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, 27 August 2013

Marsworth Wildlife – on Bank Holiday


Human life was in abundance and some children were finding that the ducks were bored of food; they were full, as there was no immediate rush from the mallards when something was thrown. In some spots there was evidence of soggy white bread in abundance! There were few gulls around and the tern were as always far more interested in tasty small fish. Marsworth was up to a good level, but Startops End was still low, whereas Tringford was pleasantly full after having spent several weeks abysmally low and giving cormorants an early Christmas.

I had come to see whether I could capture dragonflies, and preferably in flight, and catch sight of kingfishers, but I came in hope rather than conviction that I would succeed, but I was very pleasantly surprised at least on that front. Also I came light – merely one camera, the 100-400mm lens and monopod. So the long walk was far from wearisome. I did notice that on Startops some anglers had taken advantage of the lower level, to set up at the water’s edge. The sun had burnt off the early mist, and a breeze blew the reeds and on the walk I did spot some dragonflies, but this was fleeting.

I suppose thirty minutes passed before a kingfisher arrived to stay awhile, and the first visit showed me that their food was not exclusively fish; it was hard to tell precisely, but I think it was a dragonfly, certainly after that on another visit the bird spent as much time looking skywards as the insect kingdom’s helicopters buzzed around. Although between visits, I heard the characteristic plops of diving kingfishers, I never saw mine with any fish. During the lulls I did spot what I later gleaned were likely European catfish, at least three had come to the surface with extreme langour, interspersed with some thrashing around, which seemed to break up the surface-floating algae.

I was buzzed fairly constantly by two distinct colours of dragonfly; orange and blue, but they knew I had a long lens as the only hovering was done within a foot of me, and flies and hoverflies even landed on my lenshood. Since the camera was on the monopod, even had I had another shorter lensed camera it would have a palaver to try get shots of these encounters. I stayed several hours in the shade and was also able to see the kingfisher preening as it was so relaxed, it was the closest I had ever managed to get on one occasion, but only marred by the intervening out-of-focus branches causing the contrast to drop.

Altogether a really satisfying afternoon of observation and photography. I met one other photographer who had been watching godwits, but members of the public and their dogs and children kept playing on the foreshore scaring them off just as he was trying to get shots; sadly he did not have a good day!

Monday, 19 August 2013

Somewhat Forlorn Butterflies

The two mature Buddliea bushes in my back garden have been very slow to blossom this year, which has been a major disappointment to me. The florettes have only just begun to really show within the last three or four days, and I was beginning to worry that they would flower so late that no insects would still be around to do their work.

Sunday afternoon finally saw a reasonable number of both the butterflies and bees, I had only seen Cabbage Whites in the garden so far this season. Now I was seeing the more colourful varieties, the Tortoiseshell, Small Brown and Peacock, but upon closer inspection those visitors were in a parlous state, so having had a warm fuzzy over seeing the increased numbers of butterflies gracing my garden, I was now much saddened by seeing the tatty and battered ones that arrived. I doubt these specimens have long to wait before the end comes.

The bees seemed in better condition, but even before Sunday I was seeing battered wingtips on those. The gallery of images I have created shows that they were all hard at work catching up on lost time as they gathered the fresh nectar, and the bees seemed happy to bulldozer past the butterflies as if they were not there. The butterflies seemed far more concerned when their own species arrived on the scene, and would often fly away rather than stay their ground.

The various species of Whites were still keen on mating as they would often fly off and do their aerial pirouettes when confronted on a buddliea blossom. This now the last of any flowering in this garden, so once these visitors have left I really only have Autumn to bring colour to the garden till Spring next year.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Tringford Tiny Wildlife

My first task for this Saturday was to ensure the house was presentable, so before showering, I put on Friday's clothes as what I had to do was going to be sweaty, as the morning was very close, and I was destined to be down on my knees pulling out stubborn small weeds embedded between the stones of crazy paving. A task that was essential if the house viewers were to feel that the rear garden was presentable.

After the shower and in new clean clothes I made for Tringford, so that the couple viewing were free to discuss whatever dastardly deeds they were going to perform on my house were they to consider purchasing. I had previously packed my camera bag with a choice of lenses as I had no clear decision as to what I might be photographing, but I did know from my last visit, that the corner of the field that serves as a car parking area was teeming with life in the long grass. Initially I simply walked around disturbing the grass to see what took flight, without getting out a camera, but it soon became obvious that the field which had now been harvested was still full of life.

I got out the 100mm Canon lens on the 5D MkII and set 1600 ISO as it was not exactly bright with heavy rain-bearing clouds scudding overhead, and set AV mode and f/10, and for the second time that day was back down on my knees, but I have to say, this was a lot more enjoyable than earlier! Even now several hours later as I write this entry, my thumbnails are still painful from tugging at stubborn weeds. I think I referred to these leaping insects as Crickets, but I think in fact they are grasshoppers. The only accurate way I have found of seeing them in the first instance is to disturb the grass, so they jump and then the stems they land on vibrate upon impact and then they become visible, though even then you have to be observant.

Likewise for these tiny frogs that I describe as froglets, I have no idea whether they are simply very young or they are a small species, but both the grasshoppers and froglets are certainly nervous of this lumbering human, and in reality I was being very stealthy and quiet, and banked shots at a distance before moving ever closer. As before, it was not long before the rains came, putting an end to my shooting and as I 'chimped' the shots I had taken, the phone rang and it was the Water Bailiff, who later joined me in the car for a chat. He is a Stamp Collector and so I showed him the sets in the series of 'British Auto Legends' and in particular, the Taxi that had been retouched by my fair hand.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Retouch becomes UK Stamp

It is not every day that some retouching you have done becomes a UK postage stamp – but today Royal Mail launched a Miniature set of four stamps commemorating British Auto Legends – the Workhorses, featuring four familiar vehicles from the past, in classic situations.

The part I played was in creating a coloured-up picture from a supplied black and white of a London Taxi from the 1960s, for Designer Robert Maude of Davies Maude who was designing a complete set of such images for Royal Mail.

It illustrates graphically a statement I have often used when explaining my work to others – "my best work is never seen"! I had not worked for Robert before this, so he was taking a risk, but quite out of the blue recently I received this charming email from him:

"…I just wanted to confirm that your taxi stamp will be issued on 13 August. It's one of four stamps in a "miniature sheet" titled "British Auto Legends: the Workhorses".

Unfortunately, the taxi will be available only in the set of four, not as an individual stamp. The sheet should be available at larger post offices or, failing that, from Royal Mail's online shop at www.royalmail.com/stamps or by phone: 08457 641 641.

It was great working with you on this, and I hope we can do something together again in the future. In any event, I can't imagine turning to anyone else for this kind of help!

With thanks, and best regards

Robert"

In times when good paying work is hard to find, it is very satisfying that clients really appreciate your work and take the time to let you know, so thank you to Robert and to fellow photographer, Geoff Dann who made the introduction in the first place.

Monday, 12 August 2013

A Mix of Weather at Brogborough Lake

I have often noted that when I go out with merely an idea of what I intend to photograph; not a set plan, that often results in my being distracted by opportunism.

For a moment on Sunday afternoon, I thought I might be visited by just such a situation as I had decided to further experiment with the best combination of film speed with which to maximise my chances of successfully photographing windsurfers, hence my second recent visit to Brogborough Lake, south of Bedford. I arrived and took out my two chosen lensed cameras – the Canon 7D with the 100-400mm, the 5D MkII with the 70-200mm. No sooner than I had locked my car, I was buzzed by a dragonfly. Now for some while I have wanted to capture shots of these wonderful insects, so I carefully watched this fellow as it dived and hovered, and I thought I was in with a chance to get shots.

So for the next five or ten minutes, I gave it and at least two others my undivided attention, and thought at first this was going to be another swapped option due to serendipity, but I was meeting with no success, so I returned to plan A, and made my way back to the main launch area for the surfboards. I hasten to add not with any regrets – I throughly enjoy the challenges involved in capturing the action of windsurfers.

What was noticeable was how many people greeted me warmly, this time around as many had taken a look at the last gallery of images from my most recent visit, which was very gratifying. But from my point of view, I had yet to be really satisfied with the results; I knew I could do better, and this was what I intended. It was not simply a matter of the weather, the sun or the wind direction it was also how to balance the resolution of the image against flare from the foaming water spray, the shutter speed and the depth of field, because all these parameters vary wildly. If it is dull I need the speed, and the aperture will be large, giving a narrower depth of field, meaning I have to be more accurate with focus. If there is bright sunshine, which direction is it coming from, and if it is well in front of me, I need to lower the ISO so I have the high dynamic range handled, I also need to consider the wind direction and therefore which side the surfer is, because I wish to see their faces in most cases. It would also help if I knew more about the subject and also the prevailing winds before travelling the distance between Caddington and Brogborough.

Having taken shots from a low angle along the shore to the right and beyond the main launch area, I then moved to the opposite end in the area where the Ampthill Anglers have a section of the lakeside, and still kept low before breaking off for an excellent bacon roll and tea, very kindly paid for by Barry Rivett.

The remaining time was spent right by the slipway and  was then treated to some jumps for my benefit, the first of which I barely caught as I was caught unawares, but these were the crême de la crême for me, until I spotted Rusty on Tony Tiffen’s board and learned that he was definitely going for a sail – once I had captured the departure and safe return of Man and his Best Friend, I called it a day!

Tony and Rusty go Sailing

Anyone who visits Brogborough will have come across the indomitable Rusty! Rusty and tennis balls go together like Bacon and Eggs (which by the way, are excellent fare at the Windesurfers Rest!)

What many may not know is Rusty has another passion beyond fetching balls, he can look extremely fetching windsurfing as can be seen in this short animated GIF – Obviously an old sea-dog and he has his sea-legs. I will now get back to processing the other stills from Sunday afternoon's shooting.

That's one very trusting dog; and a wonderful relationship between Man and his Best Friend!

Sunday, 11 August 2013

A Brogborough Windsurfer Teaser

Once again I visited Brogborough working out how best to capture Windsurfers at play, and this afternoon I was helped by Dan who kindly performed a jump right by the Launching Slip; I thought that whilst I continue to cull and process the images I captured today, I'd put up a teaser.

I selected the series of shots and prepared an animated GIF to give a glimpse of what Dan performed. It should just run. I may just put up another Fun GIF later…


Island of Flowers – Caddington

In front of the Village Post Office and a couple of Sandwich bars lies a recently rebuilt traffic Island, edged with stone blocks heralding from China, which apparently are extremely durable, and were chosen for this and their increased height to protect the flower beds from being wrecked by careless drivers. This is currently an island of flowers, and it is in full bloom.

For their position, I believe less would have been more; more appropriate, and more attractive ultimately, allowing individual flowers to flourish, and naturally less expensive. That said however, they do add a glorious splash of colour to the otherwise functional area.

It was because of my observation that they were generally at their peak I decided I would go back for a camera, and record them for posterity, or at least to serve as possible images for cards, and give me yet another chance to focus on the amazing sophistication of some of the common pollinators of our flowers, in this instance mainly the hoverflies. To collect some thirty acceptable images from my short sojourn on my knees, precariously close to parking cars is a testament to their beauty.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Stockwood Discovery Centre Pollinators

Having visited Luton Hoo's Walled Garden and found that the pollinators had at long last arrived in force, I decided to pay a visit to the Stockwood Discovery Centre where I hoped similar conditions would prevail. I was not disappointed, but I noted there seemed to be fewer different bees; but that was not a scientific assessment, simply a personal observation, and I do not profess any knowledge of the subject.

I did notice a couple of bees that appeared to have wallowed in pollen, hence the header picture, and on one there was a tiny insect, and though I did wonder whether this was the dreaded varroa mite, upon checking images on Google it was very different, so no cause for alarm, especially since it was not a honey bee.

There seemed to be just three or four species of butterfly, Peacocks, comma and two white varieties, one of which was likely Cabbage White, which were as nervous as ever of landing for more than three nanoseconds, so do not appear in my gallery. The hoverflies seemed smaller than I remember, but that may simply be a matter of maturity, but their flight was more amenable to my capture.

Of fruit, there were a few figs coming along, and I find the shape of their leaves fascinating.

Speaking briefly to Jan, one of the gardeners, I heard that she had seen a dragonfly in the gardens a while back, and so far this year I have only briefly glimpsed two both close to reservoirs, but I have photographed precisely none, which disappoints me greatly. However, I do now know a location that has at least three, and I did manage to grab a couple of poor photographs of them, at Ashridge by a stagnant pool. I vow to return!


Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Luton Hoo Walled Garden – the Pollinators


The place was buzzing – and it was not only visitors taking a look around – the flowers were out in all their glory and the pollinators were hard at work, there were three distinct types of bees that I spotted, though I have no doubt there were more than that. There were wasps, there were hoverflies, various flies, and butterflies.

I soon learned that the white butterflies loved the purple flowers, and they spent more time on each flower head than I had generally come to expect, so for a change I was able to focus accurately in the time allowed!

Also there was a pleasant breeze so I was not drenched in sweat as I concentrated on getting the shots. I did have a distraction though somehow a tiny insect had got above the ground glass screen and whilst I was trying to focus on say, a bee, it was gently strolling across my field of view and in focus! I also spotted a melon leaf and flower trying to escape the greenhouse!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Tringford – Small is Beautiful

Tringford reservoir has the lowest level I have seen, and not due to weather conditions or massive use of the Grand Union Canal, but due to a seized bearing in the pump at the Pumping Station which has meant the inability to get water to that lake. This has apparently made waders from nearby Wilstone reservoir who currently have no shallow sloping shoreline to take advantage of just such a feature brought about at Tringford – a silver lining?

The swans at Tringford after a long barren spell, now have a clutch of cygnets to cheer them up, and a Tufted Duck Mother has a string of ducklings which currently number twenty-one, and both mothers are duly protective of their offspring.

The exposed shoreline has revealed some interesting colour and strange shapes of encrusted chalk. In the nearby field the grassy perimeter hides a plethora of tiny creatures; including several differently adapted crickets, some moth-like flies that are readily predated by the male damselflies, and there are numerous tiny froglets.

The forecast had been for showers, and the Water Bailiff who had been saying to me when first I arrived that they had it wrong, well it was not long before he would be eating his words, for as I was on my knees taking ultra close-ups of a tiny cricket a few drops came down on my back and that of the tiny insect I was shooting, but that was a mere prologue for a prolonged downpour; I had barely covered the few feet to the car before it set in with a vengeance, and I still had to contemplate opening and closing the gate! Needless to say, I got a drenching and had to put a throw I keep for the purpose behind me, to keep the damp from the seat.

Out on the open roads, they had become flowing rivers as the rain fell in abundance and continuously the entire return trip. I had hung out washing to dry before I left, and it was now way wetter than when I put it out! Fortunately the vital bedding I had hung in the conservatory! The contents of the line had to be re-spun before tumble drying.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Brogborough Early August Windsurfing

The Saturday was forecast to be mainly sunny and above all it was destined to be breezy, which gave me the opportunity to consider visiting the Windsurfing Club at Brogborough Lake.

The new owner is Sam, who took over the Club from Tony, so I checked that I could still enter to take photographs of the activities; fortunately Sam was very happy for me to come in, and so it was not long before I had set up the Canon 7D and the 100-400mm, and the 5D with the 70-200mm, so that the 7D would be mounted on the tripod with the gimbal head, and the 5D would be there for me to pick up when needed, handheld.

The first spot I chose was alongside the main slipway, a nice and low viewpoint. I was able to grab the shorter lens whenever necessary; to pick it up and put it down on top of the camera case whenever the need arose. After a while I decided that I wanted to a change of viewpoint and so I picked up all the gear and took a walk towards Ampthill Anglers spot, so that the sun was still behind me, but importantly I had a greater chance of being able to see the windsurfers themselves from this angle. I also had a higher viewpoint, making some variety to the shots I was taking.

I then returned to the club area so that I could get a bacon butty and a cup of tea and take a slightly different spot from which to take the remaining pictures. What really amused me was that Rusty the dog I photographed when I first visited the club had not lost his fascination for collecting tennis balls thrown into the water.

Whilst I was taking shots of the surfers one face was very familiar – Tony, the previous owner. I could see that he was obviously relishing the freedom to go out on the water without a concern for other responsibilities, and it was blatant he was really enjoying himself. It was good to find that as he came into the slipway he acknowledged me by waving, so a short while after I had finished my bacon I strolled to his caravan to say hello and give Tony and his wife a few of the shots I had taken of him at speed.