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…


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Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Festival of Speed 2018

 
 
 
I always really look forward to visits to Goodwood, and this year’s Festival of Speed was no exception, but it was tinged with a certain amount of concern for my guest on this occasion, my younger daughter Lizzy, as she was not too well, suffering stomach problems. I tried to balance my compassion for her not being well, with my longing for company for both the event and the journey to and from Bedford, and the long day’s travelling, and for her added trip back to her Ayesbury home after returning to her car parked at my place. Selflessly and hopefully, truthfully she assured me it was just fine.
The larger part of the outward trip was reasonably clear, but the very last section as we neared Goodwood, the traffic, now all headed for the same destination was a slow crawl, with only unaccompanied motorcyclists able to travel smoothly. However, I can report that every one of those around me accepted the situation with good nature and maintained adequate spaces between each other, and even held back at junctions for others to join the queue.
We arrived naturally later than hoped, but calmly gathered what we needed from the car and walked through the cool woods till we arrived by the house, and concours d’elegance cars displayed on the lawn. A visit to the house was our first port of call for relief and then to view the Porsche installation, and take a few photos before heading for the enclosure by the track to watch some of the cars heading up the hill, and sit down with a programme to decide where to visit. Mindful of Lizzy we stayed here a while before heading up the hill and to the Rally section in the woods, where my camera geared received a less than welcome coating of very dry chalk dust! I did get a few shots of those cars in the trees, but we soon made our way back towards the house, to spend time watching, shooting and chatting with a friendly couple we met from Staffordshire.
I also chatted to a photographer who was waiting to capture shots for Lexus. We shared an amusing cameo when we were both shooting the rotating actions of the drifting cars in the track by the House — I showed him a shot I had captured of one particular car, amidst the tyre-smoke, and he flourished his review screen with an identical image (probably taken at identical moments in time to within a thousandth of a second!) we shared identical smiles of pride!
Lizzy and our new friend from Staffordshire also shared shots, on their phones of a celebrity, Tom Hardy at an adjoining table, who for a short spell was swamped by others all hoping for photo opportunities, but the group moved on to probably find less attention.
I once asked my elder daughter whom I had taken along to a much earlier FoS, to give Lizzy a description of this event and she gave her a description, which is forever indelibly written in my consciousness — “Ascot with Cars” — I simply cannot beat that! The atmosphere at these two established annual events at Goodwood; the Festival of Speed, and the Revival Meeting, stand out as some of the most friendly and relaxed events in the British calendar of events related to motorsport.
Whilst mentioning established events, a very prominent feature of the Festival of Speed is the Art Installation in the front of the House. Since 1997, the works of Artist Gerry Judah have been the focal point of these events, as he produces tremendous creations which are also an advertisement of great British engineering by local welders, Littlehampton Welding and naturally numerous others who contribute to these structures each year since.
I have been lucky enough to be invited over several years, and it has always been a delight to receive these invitations and then live in anticipation for a couple of months till the day of the event arrives. It has now become an equally anticipated event for my family, and those days never disappoint.
The gallery of images from this year’s event, I hope gives a smidgeon of the atmosphere we enjoyed and represents a day we cherish. It is also both an ongoing library of my photographs, and often a way of testing myself, as in a few sequences of cars exiting the darkness of the woods after the Flint Wall into a short stretch of bright sunshine prior to a plunge into the last section of woods before the top. Anticipation is key, but also control, and it is easy to get ahead of oneself when panning from the darkness into the light, there is no glimpse before the cars exit the gloom.

Friday, 13 July 2018

A Summer Meeting of DigiCluster

On this occasion to celebrate the warmth of the season, This meeting was to be held at the Old Schoolhouse near Hunton Bridge and the Grand Union canal. I set off fairly early knowing that the M1 motorway has roadworks, but I overestimated how much that might add to my journey time, so I arrived rather early, which did have a benefit it allowed me to wander around the building and take some photos to add to the gallery of images and establish the location.
Since there are a lot of people working here, the car park was still fairly full limiting some of the angles to capture the building cleanly, but I did my best to minimise the loss as best I might.
Although the building has merit as a place to work, the proximity to a very main road does mean that the noise level is very high, which might well prove problematic in the summer months with all the windows open!
After a short while the guest began to arrive and I was able to Capture the build-up as numerous staff busied themselves adding to the array of food and drink, and I did wonder whether the food provision, in particular the array of cheeses might well be excessively generous.
I began shooting with the 24-70mm lens on the 5D MkIII, but towards the end of the evening, I went back to the car and brought out my 85mm f/1.8 and took a few shots using that before reverting back to the zoom lens. Towards the end I was shooting in the low fractions of a second and at ISO 5000, which brought the success rate down somewhat!
There were some interesting moments when flames rose somewhat higher than was anticipated, which gave me some atmospheric shots, that originally I had considered making into a separate gallery, but time was limited as on the Saturday morning I am due a very early start to travel to Goodwood with my younger daughter to visit the Festival of Speed.
Altogether, I have to say it was a splendid evening, though there were fewer members that I knew very well and so I was mixing less than on other occasions. I trust that the various moments I captured conveys the evening for all those who attended.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Fairford Leys Summer Concert

   
The Aylesbury Concert Band were once again invited to play in the Bandstand in the centre of Fairford Leys with the sun burning down from a clear blue sky. I came along once again with my younger daughter who plays Baritone Sax with the band, and we arrived early which meant we did not rush around and get overheated before the event even started. We even had time for me to turn the car around so we were facing the right direction for leaving as well as being close enough to transport the baritone sax case with ease.
It was also a day when England had a match against Sweden and after the concert I, with Lizzy joined Tim and the football enthusiasts who were watching the match on a large screen inside the hall.
The tunes the band had played included pieces that had a bearing upon nationalism and by association, with the match being played; England won which meant the beer was flowing, and even offered at a reduced price to entice.
Due to the bandstand being open-sided there is always some breeze present which means that one very obvious addition to every music stand is a plethora of clothes pegs, which does make for distractions to any photographs I take and the tight space means it is very difficult to avoid their presence in almost every shot, which can be a challenge. I try to capture the build-up as well as the playing, and was pleased to be early enough to capture scenes of discussion between the Conductor and Percussionist, and other interactions between the players, which capture some of the atmosphere of the group.
As there was also the attractions of a fair, I still have more images to process for the family.

Friday, 6 July 2018

By Stagsden Pond – Alive with Life

 
 
I had decided that it might well be worth paying Stagsden a visit with a longer lens than when on my last visit to the Pond that lies to the side of a new Industrial Park there.
Perhaps the long lens scared the inhabitants off, since just as I was setting up the tripod close to pond edge reeds, there was a loud explosion of flapping from the trees, and a Heron and Red Kite made a rapid exit, before I had a chance to remove the camera and lens from the unset up tripod, I had but a few seconds to at least record their departure! They were never to return, sad to report.
I decided to mount the Benbo tripod as low as possible, so that I was no higher than the pond-side reeds, and this took time as the sloping edge was difficult to find a sound support at a height that accommodated the central column, and I was determined to keep as quiet as possible in the hope that the two birds might return.
I had hoped that I might capture some of the dragonflies that flew along the reed tops, but they never followed a standard routine that I might plan where I might catch them in flight; they spent most of their time in the air, and in chasing each other, leaving only those in the far distance, which was out of reasonable capture range, despite my best efforts.
I spotted a grassy cut path off to my left, and decided this might prove more profitable, but only once did I briefly spot a dragonfly venture here, but one of my favourites from the insect kingdom were to be found – the hoverfly, and a few bees, and numerous wild flowers, so for a while I concentrated my efforts on these, and wandered the path’s length till it came out at the fields’ edge, but except for the start, there was no extra part of the pond to be found accessible.
The afternoon was not wasted, but neither was it what I had hoped I might find to satisfy my intention of taking shots of dragonflies in flight, and they barely even feature! I did however get to use the 1.4 Converter and begin to understand how best to use it, as it limits the positioning of the focus point for auto-focus immovably in the centre of the screen.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Brogborough Flying Insect Bonanza

Having used the Canon 100-400mm lens a few days back to record the flying insects of Brogborough Lake, mainly once they had settled for brief spells of rest and recuperation, I decided to return with something longer, and I decided that it might be beneficial not only to use the Sigma Sports 150-600mm, but to add their 1.4 Converter to gain a greater image size. Since the camera body was the EOS7D MkII, this in itself gave me a greater effective focal length over the full frame 5D MkIII, with also a faster response.
The slight drawback is the autofocus point is fixed at the centre, making it harder to place the subject off-centre, and so on occasion I reverted to manual focussing. Another snag when using autofocus, was how with moving reeds the focus would hunt or simply drift when foreground features came within view between the camera and subject. The bright weather we are experiencing currently gives me the chance to use the Converter and also to keep the ISO speed low with an adequately fast shutter speed.
Trying to find my subject fast with a long lens is difficult, so I experimented with pulling the focal length wider, to find my subject, then zooming in to bring it both larger and into focus, but this often meant that my subject had tired of that location and moved on whilst I was still either trying to find it or regain focus! From my observations the camera took less time and was more accurate, but suffered from losing focus fairly often, so I tended to attempt a compromise whilst manually focussing by adopting a smaller aperture to improve the depth of field to compensate for my lack of accuracy. It is not often in this country that we have this luxury; it is far more likely we are considering upping the ISO to give us a chance of a small aperture alongside a fast shutterspeed!
It allowed me to observe closely what was happening, and I am sure I was witnessing the female dragonflies laying her fertilised eggs beneath the water’s surface. Something else also was that much like crows mob red kite, I was watching the damselflies doing much the same with dragonflies.
I was sitting on a low bank with my tripod legs spread such that the camera was at eye level and really solid and this meant it was really comfortable, but did make it less easy when it came to later wishing to rise; I was also lucky for at the least the early part to be shaded from the heat of the sun under a blue sky with just a few mare’s tails for clouds, by a tall hawthorn bush to my left.
I was pleased with the end results, but it was a shame there was no regular flight path to give me the chance to attempt to preset my focus and have the insects fly into the sharp zone for them to be captured on the wing, but that’s just greed on my part!

Monday, 2 July 2018

Brogborough Lake – An Afternoon with Dragonflies

More often than not, when I decide I want to take photographs of a specific insect, my carefully-laid plans are thwarted by circumstance, on occasion this turns out to be a Happy Happenstance, but on this occasion, my intended subjects turned out to be the fulfilment of the gallery of photographs I managed to capture.
However, the main intention was to attempt the capture of dragonflies, preferably in flight, and that wish was thwarted, because I failed to find a spot that guaranteed a specific flight line. For this reason, I also used manual focus for most of the time, which meant several images were missed during my deliberations to ensure sharp capture. The specific shots that I missed completely were those when my subject almost filled the frame, and in the heat  that prevailed, they could keep in flight for very long periods, and I was constantly wiping my eyes from sweat pouring from my brow beneath a large floppy-brimmed hat.
One action that occurred on a reed bent low over the waterline was a presumably female dragonfly laying her eggs just below the water’s surface, I also noted that she suffered from the concerted attempts of damselflies to disturb her.
As a direct result of my adopting manual focus there was a far higher rejection rate due to my finding poor focus, also with the brightness of the light perhaps, with the benefit of hindsight I might have been more successful with my longer lens than the 100-400mm that I used. I might even consider going back with the 100-600mm and its 1.5 Converter.

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Woking in The Garden

 
No, it was not a spelling mistake! As will be apparent by your visit to the gallery of images.
It was good to be asked once again to help another Digital Photographer do some Computer housekeeping other than my own, and especially beneficial to travel away from my own locale, to visit someone whose photography is very different from my own. David has photographed the seasons in several European countries as well as Britain; from the Air, in Microlight aircraft, and the wider range of his work can be seen by visiting his site at <http://afbs.co.uk> I tend to think of his work from the Air, but by visiting his site it is self-evident that pigeon-holing him in that genre alone is to do him a disservice, and I heartily recommend visiting his site to verify this for yourself.
My earlier visits were additionally recompensed by a trip with David over London in a Twin Squirrel helicopter, one of the few aircraft permitted to fly over the metropolis rather than be restricted to flying just above the Thames, hence my tending to consider this aspect of his work primarily.
This gallery is my way of ensuring I do not get stale and also a means of allowing me to add some words that help to repay being asked to help him, by alerting others through the medium of my blog to the work he has done shooting from above. It is a very different perspective, offering as it does patterns not apparent from terra firma.

Monday, 25 June 2018

Despite Lack of Wind - BrogLake Buzzes

Saturday and fine weather, but little wind did not deter numerous visitors to sample the atmosphere and enjoyment to be had at the Lake. There were numerous Paddleboarders and several windsurfers of varying levels of attainment and some training was taking place in the light breeze as it was an ideal opportunity not to be missed, and also there were a greater number of birds than I reckon was normal - affording me an opportunity to capture wagtails who were along the shore. There were some gulls swooping to fish, but were either way too fast when close, or simply too distant.
Richard McKeating one of the experienced sailors was taking the opportunity to check out some new manoeuvres including travelling facing backwards which seemed a somewhat unusual skill to attempt to master, since it would seem risky to be facing the way you have come and not see in the direction you were heading, but perhaps it is a skill for when faced with danger from behind as well as ahead, but he told me others had mastered the skill, so reckoned he should put in some practice – watching the occasions Richard made his early attempts, the results I observed seemed to have a downside!
The lack of wind was a bonus for those attempting to learn and gain experience which a full lake of competent and skilled practitioners travelling hither and thither would have been somewhat more daunting. A lack of wind is definitely a bonus though for paddleboard enthusiasts, and their numbers were greater, and I learned that the paddles themselves are more sophisticated than I had imagined with Emma showing one which was of a very novel shape, exceedingly light and cleverly designed to be adjustable for length and the handle of which could not rotate in the shaft.
Watching Richard I tried to capture sequences, as much for me to learn what he is attempting as be able to provide him and others with the movements and results he was achieving. This afternoon was never going to be one where I witnessed stunning jumps or skilled turns, so there were always going to be numerous exposures that never made it to the gallery, but it keeps my eye and hand in, which is of importance to me.
At one point I heard the fairly recognisable sound of Pratt and Whitney engines overhead and a Dakota DC3 passed overhead from the direction of Old Warden, but this was not the burnished silver of aluminium, but a very dark grey, almost black, painted body, yet with white stripes and RAF roundels, and oddly displaying ‘UK’ on the nose, checking using Google, it would appear to belong to the Battle of Britain Flight, which surprised me because I thought it was a plain unadorned aluminium one, certainly my memory of them were that.
I was twice treated to a visit from a Pied Wagtail whilst I was at the water’s edge.
It was a quiet, but relaxing day, that meant being in front of a computer to get the shots up later, so I left whilst there was still plenty of life at the lake to give myself a headstart.

Monday, 18 June 2018

A Family Visit to Brooklands Museum

  
It is quite some time since I visited Brooklands, and the landscape is very different, though some of the Circuit Buildings I do remember, but the area now looks like and is a Business Park. However, the Museum Area is very much a family-oriented and welcoming venue. On Sunday it was Fathers’ Day and I was treated to the day by my younger daughter’s family, and despite a warning of possible rain, only a few very minor drops fell, with absolutely no dampening of the spirit of the day, and it passed without any adverse effect whatsoever.
Parking was no problem, and we walked from the car having gathered some food and other essentials, and it was at this point that my daughter realised that in concentrating on everyone else’s needs she had inadvertently left all food for herself, back at home, which was more than a little unfortunate as the availability of gluten-free fare and other non-allergenic foodstuffs is not readily available at such venues. Add to this a heavy dose of onion vapour in some areas meant she was never 100% well, which was very debilitating, and difficult to shake.
Although obviously my invitation was father-related, I felt this was a day for the children and my two grandchildren who had been before were thrilled to be there again and enjoyed every minute and were treated to a car each of their choice at one of the numerous stalls. Looking through some of the aircraft interiors on display and the buses, and later queuing to make an aircraft manned by one of the many volunteers. The buses and the aircraft proved of interest to the two children, although the simulator needed the length of legs of older children! There was an uphill race for youngsters, but sadly we only learned of this once it had started, it was certainly a serious challenge despite only being to just beyond where we were sitting picnicking.
There was one interesting occasion when a man driving his car just stalled inches before the finishing line at the top and needing several able-bodied men to stop him from rolling back, but the ignominy to follow was that his wife managed in the same car to complete her run successfully! I suspect she will be dining on that success for some while!
Altogether it was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon; It’s just a shame that it is so distant as it really needs an entire day because there is so much to see.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable present to be sharing with my daughter’s family. On the return journey I was hoping to point out where I had once worked with Hubert Davey at his Photographic studio in Weybridge High Street, but although we passed right by, I failed to recognise its location. I have since realised why and that is because the building I knew has long since gone, and is now a Thai Restaurant, something I have since gleaned by looking on Google Earth!

Saturday, 16 June 2018

An Afternoon at Brogborough Lakeside

In the recent warmth I had begun to see a few hoverflies and dragonflies, so on this afternoon I set out with an intention to try once again to capture either species, preferably in flight. The gates to the windsurfing club being locked shut, I parked opposite the anglers’ gate, and initially put the 100mm Macro on the 5D MkIII body and slipped through the side of the gate and strolled to the water’s edge, almost immediately disturbing a dragonfly which flew over my head and over by the gate I had just passed! I thought this was a good start, but it soon simply disappeared.
There was a fair breeze between the gaps in the hedge that gave access to the water’s edge, and damselflies were flitting hither and thither either side, some already paired up with their buff-coloured females – there was no shortage of the blue males, and I only caught sight of a couple of singleton females for the rest of the time I was there. I think the wind was keeping  both damselflies and dragonflies from the open areas of the shore which was a shame as here the background was less fussy. I also caught glimpses of small brown butterflies and moths.
I spent some time here before spotting a build-up of vehicles by the entrance to the windsurfing gates, and wandered along and after the gates were opened, I brought my car inside and for a while changed lenses to the 100-400mm Canon lens and started taking shots of a lone female windsurfer who took to the water and a couple of paddleboarders, one of whom was to take a dachshund on a lead aboard for a spell on the water. 
So, though the majority of shots were of damselflies, and other small insects and bees, the gallery of images contained humans and their activities, but only one dragonfly almost hidden in the tall grass, but it was a pleasant way to enjoy the afternoon.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Forest Centre Late Spring Cycle Ride

The Forest Centre at this time is filled with Dog Roses and the many denizens of English Woodland flora, pollinators such as bees abound, and I took along the EOS 7D MkII and just the one lens, the 24-70mm with its built-in Macro switch, on occasion I did wish for something longer, especially when I turned a corner only to see the vanishing white bobtails of numerous rabbits, or distant small birds that sang all around me.
There was a lone foxglove and a single dragonfly, I briefly caught sight of hoverflies and a couple of butterflies, but much smaller insects were around in greater numbers. I spotted a pair of ladybirds, but disappointingly they were not our native species, and the pair  I found were intent on increasing their population.
The single tall Wind Turbine could be seen occasionally above the bushes and trees, and every so often its gentle whirring could be heard, as could a vehicle working on the nearby railway line. In the time I was there I saw only one train pass, and heard another. In this area it would be good to have a better service, but the nearby Millbrook Station has a paltry amount of space for the parking of cars, so is of little benefit, and the location is hardly a secure one. I spotted a notice nearby of some intended work, but there was no mention of any possibility of acquiring enough land to make this a possibility in the future, which is a shame for the numerous new homes being built in this area.
I had not really expected to be rewarded with a large number of images, so to find enough to fill two gallery pages was not too shameful, and several will make greetings cards at some stage in the future, and I needed the exercise.



Monday, 11 June 2018

Westcott Visit – to Lend a Hand

I was invited to my younger daughter’s so that her husband Tim could lay some boarding in the loft, and obviously enjoy some time with their family; I was to be downstairs in the garden measuring up the planks as directed from the loft, by Tim, and sawing them to the dimensions directed, then passing the cut lengths to Josh, who would then transport them indoors and up to Tim, who was suffering in the heat and the loose fibres from the insulation.
From my observation later of Tim when that task was complete, suggested that I might have been the luckier of the two, since I was in the open air, despite the mugginess, as Tim absolutely needed a shower, and was very itchy. I also had some breaks awaiting the next dimensions, so had grabbed the camera and caught some shots of his garden’s flowers before the sun left the top end of the garden.
Josh had taken one of my offcuts and was intent on trying his skills in the carpentry field, so I decided to step in to offer guidance, since I felt that my steadying hand could offer a degree of safety that would otherwise be lacking. Tim by now down from the loft, spotted the opportunity to pick up my camera and take a record of the event, hence the shots that appear in the gallery.

Later, despite having the wrong lens for the subject, I did get some distant shots of their Red Kites, whilst out with Lizzy, Tilly and Josh as they had a promised cycle ride, I was also able to capture a few more flower and insect shots, that can often be used for cards for Birthdays and other occasions. Since that meant I had fallen back from the others, I found myself confronted by one of the local cats in the middle of the road, and since it was surrounded by an expanse of unobstructed tarmac, I stooped low and slowly approached aforesaid cat taking a few shots with each few steps – at first it had seemed as if the cat was standing its ground to protect its territory, but in reality it was simply enjoying a stroll in the sunshine, but I was grateful for the opportunity it offered due to the expanse of surrounding uncluttered space.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Marsworth Reservoir Visit

After a meeting in the morning, I considered getting a few wildlife pictures, and finding Brogborough Lake closed, and later learning there was a windsurfing and other watersports activities up at Rutland Water which Sam was attending, I headed south towards Tring Reservoirs. On arrival, there seemed little activity on any of the three lakes, but what there was held some interest, I spotted a couple of Grebe performing their dance, but it lacked total synchronicity, and the pair parted after a while, but later I either picked up the same pair later or a new couple, but disinterest again soon set in.
Common Tern and black-headed gulls were swooping down on possible fish on Marsworth lake, but neither were around in large numbers, and I spotted a lone Tufted Duck, and also a Raven, which was very close by, on a very exposed branch. I got several shots of a single Lesser Black-backed gull as it came in to land. There were several Greylag geese, some with young families.
Later, a young Heron flew in from further along the Grand Union Canal and landed by one of the Lock Gates, then dropped down to a ledge at the bottom of the gates, and it was not overly wary of my presence which was a bonus, s/he did not abort the initial landing and later flew into the empty lock, where it seemed very interested in some nooks in the brick wall lining, but I never saw anything it may have caught. This was definitely the highlight of my afternoon as it seemed to accept my presence, so I had enough time to consider slowing the shutter speed to blur the leaking water that surrounded it. To try to discover just what was of such great interest, I took the camera off the tripod, crossed across the farther gates and lay down to avoid spooking the bird, to get a better view and try to learn what was so intriguing.
On my return to the car I met up with the Tringford Water Bailliff, Bob Menzies and a couple of other anglers, before setting of on my return trip, purposely avoiding the M1 and other major roads as I knew they were gridlocked.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Aylesbury Concert Band, Stone Fête

Proem
There is no gallery of images on this occasion, it is simply an illustrated explanation regarding one of the ways my images might be tweaked on occasion

On one of the very few occasions when I am not taking pictures of the Band in Concert, I found myself chatting to Ian who it turns out is married to one of the Band’s musicians; it is during this conversation that he mentions that he noticed that I seem to have somehow picked out an individual in some of the shots I have taken of the Band, but he somehow thought it was the way I had taken the shot. I had to own up that when taking the shot it was often because for me one person, or one group was what I envisaged capturing at that specific moment, and that when I am back at the computer and come to that shot, I realise why it was that I captured that moment and wanted to ensure others viewing were treated to what I had sensed at the time I pressed the shutter.
I use Lightroom for processing the images I take, and it is the reason I shoot in Raw, so have the ability to use the Develop module to subtly alter individual images that become those I then put into a Gallery and place on the server, to be viewed over the Internet from my Blog. I am often using a zoom lens, so frequently an image is used without further cropping and what I am then doing is ensuring that I capture detail in both shadows and highlights by altering the range to suit what I am hoping to project from the scene.
It is at this point I may wish to use the entire picture, but try to somehow highlight the area I want the viewer to notice. The Radial filter is what I then bring into play by making an ellipse around the chosen area and may also rotate it to finesse where I wish to draw attention, which on this occasion was to darken beyond the musician playing the clarinet, and rotate the ellipse slightly anticlockwise. The tool can made to operate either within or without the ellipse that has been drawn, also the subsequent mask that is being created can also be feathered to apply the changes I make with the required subtlety to hide how I have achieved the effect.
  Here is the image before I have made the alterations I have just described, and as you can see your eye is treated to several rows of musicians right through to the percussion section at the rear, and even though my focus is upon the Clarinet section, no person is noticeably more obvious than another, it is entirely egalitarian, however, when I took the shot I was focussed upon the lady in the blue jacket, so when I wanted to draw the observer’s eye to where I wanted them to look, I despotically lessened the contrast of those around and beyond her so that the observer did my bidding and concentrated on this individual player. I also lessened the highlights.
To get across my point, I have over-egged it a tad here, but it is still sufficiently subtle as to not look ham-fisted in my attempt at explaining the mechanics involved.

Note I did not tick the ‘Invert Mask’ box, so that the changes I made to the parameters I chose were applied beyond the selected area of the ellipse. I lessened the Contrast, because had that area been less brightly lit, it would lack contrast relative to the lit area, in addition I targetted the highlights and lowered these too for a similar reason, and lastly the feathering of the mask was just enough that there was no obvious sign of the ellipse that created the mask being obvious when the visitor viewed the end result.
Creating Galleries of images quickly, efficiently and effectively is the reason that I use Lightroom for the task, since to involve Photoshop to carry out retouching prior to creating a gallery adds way too much time to the process, and though the tools are less sophisticated, with practice ways can be found that mitigate the limitations and allow a large number of retouched images to be available to the Internet audience in fairly short order. Another beauty of working in this manner is that if I am approached for a high resolution image to be used in Print, the hard work is largely done, and the subsequent file can be despatched rapidly, and this leaves Photoshop for the more subtle or detailed work by exporting directly from the original in the Lightroom catalog.
One last point, despite my having exaggerated the effect to explain the technique, it does not show an ellipse to give away how I achieved the effect, and I might add that I am also able to deal with the extraneous highlights or shadows separately if needed.
Ian, I hope this explanation is helpful; I dedicate it to you and your wife. I hope it may help others who wish to use such tools in Lightroom when they are taking a large number of photos for display in galleries rather than individual images.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Watton at Stone Cricket Team at Bamville

The Cricketers from Watton at Stone visited Harpenden to play against Bamville Cricket Club on Sunday and the weather was warm and close, as was the match that played out in the afternoon with an end that was equally close.
I cannot claim to be writing about the match from a cricketer’s standpoint, I simply try to record what I find of interest from what I can capture, and this is strongly biassed towards my capturing the bails in the air and the stumps ‘akimbo’! That is challenge enough; to capture a fielder catching the ball direct from the batsman requires a thorough recognition of the characteristics of the bowler, the batsman, considerable knowledge of the game and the relative skills of individual fielders – my knowledge of the above can be summed up as limited in the extreme, or more honestly as zilch!
Now that the cataract in my hitherto dominant right eye has been rectified, my skill lies with my eyes and reasonable reactions to what they see and anticipate from my observation of the play. I have a weighty but very steady tripod, so moving around is slightly restricted, and every so often the fielders share my chosen viewpoint thus I have to wait a while before I have a clear line of sight on the batsman, or if they seem rooted to the spot, I have to move and reset the tripod level again. When deciding to follow the action of a bowler, it is well nigh impossible to follow the entire run-up due to the proximity of the umpire, and the batsman at the crease, so that often results in less than tidy images.
If the bowler is powerful, this makes inclusion of the wicket keeper less easy due to the distance he will be from the stumps, so I tend to favour the batsmen as my favoured subjects, and some can be right-handed others left-, so as play within an over progresses, my viewpoint which had one of the batsmen facing me, can change when odd numbers of runs are achieved. I therefore tend to err on the photographic and photogenic aspects, such as from where is the light coming, the composition and any drama that occurs. Crisp shots of the bails in the air and the stumps re-arranged therefore seems like a good measure of whether my photos are a success – I missed two such occasions in this match due to my attempts at concentrating on the bowlers in both instances, but hopefully the batsmen’s play of the ball helps to tell the story of the afternoon alongside the record of their occasional demise due to accurate bowling. My apologies for the total absence of the record of great catches of which ironically I did actually witness two, with my number one eyeball!
Play was interrupted by a friendly Golden Retriever, and I manage to get a few shots of an overflying gull, just to add to the day’s action, and thank you Peter for some sustenance, the end of the day however was less successful and ultimately very costly, I managed to pick up a sharp flint from where I parked my car, and with the air in my tyre only lasting to the far side of Harpenden, my journey home was delayed waiting for the AA, because, the puncture could not be repaired and the rest of the journey was completed using a spacesaver tyre, and the day following necessitated a drive to Luton to replace the tyre, as the damage was right at the very edge of the tyre.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Brogborough Busy on the Lake – Minimal Wind

The weather was warm and sunny, and with a lack of a brisk wind, I knew that the activity would likely mainly be Paddleboarding, but due to my arriving well into the afternoon, that was drawing to a close and a few windsurfers were taking to the water, amongst them André who was out on the latest upgrade to his own creation of hydrofoil, and I learned he was getting aloft more frequently, as he both gained experience of both the hydrofoil design and the handling of his craft.
For that reason, I have created a general gallery as well as two smaller single pages devoted entirely to his activity in order to help him assess his performance:
Click here for one, and here for the second.
As always, clicking the text headline takes you to the main gallery of thumbnails
I hope that the three give an account of the afternoon’s activity. I also managed some shots of some of the wildlife, swans, a cormorant and Canada Geese. In order to maintain as low a viewpoint I was once again using the Benbo tripod, which affords a really stable platform from which to shoot using the 7D MkII on a gimbal head, absolutely necessary since André was only able to find sufficient wind well away from the shore, so I was using the lens almost entirely at the full 600mm.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Stevington to Harrold-Odell Nature Park

Originally setting off to look for areas close by where abandoned quarry pits, might now be accessible and offer sitings of indigenous wildlife I surrounded one such area close by Stewartby, but it was surrounded by established hawthorn bushes, with no access, and even less chance of seeing what might lay beyond, so I ventured north towards Harrold-Odell Country Park, a Nature Reserve run By Bedford Borough Council.
On the way, I came across a small layby with a descriptive board describing local features, notably the reason I pulled over which was the distant sighting of a windmill. This was near Stevington, so I took out a camera and two lenses, and put on boots to make my way along the nearby path through long grass, and abundant nettles heading for the windmill, I had spotted a van close by, which seemed to render any photos from a distance out of the question. Once I finally arrived at the structure there was even less chance for a shot at this time as it was very much a work in progress, as the van belonged to Dorothea Restorations, a company that took its name from initial work the fledgling company undertook at a quarry in Wales, not as I imagined; the forename of an entrepreneurial lady who founded the company! There were steel guys supporting the structure outside, and a mass of steelwork supporting the entire mechanism within as this is an example of a Post Mill, where the main structure is supported on a single post, allowing the structure to be rotated around this central post.
Much of its vital woodwork has rotted, which is why it is being repaired to preserve it for future generations. The siting of the mill is very picturesque, and as I walked up to the building the wind came up and stayed for the entire time I was there, which meant it was not simply in that place for its visual appeal!
I returned to the car having taken a few pictures and headed for my original destination which was still some way further, and being a weekday was very quiet upon my arrival with only a handful of visitors, and even fewer cars, it would seem it is a natural destination for the area’s locals especially those with dogs. I went through the steel kissing gate away from the nearer lake to see what I might find and it was a pair of geese, that so far I have been unable to put a name to, it was the male that attracted my attention as it seemed somewhat haughty for a bird that seemed ever so slightly scruffy around the neck. I soon found it was not alone, and I edged ever closer to get shots that might later allow me to name the species.
Later still, I came across a lady with two dogs, the younger of which definitely had a passion for swimming for thrown balls, so I grabbed a record of its antics, but kept my distance when he came ashore, since he also loved a good shake, and I valued my kit!
Once the gallery is up, I shall take another look to try to ascertain the name for the geese, because my cursory glance through my references failed to find a match.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Stewartby Lake – Powerboats in their Element

Sunshine always brings out the best of Water, reflections off the surface, ripples, when disturbed, and when really exercised – Spray, and Spume – Powerboats tear water apart, and create the drama for those who watch from the shore; armed with my camera, a long lens and a robust platform from which to capture the excitement that the performers are enjoying, I spent the afternoon trying to do justice to what the participants are enjoying in full.
I parked up at the far end as close to shade as I could find, and put together my tripod, the Benbo and gimbal head, and my 7D MkII and the Sigma 150-600mm. Wanted to get as low as possible to gain clearance between the hulls and the water when possible, which meant setting up the tripod where there was a chance of my finding a sound footing for the tripod legs and a raised bank behind to allow me to sit, so that the camera and I was as low as possible, but the foreshore is an unstable jumble of bricks, so this was not as easy as I had imagined, but in the end I found three different viewpoints that were satisfactory, though the first was marred by a very powerful odour.
Only once I was settled did I realise, I was right in front of the family I had met on my last visit, and also later their mother when she arrived was parked alongside my car! On this occasion, I did not have my spare telephoto with me, but I need not have worried as he was shooting movies on this occasion.
The reason for the differing viewpoints was also related to the lighting angle and to vary the shots as much as possible, but the available angles were still somewhat limited, by  both the distance and that the enclosure itself limited the choices, so overall coverage is limited to one corner. On this occasion due to having been before, the number of shots is fewer than before, and I was more ruthless in what I accepted.

I hope that I have captured the spirit of the afternoon, and I hope the other inhabitants of the lake; the swans, their cygnets and the grey lag goose capture the overall atmosphere of the place.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Bedfordshire Outing in Excellent Light

Warm sunshine and crystal clear blue sky was ideal weather to spend an afternoon taking photographs, so I was easily tempted, and I found an abundance of different subjects to make it worth my while and create a gallery with a span of interests. It also proved to be a day with my meeting and chatting to several others, a couple of other photographers and villagers with whom I encountered along the way.
The verges along the country roads I travelled were all well-covered by having grown fast due to recent rainfall and a distinct improvement in the weather thereafter, which meant it was not easy to pick a spot to park as any potential hazards were hidden, so with no place to park when I wanted to take my first shots, I pulled into a farm to see whether I could stop for a few moments. This action proved to be fortuitous as it was the location of a car repair facility with a specialist spray booth, and in speaking to the only man present, he said the boss was not around, but if I was quick he was sure that would be fine. It looked a very professional outfit, and so I enquired whether there were possibilities of photographing their work and I left a card for the owner’s return.
As it so happened, my return trip took me past the same location, and I was able to meet the owner, and there does seem there might be possibilities; it turns out he was for several years employed by the Maclaren team, and I had a promising chat when meeting him.
The first shots were of a splendid house and its surroundings alongside a road that dropped from a hill down a dip before rising. Later I spotted signs to a village which might have been named in a romantic novel: Newton Blossomville, and I had met the name before, but never visited the village, so I put that right. On the way I spotted a pair of very ramshackle roofless cottages, and decided they were worth capturing, and I actually met the guardian and had a lengthy chat with hime and learned a bit of their history, and it would seem that after lengthy processes will finally be replaced and let.
The rest of the trip was spent in several locations involving shots of a vast field filled entirely with solar panel arrays, and another area of energy production; a series of Wind Turbines, set against young Oilseed Rape fields, and finally I parked in Newton Blossomville and spent the rest of my time with varied subjects from buildings, flowers, walls, knotted wood, to birds – altogether a very enjoyable afternoon of photography.