing them for display on the blog. However, overall, I was fairly satisfied with the images I had captured, so it was time well-spent.

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Life in my Marston Moretaine Garden

It would seem my Buddliea took longer to arrive this year than in earlier seasons, and perhaps, it knew this was a strong likelihood, so delayed producing its bloom, because within days of flowering and attracting pollinators; bees and butterflies, the British Weather gave us an extended period of high winds, and to a lesser degree, rain.
I took advantage of the arrival of mainly a handful of butterflies, and to a lesser degree bees, to take my camera out with the Canon 70-200mm lens and the Sigma 2x Extender, and did my best to capture their efforts to feed on the rich nectar they sought. There were periods during which I had to patiently await a lull in the gusty wind that was battering my plum tree and Buddliea ferociously – I had already lost two dozen plums before they had ripened, and this number rose still higher, despite my earlier efforts to try to lessen the amount of movement the branches were accorded, by tying them to a large clay pottery flower pot.
The three Butterfly species I see most are the Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral and Cabbage White.The butterfly’s response to the wind was to lay their wings as flat as possible against the leaves to weather the gusts, then in the few lulls get back to  delving into the florets. From my point of view, I was trying to get the most possible use of the loaned 2x Converter to help me decide whether to make the purchase. I was certainly finding that overall the issue that gave me greatest concern was how efficient autofocus would be when using the Converter.
The heartening result overall, was with the EOS R, although I would still often have to obtain initial focus manually, once I was close, the camera took over and locked on with ease. By the end of the afternoon I was convinced, and contacted Sigma to send me the invoice, as there was no need for me to return it!
Although at first sight, there may seem numerous duplicates within the gallery, there are subtle differences, and I was trying to see just how well the focus was maintained, and considering the amount of movement I was involved in trying to keep track, the camera was definitely less troubled, and I was able to recompose the images easily in post processing, especially when I was particularly pleased with some of the shapes formed by the leaves that allowed me to create good compositions, What that meant was that invariably the overall crop whilst taking was not tight, despite the greater enlargement, the quality of the mirrorless body’s files was still excellent, which has been a real benefit.
Readers of this blog will have noted how I have had to adapt my way of shooting, especially when panning, to accommodate to some of the different characteristics involved between my dSLR bodies such as the 7D MkII and 5D MkIII. Canon remain tight-lipped over my suggestions, with this issue, but admit I am not alone in suggesting a modification to the way in which bursts are handled by this camera to lessen the impact of the lag between the image in the viewfinder when a panning sequence is shot. The expensive but obvious alteration would be to have two parallel processors; one for Viewing, one for Capture, my suggestion however was to mitigate the effect by discontinuous sampling of the signal reaching the Viewfinder, as in my humble opinion this could be achieved by a separate setting for panning operations. Time will tell. The technique involved would not be too dissimilar from image stabilisation, and could be linked to the difference in inertia involved in the camera’s motion.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

A Visit to RushBeds Woods

My daughter Lizzy suggested a new wood to visit which she had found nearby to her place of work, but though she knew its location was to the left, off her route, but not precisely where the entrance and Car Park were, so whilst she parked close by to a narrow lane leading across a railway line, I got out and walked to investigate. We had found a minuscule parking area, fortunately with a couple of available slots. I recrossed the bridge to signal her to come over. We had arrived, since there was a handy sign describing what might be expected within its bounds. 
Having parked up, I took the opportunity to take out the camera and lens I had chosen, which was the EOS R and the 70-200mm, which when mounted on the monopod gave me both a manageable weight and a reasonably stable base from which to operate, and the first two shots were of the map and information board, so that as we entered I had the means to navigate the area within easy reach.
From here, the exit from the parking area was a long straight path tunnelling its way inwards. After a shortish walk the two youngsters, my grandchildren, soon found a path on the right leading down to a small twisty pond, or possibly a brook, which to their delight had a makeshift bundle of branches that crossed the narrow stretch of water, but it looked none too stable, and anyway, the thought of jumping across was far more appealing and exciting! Josh was convinced this was well within his capabilities, and since it was Lizzy’s Car in which we were travelling, my chivalrous nature accepted that a slightly muddy-trousered child would no doubt be dry by the end of the afternoon, so did not offer any resistance, I was a tad more concerned for his younger sister, Tilly, but reckoned she was only going to feel encouraged should I offer any warning against her following suit!
Another attraction for this spot was the proximity to a pair of trees strong one enough to support a small hammock, which was another reason Lizzy was happy to spend some time here, as she just happened to have brought along a small surprise present in case the opportunity arose! It was as if the entire idea for the trip was to find a pair of trees in the woods which just happened to be this precise distance apart and room either side perpendicular to the line between them; seemingly it only suffered from one small but manageable flaw, a dead root stump that might prove painful if one fell on it! Out came the surprise, and a cursory glance at the instructions for its assembly.
Lizzy ascertained that either of us adults came within the advisory weight limit, so that meant not only could the children play but she could also just take the weight off her feet and observe two happy children from a distance, and in comfort.
Although this was our first visit, it was soon apparent, since it was on Lizzy’s doorstep, that this was a venue that would likely be visited frequently in the future. The only snag I saw might well be that the size of this Car Park might mean it could fill fairly swiftly, however, I did note there were others.
We spent a thoroughly relaxing time here, meeting on other family group who were like us on their first visit, I also chatted with another photographer who was way more knowledgable of the natural species hereabouts than myself, and he showed Tilly a well-camouflaged Shield bug, and after having had it pointed out we walked several yards away, and when she said she would go back and point it to Josh, the man said “She’ll never find it having walked so far away from it!” He had not counted upon Tilly; she went straight back and exclaimed to Josh this was it! The man was impressed!

At one stage we came to the end of a long avenue, and a wide open field; in the distant was what looked like a dead tree, which turned out to not be totally dead, and had three sizes of swing, which proved a magnet for both children, especially the two-seater. This was another spot we spent quite some time enjoying, before setting off in the direction of a gate on the other side, and which led to a different bridge across the railway, then a long trek along a moderately busy road to then cross over the railway bridge to our car park and the trip back to Quainton.

Monday, 12 August 2019

Brogborough Lake — Slightly Less High Wind

I missed out on the Gale Force winds at the Lake, but on the Sunday, it was less fierce so naturally attracted a range of different levels of windsurfer skills. It was interesting to not that André had come along with a commercial hydrofoil, and was finding it far easier to remain aloft, and with less effort than when using his own self-designed and manufactured model. I managed to discuss this with him, and since has more experience, he will revert to his own one to check out its handling relative to his new found knowledge, to assess how much his earlier difficulties related specifically to his design, or to his inexperience. I look forward to learning his thoughts on that.
When I arrived for this visit I did not immediately set up the camera, as I was keen to see whether there were to be some jumpers amongst those attending, and learned from Sam there was at least one possible contender. That slim possibility encouraged me to set up the Benbo tripod and attach the EOS R complete with the 2x Converter, which was one of the primary motives for my getting further experience of using this combination in a sporting situation. The issue is tracking a fast moving subject whilst retaining autofocus, and panning accurately when I know there is a lag involved in my viewfinder relative to the accurate tracking of the subject, especially when trying to keep that subject close to full-screen. What I have been doing is breaking the sequence into short, but linked exposures whilst panning, so any delay does not affect the overall capture too adversely.
There are two separate issues in relation to panning a moving subject, one is maintaining the subject in frame due to this lag, the second is tracking the autofocus point due to the lag; it is this overall aspect I am trying to understand due to the difference between mirrorless and DSLRs — the panning with the latter is comparatively easy to master, since every frame your eye sees is live and accurate, despite the interruption. With a mirrorless camera, every frame compounds the discrepancy so your eye is misled as this delay increases with the length of the action being covered. The obvious, but expensive option is a co-processor channel for the viewfinder, separated from that which is being recorded; in that way the delay remains constant rather than being compounded over the length of the sequence.
Since I am not in a position of having limitless funds available, such an option is likely to be out of my range, so I need to find a happy medium technique that lessens this effect. Another possibility does spring to my mind, and that is have a setting that feeds say, every third frame to the viewfinder to avoid the user having to keep removing pressure on the shutter release; this would have the effect of limiting the delay extending over an extended period. A point I think I need to discuss with Canon. This option would seem possible within the firmware and a means of selecting this option made available within the menu.
Having thought this through since making the jump to Canon’s full frame body, I have put this to Canon UK, but other than acknowledge that I am not the first to make this suggestion, no further feedback or discussion is possible, so perhaps other readers of this blog might also put this suggestion through to Canon, such that it is given due attention going forward. An implementation within the camera’s operating system, if viable, would certainly help the transition from dSLR to mirrorless which would seem in Canon’s best interest in the future.
End of thoughts on that side of the technology, enjoy the fruits of my labours of capturing those who were enjoying the wind and adding to their sailing skills on the water’s surface, or above it in the case of those venturing into hydrofoiling.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Another afternoon with the 2x Converter

Once again it was a time when I used the 2x Converter on the already long 60-600mm Sigma Sports lens, and found its performances to be excellent. For most of the time the lens was at its extreme length, but since for the greater part of the time the sun was out, so the ISO speed was not excessive, so Noise was not a major issue.
Initially the plan was to go to the nearest lake in the hope, I might get better shots of the resident Woodpecker, but it was not in residence, and nor were many other birds, in fact, I have never seen it so bereft of birds. The total tally from my observation, was a single Swan, and a lone Coot, and the trees were not alive with the sound of music of any species of bird. Even the Cormorants of which earlier there had been at least half a dozen had forsaken the Lake. Also, considering the surprising abundance of Buddliea bushes in full bloom, I counted only three butterflies having walked the complete perimeter of the lake, a couple of Dragonflies two bees, a wasp and just two small hoverflies. The absence of so much indigenous life seemed very surprising, especially since there were only two anglers, and no activity from powerful cars, normally the background sound emanating from the Millbrook Motor Testing Circuit.
I found that dispiriting, but the walk around the perimeter, with short forays towards the shoreline at the myriad Swims was good exercise and taken at a good pace. It was so quiet on arrival, that I had not even bothered to take a camera with me, and the only two possible candidates worthy of recording were a pair of dragonflies, who unpaired shortly after they arrived close by, and sadly had I attempted to take any shots, they would have been unexciting, since they were either on the planking of one of the jetties, or on the rather scrappy ground leading towards the water’s edge.
I had not even taken the camera out of the car, so I returned an headed northwards towards Harold-Odell Park, what I had not anticipated was just how hard that journey would become. I headed off in what should have been the most direct route, when unexpectedly I found myself being redirected, but after three aborted attempts, I simply decided to continue heading North until fortunately I reached a point at which I was allowed to cross the main road that was being resurfaced, and the workmen handily told me I would be able to return later via the same crossing point. As it turned out there was a way to avoid the blockage when I later made my return journey home.
Having parked in the lay-by outside the Park, I assembled the EOS R with the 60-600mm Sports lens and the additional 2x Converter, because I knew that unless I was lucky with birds that were close inshore, most of those I was interested in would either be on one of a couple of peninsular arms coming into the lake or be keeping their distance from the shore by remaining in the middle of the lake. My main interest was in seeking out the Grebe who called this home.
Quite early on, I spotted a pair of juveniles still with the remnants of the stripes they were born with, and they were enjoying each other’s company, as they zig-zagged their way up and down the middle of the lake. A while later I spied a much younger complete family with four young Grebelings where the father would head off in search of small fish to feed his youngsters while the mother kept her eye on her young foursome, at one stage the father would help a couple of his brood onto the mother’s back whilst he sought out their fish supper. The Grebe is one of my favourite aquatic birds because of their wonderful courtship routines, and their enchanting nurturing of their young. Their skill in fishing is also to be admired as they dive beneath the surface for freshwater crawfish on the bottom, or the small fish they catch and sometimes regurgitate fo their very young and  then the larger fish for their partner or themselves. They also keep themselves well-groomed.
Even though I kept the Converter attached the whole time during this visit, no shots of the birds came close to filling the frame, so I am really pleased with the quality I was able to achieve — I was stunned at how good the shots of the hovering Black-headed gull turned out considering how small they were in the frame, and considering how high the ISO was too. The EOS R body really makes the most of this Converter, and is surprisingly good at retaining focus with this Sigma Lens. I cannot praise enough this coupling of this EOS R body, lens and Converter. When you mount this on a firm tripod, such as this Benbo I use, the combination is a real joy to use, and when you see the results on screen later, it is just so rewarding.
Yes, I was disappointed not to be shooting the Woodpecker, but seeing the Grebe family behaviour was really a privilege to witness, and to capture it at such a distance means that the shackles on my wallet are loosening with outing I make, so shackles look to become shekels in the hands of Sigma.

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Further Test Using Sigma 60-600 with 2x Converter

I wanted to check out the main uses I might put the 2x Converter to in the situations I might encounter when using the EOS R and I find I need the extra throw. Could I benefit when using my 70-200 f/2.8 for example. Well, I answered that positively by handholding that lens and photographing butterflies on my Buddliea in the garden. It was challenging certainly, and I had to make a decision beforehand as to the distance from my subject if I was to use the autofocus and, butterflies tend to be pretty nippy and do not hang about for tardy photographers! The result was favourable, so next was using the 60-600mm and on a tripod; the subject this time was to be windsurfers on the nearby Brogborough Lake. I tried to capture a successful gybe whilst staying aloft, which was just about there on occasion.
On the first occasion I had been lucky to find one windsurfer on a hydrofoil board, and though my visit was brief that proved a success, so I paid a second visit with more than just a lone sailor, so that just left the planned trip to a different lake to attempt to get more shots of the resident woodpecker. Today was this second windsurfing lake, and I had three sailors on this occasion, and managed some images with two aloft in the same frame, which had been my aim.
One problem currently, certainly in my experience with the full-frame EOS R, is when panning, as the longer the sequence of images the harder it is to keep the subject where you want it in the frame, due to the lag, which increases over time. To maintain the subject in frame, I opted for taking my finger off the shutter after a short burst and the returning it and giving another burst. My reasoning being that I also use my dSLR 7D MkII and I find my panning with that camera is now second nature, and if I tried to second-guess how to pan using the Mirrorless and succeeded to master that, it would make returning to the 7D difficult to adjust, whereas a temporary lift and return to keep an updated image on screen would simply be a  new separate skill to acquire. I could be completely wrong here, but it seems to work well in practice. When Canon employ a separate processor for Saving and for Viewing, perhaps this issue will disappear!
This reminds me of another snippet, the view within the eyepiece is a movie, it is possible to design the image capture such that upon pressing the shutter the start point of the recording is not taken at time zero, but time minus a set period of time; put another way to record capture from the stream from the sensor from a point in time before you pressed the shutter! Apparently I am informed that there is a higher tax on movie cameras than still cameras, and were this feature adopted, it would prove to make still cameras prohibitively expensive. Taxmen!! This reminds me of when my father told me that the Taxman just sat on his backside and earned a fortune, to which I apparently replied perhaps I should become a Taxman — he looked very worried, and said: “Oh no! What have I done? Son, just forget I said that!”
My Maths skills would have precluded my ever achieving that ambition, which fortunately I never did give it serious consideration.