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…



Thursday, 28 August 2014

Wilstone Waders – Blacktailed Godwits and Other Birds

Not being a knowledgable person when it comes to naming wildlife, I simply spotted some interesting long-billed attractive Waders. Fortunately it was not long before a knowledgable birder soon came along equipped with a scope on a tripod, and after chatting briefly, I ventured the question and he supplied me with a name, he had his eyes upon a greenshank and had heard there was a pair of Osprey that had been spotted, and asked had I seen them. I had to reply that I would only have known had someone said: “Oh! Look at those Ospreys.” He did say there were a large number of Lapwings, and I did spot those and fortunately also know what they looked like.

As I arrived I had seen an Egret overfly, but it was before I had set up, I climbed down the bank and sat at the bottom, so that I was less conspicuous than being on top of the bank and silhouetted against the sky, and braced the monopod to the ground so that the camera came neatly to my eye and began taking shots as the godwits came  inexorably closer, dipping their long beaks into the water every couple of seconds; this meant that getting shots of a group with all heads above water and in an attractive grouping was ‘interesting’! There was a young grebe together with its parent, doing short length dives

There were times when I did forego using the tripod and opted for using the camera handheld and using manual focus, this was for the shots of birds, such as the terns in flight, as it was quicker if I focussed rather than let autofocus hunt and miss the shots altogether. Had the sun been out more often and brighter, I could have set the lens at the hyperfocal distance and at less than full aperture; but those conditions did not prevail on this occasion.

It was yet another successful gallery of pictures from this excellent Tamron lens – the 150-600mm

Monday, 25 August 2014

Cattle Take Priority

The idea was to visit a field in Lilley Bottom Lane to try to take shots of Red Kite, but no amount of patience was going to reward me that afternoon, so as the cattle neared me I poured my concentration into trying to find meaningful shots of them as they came ever closer to me. I was a little concerned that despite being on a recognised human-designated footpath, they may well have very different ideas about my continuing presence, but I stood my ground, taking shots of either small groups or single animals, all using the Tamron 150-600mm.

The light was milky sunshine at best and increasingly being given over to cloud, and the breeze stiffened and lowered the temperature, but steadily as the herd approached they migrated towards the lower slope, until the main body had passed and congregated at the water trough close to the kissing gate entrance by which I had come in. They had always looked far closer than in reality, through the camera lens!

The lowing of the cattle increased as they passed and took water, then they suddenly upped speed and returned in the direction from which they came, clearing a path to the gate, and seeing still no sign of my initial subjects – the red kite, I decided my purpose had been fulfilled, and I collected my tripod and camera and returned to the car. What had surprised me was just how many different breeds there had been in the one field.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Woburn Deer Park

Walking from the Car Park with a monopod over my shoulder and just one camera with lens attached seemed strange, but the lesson learned from putting the 150-600mm lens through its paces convinced me I needed nothing more to capture shots of the deer in the park – I would certainly not need something shorter than 150mm, unless I broke the rules or risked serious injury!

No sooner had I entered by the Lodge gate than I spotted a lone doe on the edge of the wood, and because of the persistent rumble from cars running over the grid and their general noise, it had not spotted or heard me, so I managed two shots before entering the main park. Three species of deer were in the immediate vicinity of long thin lake by the entrance kiosk, and seemed to be heading inexorably towards its inviting waters, so I never actually needed to venture further. Speaking to one of the wardens I learned one species had already rutted, and if I came in a fortnight’s time I’d witness the next.

I spotted both affection and rivalry amongst the stags, and it was very relaxing to observe them at a distance that favoured the lens I was using, namely the new Tamron. Yes it was a fair weight, but it was reasonably well balanced on the monopod, though undoubtedly a tripod would have been an improvement, but the weight was not justified due to the distance from my car. I am really happy with the results I achieved, and I think I see some really early morning starts a-coming.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Birdlife Lens Test

I took the opportunity to give my latest acquisition another test; this time down at Marsworth Reservoir. The lens is the new long telephoto from Tamron, with a really useful zoom range of 150mm to 600mm, and it has taken some getting used to – the weak link was myself and my preconceptions – it has always been a belief that I should consider the size of maximum aperture to be useful only for giving me a bright image to focus, and to always stop down to achieve the best from the lens. Well, I was wrong!

I was wrong because I was also limiting myself to trying to use the lowest ISO setting to give me a clean end result. By so doing I was forcing myself to use too slow a shutterspeed, and simply not taking into account that at the far end of the zoom range, both my own movements and those of my subject were meaning that I needed a significantly faster shutterspeed to keep the image sharp. Also, I was ignoring the advances that have been made in the reduction of noise at slightly higher ISOs.

I did however know that travelling to my chosen location was a good distance and carrying a heavy tripod was burdensome, especially once I had the shots and was now cold and stiff, so I tried a different tack – I took my monopod instead, and added the comparatively light extra; a bungee. Once I reached my destination I extended the monopod, braced it against a branch and tied the bungee around both tightly. The end result was more stable than my tripod, with only a few inches from where the bungee was strapped, to the ballhead atop the monopod. If I really wanted to be clever I could likely replace the ballhead with my gimbal head, but that would mean extra weight to carry!

This morning the light was fairly good, so I was able to get a series of shots mostly taken at the full 600mm and wide open at the aperture of f/6.3, which allowed me at one stage to fire shots off at a momentarily hovering dragonfly.

Whilst waiting for a possible static kingfisher, I had no less than three flybys, two of which were of a pair of kingfishers, one of which landed on a branch to my left unfortunately almost completely obscured by intervening leaves. It remained there for the longest time I have ever seen a kingfisher at rest: a full five minutes, before it rejoined its mate when s/he next made a flyby!

It was a really satisfying time spent with the new zoom, and my purchase fully justified my buying decision and lived up to all the reports I had read about the quality of results expected. I am really pleased I travelled to Rutland to Birdwatch 2014 which made it possible to buy the lens at a good price.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Brogborough Lake – a Lens Test

Friday was an early start to be at Egleton, by Rutland Water for BirdFair 2014. One of the primary reasons for the visit was to see whether I would be able to check out a lens that Tamron had recently brought out that covered the focal lengths of 150 - 600mm. I was hoping it might bring me larger images of kingfishers without too much cropping.

Another reason was to catch up with two photographers who were manning a stand to promote their Wildlife Photography Courses and some of their prints and photographs. I arrived early enough to be towards the front of the queue waiting for the 9 o’clock opening of the event, and it was not long before I found David Tipling on their stand, and we chatted till Chris Gomersall’s arrival a short time later. I discussed my plan to contemplate the purchase of the Tamron telephoto zoom as I was hoping there might be one I could handle and obtain a file from at Park camera’s stand. I soon left them to hopefully deal with hordes of eager photographers wanting to sign up for their courses.

At the Park Cameras stand they had both Nikon and Canon versions of the lens on each of the two marques of camera body, and they carried a stock for sale. I was able to put my own camera body on one to take a few sample images to give me an assessment of the quality I might expect, and the results impressed me enough to take the plunge and buy one. Later after committing the deed, I returned to Chris and David on their stand, and whilst there was greeted by a photographer with whom I had once worked, yet not seen since 1970! He recognised me, but it took me a moment to realise who he was – Robert Paskin – forty-four years! We chatted awhile and exchanged cards, said our goodbyes, and I headed back south, looking forward to a visit to either a reservoir or a lake to give the lens a proper test.

Brogborough Lake won the day, as it allowed me a longer rest, and Saturday found me setting up the 5D MkIII on a gimbal head at the water’s edge as a few surfers took to their boards. It proved to be a poor location as I could not see their faces due to the wind and sun direction, so I set off through the woods to position my self better, and stayed there till late afternoon, before grabbing a bacon buttie and a welcome cup of tea. The real work would begin when I began processing the images back at base…


Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Rushmere and a Pocket Wood

I chose to take a look at woodland close to quarries as the likely subjects for pictures and turned off the A5 towards Heath and Reach, eventually I found the Brickhill Road and passed Rushmere Country Park with a commercial Car Park, but I was seeking somewhere more secluded, and continuing beyond, found a much smaller parking area, where there was free parking.
From the edge of the parking area was an excellent view of a splendid, much modernised farmhouse which intermittently was lit brightly by the sun, whilst the fields and trees around were shaded by passing clouds. Towering above and beyond were Cumulus clouds. I stood awhile trying to time it such that some of the foreground was in shadow whilst the sun played on the building, all the while a tractor could be heard as it was hard at work in the field close to the house.

I then wandered into the woodland along the tracks amongst the ferns with dappled sunlight filtering through the foliage of the tall trees, trying to capture the beauty of the abundant ferns when backlit. Also the first signs of approaching autumn tints were to be seen in amongst the many shades of green. There was a slight breeze blowing fitfully, which meant the light was constantly changing. But clouds bring rain, which at first was hesitant and light, but it soon became apparent I was in for a shower.

I returned to the car and eventually moved further along the road taking the intersecting lanes that seemed less used, to where I found a small fenced area of grass with a nesting box at the edge and what seemed more like a floral grave in the middle. The shower had passed, but the cloud cover remained almost total. It was the aptly named Pocket Wood – a mere acre of woodland open to the public. Upon further investigation it turned out the local Parish Council had built a small circular pond and a winding circular pathway through the woods. At first I could hear the sounds of ducks but I never caught sight of any and their sounds ceased as I took to the path.

It had been an interesting interlude providing rural woodland textures, light and shade.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Early Visit to Marsworth Reservoir

Arriving at the water's edge, I immediately spotted a lone Muntjac across the water on the far bank, and just before it returned to the undergrowth managed to grab a quick shot, albeit with foliage and branches obscuring its hind legs, then moments later, a squirrel, scurried down a tree trunk and disappeared into a bush with its mouth full.

The air was filled with the unmistakeable sounds of pigeons' flapping their way through the leaves all around me. The next visitor was far too quick for me, a heron landed momentarily on a high branch of a dead tree, spotted me, and was away back the way it came, in a trice; sadly, never to return that morning. I got to sit down with the camera on a monopod and my hand on the camera with the 70-200mm lens. I have to own up, that was not by choice; I had been careless when packing the case and chose it mistakenly for the 100-400mm, but so be it, it did at least offer an extra full stop of exposure to make up for the far smaller image!

The light was kind to me, it had a softness due to slight cloud cover thereby avoiding the harshness of full sunlight on potential subjects, in this case I was hoping to glimpse a kingfisher. Glimpse was all I got initially, as an orange and blue blur passed across my field of view at high speed, but it was not long before a kingfisher alighted on a far branch, looked around, then dived, and disappeared from view; whether it met with success, I had no way of knowing.

It was quite a while before another visit, so I captured an amusing piece of pigeon life, and it seemed to me as a human observer that a male flew to a branch ostensibly to drink, but in the hope his presence would bring a female admirer, and certainly soon after another pigeon alighted further along the branch, but instead of waiting patiently for a short moment, he immediately sidled along the branch and the second bird simply flew off, he seemed dazed and remained quite still musing on his failure before flying off in the same direction.

I had two more kingfisher visits, and several flybys, together with one quick circling of a bush, and in the lulls, I took shots of some of the fungal growths and the beginnings of autumn in some of the trees, and a charming slim robin gave me the once-over. After four hours I stretched my aching legs and headed for Tringford to meet up with the Water Bailiff, before heading home, but on reaching the turn for Aldbury, changed my mind and took the road heading for Wigginton Bottom.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Fields of Battle 14-18 – Lands of Peace Eight Year Project of Remembrance

Michael St Maur Sheil is the photographer who has spent eight long years on a photographic project that he feels passionately everyone should try to understand just how much was sacrificed by very young men who went to war, and very large numbers never returned, or returned with mental and physical scars that never healed, and of the many families who lost loved ones in just four years at the start of the twentieth century.

Mike invited me to this exhibition that was staged in St. James’ Park on the day that marked the centenary of the start of the “War to End All Wars”. Sadly that was to be over-optimistic. I came along with photographer Geoff Dann, and met up with Adam Woolfitt and his wife Penelope to see this body of work that conveys the history of that conflict in a way that mirrors what happens with the passage of time, and this is aptly described in Mike’s title for the exhibition and an accompanying book that was on sale. These were the fields of great hard-fought battles, yet time has mellowed their shapes, and he has captured for instance the soft beauty of the zig-zag trenches in undulating grassy banks when seen from above as he over flew in a microlight with slanting sunlight.

In others he captured the scene in snow and frost because that was the season in which the men fought. He had brought along the actual football that had been used by men trying to forget the horrors that invaded their long hours in the trenches, and a present day soldier was photographed holding the very ball against a backdrop of the ball in situ that Mike had shot.

The exhibition was opened by HRH the Duke of Kent KG, after Mike gave a short explanation as to how the project came about, and it was pointed out that one of the visitors was a German who was requesting that the exhibition actually be taken and put on show in Germany, which hopefully will show how reconciliation is possible with the passage of time, which was the theme of Mike’s photographs; he does not want them to be stuck in a Museum, he wants this to be a travelling exhibition that is brought to new generations of children, so they may learn what happened a century ago and hopefully to try to pass on a message of the futility of war, and how hard-fought were the freedoms we all now take for granted.

But also it should not go unsaid that Mike shows here a consummate talent for a great photo, I hope in putting together this gallery of images it will inspire others to pay a visit to this exhibition which is open till November 11th, but will travel around thereafter till the centenary of the end of those hostilities in 2018.

The Official Website for the exhibition is here

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Harpenden Cricket Derby – Bamville vs Dolphins

I was visiting in order to check out another way of shooting that might obviate a depth of field and a speed issue – I felt that if I could set up my camera on a tripod, manually focus such that I could choose a an aperture to give me the necessary depth of field, set against as low an ISO speed to achieve the necessary quality and use low loss JPEG in place of raw files, that I would then get the best response time, and rely on the live image to keep the mirror action out of the equation.

Well that was the theory. It fails because the screen is well-nigh impossible to use in bright sunlight, so setting the focus distance accurately really necessitates the use of a dark cloth! That would be like going back to the days when I was using Five by four and and ten-eight view cameras! The only saving grace being the image is up the correct way! Another negative is the screen is too small for such accuracy. The intention once set up was I would then shoot using a short electronic release and view the scene with the Number One Eyeball.

Cricket aficianados know instinctively that after seven balls there is a change of overs, and that if ideally one is shooting the home team, in this case Bamville, then if they bat first I would be concentrating on the batsmen. But I wish to cover both ends; not too difficult if one is hand-holding the camera, slightly more onerous with a tripod, on a bright, distinctly warm and moist summer’s day.

I went back to hand-holding the 100-400mm lens. As a colleague slightly later remarked: “If it ain’t broke…” I thanked him for his succinct summary! I did persevere, but that meant I missed several exciting moments and more overs, before reverting to using a DSLR as it was meant to be used. This ultimately stems from not having the right equipment for the task in hand, but the 1DX and 600mm are out of my league, but there is at least a record of some of the moments I managed to capture of a match which Bamville did come close to losing as the Dolphins put up a very strong battle towards the end, but I think their push was made too late. Towards the end it seemed the dell alongside the pavilion was a ball magnet, as most of the balls appeared to be heading in that direction, and the Bamville bowler, Simon, seemed to be delivering ever faster balls thereby adding to their terminal velocity each time they were hit!