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, 28 April 2017

A Friday Afternoon in Westcott

Dull Weather fails to dampen the spirits of Children or the Birds in Westcott at the end of another week and the beginning of the Bank Holiday Weekend. I had hoped to get some shots of Red Kite flying over the Park as the children charged around the Play Area, and parents sat and chatted, but it was not to be, and also the sun was hiding behind grey clouds that might just give a shower.

I also took shots from two angles of the rocket that stands at the entrance to the Venture Park, that hints at the erstwhile Airfield’s earlier role as a Rocket Research Establishment.

I did manage to later capture a Song Thrush and Jackdaw, and my persistence, (or patience!) was rewarded by getting a glimpse of a Red kite, some blossom and a couple of young lambs, I also learned that if I manage to wrongly assume the monopod is in the boot of the car, then the Carbon Fibre Tripod with just one leg extended can work reasonably satisfactorily, but note to self – Check more thoroughly in the future!

Monday, 24 April 2017

Birdlife at Tring Reservoirs

I met up with the Tringford Water Bailliff, Bob Menzies and a few Anglers at the Tringford Lake, and one of their number just leaving felt there was a chance of kingfishers along the Trout Stream, so despite never seeing any in the past, I decided I would fight my way through the nettles and see whether I might have better luck – to no avail. But, I did spot a Mallard Mum and her ten-strong brood keeping a low profile for safety in this secluded stretch of stream.
I then crossed the road to the path between Startops End and Marsworth Lakes, where I met far more of interest; a Crested Grebe that had dived with success and come up with a freshwater Crayfish that he spent some time with before consuming it. Later I was to see a pair of Grebes begin their ritual dance, but there was poor synchronicity and they seemed to mutually accept they were not meant for each other, and swam off in separate directions!
On the main Lake at Marsworth, a mother Mallard seemingly had been less successful in keeping her family safe as she was in close attendance to a single chick. I twice missed the noisy takeoffs of two pairs of swans, but placid singletons were easier camera fodder. Having spent some time by the lake at Marsworth, I returned to the car and found two Bluetits flitting between the branches of a Hawthorn tree and some tall spindly grasses, so I added them to the shots I had been taking on the lakes.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Westcott Park with Dog, Sam

I had some time to photograph an energetic dog called Sam, whilst at the Westcott Play Area, and despite no intention of emulating Eadweard Muybridge, I did find the running action equally fascinating. So, amongst the shots I took of this dog, there were actions that did not appeal to me aesthetically, whereas Eadweard would have included them as they told him more about the actions he was recording. Hence I offer them merely as attractive representations of a dog at play, not as a descriptive and authoritative series of defined motions!
The reason for my having the camera and lens was that I was hoping that I might capture some shots of the kites that often fly over the Play Area, but in this I was far less successful, as a singleton only flew over, once the thunderclouds had arrived and rain threatened, but I include the few shots I managed in the gloom.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Stewartby Lake Walk

In the past I have often tried to capture the patchwork fields of Oilseed Rape as an early sign of the end of Winter and the burgeoning flourish of colour to the fields and this has been a year when I have not taken any notice of  these cloths of gold, so when a chance came to go out and see whether there were some such fields, I found myself thwarted. There are few hills to give some height to view from, and in this part of Bedfordshire, the crop seems rare, but it had been my intention on this journey with my camera.

I did spot a singular large field, but it was not particularly accessible, and it was in very flat land, so at most would provide a slit of yellow against green and brown, with no undulations and the sky was boringly clear of clouds against the sky. Plan B beckoned. I parked the car by an entrance to the circular path around Stewartby Lake, where I thought there might be some activity on the water from those celebrating the Easter break, but the lake was a serene calm, so of no interest to the sailors of dinghies, so after a quick reconnaissance, I selected my 24-70mm lens and took a walk along the path, widdershins to essentially capture the Spring blossom and the young leaves which lined the way.

Occasionally, there were a few small white butterflies with a flash of orange, an abundance of midges that would find my exhaled breath an attraction, the brief sighting of small birds just darting across my field of view and a small hovering furry insect that defied my ability to record its presence, all around the songs of birds was ever present, but they were largely out of sight. I wandered slowly along keen to capture the small indications of red against the whites of Spring blooms, the textures of sunlight on the wrinkled young leaves and sprigs of blossom against the pale blue sky. The discarded bricks at the water’s edge that defines the foreshore of this vast wound where clay had been extracted for the brickworks whose signature four tall chimneys still stand in the derelict expanse that remains from that time.

It did provide me a small glimpse of a landscape –  in a  scene that caught my eye; a lone swan in the mirror-like calm of still water with a distant stand of tall trees, sadly with an arc of discarded cans in the shallow water, but a picture nonetheless. During the walk I was passed by a couple of cyclists and runners doing laps of the lake and two of those, exercising their dogs alongside for company. Altogether a not too disappointing gallery of images from the short trip.



Monday, 17 April 2017

An Early Morning with Martin Evening

I had not met up with Martin for quite a time and with his living close to some world-renowned Bluebell Woods, we decided that despite it being slightly too early for the best of them, it was a day we were both free, so I drove to his place and we set off to Dockey Wood.

Out taking pictures in the low morning sun gave us an opportunity to catch up and indulge in an activity which gave us both pleasure. These woods have now been fenced off to help preserve them from the public entering all along the roadside, so now there is a designated entry gate and within the woods, branches have been laid to form ‘hedges’ to try to keep the public to the paths and so lessen the flowers from being trampled thoughtlessly.

Initially we stayed close to the right hand edge of the woods, so we had the the low slanting morning sun streaming in and forming stripes from the shadows of the trees. Martin took several different viewpoints whereas I at this stage kept close to the same spot as I was experimenting with using the long telephoto lens to try to compress the distance and in transferring my gear from my car to his had left the ideal head behind and was suffering somewhat to get the best stability. The reality was that I should have opted for a shorter focal length lens!

We returned to the car after a while and headed to a different location, and I used my 24-70mm to capture some gnarled tree trunks which gave me far more fun with searching for shapes that my imagination found as animals, and that occupied me for quite a time, before we moved to yet another location – this time with some very wispy almost floating young green leaves set against a stand of tall tree trunks. sadly by this time the sun was hidden making it difficult to capture in the very flat lighting.

We then stopped for a lunch break at the Visitor Centre before heading back. It was an excellent way to spend some time together since we last met up at the Photography Show at the NEC. It’ll be interesting to see whether viewers of the gallery can spot the ‘animals’ I saw in the gnarled shapes of the tree trunks! I found a horse, an elephant with Snoopy on his shoulders, a lizard, a camel, a ram and an old lady in a green scarf, holding hands with a young girl with blonde hair! Sorry – no prizes!

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Brogborough in the Sun, and Later, Wind!

At the beginning of Sunday there was little wind and the slight chill was soon swiftly dealt with by the sun from a cloudless sky. I had trimmed the side and front lawns the day before, so I strimmed the edges first, hoping that the small back lawn would be dry enough to be cut once that was done, I also trimmed the bush at the side to give it a chance keep that tidy.

I saw the occasional gust of wind spin the whirl line, and ruffle the buddliea, so began to wonder whether the lake at Brogborough would be windy enough to excite a few sailors to take to the water and more in hope than certainty, gathered my camera gear to go over there to see whether there was a chance of some action. Earlier I had put out one batch of washing, and bumping into my aide-memoire of the laundry bag, realised the second batch was sitting in the drum, having long-finished its cycle and should also have been outside in the drying sun!

Out in the garden again, I noticed that there was now a distinct breeze, so it began to look a tad more promising for some windsurfing activity. I returned to the task of putting lenses, tripod, and gimbal head together and laid out some snacks, which happened to be exactly as I had left them, when I returned several hours later, from my time at the lakeside! All down to an excess of Anno Domini!

With the car loaded, l set off, and on my arrival at the car park found there were several cars, vans and trailers, and enthusiastic people rigging; even some keen types already out on the lake, and there was definitely more wind here than back at Marston Moretaine, but it did not seem strong enough, to bring out the jumpers. It did however promise good strong lighting.

I did not immediately start setting up, but wandered to the slipway to see who was out there, and noted that several were simply going up and back, which was a direct result of the relative calm. There were also some on stand up paddles. I returned to the car and got out the gear checking to see whether I could manage with just a ball head, but it was not as easy as using the gimbal, so reverted to that. As the day progressed, the wind, though always fitful did get stronger, and a certain Colin Hunt did start jumping, which was a bonus I had not expected! I was caught out twice, only managing to get the end of the action and not centred!

I also returned to the car when there was a lull, to put some suntan lotion on my exposed arms.

There was so much activity on the lake that afternoon that getting the pictures up on the blog is somewhat later than I had anticipated…
It will take quite a lot of wading through, but not nearly as long as it took me in the preparation, but I hope the the sailing participants feel the wait was worth it.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Last Weekend’s Final Photographs, Using the 24-70mm

Having had a weekend checking out the weighty 150-600mm Sigma lens, I continued the round trip from Marsworth Reservoir to Welwyn Garden to return it to Sigma and having friends living in Letchworth, returned via them to Marston Moretaine. We had a long chat to catch up on all the news over cups of tea and biscuits, and as the sun lowered we went out into the garden, where I was shown a very neat way of capturing rainwater to fill two large butts for watering the large number of flowers and plants that graced their garden.

This was too good an opportunity to miss, and so once again out came the camera, this time with the 24-70mm f/4 with the macro facility. During this time Stuart was discussing what was planned going forward, and was about to remove some reeds by a pillar when he realised they were several duck’s eggs in a nest hidden within, I then heard the story behind the duck’s visits to the garden – now he knew the reason why!

I continued capturing for cards several groupings of flowers that I came across as I walked around, and the gallery of twenty images is the result, but till now I have not had the time to process them due to examining all the long lens images from the weekend. It was good to see Pam and Stuart to catch up and I hope there will be a time when both of them can come and visit me, in the meantime I have several nice pictures for use in cards of varying shapes to remind me of this busy weekend.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Sigma 150-600mm Sports Lens Testing II

Two disparate areas of interest photographically for me are the capture of some of the skills of Windsurfing Sailors at Brogborough Lake, and the Hopeful capture of the successful dives of a Kingfisher at Marsworth Lake, one the Tring Reservoirs, so on the weekend opportunity, courtesy of Sigma Imaging UK, I borrowed the 150-600mm Sports-designated lens to check out on my Canon EOS7D MkII.

In the previous paragraph I highlighted the word ‘hopefully’ in connection with actually managing to even see a kingfisher, let alone capture one in a photo. I might equally have qualified the windsurfing activities at Brogborough, but at least I did have an idea there might be enough wind to entice some to the lake, the fact there was not enough for some serious jumping did not preclude my checking whether this heavier version of this lens range could give me the quality I seek. On both occasions the locations blessed me with very reasonable lighting levels, which meant successful shots would give me a good airing in galleries on my blog.

The lens alone is heavier than my current combined weight of camera and equivalent focal range lens, so this was a slightly negative element in my decision for considering the Sigma, but weather-proofing, quality of resolution and added features available, were higher in my considerations, because I do want the best quality I can afford within my limited budget. Both the chosen activities for the period during which I had use of the lens were absolutely the Litmus Test to gather the details that were important for my decision-making.

If only there were a scientist who could come up with an industrial process whereby molecules of Helium could be embedded within high grade aluminium without reducing the material strength so make it considerably lighter, this might enable lenses of this quality to be no heavier than those of lower build quality! 

The additional weight of this lens when carrying the camera on a tripod, with levelling head and gimbal meant that my Arca Swiss plate worked loose on my journey back to the car from the Kingfisher location, fortunately I had been checking, so no disaster befell the kit, but I voiced my concern and found Sigma do have an answer to this in the form of an Arca Swiss plate secured to the foot firmly that is way better than my own plate that is effectively adding extra leverage which was what caused the loosening. So, I feel this is an essential item to complete the kit.

Although the sequence of images was not one long burst, but a series of meaningful single and burst shots that recorded the unfolding event, I have taken them out of the overall day’s shots to stand alone, because they gave me so much pleasure, and although some are almost duplicates, it meant I could fill a natural grid without any blanks.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Sigma 150-600mm Lens Test at Brogborough

Given the opportunity to check out the Sigma version of this exceedingly useful focal Range, I set out early for the Brogborough Windesurfers’ Lake, and duly set it up on the Heavy Gitzo tripod; it was at this point I realised that since it is designated the ‘Sports’ version, it was designed for being counter-balanced by a camera body with a battery pack, so since I was using my 7D MkII, when fully racked out to 600mm, I was not completely balanced on the gimbal head, I was lacking that expected weight. My current Arca Swiss Bars  were just that bit short, but it was not a deal breaker, but worthwhile learning!

I already knew that my Digital Holster was not going to hold this lens on my camera body, where the Tamron was just a neat tight fit and yet still very compact and a reasonable weight.

I knew from the lack of sufficient wind, I was not going to capture any jumpers, but found that the day was given over to the ‘Sea Vets Club’ and there were to be a series of races around a course marked out by buoys (I later learned from Barry Rivett, that these buoys had been dragged quite a good distance from where he had placed them earlier that morning!)

I set up the tripod and lens and was able to take a few shots of the non-racers who were on the water when I arrived. I certainly noticed that the weight meant that generally this was beneficial in terms of stability, and had the wind been as strong as the recent visit by  ‘Doris’ it would have definitely been less affected than the lighter Tamron lens. Purely incidentally the sturdy metal and rubber-covered lenshood was quicker to attach than the plastic one from Tamron, and gave more security.

I was investigating whether the lens would give me better quality of sharpness over the Tamron, and handholding it to shoot low-flying red kites at Westcott near Aylesbury, it certainly seemed that it was likely, but the extra weight and my general unsteadiness proved that this was not ideal when handheld; really the minimum would be to use a monopod, whereas I can hold the Tamron for reasonably lengthy periods satisfactorily, when necessary. Shooting the windsurfers was always going to be from a tripod, and the Gitzo gives a really firm platform.

What do I look for when testing a lens like this? Well, the windsurfers provide me a really good idea of how a lens performs by how highlight detail in the foam and spray that is inherent in such images is recorded, and how much or little I have to adjust to make this convincing. It will always be difficult on a dull day, but a well-performing lens will still make the wake and waves realistic with a small amount of careful tweaking of exposure. I was luck this Saturday, that the sun was often out, and I feel this lens does just have the edge, but it is a close run. It is really solidly built and it is far heavier, but since I want the ultimate quality, I feel I need to find the wherewithal to make this purchase.
For the Gallery of shots taken from the boat on the water
Once I had shot enough images to judge the quality I could expect of the Sigma long lens, the opportunity to go out in the boat and take shots of the racing surfers at close range and from the water, I packed up the long lens and grabbed my 5D MkIII with the new 24-70mm f/4 lens to put myself in the picture from an often moving boat for lower angle shots. The boat was pilotted by an accomplished windsurfer who also happens to be a photographer, so he was able to place me in good positions without proving to be  hazard to the racers, yet close enough to get interesting shots, and get wet! My trousers were thoroughly soaked, but only in one shot did I see two obvious blurred blobs from water splashes! My camera, when at speed and rushing headlong into waves, was held aloft with my right hand and the strap was often wrapped around my left!

Some of the time I did have some sunshine and from a good direction, but not all the while, but the shots have a different feel when taken closer and from a lower level than when ashore, and having a knowledgable pilot certainly helps.

I hope I might get another chance, but only if I have my waterproofs on! It was a thoroughly enjoyable time, and I do now have good idea of how the Sigma performs, which was the point of the visit, but I also know that the 24-70mm f/4 is very competent for close-quarters work, but I did often hanker for my trust 24-105mm for the extra length when out out on the water.