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, 12 December 2017

Creating the Final 'SOLUTIONS photographic' Christmas Card

I have created my own greetings cards since I was about fifteen or so, the first of which was an invitation to my sixteenth birthday, based upon the ‘Your Country Needs You’ poster of Lord Kitchener, exhorting the viewer to enlist for the First World War. It was a crude line artwork based upon a self portrait and even cruder representation of my pointing hand with the words ‘My Party Needs You’. I had no idea that some sixty years later I would still be printing my own cards! To digress; I was once at lunch with a Designer and we were entertaining a client around this time of year in a restaurant, when during the conversation my client the Designer was introducing me to his client, and said he was giving me work such that one day I might be able to buy my own Christmas cards rather than for me to have to keep making them, which statement has amused me from that day to this!
Since at the end of the financial year I shall be closing my company, the cards from now on will be devoted to family and friends’ birthdays, anniversaries, the gaining of degrees, the births, deaths and marriages of those close to me, I therefore decided I would try to record some of the steps in the process. Obviously the very beginning is where I look through recent images trying to kindle some idea for the theme of the card, I like to use reasonably recent images, and also sometimes I will set out to capture these very specifically.
The card for this year’s Christmas celebration was taken only a week ago, specifically with space for the words (my elder daughter gets really worked up about my adorning pictures with words), but that’s another matter – fathers have a duty to embarrass their daughters! I have done my fair share over the years; oh, and my granddaughters! The obverse image was taken at my younger daughters recent Concert in Aylesbury and the Vicar was exhorting his congregation from the pulpit and I took two shots, one with his hands clasped at his waist and then when he threw them apart to make a point. I simply merged the two and added the simple word ‘Peace’, and to add impact blurred all the background save the Crucifix beyond him as the image portrayed the very message I wished to convey too.
Photoshop came to my rescue for the merging and blurring on that image, and I found a suitable font, Dobkin Script to add the correct reverence to the message and then since I wanted that image to be the obverse, I selected all the layers and transformed it using rotate canvas, before then extending the canvas below to 200% vertically to then add the copy of the Holly image with its text into the new space. The text for the front was composed of two layers once I had enlarged all the Capitals slightly larger on one, allowing me to colour up those initial caps to simulate gold leaf. Separating the caps from the body text was done with a mask on the uppermost of the text layers.
That image was then brought back into Lightroom where I created a composite page of nine cards which I printed onto a sheet of Super A3 Premium Semigloss paper, well six sheets to give me 53 final cards – one unfortunately I glued the paper insert to the wrong side, which would have meant the gesticulating vicar would have become the the front which had not been my intention.
It is the sixth A3+ that then is the subject of the gallery for the next steps I took to complete the operation. My trimmer is just too small to do all the trimming of that size sheet, hence my resorting to my trusty scalpel. (A further aside – all my children learned to use scalpels from a very early age!) The first trimming is to separate the images so that they can be creased and folded to have the plain paper gummed to the back of the obverse vicar image. Each of the now white-bordered cards are now taken to another of my cutting boards where for the first time I adopted a different method to achieve the creasing (I wish I had thought of it a long time ago!) my main cutting board has the healing surface on both sides, but I realised that the other had a glossy very hard plastic backing, which I stuck just at the edge of my kitchen work surface, and then used the ruler to hold the line between the two images carefully across the hard, sharp edge of the cutting board, so that once aligned, I could use my thumb to crease the paper firmly to make the final fold really accurately.
Next step was to use the convenient raised edge of the trimmer to hold the folded card as I applied gum from a Pritt stick along the back, then before it dried out I slipped a plain white sheet of paper, pre-cut from an A4 sheet up against my fold then once correctly positioned I pressed it down firmly to stick it, folding it up then putting it under the guard, aligning the fold to the guillotine cutter’s edge and trimming off the surplus on all three sides. Now the inserted paper exactly matches the images and it can be easily written upon to carry the message for each individual recipient, where the back of the print does not take kindly to ballpoint pens and would smudge.
The other fifty odd cards were turned to JPEGs at the size I was printing them from the original master, and obviously I had to write a message apologising for the slightly less personal greeting, due to both time and cost restraints, but should they wish to print the file out it would still make a very acceptable print that they could place on strings or shelves along with others they received.
Over the years I have been doing my own cards, it has been my pleasure to be receiving an increasing number of similarly hand crafted cards rather than those that have less personal messages, and this has been a delight, and where the mass-printed ones will not all be kept, the handmade ones I still have, and cherish.

Should any readers of this blog like to see a copy of the final image, here it is in JPEG format:
  
Please note the image is my copyright, you may print out a single copy to view it, but please do not distribute it, especially as it does not represent the final quality of the original images

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Aylesbury Concert Band at Fairford Leys

Saturday morning was spent printing out Christmas cards for Family members and those without computers and their ilk, and I prepared these for printing out on Super A3 paper, which was highly efficient, and probably conserved ink which is always a benefit, and I managed to get a reasonable way forward, before I had to consider going over to help transport my Baritone Saxophonist daughter from Westcott to Fairford Leys for their Annual Christmas Carol Service in the central square. We arrived with time to spare and with no navigational errors, and this allowed for some time spent chatting before offloading the large and heavy case.
It is always enjoyable to arrive early enough to be able to wander around the band as they warm up, but though under the circumstances on this occasion, ‘warm up’ was not really on the agenda, since it was a bitterly cold afternoon, and neither instruments nor players work at their best when lips freeze to the mouthpieces and breath constantly condenses within such that the music has to be interrupted to be removed from the pipes. Playing many of the instruments in gloves does not add to the enjoyment, but is preferable to  tearing skin from the fingers! Fortunately the English are Stoic and display a stiff upper lip, possibly due to them being physically frozen!
When the audience applauded the resultant sound from gloved hands does not resound from the walls around the square, but my impression was that they enjoyed the event and certainly sang well in some of the popular traditional carols, and the band members seemed to be battling well with smiles and occasional laughter between numbers.
The final arrival of Santa pulled by a Four by four rather than sixteen reindeer was greeted with genuine enjoyment; the Christmas season is now well under way. When I made the return trip later in the evening, the roads were definitely icy, so the forecast of snow for Sunday seemed to be guaranteed, and when I awoke this morning, it was more than a smattering, and in fact was still snowing, an opportunity which I was not going to miss as snow has been largely absent over the last two winters, so hopefully I can top up my store of such images for future Christmas cards.
A Merry Christmas to all those who visit this blog, and may the time be spent in the relaxing atmosphere of family – who knows even with a chance of some snowballing, sledging, skating, and the building of snowmen!

Monday, 4 December 2017

Aylesbury Mayor’s Carol Concert

Aylesbury Concert Band gather at St. Mary’s Church to celebrate the start of the 2017 Christmas Season with a Carol Concert put on by the Mayor, Councillor Tom Hunter-Watts. At this time of year all those involved are heavily involved with commitments of every conceivable description, and this can be family involvement with schools and the stresses of preparation for Christmas then you add in the English weather and road closures, that everyone can come together in a festive spirit at this time is a minor miracle. I came over from the Bedford area to bring a Baritone Saxophonist; my daughter to the venue, and guess what her two children have been ill and off school, and disrupted her plans for work, but we still made it by the skin of our teeth, and the good fortune to find a car park that had spaces free.
The church was full of various different groups rehearsing in separate areas of the church, as I found out in my journey to pay a comfort visit before I could concentrate on getting my camera gear up and ready. I took a wander around to decide on viewpoints and found these were severely limited due to the number of reserved seats, but settled on the end of a row of four seats in front of the sound engineers’ desk manned by Richard Watkins and a colleague from Taliesin Musicraft. Both were busily setting up mikes and lighting amidst the throngs of participants and early-arrival audience members and families of either the band members or the children participating in the event.
Amidst this there were church staff milling around, and the band were soon assembled and running through pieces that were to form part of the concert – well-organised chaos reigned, and I started taking shots of the musicians from whatever vantage points were possible, at least at this stage free to roam, whereas soon it would be time to sit down and be well-behaved.
Somehow the afternoon progressed from last minute rehearsal into performance, and I was not sure when the transition took place except for the arrival of the local dignitaries, and after a most enjoyable time spent shooting, chatting and singing with gusto, I then went in search of, and found a lady from the States who had spotted me working and asked could I take a shot of her with someone from the council. I was able to take a few shots slightly away from the hubbub, and hope she will be happy with the results. Lighting on this occasion was at the edge of possibility for good images, especially as I do not use flash on such occasions as I want to preserve the ambience of the occasion, and my hands are not the most steady!

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Steppingley Reservoir Red Kite Visit

I had looked at maps to decide on where it might prove worthwhile to take advantage of the sunshine, and settled upon Steppingley Reservoir. I had not factored in the bitter wind, so when I arrived I was not as prepared for the cold as I should have been. Also upon arrival, I realised this was a spot I had previously visited, and had been slightly disappointed, but nothing ventured; nothing gained…
After a preliminary walk to the entry to the fields, the first decision was to add to my clothing, as the windchill was already getting to me! I added a woolly hat and a hooded jacket and my fingerless gloves with silk gloves underneath, then gathered the lightest carbon fibre tripod with the Acrotech head as this would offset my intention to use my heaviest lens, the Sigma 150-600mm Sports. Also, I took along my electronic shutter release due to this tripod’s choice due to the lesser stability.
I negotiated the downhill track taking to the grass alongside, to avoid caking my boots with claggy mud and at first investigated heading towards to thicket to skirt to the left around the banked reservoir, but soon retraced my steps and crossed the brook and headed for the right and some newly dug channels and then climbed the bank and headed right at the top. I came across a couple of anglers and asked how they were faring, and learned they had only recently arrived themselves, they were able to suggest where I might find a good chance of spotting the local wildlife, which they said included deer and in the fields they had just spotted some hares. I thanked them and made my way around anticlockwise, before heading towards the bank on the far side to enter the woods. I passed another pair of anglers, one of whom had caught a single fish which somehow had been considered of less import than having some late breakfast! I left them chuckling amongst themselves and carefully made my way down the bank again and entered the woods.
I had barely entered the path into the woods when I spotted two small muntjacs which immediately took fright and headed deeper into the thicket, I never saw them again. As I once again took to the grass margins of the track, I spotted red kite circling above, and then a small farm vehicle approached me, I hailed it in greeting and the driver pulled to a halt and switched off the engine, I asked whether there was much wildlife to be found hereabouts, and he said there was some, but was not able to elucidate much further and soon restarted the engine and went on his way – at least I learned I was not to be evicted!
For a while I attempted to get some shots from the cover of the woods, but this was far from easy, so I eventually moved to end of the track where it opened onto the field, and found that some of the birds were interested in prey within the field, so were far lower. I wished I had made this decision earlier, as the sun was becoming increasingly hidden by clouds. It was interesting to note that there was a high concentration of pigeons that moved en masse from one end of the track between one tree in the field and somewhere beyond me, every ten to fifteen minutes. Later another observation I made was that sometimes the red kite would adjourn to a clump of trees at the wood’s edge and the crows were not be fazed and remained in the same branches, the only lesser bird I saw chased by the kites was a jackdaw. Part of the reason the kites were often down at ground level was some carrion in the field, and on one occasion I saw one of their number with a small bird that was being devoured on the wing, but I could not be certain where it had been caught.
With the sun increasingly cloud-covered I retraced my steps to the reservoir, and continued widdershins and before leaving, spotted the two anglers I first met so I went to see how they had fared. I learned their names were Paul and Jay, and we chatted and found they had been less fortunate than me, having caught no fish at all. Like me at Marsworth, they had befriended a robin and had fed him some of their bait, so I took a shot of him as he took the occasional nibble. I showed them that shot and others I had taken of the kites and we chatted before I set off back to the car. I made the trip at a good pace which meant I was far warmer when back at the car than when I had set off!