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…



Friday, 31 October 2008

Slumdog Star – Virginia Holmes

Thursday evening had looked somewhat tentative on the weather front, but in the end proved to be dry but cold. I arrived in Leicester Square around five and contacted Glory Holmes the proud mother of our star of the evening, Virginia, the girl who with business partner, Natasha Nischol handled the Hair and Makeup for Slumdog Millionaire, shot in Mumbai.

We took up station close to the front of the Odeon, and soon attracted the attention of the BBC Asia correspondent, whom we managed to convince there was a story here of English Girl makes it in India Film Industry!

It was not long before this family group was joined by Rachel and Mike, friends of Virginia, and Richard, father of our star. It was getting slowly darker as we waited in the cold watching the arrival of the carpet layers prepare the all-important ground for the entrance of the stars. (Watch a trailer at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiQU3Fg1VtY).

Then came Virginia and Natasha, and later the Director Danny Boyle and I managed to grab a few quick shots, sadly not the best, I do not see my becoming a paparazzo anytime soon, certainly not one earning any money at the game! But I do at least have a record of the evening and we all went off and had an enjoyable pizza in a nearby restaurant to end the day, with Richard presenting us all his plans on how to run the country under his governance.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Snow

Tuesday's weather forecast clearly stated that wintry showers were likely in the Chilterns, especially on higher ground, but that it would not settle. In this area they got it wrong, it gently settled and being very wet it stuck well and my pampas grass bowed down reverently by way of acknowledgment. It was nightfall before coverage was good. However, I did try capturing the effects in darkness with and without the assistance of flash.

Wednesday morning was bright and crisp, and I had set my alarm for a slightly earlier start, first wakening in lightening darkness and glanced at the alarm: it read 5 o'clock, so I closed my eyes and decided I would get the extra sleep. The next time I came to it was very bright and so I took another look at the clock, the alarm was still set, but it still read 5! Confirmation that my clock battery had failed came when I looked at the computer – it read 10.10!

All was not bad news, the view through the window showed snow barely melting. A few Grape Nuts and milk down to simulate breakfast and I gathered a few flash card, a camera and two lenses and I was on my way towards Peters Green via East Hyde where I stopped for a quick few shots across the dip and showing the melting snow on the distant hillside with long winter shadows of the trees.

In Peters Green the snow was still pristine, with streaming oblique sunlight giving a beautiful crispness to the snow with strong backlighting to leaves. I spent some time here, finally attracting the curious attention of a young lad home from School half-term, who asked what I was doing. He seemed satisfied by my reply that I was taking beautiful pictures! Before driving off, I knocked on the door and showed him a few images on the camera review screen, and he concurred they were good.

Although I took a few more images, before returning to process them, it was amongst these I felt I may have captured this year's Christmas card.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Luton Hoo Walled Garden's Pumpkin & Apple Gala

Great weather and good promotion brought large crowds to this autumn event at the Luton Hoo Estate. The extended car park between Harpenden and the Airport roundabout in both directions was testament to this! The warmth was not only from the sun, the atmosphere was one of jollity, and the children and parents seemed to enjoy the stalls and the entertainment provided by the Morrris dancers, band, singers and players. There was even a wandering Minstrel!

The Fire engine drew a steady stream of visitors where children were eager to climb aboard and to don a Firefighter's helmet.

The attendance must have surprised and delighted Charlotte Phillips and her team of volunteers, and helped swell the coffers to aid the restoration of the gardens to their former glory.

I have tried to capture something of the day, but photographs from ground level do not tell the story of the sheer number of visitors who attended, though for a short while I did manage to borrow a small step ladder to give me a slightly higher viewpoint, thanks to the generosity of the Fire Crew.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

A new website comes on stream…

A photographer colleague of mine launches his new website on Monday showing some his images from working with corporates and magazines around the globe. Charles Milligan is a member of the Mono group, and we have kept in touch since my days at Longacre Colour Labs where he was one of our clients. You can follow his work from my links section.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

A Switcher

Most of my fellow photographers and most designers I know, already use Macs, however I have been responsible for converting some Windows PC users to the Mac platform. This has undoubtedly become easier since the change of processors to the Intel chips.

Most recently a photographer fairly local to me, who hitherto had been considering a change, but seemed in no hurry to decide, phoned me in absolute frustration saying that that moment had arrived, and he was off to Milton Keynes to the Apple Store to finally take the plunge. Because I had been so instrumental in promoting the switch, I feared that without my joining him, there might be mistakes made at the last hurdle; I suggested I join him.

It did not take too long to complete the deed, and we were soon putting the box in the boot of his car for the return to base. The staff member who brought the box to the car then said that should my client be dissatisfied in any way there were seven days' grace in which he could obtain a refund, to which I promptly replied that should that arise, I would have failed (in my role as advocate and evangelist!)

The rest of the day was spent setting things up, downloading software updates (10.5.2 to 10.5.5) and loading Nikon Capture NX, then upgrading that to version 2.0. Some of the changes were hard to effect, since he had not had recourse to using his password for his ISP mail account for some four years, and had no clue as to what it might be!

When he saw his images coming up full screen via Leopard's Quick Look and later in NX, he was completely astonished by the quality compared to what his aging PC monitor had been producing, so I ventured asking him whether I should replace the 24-inch iMac in the box and return it to the store – the response was an ashamed smile, and 'No way, José!"

Although he said he was on a very steep learning curve, he seemed in no doubt that it was a road worth travelling, and he felt he had made the right call. He later made another call: to me, later in the evening once I had returned. I was able remotely to explain a few more Mac insights, and I learnt something I had forgotten, and that was that NTFS-formatted drives became Read Only when accessed by a Mac. I have since learnt that there may well be a piece of software that can overcome this. I am off to Google…

Sunday, 12 October 2008

A house near Preston

There have been several times that I have visited somewhere, and later tried to revisit, yet been unable to find.

A few years ago, I was driving past a white house with strong oblique sunlight on newly painted stucco – I stopped to take a picture, and shortly the owner came out to enquire what I was doing. Naturally I said that the lighting on the wall, and window were too attractive to miss the opportunity of capturing the image for posterity. I still have the photograph to this day, but although I have tried to find the house again, it eluded me till this afternoon.

I had driven beyond it having found it again, stopping further along the road to photograph a tractor working in the valley in the late afternoon sunshine. I soon wanted a new angle and walked back and found that the ideal spot was within the garden of that very house! I knocked on the door and asked the owner whether I could venture onto his land to take some more shots of the tractor, to which he acquiesced. Later his wife came down to see what I had been shooting and soon we all began chatting and I learned that the big house on the horizon of their landscape was in fact my old prep school!

In the distance we also saw a hot air balloon and a red kite, but both were too far away, but after leaving them I did capture a quick shot of the balloon, and also some views of the Luton Airport control tower. The shots taken this sortie are in the Indian Summer gallery.

Late Night / Early Morning Fog

After a day doing some more incidental photography at Luton Hoo's Walled Garden, and having created a gallery of those images, I happened to notice that fairly thick fog had descended on Caddington.

Remembering how effective such conditions were in rendering mundane street scenes more attractive, I succumbed to the urge to try to do something for my own locale. I grabbed a newly charged battery, loaded a card, and put the 12-24mm Sigma lens on the camera and walked up towards the shops, I deleted the first few attempts as having insufficient exposure before settling on an 1/8th of a second at full aperture and 1600 ISO, and felt the four shots in this Flash Gallery were of sufficient merit to upload.

In two of the shots, I made use of the headlights of cars passing by. So Caddington by street lights and in fog is not too unattractive!

Sunday, 5 October 2008

In search of Banksys

The day started with somewhat uninviting, inclement weather, but Sundays never start too early after a week of hard work, so my morning was spent reading and getting myself ready for rain, wondering whether my younger daughter might have changed her mind over her decision to go to a part of London she knew I knew well.

Lizzy and Tim had invited me to join them to take a tour around Clerkenwell and the nearby areas in search of mural graffiti by Banksy. We managed to find only four, since some of those we sought were either hidden by doors, had been painted over, or simply removed!

We left the car in Clerkenwell Green, and soon found the site of the first, just around the corner in Clerkenwell Close, opposite the church. Beyond was the sound of chanting, possibly from a local football match. We then returned and made for Clerkenwell Road, where I caught sight of a somewhat extended bicycle at the St. John's Street crossroads and noted that the rider was presumably colour blind!

We walked towards Smithfield Market along St. John's Street and I paused to add another shot to my colllection of knobs 'n' knockers, capture a striking pillar motif, and a simple paper artwork of dancers – I am never one to pass up the chance to grab images that take my fancy, so soon found the intriguing dripping of rain into a downpipe; part of some interesting ironwork to a modern office building.

We then were unable to spot two supposed locations of Banksy handiwork in Smithfield so headed to the Barbican, along Beech Street and into Chiswell Street, where we did find one just beyond the Brewery, now Sundial Court, so I took locating shots as reference points.

Whitecross Street gave us our third picture, then we headed back to Charterhouse Square, but failed to find one there or in Haynes Street, but was rewarded by a fallen fig leaf (I did look around for its owner, but everyone seemed fully clothed!) Then the pattern of holly caught my eye. Parking at the top of Rosebery Avenue, I took a quick couple of shots of the dark, wet bark of a plane tree, as the richness of the colours appealed to me.

Our fourth and what was to turn out to be our last was found in Scrutton Street, but it had been defaced, though it was probably the strongest of all the images we saw. Altogether, the three of us had a very enjoyable afternoon walking though areas, most of which I remembered from the times I had worked in that part of London, and I was able to add my own snippets of information, even though I was often just a bit out in terms of exact locations at first. I can certainly see myself making a further trip.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Goodwood Revival Gallery is now up!

Sorry for the delay. I exceeded my bandwidth, but hopefully, this situation will change soon. Some of the shots I took at Goodwood are now up in the Galleries section. I hope it goes some way to showing just what a spectacle this show is, and just how much I enjoyed the day, and the company I had.

Adobe Creative Suite CS4 Announcement

On the 23rd September Adobe announced the imminent arrival of CS4, their fourth evolution of the Creative Suite of programs. Now that the information is out in the public domain, I am allowed to talk about it. My main area is Photoshop CS4, and I am now able to talk about what is in this new version and even demonstrate it.

There are a number of quite exciting developments for those using Photoshop to retouch images, and they come about because Adobe are able to put out some of the processing to the graphic cards. This has two effects: it frees up the CPU (Central Processor Unit) for other tasks, and it brings in new ways of handling zooming; giving smooth rendering at more than just 25%, 50% 100% etc. It also allows continuous zooming, flick-panning and most importantly for those of us who need to brush or make paths at inconvenient angles, we can now rotate the canvas in real time.

Other developments are springloaded tools – the ability to swap temporarily to a different tool by holding down the other tools shortcut key. So by way of an example you might be creating a path around a subject zoomed well in, when you notice a blemish, you can swiftly hold down the 'J' key swapping to the Spot healing brush, remove the blemish, let go of the 'J' key and continue with your path.

You can now alter the size of the selected brush on the canvas – by the Ctrl + Opt/Alt key on the Mac and clicking and dragging your cursor to see the brush size change; moving leftwards to go smaller, rightwards to make it larger.

When zoomed in on a fine detail, there are times when it is handy to be able to see how your fine detail work affects the whole, hold down the 'H' key and you get a bird's eye view at 'Fit-to-Screen' size with a rectangle indicating the picture area which you can move to another part of your picture before letting go, at which point you will se that are at the original zoom level.

I mentioned rotating the canvas. To do this simply hold down the 'R' key and a compass rose appears, then drag to select the angle of rotation, and let go when you have reached it and carry on working at the new angle. One click of the 'esc' key and your picture is restored to the normal position within the canvas.

Changes that please me are that when you add a layer mask to a Smart Object it is now linked. The default setting for the Pen tool is now sensibly for a Path not a shape tool!

Designers faced with small changes in the aspect ratio for double-page spread magazine advertisements can be subtly altered simply using the new tool – Content Aware Scaling (CAS) sometimes known as Seam Carving. This new function intelligently assesses the value of different areas in an image and compresses or expands areas of least value before areas of greater value. Faces, figures circles and fine detail all constitute greater values, whereas skies, clouds and generally areas of lesser contrast are of lesser value.

Layer mask opacity can now be adjusted straightforwardly, Adjustment layers are now more accessible, and vector masks can be have feathers applied non-destructively, making life far easier for retouchers.

A new means of altering saturation that lessens the chances of colour clipping is introduced into the Dodge and Burn tools as well as an adjustment; this is Vibrance which is similar to the tool in Lightroom.

Because Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) is the engine behind Lightroom, some of the localised corrections available to Lightroom also can be found in ACR, so simple and non-destructive changes can be made to images before entry to Photoshop proper and raw files can be brought into Photoshop as Smart Objects which allows that interpretation to be altered even after quite a lot of work may have been done in a multi-layered document on that image.

Certain changes to shortcut keys may well cause some confusion, such as Cmd+1 has been brought into line with other Creative Suite programs by making this show the 100% view, and this shuffles the other number effects one along, so accessing the composite RGB channel is now Cmd+2, selecting the Red channel is now Cmd+3.

Photoshop can now run in an Application window, with multiple images within separate tabs, browser-style, and multiple images can be viewed simultaneously for comparison purposes. This can be controlled via the new Application bar.

Bridge has undergone quite a change and been speeded up, some features have been moved around, and some have been dropped. Some of these can still be accessed from the DVD as optional extras.

For those interested in getting advance help to understand how Photoshop CS4 can improve their workflow, I would be happy to demonstrate the program to you – obviously for a fee! I can also give you an insight into the latest Lightroom as well.