I am Rod Wynne-Powell, and this is my way to pass on snippets either of a technical nature, or related to what I am currently doing or hope to be doing in the near future.

A third-person description follows:
Professional photographer, Lightroom and Photoshop Workflow trainer, Consultant, digital image retoucher, author, and tech-editor for Martin Evening's many 'Photoshop for Photographers' books.

For over twenty years, Rod has had a client list of large and small companies, which reads like the ‘who’s who’ of the imaging, advertising and software industries. He has a background in Commercial/Industrial Photography, was Sales Manager for a leading London-based colour laboratory and has trained many digital photographers on a one-to-one basis, in the UK and Europe.
Still a pre-release tester for Adobe in the US, for Photoshop, he is also very much involved in the taking of a wide range of photographs, as can be seen in the galleries.

See his broad range of training and creative services, available NOW. Take advantage of them and ensure an unfair advantage over your competitors…

View any Gallery by Clicking the relevant TEXT Headline

Friday, 8 November 2019

Harrold-Odell Lake– Alive with Swans

Although it was a dull day, I decided to visit the park at Harold-Odell, to see what birds were on the lakes. It was certainly a good choice of venue, as there was a plethora of birds; the largest number of swans on a lake I had seen in a while, a Cygnet and numerous gulls. I spotted a Shoveller, some Pochard, male and female, Mallard ducks in a couple of family groups. I had my sturdy Benbo tripod, and had put the 2x Converter on the 60-600mm Sigma Sports on the EOS  R body. All the birds were congregated at this near end of the right hand lake, but if they were close to the shore, it was by the far bank. As I approached the near bank there was a noisy exodus of half a dozen gulls that spooked several of the ducks, which was a shame, but a man dressed in black and moving a large tripod with a long lens might just be considered a threat, I suppose.
It was definitely a good move to have the Converter in place because the only large birds were the swans, and even when at a distance they were never an issue, and they are definitely very capable of taking care of a feeble human! Obviously, it would have been very nice to have had some sunshine, and even better had my subjects come much closer, but it was good to come away from a computer screen and be outside taking pictures again, and the swans gave me some nice shots, and it was good to see the Shoveller and Pochard.
I feel revitalised once more, since I had not had a chance to get any shots of fireworks this time around, though there is a weekend coming along, so there is a possible chance still. I also wonder when there might be some wind and sun that beckons the windsurfers; I should not be greedy, but I was greeted by an early call from an erstwhile one-off client who is wanting some building progress shots, which came as a very welcome surprise, so we are meeting next week, so as the man who as he jumped from the Empire State Building was heard to say as he was passing the twelfth floor: “I’m not dead yet!”

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Ashridge Forest – Autumn Sunshine

My trip in sunshine to Ashridge to visit the Author of the ‘Photoshop for Photographers’ books meant that after delivering the last item, the images for a personal Ad at the end of the book, I took along my camera in the hope of capturing some of the surrounding scenery in the fickle sunshine and billowing clouds. I was rewarded by the mixture of colours that herald the onset of autumn, and the occasional light showers meant the obvious possibility of rainbows.
At every clearing that sported an area for the parking of cars, already had its measure of takers, and many of those could be seen unloading their cargo of dogs to give them some exercise in the woods and moorland. I soon found a spot which offered at least some photo opportunities, so grabbed the camera and locked the car to take a few shots.  The opportunity turned out to be limited, so I drove on a little further and was rewarded with better views within the woods, and figures in the landscape, and to round off, I managed to capture a rainbow. This trip was therapeutic as the last fortnight was devoted entirely to reading the entire output of the next tome, covering the several additional features of this powerful piece of software, that has been a mainstay of my career for both the taking of pictures and their manipulation in retouching and montage. I purposely spent the minimum of time with Martin as he still had some more work to do as the deadline was Friday; I was luckier, in that my task was now almost over, hence why I relished the chance to get out from a darkened room in front of a computer and be driving in the country, and with the bonus of possibly taking pictures.

Thursday, 31 October 2019

A Marsworth Reservoir Visit

I have been helping Author Martin Evening, tech-editing his latest edition in the series of ‘Photoshop for Photographers’ books, and unfortunately we have a far shorter lead time in which to have it ready to be supplied to the Printers. As we near the deadline, Martin is working hard to complete possibly the longest Chapter, and on this day, there were no more Chapters ready for me to read and check, so because I really needed a break, I took the opportunity to collect my EOS R camera and Sigma Sports 60-600mm lens, load the kit into the car, and head for Marsworth Reservoir.
Arriving at the Parking area on the main road, there was no sign of the Water Bailliff’s car, or any other angler’s in their Private Car Park, and I later learned he was up in London at the time. I set up my EOS R and the 60-600mm Sigma Sports lens which by default has the 1.4 Converter attached, which on this occasion I should have swapped for the 2x, as most of my subjects were well offshore this late afternoon. However, having crossed the road, and was halfway along the bank path by the hide, before I realised my lack of foresight.
I spotted one of my favourite aquatic birds, a young Grebe, and it proved to be an impressive angler, despite its catch being mainly toddlers, in the time I was watching this one bird, it was successful every other dive, and when it dived it was only submerged for no longer than my  count of ten each occasion. An observation I made was that on most times it made a catch, at one stage it would momentarily loose its prey and either drink or simply wash its catch before it tossed it down its gullet. It did not seem an arbitrary action, it was noticeably consistent, perhaps it was ascertaining that its food was both dead,band clean.
That youngster intrigued me so much that most of the first page of the Gallery is devoted to this one subject. The last two images on that page was my observation of a cross-species relationship between a Greylag and Canada Goose, the faithful Canada Goose stayed close the entire time I was watching — I had not spotted this behaviour in the past, so I was interested and must question my Avian Guru, Chris Gomersall, whether this is normal.
The narrow neck of the Marsworth Lake which for years has been a favoured spot for kingfishers due to its comparatively good access for long reconnaissance trips between the main lake and its source, has been deserted for this season, as every one of my trips to this spot this year has caught nary a sighting of this wonderful little bird, much to my personal disappointment. Initially, some early season gales felled a large tree, blocking this passage partially; but more recently, the situation has deteriorated further with even more fallen trees and bushes, leaving no clear flight path for these beautiful birds.

In their place is what now more closely resembles a small pond, which due to the resultant lack of water movement has acquired a surface covering of algae, and seemingly favoured now by maturing cygnets, who feature on the second gallery page as they very lazily moved around what has now become a pond. I cannot believe that this surface mat is truly beneficial for the new incumbents of this stretch of water, that also now lacks the amount of health-giving sunshine it once enjoyed. I used to meet several photographers in this small secluded area, and if any of them read this, it would be wonderful if we could get together to persuade the Canal and River Trust to provide the means for us to help them tidy this section of the lake to all our mutual benefit — the birds, the fish, a healthy flow to the water, and photographers. It is after all, to all our benefits.

Monday, 28 October 2019

Brogborough Lake - Scenic Therapy

Most of the last week has been very dull, and often raining or threatening to do so, but for most of the time it proved no real disadvantage as it gave me the opportunity to not suffer any frustration over being held indoors, since the time was gainfully used by my reading the Chapters of Martin Evening’s next book in the ‘Photoshop for Photographers’ series for which I have had the privilege of helping the Author with tech-editing since he wrote his very first edition.
There has been a very short lead time on this occasion, since Martin has been very busy on other projects, so started into the revisions well into the allotted time to bring it up to date, and Adobe have not been resting on their laurels, as they have been adding several new features, adding to the burden of revision.
As the sun finally shone, and I had caught up, I needed to get my fix of taking photos, so that I keep my eyes active and my shutter finger exercised adding to the experience of working with my EOS R. There was little time left in the day, so my choice of venue was the nearby lake at Brogborough, and with no wind, I knew there was little need of a long lens, so I chose the 90mm Tamron Macro f/2.8, and the Canon 85mm f/1.4, and was able to use both to advantage in the short time before the sunset over the far hills.
Soon after arriving I heard the unmistakable sound of a hang glider’s engine, quite close by, but almost immediately it flew lower and remained hidden for the next fifteen minutes, before reappearing as a mere speck in the distance. The only chance by then of capturing it was with my 60-600mm Tamron with its 2x Converter! And certainly not handheld, as were these images. The light upon my car as I returned tempted me to grab a shot of it, before leaving for home, after my welcome breather.

Monday, 14 October 2019

25th Anniversary Concert – Aylesbury Concert Band

My younger daughter plays saxophone in the Aylesbury Concert Band, and I do my level best to join her for several reasons, I love listening to live music, I obviously enjoy the opportunity to join my daughter and share a part of her life involved in Music, and naturally it affords me the chance to keep in touch with my family, oh, and perhaps I forgot to mention, I love taking the opportunity to indulge in picture taking.
On this occasion which marks the 25th Anniversary of the Band, which was held at Trinity Church in Walton Street,, Aylesbury, I must apologise that I would have loved to be more informative in the narrative for the event’s images, but in the interests of ensuring the gallery of images makes it to the Web on the Monday evening, I am afraid that the pictures will largely have to tell their own story. Certainly it was a celebration of some of the past Band members and leaders, though one apology was read out from one such who for family reasons was unable to make it.
Fortunately for me, two of my grandchildren were able to make it as were my ex-wife and her husband, who had the joy of looking after them, whilst their father stayed at home doing maintenance work on their house uninterrupted.
On occasions such as this, I become a one-man roadie, as well as photographer and family member, the latter being far from a chore, it keeps my creative juices flowing as taking pictures and maintaining my expertise is an essential part of keeping the ‘little grey cells’ active. It keeps my eye in, a prerequisite for anyone determined to stay fresh and attuned to the capture of the many moments that occur. One point in this series of images is that the opportunity arose when processing the images for the gallery, for me to render one image in monochrome simply because of the nature of the lighting. On another occasion, the highly articulate display from one of the Conductors caught my eye, and in a quiet moment my daughter likewise caught my eye with the slightest of smiles.
Listening and foot-tapping to music, coupled with the joys of recording meaningful but mysterious moments in the lives of others’ lives is one of the pleasures of being a photographer — I may never know what transpired in some of the moments I witness, such as what was taking place between two of the Conductors, but should they see the image I captured they might well have a wry smile! What circumstances arose that triggered some of the smiles I captured I may never learn, but for such moments, I saw and recorded a meaningful moment in someone else’ s life, and those moments were fleeting, but I felt I was privileged to have seen it without ever knowing its meaning. It reminds of a black and while film I saw as a youngster, with a title that has remained with me ever since — ‘I am a Camera’.
0n this occasion as I mentioned at the start, there is little in the way of a description of the event, the taking of these pictures is simply to keep my sanity in a world that seems to be falling apart at the seams but I keep constantly reminding myself there is beauty and good humour to be found, and all I can do is hope that sanity ultimately prevails. I also hope that my words and pictures give others pleasure, it is rewarding to know that the blog’s hits have never gone below 350 per week for at least the last year, so someone is showing some interest! Surely they are not all robots.
In case anyone is interested only one camera, the EOS R was used throughout, and three different lenses from 24m to 300mm

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Bumble Bee Rescue

This item has been delayed by a couple of days, but was an episode which I felt I did my bit for humanity.
It began by my spotting an almost comatose bumble bee by the locked front door; obviously it had been considering a way to reach the outside world, but had been thwarted by the lack of sustenance in the house. I have no idea how long it had been there, but certainly, long enough to try to conserve its energy, with a hope it might eventually be able to return to the wide open expanses to which it had been accustomed.
It was in luck, because I had its best interests at heart, I hastily went to the kitchen for a jam jar and some stiff card to construct an ambulance for its passage to the Outside World. Having transported it to the next stage of that passage, by placing it carefully on my front hedge in the carefully crafted emergency rescue plan of giving it an eventually higher platform for its flight, I returned to the kitchen to prepare some restorative medicine in the form of a dessert spoon with a teaspoon of sugar and a few drops of water.
However, the bee had not waited for me to complete my plans for its takeoff, it had simply decided terra firma was preferable, so I carefully placed the elixir alongside his weakened body, and hoped he would find his survival instinct would kick in and he would try to take a drought from my spoon. Initially, he lacked trust in this giant despite being wounded not at all by my transporting him back to his world, thus far. I moved the spoon and it’s life-giving elixir closer.
I forgot to mention that I had wasted no time in grabbing my EOS R, attaching the 24 to 70mm with its macro facility, before coming outside to record my hopefully successful rescue this vital member of our joint ecosystem deserved.
So, though the full story of its initial start on the road to recovery had been the top of the hedge, at least my arrival to witness his new start point was early enough to show his lethargy, despite my ministrations with the sugar solution offering, it still distrusted my motives, until presumably it sniffed the recognisable aroma of the sugar, and decided I was not as evil as it had previously presumed.

Soon I could see that it had begun to suck up this welcome nectar, but it tarried very briefly before moving away and for the first time since my rescue attempt had started, it unfurled its wings and gave a slight burst, which for me was heartwarming, and a few moments later I was thrilled to see it take to the air, no last circuit to say thank you, just off into the distance, thankful to be back in its own territory — airborne once more.

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Tringford Reservoir — Between Two Downpours!

I took a look at my nearest lake to see whether it’s birds had returned, but was disappointed; there was not a single bird on the lake that I could see as I scanned the entire far shores I could see from the junction of the two possible directions. Also, there were not too many anglers either.
I had a brief chat with one, to elicit what natural activity he had observed, but came to the same conclusion. So my destination was to be the more distant one — the Lake at Tringford, where I would be able to discuss motor racing with its Water Bailiff, Bob.
I took a non-motorway route to drive down to avoid any possible delays, and found just one lone angler whom I had not met before and learned Bob would be a while, so after a while I headed back to the car and set up my camera with my long lens on the Benbo, to see what I could capture, as I had spotted a couple of young Grebe reasonably close, but despite my not being too slow, they had decided I was a possible threat and put a good distance between us, and never came any closer for my entire time there. I also got shots of some young cygnets, and a gull.
I took some shots, but was soon overtaken by the forecast heavy rain, and retired with assembled camera, tripod and long lens to the refuge of my car. There followed quite a battering of heavy rain upon my roof which lasted probably fifteen minutes before subsiding. I got out of my now steamed up car, and there now followed light drizzle for respite, before a second onslaught which though heavier, lasted less long and final stopped completely, allowing me to continue shooting. The angler meantime had decided to come ashore to avoid any possibility of a lightning strike, and we had a further chat, and he mentioned he had let Bob know I was at the lake.
Although I did get my fix of a few photos, it was not destined to be particularly interesting, so it was not long before I was once again on the road, and since there was only a minimal delay on the M1, that was the. route I took to return to create the small single page entry on the blog. The images were completed by the early afternoon of the following day, and the narrative finished after a scheduled visit to the local Hair Salon, which was undoubtedly overdue!

Sunday, 29 September 2019

A Short and Late Lake Visit

Upon my arrival, I did not realise that though it was still early afternoon, I was already late, since almost everyone had come in the morning and my hope of action was doomed as many of the sailors I would have found adventurous had now come ashore. 
I did set up my camera and was using the 60-600mm with the 2x Converter on the EOS R body, mounted on the Benbo tripod, and the head I had on was the Acrotech Long Lens Head, which was the most suitable to try to maintain the horizon level, yet be able to pan smoothly and allow some movement vertically. However, the best uninterrupted viewing position was on the landing stage which is not the stablest of platforms when there is a good wind blowing, but does offer the widest uninterrupted view.
There was a youngster being helped by his father upon my arrival, and after some help, the young lad was soon aloft, and so these were my opening shots, and it was apparent that he had some prior experience despite some early hesitation.
This particular visit was not my most productive, but it is helpful to me to establish which items of kit work best when I use the EOS R, so that everything becomes second nature. In speaking to Barry Rivett, I learned he had been wondering about using a mirrorless body, so with everything locked on the camera, I went over to where he was chatting with another windsurfer, and suggested that he might like to take a look through the lens, to see what it was like, and as I answered some of his questions, I think it helped to help him make up his mind about whether to consider a similar investment.
The shots I took on this occasion were at least a record, and from a personal perspective were useful, but were definitely not overly exciting, but served a purpose, and I did get an opportunity to strike up a few interesting conversations with others, some unrelated to sports photography, and one interesting exchange on the political situation in relation to Brexit, and possible ramifications.

Friday, 27 September 2019

A Windy Thursday at Brogborough & a Digression

It was initially my intention to use a sturdier tripod to take a shot of an ex-Country House, now exclusive residential flats. They are 2.66 kilometres from where I was standing when I first took a shot of the building a few evenings back.
But since wind is a prerequisite for exciting windsurfing images, I dropped into the Brogborough Windsurfing Car Park first, and found that although there were a couple of sailors out on the water, they seemed to be making the most of the wind to travel the length of the lake and gybe, whereas I had been hoping for the more invigorating and exciting; jumping.
I stayed awhile in case I was wrong, and had a brief chat with Sam, before considering revisiting the location on the outskirts of Stewartby from which I had earlier taken shots of this distant building, which nestles beneath trees that form the boundary of Ampthill Park.
My interest in this building is akin to HMS Belfast, which used to be a longterm Lens Test subject for Amateur Photographer, well-known to ‘Smudgers’ of a certain age (‘Smudgers’ being a term once used to describe early photographers).
         I wanted to check out just how good a distant detail could be when using the Sigma Sports lens with their 2x Converter. Although, I did take some images with greater detail, the wind and much lower light value proved to be the limiting factor! I did manage to get a few shots, but sadly the cloud cover meant there were not the crisp shadows of my earlier shots. But I did my best to limit the camera movement by using a shutter release cable. The long lens and lens hood were almost as efficient as a Windsurfer’s sail, as it seemed to be blowing a gale here!

This is the detail of the front door!

And this is the full uncropped frame from which it was taken:

           That you can recognise individual bricks which were over two and a half kilometres away, is remarkable!  This distance I have since verified from Google Earth!
Having taken these shots, I returned to Brogborough, and now there were a few more Windsurfers on the Lake. I saved myself some time by only removing the camera and lens from the tripod, so that on arrival, I took out a far more robust tripod, and was soon capturing shots with far more action, where a certain amount of blur only adds to the images.
One set of images, which is of Phil Ashton is a sequence from Frame 71 to 77, really impressed me – had I stopped after a couple of frames I would have missed the very successful continuation of the move, because, at first glance it looked unrecoverable, but his skill became apparent from the outcome! That sequence really made my day, In an earlier posting, I had not known his name, but have since put that right, as it definitely deserved a mention.
         This was not one of my lengthier visits, but provided me with some interesting images, and I worked out a far better assembly of tripod and head for the future, so the time was well spent.

        I stayed just long enough to know that there were to be no more Jumps for me to capture and I headed back to sort through the images and prepare this entry, having had a worthwhile day's shooting.

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.