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, 17 July 2019

Marston Lake Afternoon Visit— Mainly Dragonflies

This trip was made for yet more checking into how to get more out of using the mirrorless bodied EOS R with a long lens and fast-moving insects, in this instance Dragonflies and Damselfies. I have yet to use Sigma’s USB Dock to set up targeted focus zones to facilitate minimising focus travel into some presets — to do that I need to know precisely the distances that would prove beneficial, so I need to decide that from more usage. Another aspect is how to set up the focus point within the frame; it is all too easy to knock it off to an edge. Typically, if I set it using the playback screen and placing it with a finger, my nose can accidentally disturb that setting!
Also, since my time was limited, I opted for using a monopod, rather than a tripod, to give me the facility to move quickly as the sun moved around, and that at least did work acceptably, though it was tiring with such a weighty lens as the 60-600mm as well as the 1.4x Converter. Incidentally, using this is really a boon due to the extra range of this lens, especially when the subjects are small — it would be very limiting had I tried leaving the extender permanently on the 150-600mm I used to have. That 60mm end makes using the extender far more valuable.
I put the Acrotech Long Lens Tripod Head atop my Manfrotto Monopod to give me as stable a platform as I could to use the monopod, and that was a really good move as it made it fairly easy to adjust the balance of such a long lens on such a light support. Also using the higher ISOs with this mirrorless full-frame body meant that the freedom I chose was not disadvantaged by excessive Noise. To hammer that point home — the tightly cropped (2451 x 1634px) image _N3A3042 was shot at 10,000° ISO with an exposure of 1/1000sec at f/10 with +1.3 EV compensation — that just blew me away! So far, I do consider myself a total novice in relation to mirrorless camera bodies, but this is proof that I should persevere.
Two of my esteemed colleagues moved to mirrorless way before me, and I have some catching up to do, and I admit is hard to lose shots in the interim that I knew I would have got using either of my DSLRs, I will persevere because shots of this quality simply were not possible using those bodies. So ‘onwards and upwards’!
10,000° ISO, yet with manageable noise levels seems unreal! (Oh, by the way, that shot is of a pair of Water Boatmen).
I did learn another useful and not totally unrelated snippet following these fast  and adept masters of powered flight, ‘Don’t try to follow them at the longest focal length, give myself a chance by coming down, so I have more to learn in the new world of mirrorless! I also tried chancing my arm at manually presetting a distance, but since I practised that at the end of my short stint, and the sunlight had gone behind clouds, so that had little chance of success, but I will not be defeated! And the time was therapeutic — I had had frustration with the computer, and needed to get away!

Monday, 15 July 2019

Aylesbury Concert Band Plays at Fairford Leys

A seriously warm day as Fairford Leys celebrates its Summer Fair with the Band to play from the Bandstand in the Centre of the complex. This was an occasion where I was able to use the EOS R with just the one lens, in this case the 24-70mm Canon lens. A mark of just how good the EOS R is can be seen by the shots towards the end where my son-in-law and young grandchildren were tiny fractions of the full frame on the Ferris Wheel whilst using this same lens — well-cropped! The other point worth a mention was the high ISO speed used, yet displaying little evidence due to that tight crop.
One of the beauties of this venue is that since there is always an abundance of activities for the visitors and a central location, not only can I listen to and enjoy the music, I can move all around the Bandstand to capture the musicians and Conductor performing, without disturbing the experience for the audience.
The Concert is in two parts, so I also get to spend some time with my young grandchildren. There is also no need for long lenses as is often the case with all the normal venues that I cover with my daughter who plays Saxophone in the Band.
I still consider myself a complete novice in the handling of this mirrorless body, there are several occasions when I simply do not perform as smoothly and instinctively as I do with my dSLRs; the 5D MkIII and 7D MkII, but with each time out, many of the techniques I use with this camera become smoother and with increasing confidence, but whereas with the dSLRs failed shots are infrequent, the Success Numbers with the Mirrorless are interspersed with either failure due to the focus point  moving to the edge of screen, or my failure when panning to be able to follow due to delays in the screen image displayed related to actuality.
Having completed the preparation of the gallery, I can say that the quality of the Concert images is good technically, only you, the viewer can decide whether emotionally the images carry the same message as the music the Band were playing, which I was enjoying. I certainly was as always, I hope that I convey the spirit of what is being played, and provide the Band with images that promote the concerts into the future. After I had made a concerted (pardon the pun!) effort to include the banners strategically, I learned that the Band is changing its Identity, so that was bad timing on my part.

I am now having problems reaching my blog to get these images online, so hopefully, this will be resolved shortly.

Friday, 12 July 2019

Another Lake Visit — Weston Turville

The lake is a reasonable distance away, but I took a chance on driving over since it is fairly wide, meaning some birds tend to be a distance from the shore. I therefore immediately put on the 1.4 Converter to give me a better chance. It never came off because, as anticipated the subjects of my greater interest all kept their distance! This was a day for the EOS R, and the 60-600mm Sigma Sports. One immediate proof of this came when I moved location, and from the raised walkway I spotted a young Coot alone, out of the water, wandering close to one of the small fishing piers. Here, despite the 1.4 Converter I was able to use the close focussing distance offered by this superb Sigma optic — The earlier 150-600mm version I once owned, had it had on, the Converter I simply would not have been able to capture the shot! So, Sigma, thank you, thank you.
The long lay-by where I was parked had scarce few cars, so the visitors were limited, and many were young mothers and their children, and a couple of healthy joggers, but on two separate occasions I met up with fellow photographers, two Nikon devotees who I had spotted across the water, who had equally clocked me, and with whom we shared ‘chimped’ images (I did not ascertain that snippet from afar, but later when they arrived at the same jetty!) l later met a husband and wife photo team and chatted about our shared interest in image-taking. So it was both a productive shooting experience as well as being social.
Although I was using the Sirui gimbal head, I think on this occasion I should have used the lighter Acrotech Long Lens head. I tried some short bursts late in the day of some peculiarly aggressive behaviour between two Grebe.
Two Swans had a family of seven Cygnets, and they literally came towards me with total equanimity, however their behaviour towards a larger group of Coots was far more threatening; making deliberately aggressive lunges towards them to keep them away, which I found unusual since the gap in the reeds by the small jetty had been occupied by the Coots!
The gulls spent much of their time swooping in and skimming the surface for fish, but not once did I see a successful outcome. A Heron which had been stationed for some time on a distant buoy, took off and lazily flew low along the distant reeds, before diving left into an inlet and disappearing from view. Later, the lone Grebe came up at the end of a series of dives with a substantial fish for its efforts, making short shrift of downing it within mere seconds. After a chat with the married couple, I was about to pack everything away when I spotted an oddly aggressive chase between the Grebe and a second one but cannot be sure which one had been the successful one  I had just been shooting.
I closed the tripod legs and followed my companions out to the car; packed everything away, grabbed a welcome cold drought from my flask, and headed homeward.

Monday, 8 July 2019

Goodwood Festival of Speed 2019

I have been visiting Goodwood in Sussex to enjoy the Festival of Speed for several years now, and the event has grown larger with the years, but this year it seems larger than ever, and has changed even more, driven by its popularity. The two car and bike events attract more than just those motorsports enthusiasts, but have been wonderfully conceived as family events, and most noticeably the atmosphere is relaxed with few restrictions. It would appear that over the years this area has been blessed by an abundance of good weather compared to Silverstone and Brands Hatch, two motor race venues I have frequented over the years when serving as a Marshal with the BRSCC — as Assistant Chief Pits for nearly thirty years.

It has been very much a family event for me, though when the children were young I tended to take along Clients from my days as Sales Manager of a Retouching Lab, which is the way I first met the Duke of Richmond and Gordon as Charles Settrington, a top class and highly creative Advertising photographer, as the Retouchers I worked with, executed the retouching he briefed for his clients such as Osborne and Little. The Installations fronting Goodwood House are by Gerry Judah, a longtime colleague of his from those photography days.

I think this Saturday was the hottest of all my visits here, and what has been the hallmark of every event here has been the noticeably relaxed atmosphere that prevails. In the most crowded places, the goodwill of all present pervades. One year at a previous Festival of Speed was how when I spotted a stationary truck with a viewing possibility stationed strategically with a view from the Moulcomb corner to the Flint Wall, my daughter cheekily asked whether I might be allowed to take photos from there and, as he answered, he took my camera bag from my shoulder and told me where to climb aboard, and said he’d hand it up to me! This has been an ever-present willingness to help visitors enjoy the events to the utmost. Another such occasion, I commented on a printed notice on a vehicle high up the hill, saying, I paraphrase: “If you need anything, just ask and I will do my utmost to help — just ask”. I got chatting to the driver and in the course of conversation I mentioned that I had stayed at the House in one of the circular towers, and mentioned it’s decor, and he replied, telling me he it was called The Toile room, and that Lady March had chosen the curtains and needed matching wallpaper, but none existed, so the same fabric was duly mounted on metre-wide backing so the match was made! And he it was was who had the task to hang it! He offered to drive me even higher up the hill for the view, where we watched aircraft leaving from above! He later drove me back down to the House, shortening my return to the car.
The single word epitomising a visit to Goodwood is ‘Welcoming’ — I cannot recommend strongly enough just how relaxed anyone can feel in the vastness of this place. I took fewer photographs than ever, yet the variety is still present. Thank you to everyone who make these such enjoyable days. Let the pictures tell their own story of what I saw.
Sent from my iPad

Friday, 5 July 2019

Further EOS R Testing

 
I keep taking every opportunity to test how best to set up the EOS R for the various scenarios I encounter, and on this afternoon, it was general handling, and using my go to general lens, the 24-70mm with its macro facility.
The main road that my house borders on one side in Marston Moretaine provides numerous front gardens with at this time of year in bright sunshine provides full use of this lens. The first was a hedge of Heather, that the local bees love, and there were opportunities a-plenty to get attractive compositions of flowers, that could one day become backgrounds for shots that I can use to carry greetings messages to family and friends.
The bees on this occasion were not very compliant, staying only brief nanoseconds on any one flower, making grabbing a meaningful image composition almost impossible, and surprisingly on this visit numbers were down compared to an afternoon earlier in the week when the numbers were far higher. This time I spotted possibly half a dozen individuals, earlier there had been literally scores, which was what had prompted me to find time to take a camera out to capture this lavender bonanza.
I did visit a few more gardens bordering the main road, but ended by shooting a beautifully renovated house front which in the sunshine cried out to be recorded.
This coming weekend will provide the opportunity to check out fast moving subjects, and for this, I also checked out a lighter long lens, the Tamron 160-600mm, which I am hoping to use in earnest when coupled to the EOS R.

Friday, 28 June 2019

Sunshine! Marston Lake — Alive!

It was great to get another day to check out just what kit works best in a typical situation. I was assessing the use of the gimbal versus the Long Lens Head. Both require a leveller to avoid adjusting individual Benbo tripod legs. It is always better to be taking shots that are meaningful rather than just a theoretical test, hence my delight in good light after a dull week.
I have used a Manfrotto leveller, but it was never really smooth, whereas using the Acrotech version that I have recently purchased from Bob Rigby proves to be both lighter and far better, allowing me to adjust the tension separate from locking it fully, and this becomes obvious instantly by the tensioner being far smaller, so once set it can be ignored.
I drove to the opposite side of the lake to a swim fortunately not occupied by an Angler, to a spot where there are both reeds and two beds of lilies frequented by both damselflies and Dragonflies, with only the damselflies on the lily pads, whereas both landed on reeds. I set two of the tripod legs in the water.
Sunlight not only provides better lighting, but meant there was more birdsong to be heard, and the Swans were on the lake, but still no sign of the Grebe, but the departure of the Cormorants was welcome. There were sounds of cars circling the nearby Millbrook Testing Ground, but this was only sporadic on this afternoon.
I captured some odd behaviour of a male damselfly which was almost like fitting, in that it would arch its body then go rigid and straight, then double up again. There were a few coupled damselflies being mobbed by presumably jealous males, and similar activities amongst dragonflies where females were being chased in flight, mostly, though not exclusively by single males.
The dragonflies also landed in the shoreline bushes and even the ground for their rest, whereas the damselflies were most abundant amongst sunlit rushes. The banks slope steeply from the shore, but at this spot in sunshine the vegetation underwater was clearly visible beneath the surface, which added interest to some of the backgrounds beyond the lilies.
I managed to get a good shot of a dragonfly in flight which is always a challenge, especially when, as it was on this occasion, quite breezy. On several occasions I spotted a dragonfly land on a reed only for it to dip crazily due to its weight, or be suddenly tossed around in a sudden gust.
There were two distinct species of Dragonfly; gold-bodied and dusty blue, and the pair of swans were very independent on this visit to the lake, and one did come over towards my position to check me out.
Although most of my time was spent at two swims either side of the lilies I did go to two further ones beyond where my car was parked when activity slowed by the lilies as the sun cast its shadow over them. altogether a very satisfactory couple of hours spent lakeside, in the brightest day for some days.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Testing — Tripod Head + Lens Combo

I have spent time of late rationalising kit for differing weight limits imposed by how much weight I can carry over a distance yet maintain the highest quality practically. I know that optimally if the lens throw and versatility is essential then I use the Sigma Sports 60-600mm, and almost invariably I can use it with the 1.4x Converter permanently attached. The ideal solid tripod support is the Benbo, as it is fairly straightforward to set up, and one major advantage lies with its ability to have the legs in water if need be. Also even with the central column extended, it is remarkably stable.
Another aspect that requires some thought is how the camera and lens is connected to the tripod. I can use a gimbal head with a leveller which provides a safely balanced head, but when the lens focal length is changed from long to wide frequently, it can lose its advantage, whereas when the Acratech Long lenshead is used with its overall balance set centrally, the only precaution needed is to lock it speedily when not actually using it. The gimbal’s advantage is safety, and overall balance, but it is much heavier than the long lens head. So, on this occasion I was verifying that the Long Lens head was critical where weight was the consideration.
The tripod was fairly lightweight with a good leg spread, so quick to set up. I do have a Silk Road Carbon Fibre Tripod, but its first setting is too tight for safety, so it is unsafe in speedy use, because the legs need to be unclicked to go to the second setting for each leg.
I also have a Gitzo tripod, but it is even heavier than the Benbo, so that is really for inside use only. I retained my Tamron 150-600mm lens, and now that I have had its internal firmware updated it really scores when Long throw is more essential than ultimate range, as it is far lighter than its Sigma equivalent, and the quality is still very good.
I feel most would find it hard to accept that all the shots using the EOS R body from wide angle and close-up, to distant building shots, were taken using the 60-600mm with the 1.5x Converter throughout. The EOS 5D MkII shots that are prefixed _56A were shot using theTamron 90mm and are the only images that have not been taken by the Sigma and 1.4x Converter. My recent windsurfer images were all taken using the 60-600mm with the Converter, which now remains almost permanently attached. It is a testament to just how well Sigma have produced their lenses.

Monday, 24 June 2019

Windless Brogborough Sunny Afternoon

Sunny afternoons with little wind gives Brogborough Lake a different feel, for some it offers relaxation on a paddle board for their dogs, for others to watch their partners on the water trying to make the most from what little wind was on offer, but for a few to try their hand with foiling boards — two such were experienced windsurfers new to this extension to their kit who were joining Sam Barnes to explore this latest addition to their windsurfing boards.
It was this group that held my interest on this occasion, Richard and Geoff were taking the opportunity to explore this new addition to their sport, and I wanted to capture their exploration of this kit as they learned the nuances of this feature. It was not without its mishaps, but that was not my motivation, I wanted to capture their early successes as they added to their experience. The nature of the surrounding hills and trees meant that the best wind tended to be quite far from the main shoreline and jetty were, and this was handy for me to get the best out of my EOS R camera body with its Sigma 60-600mm Sports lens and its 1.4 x Converter.
In addition, I was also using a different head on my Benbo tripod; the Acratech Long Lens Head and Leveller, in place of my gimbal head, I have been assessing different options of kit, for when I need to keep weight down, and this was the second time I had checked this option out, but since I have no distance to travel the weight saving is insignificant and the gimbal head is probably better.
The combination of the Sigma Sports lens and 1.4x Converter with the EOS R is a really good mix for this type of work, because the camera body allows for excellent quality at high ISO speeds often necessary due to the light levels encountered, and the quality and range of this lens and body is superb.
I hope these results please the subjects of this day’s galleries, as I feel some have captured the essence of what they were experiencing.

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Tring Reservoirs — Life Abounds

My initial intent was to visit just one of the four Tring Reservoir Lakes, but upon arrival in the area, I ended up by visiting every one of the four lakes in search of subjects to photograph. This was made possible by my not selecting the heaviest and stable of the tripods, and using my newly acquired long lens Acrotech head to support the Canon EOS R with the 60-600mm Sigma Sports lens with the Sigma 1.4 Converter. The versatility of the camera and lenses is shown, by my taking close-ups of tiny bugs, birds in flight, young aquatic chicks and landscape shots of the Canal and lock activity. Making no changes of equipment throughout.
Before the advent of digital imaging, to contemplate the range of such subjects and at the quality of the results would have involved definitely more than a single lens, and proved tricky at the least. It is also quite a relief, when I consider the kit that I carried in my early days as a photographer in the Sixties — the kit alone when I started for location work never proved less than three separate items, a tripod, a camera bag or box, and frequently a case of double dark slides. And the majority of the work was in black and white, and after the shooting, I would be in a Darkroom, processing the negatives, then later, back in a different darkroom making prints. At least when printing that was under low light, orange or yellow!
Nevertheless, the thrill of the challenges of taking pictures has never dimmed, the equipment for my most challenging work is still heavy, because much of the subjects that I love to take photographs of involves long lenses. I still cover motor racing, which now tends to be at Goodwood, I live close by lakes that host powerboat racing, and windsurfing, and every so often my kit is way lighter, when I photograph flowers, leaves and insects such as butterflies, hoverflies and bees. My daughters both have artistic skills I simply cannot emulate, but replace a brush with a camera, I can try to get close. I do however enjoy retouching, where the tools allow me to attempt artistic challenges.
I do love to capture beauty, and I find it in all the many subjects I point my lenses towards. This particular afternoon was not the most inspiring of days, but I enjoyed the recording of what I saw. The wren, the scrawny young of the Coot, the bug on the Poppy, the heron in flight, and the chicks of the Mallards, the behaviour of the magpies, and the serenity of the Grebe, all made for an afternoon of pleasure.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Visit to a Stewartby Field Path

Using an OS Map of the Stewartby area, I located a field on the outskirts of Stewartby, just beyond the Railway bridge along the road leading to the Ampthill Road, that appeared to show a series of lakes. There was a lay-by opposite the entrance, so initially I parked the car and decided to investigate on foot without any cameras. The field was full of wild flowers, and though there was an information board to the left of a navigable strip, it was barely accessible without a scythe!
I took the easy route and the path widened to  the left of a hawthorn hedge, with several newly planted trees, with a bank on the left that overlooked a stand of reeds, and I suspect that beyond were the series of small lakes that were designated on the map, though I could see no sign of water. Unencumbered with photographic gear, I strode along till I reached a bridge over a brook that led into the adjacent field; I did investigate this, but it held no interest and continued along the field margin to the left for a distance to check it out, then returned the way I had come.
On my return trip I spotted a small trio of rabbits, but they promptly disappeared back into the thicket as I approached, so I took note of the spot for my return later with a camera. I decided it was definitely worth setting up the camera, so collected EOS R with the 60-600mm Sigma and 1.4x Converter and mounted it on my medium heavy tripod with the Acratech Long lens head and leveller which I could heft without too much strain. Access was very muddy, so I lifted the tripod over the gate and stood it on the solid concrete beyond then navigated to path avoiding the worst of the mud more easily unencumbered, then collected it once beyond and continued along the path. It was very muggy and when I stopped to capture some of the bees at work, I had to keep wiping my steamed-up glasses. I made my way slowly to the corner spot where earlier I had spied the rabbits, and did not have too long a wait before one broke cover gingerly, I waited patiently and was eventually rewarded by the appearance of two more. After a few shots from that spot, I moved a few steps closer over about fifteen minutes, before they decided I had come too close, and they took cover.
After that I took a few more shots before departing, I managed to get a shot of a butterfly and some bees, but I will return when the sun is out, and I will investigate the reeds to see whether there is water beyond, but in more suitable footwear.

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Marston Moretaine — Life in the Hedges

Every day people stroll, run or cycle along roads with rarely a glance to the right or left, often in worlds of their own, with scant regard for the small creatures that abound in the hedges, along the low walls, or in the grass alongside the pavements. Yes, many will admire some of the brightly coloured flowers, or the neatly trimmed lawns, but when cars or bikes are passing, there are often sounds to be heard; obviously birdsong, but at lower levels there can be the gentle hum of bees. Even without those sounds, there is activity a-plenty.
I had spotted the bees, as I walked to the Post Office and back, so I broke off from what I had planned and took out a camera and over two short sorties with two different lenses set out to capture what was there in just a short stretch of the main road.
There were bees, tiny moths, a ladybird, spiders, one minuscule pale insect I had never seen, hoverflies — some were too agile and shy for me to capture.   We rely on many yet give them barely a passing thought but, when you look closer at some, you would see that many of these creatures have bodies of incredible complexity, and possess skills we can only dream of possessing. I can highly recommend stopping by a hedgerow in the early evening of a warm summer day when you see a hoverfly, and just watch their flying skills, as they lift off from a leaf perform darting swoops, the stop, hover a moment, often swing through ninety degrees at the same spot, then climb vertically, and stop again. I have found that in areas of mixed light and shade, they will often hover in the sunlit spot, then get mobbed by other hoverflies who then take over the same point in space.
On this occasion it was too early for that behaviour, and one hoverfly simply relaxed, preened itself with its long legs, then poohed! The tiny moth I spotted was barely two millimetres in diameter, and way too energetic for me to capture. And the ladybird simply burrowed deeper in the hedge, and never reappeared. Gerald Durrell, author of ‘My Family and Other Animals’ had far more exotic ‘mini-beasts’ on Corfu, but English hedgerows are far from bereft of tiny insects that are interesting to study. I would highly recommend some words from WH Davies — ‘What is this Life, if full of Care, we ne’er have Time to Stop and Stare’. A day or so back I took some shots of water boatmen — these are tiny creatures that can be found on streams and lakes, who can walk on water, and they skip along the surface with incredible agility.

When I photograph flowers, I very often try to capture insects that either pollinate those flowers or search for smaller prey who feed therein. There is a world of life within a hedge, and I gain much personal satisfaction in taking photos of this world; it is endlessly fascinating, and highly therapeutic.

Friday, 14 June 2019

Marston Lake Visit — Fleeting Sunshine — Using a Different Head

Having given the car a long drive to ensure the new battery was fully charged, and with the first rays of sunshine for several days, I gathered a slightly different set items to use on this visit to the nearby lake. I had bought a long lens Acratech head and levelling plate in place of the gimbal to see how it would perform. I knew that I would have to be careful to always lock its movement, when letting go of my hold, but I am trying to keep the weight of my kit down, and this was the latest trial I was making.
I certainly found that it was smooth in operation, and it was easy enough to lock it before removing my grip on the camera and lens, and loosen it when back to using it again, but clouds rolling in to cover the sun would immediately ground all my flying subjects, so I did spend quite a lot of time locking and unlocking! My subjects needed the sun for energy so this was inevitable, but it did mean I was gaining the experience of locking and unlocking!

Because I was once again using the Sigma 60-600mm with the 1.4 Converter, I was also stopping down further to keep a good depth of field, which did mean that I, like my subjects needed the sunshine. On this occasion, I also got some shots of a few Water Boatmen as they nipped around on the surface. Altogether, it was a useful exercise for me, with a few shots of interest, and useful experience.

Friday, 7 June 2019

Marston Lake Visit — Lily Pad Insect Life

Flying insects such as Damselflies and Dragonflies have the power to intrigue, when you stop to watch their behaviour, the warmth of the sun gives them the power to stay on the wing for some time, and when that empowering sun is removed by the coverage of clouds, it is a signal for Flight Control to say: “Land as soon as possible, and head for cover!” For those insects still flying or landing the sad thing is that even though they might be interesting or rare, that sunlight they shun makes it harder to capture them photographically, and yesterday intermittent cloud cover was abundant, as were the denizens of the lily pads that were the backdrop when the light was good, but invariably the floating pads lost their attraction both to the flying insects and myself!
I persevered, hoping that I might capture either species in flight, and whereas the the damselflies would hover long enough for me to obtain focus, not so the dragonflies! They had far more energy, and were able to sap mine attempting to keep them in frame, or frame them in the first instance. I was hoping there might be some degree of repetitive behaviour, but their only repetitive behaviour was to fly erratically, and at high speed!
It did not stop me from trying, and ‘trying’ was definitely a good description of how I described the frustration! I spotted a behaviour that I found slightly disturbing; one pair of coupled damselflies either accidentally or deliberately seemed to drown his female partner whilst they were on a closed lily bud — their combined weight slowly pushed her beneath the surface, but he made no attempt to select a new spot above the water. I did not see the end result, but he seemed to make no attempt to rise higher for at least three minutes that I observed.

I have no doubt that as more buds open, I will pay another visit to this spot, and hope that I might capture shots of dragonflies on the wing. Ironically, the very first outing with my 300mm prime lens, I was close by an island of reeds, and could wait, as it flew circuits around it, for it to come back into view, and click. But here, there was no such opportunity, so all my dragonfly images are static (within reason — as there was quite a breeze, meaning the reeds were often swaying — the one they were on, or others where the reeds between them and myself would obscure them).

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Canal and Reservoir, by Tring – All Life Abounds

      I have visited these lakes over several years, and in all weathers, and they never disappoint — the most recent is no different, though the start point and the route were different. The start was at the Wendover Arm, which beyond its present end, is being restored, and the reason, I investigated this short stretch was on the off chance I might encounter kingfishers, but I was destined to be disappointed, none of those I encountered and questioned had seen any along this short stretch. 
I returned to my startpoint, and took the opposing direction, which I knew would bring me to where the canal would link with the familiar stretch that skirted the narrow neck of Marsworth Reservoir. Before that point however, I paused a while to watch a young bird head across the canal to forage food along a narrow ridge on the Heygates Mill side, and whilst that crossing was made I spotted a Grey Wagtail flit from the cover of the trees onto the towpath, and eventually I was rewarded by a few shots, before it decided I had reached the extent of my quota, but at least I was just quick enough to capture it in flight!
Along this stretch of the canal, I was again lucky enough to get a few shots of the rather fine Banded Demoiselle damselfly; I had found a spot where the patches of floating weeds, close by the Bank seemed to hold their interest, but only so far, I only spotted one occasion when one actually landed on these islands, they seemed to prefer the reeds, which made my ability to get clear shots almost impossible! Their iridescent colour is captivating.
The. Swans and Canada Geese had young families to protect, and one Swan became determined to make one Canada Goose realise, that it was not welcomed so close to its own youngster! The highlight of my day was when I was watching one of my personal favourite aquatic birds the Great Crested Grebe, this one proved to be a highly efficient angler of the underwater denizens of the lake, freshwater crawfish and smaller fishes — he made three successful dives during the time I was watching, and he obliged to coming reasonably close once he had had his fill, and began his grooming; by that time, the surface of the water was remarkably still, making the shot number 102 in the final gallery totally serene, and no doubt one day will become a greetings card image for a family member or  friend, as it is so surreal and serene.
I never tire of Grebe or Kingfisher images, but there are some others that to me are special, the Teal, and the Mandarin Duck, and now the Sigma Sports 60-600mm, especially with the 1.4x Converter bring these birds so much closer.

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Message to Whoever Tried to View a Brighton Trip in 2008 – An Apology…

          The Link to that Gallery of Images was broken. I have now rectified it, and by way of explanation, it was a trip I made with Nick Zoller, a Designer with whom I worked closely for several years –from my earliest days in Photography, working with him on Annual Reports Retouching and Creating Complex Images for top Industry clients, such as British Aerospace which became BAE Systems, Lloyds Bank, Barclays International, Avesco, Eurobell, Youngs Breweries, Cadburys…

          Sadly, I have to report that the pressure of that work took its toll, and I lost a friend and client, as his work with BAE, his major client was looking as if it might be ending, and it proved to be a worry that took him from us, way too early.

          So, if this message does reach you who were looking for something related to Nick, I have to say it was a wonderful afternoon with him, chatting and taking photos with no pressure, my other memory of that day was how the vicious wind took my car door from my grasp as I opened it and I thought it was going to damage it! The photos remind me of that day, and so whoever it was that read that piece from 2008, I hope you return and here is the missing link as well as in the normal one embedded in the Blog entry's Title.