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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Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Brogborough Blessed with Sunday Wind


After a somewhat dull and almost windless Day on the Saturday, Sunday brought cheer to Brogborough Lake and anticipatory smiles to numerous windsurfers. This being November did however mean that the hardy sailors were well covered meaning that when I was lucky to have them heading towards me I was greeted by a balaclava clad face making facial recognition tough.
I set myself up beyond the boundary of the Windsurfers’ club area and trudged my heavy tripod a fair distance along the foreshore and was atop a steep bank. Had it been dry for a while, I might have been tested to climb down to have low viewpoint, but it had been wet for a few days, so I was not about to risk myself or the Benbo with Canon EOS 7D MkII camera and valuable Sigma 150-600mm long lens, so I was exposed to the wind, and obviously very conspicuous to my subject sailors, and that soon became obvious as several headed straight for me, the long lens and heavy tripod obviously a magnet!.
Today was a day when I arrived fairly early as I was not going to be staying around too long as I was due to be over to my daughter’s house to pick her up to go to the Aylesbury Mayor’s Concert in celebration of the Centenary of the Cessation of Hostilities in the First World War. This also the reason this gallery is much delayed as I decided that event and its images was a higher priority.
I hope the wait is worthwhile; certainly I enjoyed the favourable bright sun and wind and considering how short my stay was, there is a good number of shots in the gallery that I am finally putting up on the blog. I have spent a considerable amount of time stuck in front of the computer, and have a stiff neck for my troubles. To be completely honest though there is also another reason for the delay, and that is that I stayed up late one evening to watch the recording of the penultimate Grand Prix of the 2018 season to watch Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton settle the team Prize for the Year.
Motor Racing being a sport of major interest for me having been an Assistant Chief Pit Marshal for some thirty years for the BRSCC. A further reminder of that career for me was when I learned of the recent death of the Racing Driver, David Morgan. It was quite some time ago, when Crystal Palace was a regular venue for Motor racing and the two Assistant Chief Pit Marshals, Peter Melville and myself on the very last lap of a Formula 3 Trophy Final, had to jump over the barriers to part the two drivers, David Morgan and James Hunt from a fight that had ensued whilst the other cars were still racing past! The crash itself was not covered by the BBC, but the scene was carried in print, and in the next week’s BRSCC News magazine!
Excuse the digression, but I still maintain my interest as I am fortunate that when I was Sales Manager of a London Colour lab we used to do retouching for Charles Settrington, now Lord Richmond and due to him asking our Retouchers regarding Colour Management, they recommended he contact me, and it was fortunate only the day before he had been in the audience when I had been speaking at TUC Congress Hall, so he got in touch, and subsequently I went down to Goodwood House to help and stayed the night, so he could have my help from the following morning! As a result of this friendship and work connection I have been lucky enough to be invited to the circuit ever since.
Back to the matter in hand, do enjoy the gallery of Sunday’s pictures, sorry for the delay.

Monday, 12 November 2018

Remembrance Service – Aylesbury Concert Band - St. Mary's Church

I drove to Quainton to pick up my daughter to collect her and the far less weighty Tenor Sax and head for the car park in Aylesbury Town Centre where she would be playing with The Aylesbury Concert Band to celebrate the Mayor's Centenary Remembrance Service in Commemoration and Thanks for those who gave their lives in service of their country in The Great War from 1914 to 1918.
I was joining her for the Rehearsal, and I soon learned I was going to be some considerable distance from the Band, so began shooting early whilst I was still able to wander quietly around to be able to obtain less obstructed views of the Band Members, I also realised that with the low level of lighting I was going to find it hard to get the quality of shots I wanted without something to give me extra support, so I soon headed back to the car to collect my monopod as a tripod would not be feasible.
It was definitely a good move, because I found my self shooting at speeds of 1/20th of a second if I wanted to keep a low ISO and the noise level to a minimum, which meant I was often over-shooting to ensure the success rate was good. The Conductor, Rob Wicks's, baton was certainly going to often be a blur even when I had managed to hold my camera and lens steady! Almost all of the shots in the Concert proper were taken at full aperture, and I still often had to resort to setting an ISO speed as high as 6400˚. During rehearsal, I should have pushed the speed higher as I was in the low light in the left aisle whilst Alison Langer was practising her piece, and I really needed the extra speed to capture the pianist's hands at the keyboard.
The Concert was full of Music that was familiar and often rousing, and there is always a great chance of me singing with gusto, especially when the audience can cover any mistakes I might make in my exuberance. The congregation were amused by the presiding Minister's request we sing Jerusalem through a second time to allow enough time for the Collection! I was more than happy to oblige.
Altogether another enjoyable evening, the only slight sadness was that the length of the event meant that on my return I spent very little time with my young grandchildren before they went up to bed.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Brogborough Saturday – A Light Wind

As I left Marston Moretaine, heading for Brogborough, there was a reasonable amount of Wind, so I felt there might be a reasonable chance of some action on the lake with the Windsurfers, but on arrival, although there were several people milling around preparing themselves, there was little evidence of the wind here – where it mattered!
I was almost considering leaving without even setting up the camera, but the wind came up a little, and the light was good, and I was hooked – so back to the car and I set up the tripod and camera; the activity of the participant windsurfers had made it impossible for me to resist and I realised that to leave now having shown my face was to let them down.
There would be a gallery of images to show for my attendance, and I will have given those who came a chance to relive the afternoon, they would be grateful I did not snub them just because I felt there was nothing exciting, and I learned there was a better wind on the Sunday, so I began shooting and for my trouble I got a cheeky response later (frame 6132) which later I spotted whilst editing is probably a comment on the first shot in that sequence (frame 6119) where I failed miserably in my focus, so although it should have ended up on the Cutting Room Floor, I have let it stand to atone my sin in failing. (Note to self: Must do Better).
So in gratitude for those who showed their skill on the water, please enjoy the rest of the shots I captured.

Friday, 9 November 2018

An Autumn Afternoon in Bedfordshire and a Kestrel

Grabbing the kit I headed northwards to the A421 to go East towards Sandy on the A603, (a number familiar to my late father whose first Squadron in the RAF was the eponymous 603 University Air Squadron); I stopped along the way at Eyeworth where soon after I parked my car I spotted a Kestrel atop a chimney pot at a farm. However, I had very specifically only got the 5D MkIII with the 24-70mm and 100mm with me, my 100-400mm was stinside the car a hundred plus yards back down the lane!
I did quickly take a few shots using the zoom at its longest but headed back to the car in the vain hope of the bird remaining atop its viewing platform. It took a few moments, and I was rewarded with it staying there just long enough before it flew off, to capture a mere handful of pictures. A little later I got some of it on the telegraph lines, but as I stealthily tried to move beyond it for better lighting, it duly moved the same distance I had managed, to keep the same angle relationship from the sun – birds and numerous other animals know precisely what a photographer's need and which focal lengths they are using, to thwart us in our endeavours. To illustrate this, on one occasion, I had been shooting a kingfisher at some distance with a maximum 400mm lens and twice (in the very same timeframe) it has flown so close that only a lens capable of focussing to less than four feet could have focussed, and it settled for twenty seconds just beyond arm's length, then flew closer still in an arc then disappered into the far distance!
A couple of years ago when in the same spot at Marsworth, a heron landed around fifteen feet from me, where it was largely shielded by intervening branches, so I silently removed the camera from the quick-release plate and tried to move to my right to clear the majority of intervening branches, and I hung precariously from a spindly piece of adjoining bush and almost fell into the water, but on this occasion I managed to grab three shots before my strength and dodgy standing meant I had to return to safety – it was close, I did slip but fortunately I did avoid falling!
A screenshot of where that item is on my blog for those who might be interested:
On this afternoon I only managed a mere handful of images, but it gave me a further insight into the surrounding countryside that is close around me, and I shall certainly venture into this area again. The hydrangeas close by to where I parked were in the shade and looked very fresh, possibly due to the woods close by, the narrowness of the road and shielding from the buildings, and most obviously due to the care afforded by the house owner.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Brief Visit to Perse School

Over the weekend I paid a visit to Sawston, Cambridge and Saffron Walden, to meet up with my daughter and Granddaughter for a snack lunch at a small restaurant where she now works, and later visiting my daughter's School in Saffron Walden, where she had work to complete prior to the following week. Whilst there I took a few pictures of her pupil's work and their beautifully airy classroom.
The images of the bee early in the accompanying gallery were taken in my daughter's adjoining neighbour's front garden. The flowers it was feasting upon were in surprising condition given how late in the season this was, and is a testament to the effect this late warmth and the care the neighbour has taken in looking after them.
These images were delayed by my working on a large tranche of images from the weekend taken in the continuing Autumn warmth at one of my pair of nearby lakes, at Stewartby the former site of a large brickworks for which this county of Bedfordshire was renowned; many of which have now become centres of Leisure activity in this area.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Stewartby – A Warm Autumn Walk

Monday, afternoon, and I find I have cleared my desk, and since it was very warm considering we were now in November and Autumn was coming to a close; it is often a time of cold winds and rain. I decided it was too good a an opportunity to miss as the light would definitely soon be departing as the clocks have now gone back bringing evenings ever closer.
I drove a short distance to Stewartby Lake and decided on a walk around the lake anticlockwise toting the 5D MkIII and the 24-70mm with its Macro facility. There was a milky sun which occasionally was almost completely occluded by clouds, and always when I really wanted the direct sunlight to break through! There was no human activity on the surface of the lake, so if I were to find subjects it was going to either be leaves or possibly some avian subjects, so I wandered along the path occasionally diverting down smaller paths that led to the foreshore to see what I could find.
Some of these were tunnel-like with the sun if out, reflected on the water amidst dark foliage, The ducks on the water soon paddled out of sight due to the narrowing view I had and their sense I might offer danger. I found that the ivy clinging to the branches of trees seemed very fresh presumably at the expense of the host trees whose branches they clung to and climbed.
In one of the clearings on the opposite side to the lake I found an abundance of apples, and there seemed to be way too many to be simply windfalls, but I could be mistaken. When photographing the foreshore it is always obvious who the previous owners of the land were, because of the abundance of bricks with names such as London Brick, or Phorpres stamped in their frogs. These lakes such as nearby Brogborough owe their origin to the London Brick Company's excavation of the local clay. They have now become lakes and been acquired for more leisurely activities such as powerboating, sailing, windsurfing, and fishing and the enclosing land has cycleways, paths, grasslands and picnicking areas, and is home to birds, butterflies, and insects in wide varieties.
In my walk of a mere sixth of the way around the lake I met some really interesting people with whom I chatted, one who had two wonderful dogs he was walking, a man who worked nearby at a local engineering business, who showed me a super quality picture he had taken of a dragonfly that landed close by to him, and a charming young lady who who had just settled down to rest on one of the many seats provided, with lake views that take the stresses out of workaday life. This lake and its paths are wonderfully peaceful and friendly places, which every so often can be somewhat less peaceful when this quiet gives over to the exciting sights and sounds of powerboats.
I am guilty to photographing both the peace and the roar of life in this park, the Forest of Marston Vale; it caters well to a lot of Community activity and it has a large Wind Turbine that even powers the Visitor Centre and its power surplus is fed back to the National Grid.

Friday, 2 November 2018

Autumn Sunset Images, Bedfordshire…

The Day had been much warmer than yesterday and the wind had died and just as the sun was setting I was free enough to take a quick drive to two spots where I felt the low angled sun would provide a peaceful landscape, despite lacking any clouds which to my mind always add to any landscape image.
The first spot was on the road from Marston Moretaine towards Cranfield where the low sun’s glancing rays just caught the gentle undulation of the ploughed fields. The second was the lake at Brogborough which is normally the background to my shots of windsurfers, paddleboarders and dragonflies, but where the essential is for bright sun, a reasonable wind, and some scudding clouds, this evening with barely a zephyr to ripple the surface of the lake, it was the calm and serenity of the clear evening that attracted me to capture a few images.
Had I been free a few evenings back I would have been able to capture some stunning clouds that I witnessed as I drove back here only a few minutes earlier on that day, those were skies just for the eyes (if I were only a painter! But then, I don’t complain as I do enjoy my ability to capture at least something of what I see with the help of my cameras and share these on this blog).

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Afternoon Visit to Marston Reservoir

I was late in setting off and also not helped by road diversions, and my own carelessness by taking the incorrect exit from a roundabout, which meant a long trip to return and take the correct one! Not the most auspicious start for the trip to Marsworth Reservoir.
I also had to unlock the gate upon arrival, then when I had put the camera and tripod up, then had to clamber over the relocked gate! I had decided to use my lightest tripod as I anticipated a fair trek, and my knees are weak at present; this carbon fibre tripod does not open very wide on the first click, so with a long, heavy lens, it is none too stable, so that hardly helped, but having clambered over, I set off through the woods, and came across a trio of anglers already packing up after a catch-less morning and by now, some dark clouds were blowing in my general direction, and the wind had risen. 
I was soon widening the legs of the tripod, and started shooting, amongst the early activities I spotted was one of the gulls attempting to land on the flimsy branches of a heavily laden tree of berries; I captured its first and failed attempt as well as its next and successful foray. A gull did not strike me as the most likely bird to consider berries, as in its marine habitat I would expect it to be mainly interested in small fish just below the water’s surface, though perhaps I should not be too surprised having watched one of the TV programmes where an underwater photographer had filmed roach feeding off low-hanging berries in a river.
In the main gallery linked from the headline text, there are just the shots where the gull gets its targeted titbit, but here is a link of both the failed and successful attempts upon the berries:- 


There is also a further separate gallery, where a young Grebe is equally persistent in its target — the capture and swallowing of its prey, a small tiddler of a fish, and during the period that I was watching it had been making dives every twenty seconds or so, before coming up successfully, and only after I had clicked some three shots did I spot that finally success had rewarded it! That I caught the sequence was as pleasing as it must have been for the Grebeling.

Here is a link to that gallery:-


I have just realised that both those sets of images effectively topped and tailed the visit as both were close the beginning and end of my Marsworth trip. Altogether it proved to be a worthwhile trip, despite the wasted time and fuel. Although the Cormorant is not the most loved of birds to inhabit our lakes, I did get some shots of one in flight, Anglers would have different ideas on shooting this species, and it does not involve a camera!

Saturday, 27 October 2018

London Visit to Wex Photographic

I had decided to try to take a look at the new Canon full-frame mirrorless body to see whether this could aid my photography of birds and motorsports, but although I did get the chance to handle the camera, it had no adaptors for my Canon lenses, which lessened the value of my visit. However, despite the chilly wind the sun was bright so the chance of using the camera I had with me: the 5D MkIII and the 24-70mm with macro, it proved to be ideal to capture some of the new architecture that now crowds London’s skyline. I mean ‘crowds’ as all the new buildings are only partially seen between the gaps of others, the only noticeable exception being the ‘Shard’ which is close to the river. Also, since I was in the East of the City and I had not scheduled to spend the entire day in London, that was not on the current itinerary, so I reckon that is a for a later trip. 
Today was to get a chance to take a look and handle the Canon EOS R, and although I did manage to get some example shots taken, which were then transferred to my CF Card, I did at least get a feel for the controls. I did however come away with one very strong criticism – Why, if you are dropping the CF Card in favour of the now far faster SD variant, why was the opportunity not taken to build in two slots, which most of the current crop of rival cameras have already done? Is that a Bold Canon Statement that this Is Not a Pro Camera; that will come later? The idea behind the three EF Lens Adapter variants was very obviously saying “We want existing Canon Users to buy this body with all your acquired earlier glass, then gradually replace these with the RF variety”, to then lessen the advantage by the non-provision of a second slot – sorry Canon, why provide the competition with such an obvious advantage?
I maybe a voice in the wilderness, but I seriously reckon there should be a Model 1.1 with the second card slot, Sony and Fuji must be rubbing their hands with Glee at this lacuna. Until I take a look at the few shots I took, I cannot be certain that another observation I made is valid, but the image on screen was far cooler in colour temperature versus what I was seeing through the viewfinder, so one of the first checks I intend making is a look at which colour is recorded on the card, if that matches what I saw through the viewfinder then I am slightly less concerned, but since it is possible to alter the JPEGs before say uploading them to the Web or one’s blog, then this may well be a serious concern. To my simplistic view the two screens, despite their differing resolution should be a match for colour. The area I was in although it had supplementary lighting was largely flooded with daylight, and to my eye, the viewfinder was accurate, the flip out screen was quite an amount cooler.
I really need to learn more about this camera, but apart from the above comment I was impressed with the cleanness of the images and they were at High ISO, and the stabilisation was good when I decided to opt for an f/stop of f/11 which forced me to up the ISO, as I wanted to check the greater depth of field, as despite it being daylight the light was not particularly bright.
The flip out screen was very robust and certainly that was a feature I have often wanted for low or high-level shots. Unless Canon rapidly add a second card slot, it looks as if I will have to hang out for the next iteration which is a disappointment as in so many ways this is a body I have been waiting for, since going to Sony was never an option.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Late Autumn at Woburn Park

The warm sunshine at this time of year is very tempting, as soon this warm spell will  give way to high winds and rain and we will be seeing the portents of Winter, so it is not a difficult decision to make and grab camera gear and head off out — on this occasion to head over to Woburn and the Deer Park. Since I had the Benbo with the 7D Mk II, I was hoping the Staff might let me have some grace over parking, and I was offered an hour’s grace.
            The only disappointment was the deer had had very different plans and did not oblige with a trip to the pond at the entrance, so when my time was up, I drove back to the Car Park, where I chose to pick up the 150-400mm, which I knew I could use handheld, I also had the 24-70mm with its macro option, and now, whereas the 7D MkII was the body which gave me the 1.4 times advantage on the longer lens, I was now using the 5D Mk III so the throw was far less.
My knees at present are weak, so there was no way I was trudging through the woods with a heavy tripod, and I even forsook the monopod in favour of setting higher ISOs on the full frame body, which did give me the option of having more than the long lens in the camera bag.
On my return to the pond I spotted a black swan on the lake near the entrance gate. I did capture some of one’s display of its very striking white wing feathers. What I found rather surprising was how tolerant were the normal white swans were, even when at close quarters. I have often found swans to be quite aggressive towards other birds on the water.
At the pond by the Entrance kiosks there were a pair of Egyptian Geese. This pair were quietly munching at the grass, the female resting rather more than the male, only following when he had moved several goose-lengths distant — not exactly the most energetic of birds!
Upon my second arrival at the pond by the entrance kiosks, The deer had come closer to the pond and soon came to the edge and stepping tentatively into the shallow water. It was almost as if one deer had to go first before others followed.
            I stayed awhile taking shots before the fairly long walk through the woods where I took a few more pictures of some of the leaves and berries that heralded the beginning of the autumn season, and from the profusion of berries, I did wonder whether this year’s Winter was to be harsher than last’s. This afternoon had been very warm, but with a cloudless sky, the evening cooled swiftly and the night was a lot colder.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Digi-Cluster Meeting - West Herts College

Having spent time at Brogborough Lake photographing Windsurfers facing the challenge of a fitful wind with at least the direction of light in my favour I headed back briefly to offload those images, clearing the cards and selecting a very different choice of lenses to drive down first to Harpenden where I would be picking up Product Designer Peter Carr, then almost immediately jump back in the car with the briefest of polite greetings to Sue so she could return to watching a favourite TV programme, and with Peter using his mobile phone to aid his navigation for us to head south through the increasing traffic.
It was my fault that we had no time to drink a cup of tea as I had left it rather late in leaving Brogborough Lake and I needed to download those images to ensure they were safely uploaded and the cards readied for the images I was to be capturing once we had arrived at the College for our Networking event. We timed our arrival with perfect precision, because towards the end of the journey there was only slight drizzle, just before we got to the College Car Park, the heavens opened and it was a deluge! Peter asked whether I had an umbrella and replying positively I got out of the car forgetting that the key was still in the ignition, so the boot was firmly locked, so that mean returning to the front of the car, removing the key from the steering column and then getting the brolly out and giving it to Peter who had just left the protection of the vehicle, I still had to retrieve my camera case and briefcase, and lock up, so really, there was not much point in me sheltering under the brolly, but nevertheless I did so, but I was completely soaked through.
Fortunately it was warm rain and I have a sense of humour, so my spirits were still buoyant, but my shirt was like a flannel and a shade darker than it had been when dry, but there was considerable concern for my wellbeing from staff from I believe Clock and I was soon provided with a towel which went a small way towards soaking up some of the surplus water, and several options were suggested as to how the shirt could be passed through a hand dryer in the toilets, but in fact my body heat and the dry atmosphere sorted things fairly efficiently – so quite an entrance bearing in mind our arrival was later than most! Ultimate irony  – two minutes after our entry, the rain stopped!
I put down all the gear and soon grabbed the camera and set to trying to capture the warm atmosphere in the voluble throng and occasional nobbles of crisps and sips of a drink with which someone kindly plied me; memory defeats me as to whom I owe thanks for that, but if you know who you are, my grateful thanks, it was appreciated. We soon moved from this entrance area into the long room where tables were arranged for us to sit for the presentations and I took the opportunity to get some shots of that informality and was then in a position to capture the introduction and the later presentations which were preceded by a couple of 90-second pitches. The most impressive of the main ones was undoubtedly the ongoing story of SwipeStation, and the participation of Seedrs and an explanation of how that worked. My apologies for a severe lack of information on the various speakers, as at the end of the evening the neckstraps were returned and I did not manage to glean all the names of Sponsors and Speakers from the inserted ticket.
Later food and drink arrived and less formal and often animated conversations ensued and my shooting came to an end. Thanks for a well-organised and really interesting evening, I was hoping that my lawn would have welcomed the rain, but it seemed to have given my home area a complete miss, my shirt earlier had received more than my garden!

Friday, 12 October 2018

Briefest of Brogborough Lake Visits

In Marston Moretaine the wind was reasonably strong, so despite only having a short window of time to pay a visit, I decided on a swift visit to see whether the slight and fitful breeze might just tempt a few sailors onto the lake. On my arrival I found just one sail on the horizon, as the wind direction meant they would heading backward and forth at a narrow angle towards the launching area, which favoured me from a photographic standpoint, so even though a single sail was not what I was hoping the chances of others venturing out was good, as I could see others making their preparations.
I decided that it was worth my taking a chance and setting up the tripod on the bank, close to the water such that there was a good likelihood they would often be heading almost head-on with reasonable side lighting, but that rather depended upon how much sunshine I might have and though when I arrived there was some, clouds certainly put that somewhat out of the question for most of the time.
When the sun caught the distant trees this did provide some colour as can be seen in the shot that heads this narrative. In conversation with a couple of the sailors I did reckon there could be some jumps if I was lucky but it would be difficult as it really need more wind, and on several occasions it would look promising only to deceive by disappearing in the very next instant!
Were it easy, where would be the challenge? I think at the height of the time I was there I think there may have been half a dozen on the water, and possibly had I been able to stay longer I might have taken a few more exciting images, but my time certainly was not wasted as I enjoyed chatting with some of those who had come along, and capturing a jump or two considering both the conditions and how brief was my visit; it was worth the visit.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Sunny Brogborough Lake – Only Light Wind!

Warmth and Sunshine Late in the year is still tempting even though the wind was light and somewhat fitful. When I arrived lakeside there was only one man on the water, so I wandered into the Clubhouse to see who else was around, rather than immediately ready my camera and Benbo Tripod, but I need not have been concerned; the temptation for the windsurfers to grab some of this autumn warmth on the lake, when the sun was still warm and the sky a clear but pale blue, was not going to be missed despite there being no more than a light zephyr to ruffle the water’s surface.
I set up the 7D MkII with the Sigma 150-600mm lens and originally headed very much to the left to put the sun as behind me as I could, but the vegetation was too restrictive, so I made for the jetty instead. Though not the steadiest of platforms the angle of view was much wider. There were only a mere handful on the water when at full strength, so the shots are more repetitive than for most visits I make, but I never  baulk at keeping my hand and eye in, but I do not think that these were my best shots, due to my selection of too wide an aperture and too low an ISO speed, and perhaps I might have been better turning off the stabilisation, but hindsight is always so much clearer!
Sam Barnes certainly featured strongly as I was trying to capture him when aloft on his hydrofoil-equipped board. It was however a very pleasant way to spend the afternoon and keep my hand in.

Fruitless Wait for Greylag Overflight

Due to the weight of my Benbo tripod, I drove along Station Road to be opposite the Kissing gate entrance to the Marston Vale Forest Centre.
I have been using the dusk to await the evening departure of the Greylag Geese from Stewartby Lake to their nighttime resting place, but their route is not entirely predictable, governed by the wind direction and the appearance or not, of the sun. On this occasion the afternoon and early evening was cloudy, with the occasional break to a misty glow. Quite early on a small group of birds came across, but I was unsure due to them flying at such a distance and away from me, I could not be sure whether they were Canada Geese or Greylag.
Later sadly it turned out to be Canada Geese, and they decided on the worst direction possible in relation to where I was stationed as not only were they distant, and their formation untidy, the background was of power pylons and trees, and this came way into my wait and was extremely scrappy and nary a single image was worth salvaging!
Up till that time, and beyond, I captured the fading colours of autumn brambles and blackberries, a small flying insect, and some of the cloud formations, so not entirely wasted time, but no Geese in Vee Formation!

Thursday, 4 October 2018

An Ampthill Park Visit

I wondered whether the small pond in Ampthill Park might hold some interest, so I parked the car and grabbed  the EOS 5D MkIII with the 24-70mm lens and before I even entered spotted a squirrel and thought it seemed reasonably bold, but found that had I chosen a longer lens then my distance would have been fine, but on moving closer the animal decided that was a step too far! He took to the higher branches of the nearby tree, and was soon hidden by the foliage, or certainly at least my eyes!
I had better luck with another a short way further, but if squirrels were to be the subject I would need to choose something longer from the car, and on this occasion, it did not hold much interest. I ended up capturing a few shots by the banks of the small pond which I believe is known as Westminster Pond, though why I have no idea. There was a lone angler there, but I soon learned he was actually packing up to leave after apparently a successful morning.
I did find that there were several very bleached dead trees set against the greener living neighbours, but the grass surrounding was still closer to hay in colour, but the sky was a brilliant and clear blue, fading somewhat in the distance. When I first arrived there were a few dogwalkers, but within a short while, it would seem the call had gone out for every dog owner in Bedfordshire to head for the park; almost every car that now drew up was disgorging at least one dog, but many with two or more. I suppose it was lunchtime, but I still found the numbers to be extraordinarily high considering it was a weekday.
I did more walking than picture-taking, which had not been my intention, but it gave me an idea as to what was happening in the park, I was very surprised at the abundance of Chestnuts, and the trees had yet to take on the colours of autumn, it was also pleasantly warm. In walking through the woods to reach the pond I came across a vast vent for the train tunnel that runs beneath, but I was surprised that it had no sign to suggest its purpose or give its date, though I knew it for what it was, and whilst I walked nearby was treated to the sounds of a passing train in confirmation, had I needed one.
I had a brief set of images to remind me of a warm early October afternoon walk, but nothing spectacular.

Monday, 24 September 2018

Brogborough – A Very Windy Friday!

         Brogborough Lake on the Friday beckons with a strong breeze, and it is a welcome invitation to all the windsurfing community, that is not ignored.
         I arrive early and sense the air of expectancy, and capture some of the preparations, so since the number of shots takes some time to create the galleries, I have split them up so that my task is made manageable.
Here is the first Gallery Link – the preparation:

         I found myself capturing some of the other aspects on offer, a cormorant passing close to one of the sailors, gulls fishing, a distant heron landing, and billowing clouds in a blue sky, as well as the waves breaking on the foreshore in front of where I was located with my tripod. I was using the 150-600mm Sigma Sports lens on the EOS 7D MkII, and the 24-70mm on the 5D MkIII — the long lens on the sturdy Benbo, and the other handheld.
         The gusts we’re often strong enough to make even this weighty beast to threaten my stability! Also, I altered where I shot from, but this was a mistake on this occasion as I missed some of the action; in particular one series of jumps made by a windsurfer as I re-established my tripod.
It was quite an afternoon, Here is the next gallery: 

            So, if you wish to keep the correct chronology, rather than hit the Headline text first, you could click the links within the narrative then the Headline Text – just to keep you on your toes!

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Stockwood Discovery Gardens – Windy Yet Quiet

There always seemed the threat of rain from the clouds, ever on the move, yet sharing the time with bright sunshine. The light when bright tantalisingly transient making the taking of photos a challenge, yet the gusty winds driving the swaying Pampas grass, offering curving shapes to their height. Overhead, to a background of scudding clouds, the aircraft ferrying passengers to foreign lands, whilst the children sit in schoolrooms with dreams of their summer holidays past and their renewed focus now on lessons fresh.
I had set off for the gardens for a postponed visit to meet up with friend Jan a recent gardener for Stockwood. Upon arrival in the Car Park, I had not spotted a nearby car with someone aboard till, after opening my door and gathering my camera bag, a familiar voice called out; Jan must have arrived mere moments before me. Her car door was open, and she  glanced up from looking at her phone to greet me. On hearing her voice, I remembered I had brought three booklets relating to the camera she had earlier had from me, and brought them over for her, since I knew that had I not given her then, I was almost certain to be later leaving with them still in the back of my car!
We both chatted whilst collecting our camera bags and walking into the Discovery Centre. Upon arrival, Jan was greeted from all the gathered staff at the Reception Desk, all welcoming her and obviously pleased to see her and chat, before we both moved off and into the gardens, where there were several other staff all happy to see her and catch up. It was very obvious here was a very popular lady, so I soon had my camera out to see what I could record. I stayed nearby not wishing to interrupt, and looked around at the very definite signs of the passing season until Jan was free to lead me to where we might find interesting subjects on which to focus, and every so often making observations thus adding snippets of useful information that I hoped I might later recall.
Jan led the way pointing out items of interest, but we did not shoot either specific leaves or flowers, or even from the same viewpoints, but I did offer suggestions and reset some of her camera controls and explained why. I did on occasion suggest alternative viewpoints to help in separation of subject from background, and different orientations, such as vertical, to emphasise the length of a stem; I was only offering guidance not rigid rules. In return, I was trying to glean names and other facts, such as why the plum trees suffered a particular infection due to the adjacent Pines.
At one stage in our meanderings, I completely lost Jan, and went around the entire gardens searching, before returning to where we had last been when my phone rang, and I learned Jan was wondering where I was! She described her location where we met back up and after a short while of further shooting we headed for the cafeteria. There were far more people in here than outside. We sat and chatted, and Jan showed me some shots of hers on a tablet. When you consider how sparse are fresh new blooms, it is still amazing just how much there is still to see and capture. 
It was nearing the time to leave, and after a short last trip around and a farewell chat at Reception, but just as we headed for our cars, sadly I started seeing a blindspot in my field of vision, and recognised the onset of a Migraine. I asked could I have a glass of water and took a couple of Paracetamols and headed for the car where with closed eyes I sat till the episode was over and the pills had taken effect. I did however thank Jan for the afternoon and bade her farewell. Ten minutes went by as I sat in my locked car with eyes still closed before I opened to check whether full vision was restored – it was, so I got out, locked the car and returned to Reception in case I had not thanked them for the glass of water and having apologised finally headed out and before leaving, phoned a lady who had once worked with me on a part-time basis to see whether I might visit. I chatted with Shirley and her young grandchild, Tom before finally heading home.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Goodwood Revival 2018 – The Saturday Visit

It was a day when once again I enjoy some time with my elder daughter as I had earlier with my younger girl at the Festival of Speed, but where Catherine was really tired due to work and family pressures, Lizzy had been physically poorly. In both cases though there was some time on the journey down to get some shut-eye, with occasional times where we caught up on news of the associated families.
In Catherine’s instance it was mentioning the impending departure of one of the twins to London University, and the other’s coming driving lessons and ultimately the Test. We would be having a family get together in Cambridge which in the meantime since this trip I can report was absolutely wonderful; with wishes for both for their more independent futures and lots of fun and laughter.
We made surprisingly good time on the journey, on the M1, going around the M25 and through the byways of Surrey and Sussex to the Goodwood Circuit. As we arrived several of the small aircraft from the WWII era were flying overhead. We headed from the Car Park after putting the finishing touches to our period dress and suit and then threading our way through the outside array of marquees displaying a wide range of vintage cars, and period costumes (for following year’s events!), memorabilia and cars, bikes and accessories and all the fun of the Fair, before making our way into the event proper and the circuit.
I had been hoping that a new camera body might be being used by one of the many photographers in the Media Centre so we made for there as a first port of call, but that met with little success, barring meeting some very helpful people who said they would keep a lookout and report back. We made eventually for the Richmond Lawn and the viewing area for the Chicane. At various times we also ventured out to the Paddock, and the viewing area above the Pits. I also met up with a friend who had given me help with a section of the book I wrote on “Mac OS X for Photographers” whom I had earlier brought as my guest; this meeting proved to be less than straightforward, but did finally happen. Subsequent to that trip, Alasdair had become a member of the GRRC, as fortunately he lives fairly close to the Circuit.
On this occasion much of my photography was from the Pits Roof, where we met family members of one of the racers and several of his avid followers; Grant Williams is the name to watch, as he makes the entire race exciting! If they give added points for relentless trying, then he would have been well-rewarded, his third place seemed like a Win for those watching him!
Once again I have to give grateful thanks to the Duke of Richmond and all those who played a part in making this event such a friendly and enjoyable time on his estate. Each year these events change subtly thus making each visit feel fresh. As I have often joked about his having a great understanding with the man above, we were once again allowed some pleasant weather, despite the numerous darker clouds looking threatening. For anyone who has never visited, these two car-themed events occurring each year are not just about the vehicles; and the atmosphere is overwhelmingly inviting.

I will be watching the TV coverage coming shortly to see what else I missed…

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Needing a Fix – Take Showroom Pics whilst MOT…

          There are few times that I do not carry a camera, and since I was awaiting the completion of my car's first MOT inspection, I can sit down only a very short time, hence capturing images in a Car Showroom, which presents both clean architecture, gleaming new models of Vauxhall Cars, and challenging lighting, provides therapy, and keeps the brain active.
          Yes, the cars are lit to show how shiny they are, but they are also stuffed with added bumpf and are in a very non-photographic lighting environment. Without any additional lighting the range of exposure for the shadows through to the highlights means that extensive judicious processing is vital, so the therapeutic value offsets the time spent at the computer as that is at least productive, whereas sitting doing nothing or reading well-thumbed car and beauty magazines only serves to make the time pass more slowly. Keeping my hand-in balancing lighting within Lightroom on the other hand is far from wasteful, especially when paying work is diminishing, but the skills cannot afford to decline.
          Undoubtedly, capturing such images with additional lighting does bring out the nuances of the vehicles better, but to nevertheless present the images to a good level using only the ambient lighting and all handheld develops one's skills – such opportunities should never be missed as this can only add to overall experience.
          Someone considering the need for a photographer who can capture such ambiance at least must represent some worth in these images seeing the light of day, at least that is the way I view such opportunities.

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Sunshine on the First of September

Initially, I checked on whether there was any wind on the Lake at Brogborough – there wasn’t, so on I travelled towards Newton Blossomville, and the nearby river, in case there was a spot conducive to finding the likely environs for kingfishers; upon investigation, that seemed unlikely, but where I had parked my car, I had noticed a digger at work, and after taking a few landscape shots of the river, I was sufficiently intrigued as to what might be happening, so I took just my 24-70mm on the 5D MkIII and walked to where the man and his digger were pulling away the bushes at the top edge of the field.
I surmised he might be trying to increase the area to be cultivated, but I was wrong. I had noticed wire fencing to keep rabbits out, and I learned that the work was to cut down on their habitat, as they were causing havoc, and this work was to clear the overgrown hedgerows to a degree to protect the farmers’ crops. As I approached the digger, the driver stopped work, and I learned he remembered me from an earlier trip to this area when they had been working in the fields with a large Claas Combine Harvester. We chatted awhile, and not having a card I wrote the blog address down for him, so that he could see those shots he remembered me taking.
On returning to my car I realised I actually had a print there so, rather than walk back, I drove closer to where he was working and showed him the shot I had taken, and he said he had seen it as when I left to go the car, he had looked on his phone and found them! He was more impressed when he saw the A4 print of the headline picture!
He was not able to give me any hints as to where I might find some kingfishers, but mentioned he had been fishing one time when on landed on his rod to keep his eye on any likely meals. I returned to the car and continued to Harrold-Odell Park where I did manage to get some shots of a couple of herons, one in-flight as he reacted to my presence.
I walked all around the lake after meeting a family lakeside, and the father began chatting, as he owned a Canon 5D, and he suggested I walk along the river as he felt it was far more appealing. On this occasion I found there was very little activity on the river compared to admittedly a larger though fairly mundane bird population on the lakes. That said I did see the two herons, and a grebe amongst the numerous swans.
The walk certainly exercised me, as I now do ache somewhat as I was not using my lightest tripod, and the Sigma 150-600mm Sports lens can never be described as lightweight, and I still also had the 5D MkIII with the 24-70mm slung around my neck!

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Aylesbury Parklife Summer Concert

  
 
          Aylesbury Concert Band brave the drizzle, and are rewarded with an excellent concert that pleased the crowd that attended regardless of the conditions, and a wider audience on this occasion, as it was also streamed via Facebook. Headlining were the now married couple who have performed with the Band in previous years; Alison Langer and Lawrence Thackeray. 
          The Star for me, having earlier heard her perform at the rehearsal, was the highly accomplished fifteen year old on the violin playing the Tsardas by Monti, Shona Beacham. As can be seen from my picture of her whilst she played at rehearsal that I put in the headline image for that gallery, the two people in the background are obviously listening intently to her performance, in admiration.
          The violin is a notoriously difficult instrument to play, and she justly received a rapturous applause,  but to play that piece with such panâche, and at so a young an age is stunning. Keep an eye out for that name in the future. 
          I was really pleased that the rain which had drizzled throughout the entire rehearsal, began to stop soon after the concert itself started. The programme was packed with numerous pieces both enjoyable and familiar, which is always a challenge when my feet want to dance, and I am trying to hold my camera and often longish lens steady. The light level even before the light dimmed towards evening, meant that when the concert proper began, I was already shooting at ISO 2000° and at f/4! When the lights were really low I was at ISO 12,800° which is what I describe as ‘Unavailable Light Photography’ which is challenging when shooting handheld with hands as unsteady as mine! The Hit rate falls significantly, hence why I favour 32GB cards, and that can become an embarrassment when I do not have a spare empty card in my pocket. 
          In the Interval, I moved Stage left and took shots of the Drummers, which when their leader took to the grass to dance with another of their number, that was seriously tough to keep sharp!!
          I must apologise to anyone in the Band who has waited for these images to arrive on the blog, but life can sometimes supervene as I do have to do other mundane tasks, such as in this case, take my car for its MOT and wait four hours in the car showroom till it is complete, then shop for the mundanities of life such as food that was delayed due to filling the time taking the photos in the first place!
          However, here the images are, and I hope they give others as much pleasure as I enjoyed whilst listening and watching the show.