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…



Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Frithsden Woods

At last some sun – but Oh Boy was it cold! The frost was only clearing in the direct sunlight; everywhere else retained its rime, but at least if I took a tripod, I could shoot at normal rather than extended ISOs with the Canon 5D MkII. So I set off for Markyate and the general direction of the Ashridge Forest. I drove slowly glancing around for meaningful images to capture.

At the top of Berkhampsted I took the signposted route to Frithsden, and found myself alongside the golf course, I took a few shots there using a tripod, but it was not really what I sought, so I drove on and caught sight of some deer very close to the road and seemingly quite settled, so before I left the car I set the camera back to a high ISO and fast shutter speed then set off. This time without the tripod. Once within range, I kept walking parallel to the small group of stags, just edging slowly closer, shooting whenever I was clear of some of the intervening branches.

Eventually they decided to move away so I returned to the car and drove back towards Caddington, by now the sun was low on the horizon and the mist had a golden glow, so I stopped to take a few distant landscapes. I also spotted a squirrel high in the branches of a tree with a carrot, but he seemed happy to remain half hidden and quite still right at the top, so took my shots and headed for home.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Boxing Day Visit to Orchard Poyle

Once Lizzy and Tim had left for their surprise in Liverpool, and I had settled back into my role of cat-sitter for their cat, Remy, I phoned through to Glory to take up her kind offer of a visit and lunch at Orchard Poyle.

I made a poor choice of leaving the M1 at the M25 and paid for it in lost time in the slow-moving car park towards the M40. the saving grace was the sunshine, and after initial chats withe everyone, I took the camera for a workout in their grounds, and later after our splendid meal I took a few more shots as we tackled a vast Christmas Crossword.

It was good to catch up with others' news over a delicious beef meal, and learn that nephew Alex was leaving the Rainbow Warrior for a short break and coming home. Having just come off the phone from Alex, I have learnt just how brief that visit was to be! He leaves for Copenhagen and his latest girlfriend later this evening. He does promise to meet up with me soon however.

The shots I took yesterday are in the gallery. I trust everyone had a great Christmas, and I wish all those who read this, the best for 2009 – Happy New Year!

Monday, 22 December 2008

An Early Start

Not all beauty is lost in the winter – provided that is you are up and about before the sun!

When I learnt that the following day was due to start out bright, I took a chance on the weather forecasters getting it right for my area, and even though I had still not gone to bed any earlier, I set the alarm for six thirty. As expected I was half awake before the alarm, so I dozed a while longer then switched on the bedside light and turned off the alarm, finally leaping out of bed like a drugged worm.

I fulfilled breakfast with a bowl of cornflakes and gathered the camera gear and coat and was soon in the car and driving out of the village heading for Harpenden and the Lower Luton Road; I crossed over that and headed up the hill as the glow on the horizon heralded sunrise.

I took a few shots of trees silhouetted against the skyline before continuing along towards Kimpton and eventually to a point near Ley Green where I was able to take some shots of rapidly changing light and shade across a valley in the direction of Tea Green. Whilst concentrating on a converted old windmill I was pleased to also capture a red kite swooping across a field between my position and the windmill. I also very much liked the winding road leading to the water tower at Tea Green, especially with the dappled lighting due to the scudding clouds across the sun.

That wind did more than drive the clouds it also chilled my hands till they hurt, yet the car thermometer read 7.5˚ – eight degrees warmer than the previous day which without wind had actually felt warm!

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Tonal changes in Lightroom

Now that our English landscape has little beauty to offer in wintry sun, I turned some of the images I recently took to greyscale, and went for drama instead.

In the small gallery of images shown here I only made global changes. But with careful use of the various colour sliders, I was able to make changes that seem very local in their effect.

Some were targetted by the constituent colours within the original full colour image, others were toned afterwards. In every case my aim was to enhance the drama or mood of the image, where in full colour there was only the composition and crop to consider.

All these alterations were carried out in the Develop module of Lightroom, which was far more forgiving than using Photoshop, and each was made by first creating a Virtual Copy, (simply a different list of instructions for the interpretation of the raw data).

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Canon EOS 5D MKII – A few more thoughts…

British weather at this time of year is hardly conducive to picture taking. But here are just a few jottings. Overall the camera is a delight to use, and for me it means there is very little unavailable light!

The controls have subtle changes in the main, but one large difference is the deleting of the entire shoot; this is somewhat hidden, probably to avoid 5D users hitting the Erase button. To erase either a selection or the entirety is now a menu function, with just the single picture erase directly from the button. The Erase button is now removed to the side to make way for the larger Review screen.

One welcome change though small, is that the button for illuminating the top window is on the right making it more accessible.

The settings in the back window are accessed by scrolling horizontally along the tabs at the top, then choosing from the list vertically. Setting the focus point is now a two button affair, but is less fiddly, though it takes a bit more to remember.

The ability to set the ISO speed up to 6400 without resort to a menu selection and be able to shoot with minimal noise at this level is nothing short of magnificent. There is very definitely a certain 'feel' to MkII images taken under these conditions, it has to do with the clarity of the mid and highlight tones with very crisp blacks.

The review screen is not only larger but seems brighter and sharper than its predecessor, and of course there is the sensor cleaning which takes place at shutting down and switching on. This just gives you an added feeling of confidence.

A note of caution. If you use say Lightroom to import your files, and you have shot a short video, Lightroom mentions that it cannot read such files, so before you erase or format that card, do remember to offload that file – it is easily missed!

Monday, 15 December 2008

Canon EOS 5D shines in low light

How ironic, that when the camera arrived in my hands I was unable to take advantage of it to put it through its paces! Had it arrived earlier in the very day, I might have taken some pictures that day, but ever since, whenever the sun has shone, it was mocking me, as I had to have my head firmly glued to my monitor to get work done!

Yesterday however, whilst out with my younger daughter and her husband in an attempt to find presents in Milton Keynes, I managed to make some headway – to save weight and give myself a chance I used a 90mm Tamron and set 3200 ISO. The Lydian String trio and the stairs in the Apple Store succumbed, as did an oriental cut flower later in Harpenden!

Capturing all these at a motion-stopping 160th of a second with a variety of lighting was a challenge indeed; I was most impressed, but to have so little noise was just a dream come true. I cannot wait to capture more exciting images in the future. Enjoy.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

The Lightroom Message

Twice in the last three weeks, I have had the enjoyable but nevertheless daunting and somewhat humbling experience of talking to two groups of expert photographers about Lightroom. The first was to a group of Wildlife photographers, the second, just yesterday a group of photographers possibly best described as photojournalists.

In both instances these were not hosted by me; I was invited to offer my services – in the first mine host was Chris Gomersall, and the latter, Adam Woolfitt.

I enjoy these encounters, because faced with a group of mixed and varied experience and prior knowledge of the program, I am challenged, and I learn from the sessions, which helps me to feed back what I find to the program developers at Adobe. Also, since I operate a one-man-band, it gives me welcome social interaction.

I strongly feel that with digital SLRs pervading a large proportion of professional photographers' working lives, and the cameras yielding ever larger initial raw files, this program is supplanting Photoshop for many people. Effectively, it has usurped the place Photoshop held in my heart for so many years, so I now feel very evangelistic on its behalf. Quite early on in my acquaintance with Lightroom I put across my view that the biggest competitor was not as the Press would have you believe, Aperture, but Adobe Bridge – I still hold this view.

Recently, Adobe have laid off many staff across the globe, and put this down to a disappointing take up of Creative Suite 4 due to the financial situation worldwide. I think it goes deeper than this, and would cite the withdrawal from major shows, and the high price set outside the US. To consider the UK version as 'localised' and suggest this is 'International English', yet pay no heed to actual 'English' spelling has been considered insulting to many, especially when software can now be distributed electronically worldwide this does not endear Adobe to its target audience. Another factor is the system of Activation is so draconian it hits the legal users of its software as hard as the cheats.

When you can therefore use a less than up to date version of Photoshop to do all you need beyond what Lightroom offers, there is a less pressing need to upgrade when you set the cost of Lightroom against that of the upgrade to Photoshop. I think Photoshop has now undoubtedly become more of a tool for Retouchers and Designers, and in these two Groups it is only the Retouchers who see the real need for the new features, and they are the smaller of the two. And I count myself a member of that group.

Very little explanation of Lightroom is offered by Adobe, partly because it sells itself, so it is often left to those selling the product, and I think in many instances some of its virtues are overstated, in particular its role as a Digital Asset Management (DAM) tool. Various web-based resources provide sound information, but the audience here is already fairly well-informed but small in number, so less-informed comment in magazines tends to prevail, and increasingly the writers are very aware of the effect negative comments will have upon their advertising revenue, so are less objective, apart from not really using the software on a daily basis.

I hope in my small way that I am helping to take up the slack and getting Lightroom's virtues and architecture better understood by today's digital photographers.