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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Monday, 9 December 2019

Fairford Leys 2019 Christmas Concert

Each year, Fairford Leys provides a Christmas Concert in the central square, and the Aylesbury Concert Band performs under the overhang of the colonnade to provide possible shade from the weather.
When we arrived, there were warming flames from braziers to welcome us, and the seats were already arranged for the Band, and as my daughter set up her Saxophone, I brought out my camera and placed the camera bag behind the players for security and chose the 24-70mm lens and checked its settings and took a shot of the nearby instrument to see what shutter speed I was having to consider, and despite the lighting being only from candles above us and the spill from numerous individual lights placed on the music stands by individual musicians, it was on the cusp of useable.
This was definitely going to be right on the edge of usability, as the ISO indicated was 12,800 and gave me a shutter speed of 1/5th of a second at f/7.1, which meant, I would often be taking multiple shots and 'chimping' to ascertain whether I had achieved an acceptable image. The one advantage that cameras with focal plane shutters have over shutters with iris blades is that the slit is travelling over the frame faster speed giving effectively a faster shutterspeed.
Another advantage the EOS R has over my other two camera bodies is this full-frame body has a higher pixel count than my EOS 5D MkII, which means the noise is less obtrusive, and with judicious use of noise reduction, the end result is slightly smoother. Towards the end of the afternoon, I was asked to take some group Band shots, and it was fortunate that I had brought along my electronic flash, because I would need to stop down further to encompass the greater depth needed for such shots.
The informality of the Concert here allows me to move around the band taking either individuals or small sections with reasonable ease, but with the narrow depth of the covered area, pillars and stands and other players, still meant getting perfect compositions unfettered by lights on music stands and banners, other musicians, or their instruments intruding, is unavoidable. Also at low light levels, I can easily miss the intrusions of these LED lights, clothes pegs, or sometimes, other instruments. There were no trombones on this occasion, which can sometimes be a challenge.
One noticeable absence on this occasion is Band uniforms, replaced by layers of warm outer garments, gloved fingers, festive headgear, flashing lights and large woollen scarves.
The programme of tunes was governed by the interspersing of other parties providing the Christmas narrative, which meant there were lulls in the Band's playing schedule, which often plays havoc with ever-changing notes due to cold instruments and often frozen lips of the musicians. It is fortunate that the Festive Spirit tends to accept these inevitabilities, and there are other diversions, such as the Cymbals, which add to the enjoyment of the players themselves! Altogether a very enjoyable introduction to the season of Goodwill.

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Harold-Odell Country Park

Wednesday dawned bright and crisp, and the car which overnight had been encased in a thick frosty coat, was slowly warming in the bright sunshine above the low lying mist, thawing the windows from the rear of the parked car going forward.
The mist was also burning off though more slowly, and the sky above was a cloudless blue, which enticed me to consider a trip out to record life on the lake to the North of me at Harold-Odell Country Park. I had a leisurely breakfast, by which time the last of the frost had thawed making it a matter of moments to clear the moisture from the front and rear screens, and a swift lowering of the front door windows to clear them, before heading northwards. The only heavy traffic encountered was on the section of the A421 currently narrowed and speed-restricted from the M1 Junction northwards till the dual carriageway.
When I reached my destination there were roadworks just before the turning for the car park, so I parked on the right before the entrance in the small very muddy lay-by. It is was at this point that my day’s luck ran out. Somehow my car key had been damaged earlier in my pocket, and I found that I was unable to use the open switch on it, and using the key manually left me no means by which I could open the boot! Add to my annoyance, my alarm sounded as well due to the delay in discovering that I had to turn that off whilst the key was in the Ignition! It took some while for me to work out a way to get around this Snafu! My woes did not end there, as I had left my monopod in the house, and it had my tripod head on it, so all my shooting was going to be handheld. It was therefore a blessing that at least the exposures were going to be fast enough for my long lens.
Before entering the Park, I wanted to get some shots of the lingering mist and the distant churches before the sun burned this off, and even as I was taking these the mist was lifting, and the distant scene was crispening.
I had hoped I might see Grebe on the water, but they were nowhere to be seen, gulls and Mallards were in the majority, and swan families were reasonably numerous too. Along the margins inshore I kept spotting a Robin, but it was too flighty, rarely still long enough for me to get a focus, before it was off elsewhere.
I only stayed long enough to capture a few representative shots, before it became obvious there were no new views to be had.

Monday, 2 December 2019

Aylesbury Concert Band — Christmas Carols — St. Mary’s Church

A crisply cold afternoon in the warmth and welcoming atmosphere that pervades this Annual event hosted by the Town’s Mayor, Councillor Mike Smith, with the Reverend Douglas Zimmerman officiating.
The readings were given by the Town Mayor, followed by His Honour Judge Sheridan DL, Fran Bourgeois-Wheeler, CEO Youth Concern, Julia Upton, MBE, High Sherriff of Buckinghamshire, Group Captain Katherine Wilson, CO, RAF Halton, Alicia Foster, Thames Valley Police Cadets.
  The start of the afternoon’s ceremony was heralded by the Band playing the Pavane from Aylesbury Dances by Wiffin, which brought the general level of Audience conversations down as the local dignitaries filed in from the rear to take their designated seats at the front of the congregation, and the Rector of St. Mary’s welcomed all to the Season’s singing praises to God.

It was less easy than some years to cover the event, as I was shooting from a comparatively low viewpoint, and current etiquette requires avoidance of the young children, which is almost impossible, so I have tried to lessen the lighting on those in the forefront where possible. I hope however that I have still recorded the ambience of the event without causing offence.

Friday, 29 November 2019

A Further Brighter Day

I was up early to pay my optician a visit at Luton, and after that, I took the opportunity to see what pictures I could take at the Stockwood Discovery Centre gardens. It turned out there was a problem — large areas of the gardens were on lock-down as preparations were being made to create a lighting extravaganza for Christmas.
The end result was that a major proportion of the gardens were unavailable, somewhat limiting the boundaries for my subject matter, but I rose to the challenge  as it would be a shame to waste all this clear sunshine. It just meant I would have to look harder in the search for suitable images. It would be a shame when the lighting was so pleasing, to fail to do my utmost to capture whatever came my way.

Another disappointment was I had no access to the Greenhouse due to a somewhat over zealous application of Health & Safety regulations, I hope that what I did manage to capture gives an indication of some of the beauty of late Autumn in the gardens.

Thursday, 28 November 2019

A Brighter Day — a Photo Opportunity?

I had an opportunity to be out for the first chance in a while, so gathered my camera gear and headed for the closest lake. Upon arrival at the gate, I entered the numbers to allow me access, and when it did not open I assumed that the number had been  changed, so phoned the Water Bailliff, but he was unsure, but he would contact one of the other. I therefore decided to try again, and this time it opened! I suspected therefore my earlier attempt had been thwarted, by the rain of the last several days. I immediately phoned the Bailliff back to say all was OK, and apologised for bothering him.
Once I was parked by the lake, I got out of the car and took a look across the water, at first only seeing gulls and some coot, all congregated in the middle, away from any shore, which was a disappointment. I stayed awhile trying to spot any more interesting subjects, and a couple of swans came into view, and a small group of gulls took to the air, and that gave me a chance to catch sight of a Grebe.
That was incentive enough for me to erect the tripod and mount the camera and lens. On this occasion I had remembered to ensure I had the 2x Converter, so that I had the full throw of my Sigma Sports 60-600mm lens on the EOS R body, which with every bird equidistant from any shore was going to be essential! Whilst I mounted the camera and lens on the tripod, I kept my ears attuned to all the sounds in case I heard the distinctive tapping of the woodpecker, but the only untoward sound was the stuttering exhaust note from a powerful car engine at the nearby Millbrook Test Circuit; the banking of which the circular track is visible from the lakeside.
Initially, I set up immediately by my car, just closer to the water’s edge, and as I did so, a Mallard noisily left the reeds and headed towards the middle, so much for me trying to keep a low profile! Luckily the duck did not spook the rest, but it did cause a few more of the gulls to gulls to take to the air, which allowed me to see the birds I was hoping to encounter; another young Grebe. I stayed in this spot till I found the Grebe pair heading further away, which prompted me to pick up the camera and tripod, and try to get closer to where the birds were heading, I found two other spots from which to shoot, before the light faded too much and darker clouds approached menacingly.

I was not too disappointed with what I managed to capture especially as one of the Grebe was successful twice catching one toddler and another slightly larger fish, I was too far away to ascertain whether it was successful or whether he swallowed it without me capturing the event. It was a satisfying afternoon from my perspective.

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Tring Reservoirs — Mainly Marsworth

Despite the dull, overcast weather, I headed south to the reservoirs at Tring; parking the car in the field adjacent to the Tringford lake and the entrance to the Anglers jetty, and walked the short distance to get a view of what life was either on the lake or nearby — there was very little life at all, mainly some coot and gulls. Disappointed, I assembled my camera and 60-600mm Sigma Sports lens onto the EOS R body with the 1.4 x Converter, and headed across the road to see whether my luck was in, at either of the other two lakes: Startops, or Marsworth — it turned out disappointingly for both, with most birds staying out in the middle of both lakes.
Activity was desultory presumably because of the lacklustre weather, so I focussed on the only action there was on the far shore of Startops, where a couple were creating a slight stir for the gulls, by ‘breaking bread’ religiously as a break from their dog-walking. The only other nearby activity was an odd pairing of a Canada Goose and Greylag, and a more natural Swan pair. That helped me decide to travel the short distance to the fourth  of Tring’s Reservoir Lakes, at Wilstone.
This proved to be a difficult route to even arrive at the closest point of its shoreline, and was even more disappointing since I was only able to record some further dog walkers and some distant views of the lake on my return trip to the car, but I enjoyed the exercise, the fresh and mild air, and the knowledge that I was not missing too much, it also made me wonder about how much cross breeding there was between Canada Geese and Greylags. I must ask my Avian Guru, Chris Gomersall, who regularly runs trips for Nikon, to which even Canon aficionados such as myself are equally welcomed.
                I did get to speak to Chris and learn that it is not that uncommon for such relationships to occur; I also learned that my memory is not what it used to be, since he told me I had asked him the same question on an earlier occasion!

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Unusual Museum Visit - Cambridge

My daughter Catherine invited me to visit her over at Sawston, and I had been alerted to one aspect, the introduction to her School’s 3D Printer to help her with a project she was planning for her young charges now that it was up and running. I should own up here, that although I have ‘dabbled in a bit of programming’ I would definitely consider that my past experience was firstly ‘in the Past’ and secondly, somewhat primitive and simplistic, but I was game, and always tend to ‘push the envelope’ and run before I can walk! She wanted to create a nameplate, and a rectangle or square simply did not feature in my repertoire as a base. My immediate thought was to indent all four corners, it would be a plaque as a base. The base was therefore to have a fair depth, so instinctively I knew that at each corner, I was going to subtract a cylindrical post from a rectangle, a scallop. However, I knew nothing of the program that was to perform the task I had in mind, but intuitively knew the task I had in mind could be considered as one routine repeated at all four corners, by my telling the machine to repeat the cylindrical subtracting at each of the other three corner co-ordinates. However, here my input ground to a halt! At this point in the English language I described this to Catherine, who then used a series of jigsaw panels into which I then fed the circle instruction with the four corner co-ordinates into individual groups, going downwards, since the process was top-down. We had earlier defined the depth of plate upon where we were going to build our 3D letters, so the cylindrical subtraction would be the same Z-component as the depth of that plate. Each instruction was applied singly, rendered and checked before building the next program jigsaw instruction.
I am absolutely certain that the instructions I was building individually could be entered in a Step & Repeat function derived from simply the corner co-ordinates of the initial rectangle, but we just created another jigsaw piece with those new co-ordinates using basic principles! Also we did a Refresh render at each step! This, simply to verify we had made no mistakes, we were still a long way off feeding this to the printer.
Having arrived at a point where we could let the Printer work it’s magic, Catherine ensured that the heater was up to temperature, she set it going, and the alarms, and we headed off for a speedy shopping trip. Later we returned to see the fruits of our labours

before a trip to an ex-Water Treatment facility (read: Sewage Works) which has become a Museum which houses other technologies such as printing presses. 
           As we walked down towards the entrance, I was surprised by the sight of the boughs of trees overladen with an abundance of berries, generally considered as a precursor to a harsh Winter.
           One room on the site was locked on this occasion, but my daughter’s conversation with a volunteer at the entrance had inspired her to ensure the room was specially opened for us, allowing us to get a brief inspection. I only managed a single shot of a block of type as we chatted with the person who had generously opened that room just for us to take a look.
The very first image that had caught my eye as we descended the slope to the entrance, was a striking, if rather simplistic depiction of Concorde at takeoff, painted on the side of a Container. Later we saw the complete view of the tall chimney, scaled at one time by the irascible character, Fred Dibnah.
I do not know how long this Museum has been open; my impression was that it is early days, but I enjoyed the visit, and was impressed with the garden bar and the welcoming atmosphere, I hope my images have captured this favourably.

Monday, 18 November 2019

Sunny Afternoon — a Very Brief Quest Lake Visit

Every so often a brief moment is needed for me to relax by capturing scenes in sunlight, and one such occurred back on Wednesday last, but only now have I had the time to even look at the shots I took.
Quest Lake is another old worked out clay pit that has become a series of lakes, but access is somewhat limited, but near enough for me to reach at a moment’s notice, and after some dismal grey days, sunshine had arrived at a time when I needed a break, so I did not hesitate.  Unlike a previous visit there was far less activity, and most of that at some distance, but it gave me the chance to try panning passing trains along the raised track at the edge of the site, in between clumps of trees. I also took a shot of the distant ‘Caddington Sheds’ as the vast hangars were known, that housed the two Airships, the R100 and R101, and in more recent days, the Airlander.
At a far more personal level, as the eldest son of a past Deputy Officer Commanding, RAF Cardington it held memories for me, as my father retired from there to take up life in ‘Civvy Street’. So hence my taking a shot of the distant hangars beyond the trees. I would like to think that these lakes develop into a Nature Reserve for the countless soulless housing developments, rather than add to their number, since from the few shots in this gallery, it should be apparent that there is both beauty and tranquility here. Carefully selected plant and flower species introduced here would really help to make Bedfordshire a County that was not merely a transit corridor between London and the North, viewed from closed car and train windows, but a location of interest to visit and enjoy, not simply to pass through.

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Very Brief Visit to Weston Turville Lake

I was due to have lunch with my younger daughter at Quainton, but not too early, as she was in need of some quality time with her two youngsters who were hopefully coming to the end of their coughs and sore throats. Since I had woken early and was ready to go out, this suited me, since the sun was shining, and the time spent at a lake with a camera was equally good for my soul.
Having not visited the lake at Weston Turville for some time, and it being in the same general direction as Quainton, this was very welcome; also, an added benefit was Lizzy knew how long the journey to her would take, so when she felt that her roast, potatoes and vegetables would be my time distance away, she could simply ring me, and I would pack up and be on my final leg of the journey.
Despite there being almost no wind, there was a gathering of dinghies on the farther shore, with just a couple beyond the confines of the harbour, there were a fair number of swans, a few, scattered Coot, and a young Grebe, also there were several small groups of gulls, mainly on the water, occasionally taking short spells in the air. I had assemble the camera and lens on the Benbo tripod by the car, just beyond the entrance; a thoughtful soul had kindly vacated his or her slot very close to that entrance, which meant I was spared a long walk from the farther end of those parked cars. A few dog owners were heading in and a lesser number coming out with their charges as I set up my EOS R, the 2x Converter and the Sigma Sport 60-600mm onto the tripod, then headed for the entrance myself.
I had assumed from the number of parked cars to find the bank and paths crowded, but obviously the lake and woods are large enough to absorb that number without more than three or four groups being visible. It took very little time before I began shooting, and rather than the native wildlife, it was the somewhat pedestrian sailing dinghies that were my subjects as they very slowly made their way out from their moorings, I felt their sadness that with this sunshine there was barely a whisper of wind — a mere zephyr!
Meanwhile the Grebe was inching slightly closer, but still little more than a speck at the full extent of the lens’ range, meaning it would be well-cropped within the frame, even with my 2x Converter! It is here that the EOS R shines, in that with the sunshine on this occasion, even with such a crop, the quality of the image is still good. Even though now the Sigma is invariably linked to my 2x Converter, I find I can still focus close enough at the 60mm end of the lens with the Converter on when as happened a Coot swam into the ban below me, and gave himself a good shake, without being chopped in any way.
One fascinating group of shots occurred when a small dinghy with an outboard came towards me then returned to the boatyard making some wonderful interference patterns on the surface, and behind me a Dad and son were cycling when the chain came off and Dad stopped to pop it back on whilst the lad ran up and down the bank, as Dad settled down to pop it back. Not long after I got my Dinner gong from my daughter, and headed back to the car, and an excellent roast ham and all the trimmings, rounding off a great day.

Friday, 8 November 2019

Harrold-Odell Lake– Alive with Swans

Although it was a dull day, I decided to visit the park at Harold-Odell, to see what birds were on the lakes. It was certainly a good choice of venue, as there was a plethora of birds; the largest number of swans on a lake I had seen in a while, a Cygnet and numerous gulls. I spotted a Shoveller, some Pochard, male and female, Mallard ducks in a couple of family groups. I had my sturdy Benbo tripod, and had put the 2x Converter on the 60-600mm Sigma Sports on the EOS  R body. All the birds were congregated at this near end of the right hand lake, but if they were close to the shore, it was by the far bank. As I approached the near bank there was a noisy exodus of half a dozen gulls that spooked several of the ducks, which was a shame, but a man dressed in black and moving a large tripod with a long lens might just be considered a threat, I suppose.
It was definitely a good move to have the Converter in place because the only large birds were the swans, and even when at a distance they were never an issue, and they are definitely very capable of taking care of a feeble human! Obviously, it would have been very nice to have had some sunshine, and even better had my subjects come much closer, but it was good to come away from a computer screen and be outside taking pictures again, and the swans gave me some nice shots, and it was good to see the Shoveller and Pochard.
I feel revitalised once more, since I had not had a chance to get any shots of fireworks this time around, though there is a weekend coming along, so there is a possible chance still. I also wonder when there might be some wind and sun that beckons the windsurfers; I should not be greedy, but I was greeted by an early call from an erstwhile one-off client who is wanting some building progress shots, which came as a very welcome surprise, so we are meeting next week, so as the man who as he jumped from the Empire State Building was heard to say as he was passing the twelfth floor: “I’m not dead yet!”

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Ashridge Forest – Autumn Sunshine

My trip in sunshine to Ashridge to visit the Author of the ‘Photoshop for Photographers’ books meant that after delivering the last item, the images for a personal Ad at the end of the book, I took along my camera in the hope of capturing some of the surrounding scenery in the fickle sunshine and billowing clouds. I was rewarded by the mixture of colours that herald the onset of autumn, and the occasional light showers meant the obvious possibility of rainbows.
At every clearing that sported an area for the parking of cars, already had its measure of takers, and many of those could be seen unloading their cargo of dogs to give them some exercise in the woods and moorland. I soon found a spot which offered at least some photo opportunities, so grabbed the camera and locked the car to take a few shots.  The opportunity turned out to be limited, so I drove on a little further and was rewarded with better views within the woods, and figures in the landscape, and to round off, I managed to capture a rainbow. This trip was therapeutic as the last fortnight was devoted entirely to reading the entire output of the next tome, covering the several additional features of this powerful piece of software, that has been a mainstay of my career for both the taking of pictures and their manipulation in retouching and montage. I purposely spent the minimum of time with Martin as he still had some more work to do as the deadline was Friday; I was luckier, in that my task was now almost over, hence why I relished the chance to get out from a darkened room in front of a computer and be driving in the country, and with the bonus of possibly taking pictures.

Thursday, 31 October 2019

A Marsworth Reservoir Visit

I have been helping Author Martin Evening, tech-editing his latest edition in the series of ‘Photoshop for Photographers’ books, and unfortunately we have a far shorter lead time in which to have it ready to be supplied to the Printers. As we near the deadline, Martin is working hard to complete possibly the longest Chapter, and on this day, there were no more Chapters ready for me to read and check, so because I really needed a break, I took the opportunity to collect my EOS R camera and Sigma Sports 60-600mm lens, load the kit into the car, and head for Marsworth Reservoir.
Arriving at the Parking area on the main road, there was no sign of the Water Bailliff’s car, or any other angler’s in their Private Car Park, and I later learned he was up in London at the time. I set up my EOS R and the 60-600mm Sigma Sports lens which by default has the 1.4 Converter attached, which on this occasion I should have swapped for the 2x, as most of my subjects were well offshore this late afternoon. However, having crossed the road, and was halfway along the bank path by the hide, before I realised my lack of foresight.
I spotted one of my favourite aquatic birds, a young Grebe, and it proved to be an impressive angler, despite its catch being mainly toddlers, in the time I was watching this one bird, it was successful every other dive, and when it dived it was only submerged for no longer than my  count of ten each occasion. An observation I made was that on most times it made a catch, at one stage it would momentarily loose its prey and either drink or simply wash its catch before it tossed it down its gullet. It did not seem an arbitrary action, it was noticeably consistent, perhaps it was ascertaining that its food was both dead,band clean.
That youngster intrigued me so much that most of the first page of the Gallery is devoted to this one subject. The last two images on that page was my observation of a cross-species relationship between a Greylag and Canada Goose, the faithful Canada Goose stayed close the entire time I was watching — I had not spotted this behaviour in the past, so I was interested and must question my Avian Guru, Chris Gomersall, whether this is normal.
The narrow neck of the Marsworth Lake which for years has been a favoured spot for kingfishers due to its comparatively good access for long reconnaissance trips between the main lake and its source, has been deserted for this season, as every one of my trips to this spot this year has caught nary a sighting of this wonderful little bird, much to my personal disappointment. Initially, some early season gales felled a large tree, blocking this passage partially; but more recently, the situation has deteriorated further with even more fallen trees and bushes, leaving no clear flight path for these beautiful birds.

In their place is what now more closely resembles a small pond, which due to the resultant lack of water movement has acquired a surface covering of algae, and seemingly favoured now by maturing cygnets, who feature on the second gallery page as they very lazily moved around what has now become a pond. I cannot believe that this surface mat is truly beneficial for the new incumbents of this stretch of water, that also now lacks the amount of health-giving sunshine it once enjoyed. I used to meet several photographers in this small secluded area, and if any of them read this, it would be wonderful if we could get together to persuade the Canal and River Trust to provide the means for us to help them tidy this section of the lake to all our mutual benefit — the birds, the fish, a healthy flow to the water, and photographers. It is after all, to all our benefits.

Monday, 28 October 2019

Brogborough Lake - Scenic Therapy

Most of the last week has been very dull, and often raining or threatening to do so, but for most of the time it proved no real disadvantage as it gave me the opportunity to not suffer any frustration over being held indoors, since the time was gainfully used by my reading the Chapters of Martin Evening’s next book in the ‘Photoshop for Photographers’ series for which I have had the privilege of helping the Author with tech-editing since he wrote his very first edition.
There has been a very short lead time on this occasion, since Martin has been very busy on other projects, so started into the revisions well into the allotted time to bring it up to date, and Adobe have not been resting on their laurels, as they have been adding several new features, adding to the burden of revision.
As the sun finally shone, and I had caught up, I needed to get my fix of taking photos, so that I keep my eyes active and my shutter finger exercised adding to the experience of working with my EOS R. There was little time left in the day, so my choice of venue was the nearby lake at Brogborough, and with no wind, I knew there was little need of a long lens, so I chose the 90mm Tamron Macro f/2.8, and the Canon 85mm f/1.4, and was able to use both to advantage in the short time before the sunset over the far hills.
Soon after arriving I heard the unmistakable sound of a hang glider’s engine, quite close by, but almost immediately it flew lower and remained hidden for the next fifteen minutes, before reappearing as a mere speck in the distance. The only chance by then of capturing it was with my 60-600mm Tamron with its 2x Converter! And certainly not handheld, as were these images. The light upon my car as I returned tempted me to grab a shot of it, before leaving for home, after my welcome breather.

Monday, 14 October 2019

25th Anniversary Concert – Aylesbury Concert Band

My younger daughter plays saxophone in the Aylesbury Concert Band, and I do my level best to join her for several reasons, I love listening to live music, I obviously enjoy the opportunity to join my daughter and share a part of her life involved in Music, and naturally it affords me the chance to keep in touch with my family, oh, and perhaps I forgot to mention, I love taking the opportunity to indulge in picture taking.
On this occasion which marks the 25th Anniversary of the Band, which was held at Trinity Church in Walton Street,, Aylesbury, I must apologise that I would have loved to be more informative in the narrative for the event’s images, but in the interests of ensuring the gallery of images makes it to the Web on the Monday evening, I am afraid that the pictures will largely have to tell their own story. Certainly it was a celebration of some of the past Band members and leaders, though one apology was read out from one such who for family reasons was unable to make it.
Fortunately for me, two of my grandchildren were able to make it as were my ex-wife and her husband, who had the joy of looking after them, whilst their father stayed at home doing maintenance work on their house uninterrupted.
On occasions such as this, I become a one-man roadie, as well as photographer and family member, the latter being far from a chore, it keeps my creative juices flowing as taking pictures and maintaining my expertise is an essential part of keeping the ‘little grey cells’ active. It keeps my eye in, a prerequisite for anyone determined to stay fresh and attuned to the capture of the many moments that occur. One point in this series of images is that the opportunity arose when processing the images for the gallery, for me to render one image in monochrome simply because of the nature of the lighting. On another occasion, the highly articulate display from one of the Conductors caught my eye, and in a quiet moment my daughter likewise caught my eye with the slightest of smiles.
Listening and foot-tapping to music, coupled with the joys of recording meaningful but mysterious moments in the lives of others’ lives is one of the pleasures of being a photographer — I may never know what transpired in some of the moments I witness, such as what was taking place between two of the Conductors, but should they see the image I captured they might well have a wry smile! What circumstances arose that triggered some of the smiles I captured I may never learn, but for such moments, I saw and recorded a meaningful moment in someone else’ s life, and those moments were fleeting, but I felt I was privileged to have seen it without ever knowing its meaning. It reminds of a black and while film I saw as a youngster, with a title that has remained with me ever since — ‘I am a Camera’.
0n this occasion as I mentioned at the start, there is little in the way of a description of the event, the taking of these pictures is simply to keep my sanity in a world that seems to be falling apart at the seams but I keep constantly reminding myself there is beauty and good humour to be found, and all I can do is hope that sanity ultimately prevails. I also hope that my words and pictures give others pleasure, it is rewarding to know that the blog’s hits have never gone below 350 per week for at least the last year, so someone is showing some interest! Surely they are not all robots.
In case anyone is interested only one camera, the EOS R was used throughout, and three different lenses from 24m to 300mm

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Bumble Bee Rescue

This item has been delayed by a couple of days, but was an episode which I felt I did my bit for humanity.
It began by my spotting an almost comatose bumble bee by the locked front door; obviously it had been considering a way to reach the outside world, but had been thwarted by the lack of sustenance in the house. I have no idea how long it had been there, but certainly, long enough to try to conserve its energy, with a hope it might eventually be able to return to the wide open expanses to which it had been accustomed.
It was in luck, because I had its best interests at heart, I hastily went to the kitchen for a jam jar and some stiff card to construct an ambulance for its passage to the Outside World. Having transported it to the next stage of that passage, by placing it carefully on my front hedge in the carefully crafted emergency rescue plan of giving it an eventually higher platform for its flight, I returned to the kitchen to prepare some restorative medicine in the form of a dessert spoon with a teaspoon of sugar and a few drops of water.
However, the bee had not waited for me to complete my plans for its takeoff, it had simply decided terra firma was preferable, so I carefully placed the elixir alongside his weakened body, and hoped he would find his survival instinct would kick in and he would try to take a drought from my spoon. Initially, he lacked trust in this giant despite being wounded not at all by my transporting him back to his world, thus far. I moved the spoon and it’s life-giving elixir closer.
I forgot to mention that I had wasted no time in grabbing my EOS R, attaching the 24 to 70mm with its macro facility, before coming outside to record my hopefully successful rescue this vital member of our joint ecosystem deserved.
So, though the full story of its initial start on the road to recovery had been the top of the hedge, at least my arrival to witness his new start point was early enough to show his lethargy, despite my ministrations with the sugar solution offering, it still distrusted my motives, until presumably it sniffed the recognisable aroma of the sugar, and decided I was not as evil as it had previously presumed.

Soon I could see that it had begun to suck up this welcome nectar, but it tarried very briefly before moving away and for the first time since my rescue attempt had started, it unfurled its wings and gave a slight burst, which for me was heartwarming, and a few moments later I was thrilled to see it take to the air, no last circuit to say thank you, just off into the distance, thankful to be back in its own territory — airborne once more.

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Tringford Reservoir — Between Two Downpours!

I took a look at my nearest lake to see whether it’s birds had returned, but was disappointed; there was not a single bird on the lake that I could see as I scanned the entire far shores I could see from the junction of the two possible directions. Also, there were not too many anglers either.
I had a brief chat with one, to elicit what natural activity he had observed, but came to the same conclusion. So my destination was to be the more distant one — the Lake at Tringford, where I would be able to discuss motor racing with its Water Bailiff, Bob.
I took a non-motorway route to drive down to avoid any possible delays, and found just one lone angler whom I had not met before and learned Bob would be a while, so after a while I headed back to the car and set up my camera with my long lens on the Benbo, to see what I could capture, as I had spotted a couple of young Grebe reasonably close, but despite my not being too slow, they had decided I was a possible threat and put a good distance between us, and never came any closer for my entire time there. I also got shots of some young cygnets, and a gull.
I took some shots, but was soon overtaken by the forecast heavy rain, and retired with assembled camera, tripod and long lens to the refuge of my car. There followed quite a battering of heavy rain upon my roof which lasted probably fifteen minutes before subsiding. I got out of my now steamed up car, and there now followed light drizzle for respite, before a second onslaught which though heavier, lasted less long and final stopped completely, allowing me to continue shooting. The angler meantime had decided to come ashore to avoid any possibility of a lightning strike, and we had a further chat, and he mentioned he had let Bob know I was at the lake.
Although I did get my fix of a few photos, it was not destined to be particularly interesting, so it was not long before I was once again on the road, and since there was only a minimal delay on the M1, that was the. route I took to return to create the small single page entry on the blog. The images were completed by the early afternoon of the following day, and the narrative finished after a scheduled visit to the local Hair Salon, which was undoubtedly overdue!

Sunday, 29 September 2019

A Short and Late Lake Visit

Upon my arrival, I did not realise that though it was still early afternoon, I was already late, since almost everyone had come in the morning and my hope of action was doomed as many of the sailors I would have found adventurous had now come ashore. 
I did set up my camera and was using the 60-600mm with the 2x Converter on the EOS R body, mounted on the Benbo tripod, and the head I had on was the Acrotech Long Lens Head, which was the most suitable to try to maintain the horizon level, yet be able to pan smoothly and allow some movement vertically. However, the best uninterrupted viewing position was on the landing stage which is not the stablest of platforms when there is a good wind blowing, but does offer the widest uninterrupted view.
There was a youngster being helped by his father upon my arrival, and after some help, the young lad was soon aloft, and so these were my opening shots, and it was apparent that he had some prior experience despite some early hesitation.
This particular visit was not my most productive, but it is helpful to me to establish which items of kit work best when I use the EOS R, so that everything becomes second nature. In speaking to Barry Rivett, I learned he had been wondering about using a mirrorless body, so with everything locked on the camera, I went over to where he was chatting with another windsurfer, and suggested that he might like to take a look through the lens, to see what it was like, and as I answered some of his questions, I think it helped to help him make up his mind about whether to consider a similar investment.
The shots I took on this occasion were at least a record, and from a personal perspective were useful, but were definitely not overly exciting, but served a purpose, and I did get an opportunity to strike up a few interesting conversations with others, some unrelated to sports photography, and one interesting exchange on the political situation in relation to Brexit, and possible ramifications.

Friday, 27 September 2019

A Windy Thursday at Brogborough & a Digression

It was initially my intention to use a sturdier tripod to take a shot of an ex-Country House, now exclusive residential flats. They are 2.66 kilometres from where I was standing when I first took a shot of the building a few evenings back.
But since wind is a prerequisite for exciting windsurfing images, I dropped into the Brogborough Windsurfing Car Park first, and found that although there were a couple of sailors out on the water, they seemed to be making the most of the wind to travel the length of the lake and gybe, whereas I had been hoping for the more invigorating and exciting; jumping.
I stayed awhile in case I was wrong, and had a brief chat with Sam, before considering revisiting the location on the outskirts of Stewartby from which I had earlier taken shots of this distant building, which nestles beneath trees that form the boundary of Ampthill Park.
My interest in this building is akin to HMS Belfast, which used to be a longterm Lens Test subject for Amateur Photographer, well-known to ‘Smudgers’ of a certain age (‘Smudgers’ being a term once used to describe early photographers).
         I wanted to check out just how good a distant detail could be when using the Sigma Sports lens with their 2x Converter. Although, I did take some images with greater detail, the wind and much lower light value proved to be the limiting factor! I did manage to get a few shots, but sadly the cloud cover meant there were not the crisp shadows of my earlier shots. But I did my best to limit the camera movement by using a shutter release cable. The long lens and lens hood were almost as efficient as a Windsurfer’s sail, as it seemed to be blowing a gale here!


This is the detail of the front door!



And this is the full uncropped frame from which it was taken:


           That you can recognise individual bricks which were over two and a half kilometres away, is remarkable!  This distance I have since verified from Google Earth!
Having taken these shots, I returned to Brogborough, and now there were a few more Windsurfers on the Lake. I saved myself some time by only removing the camera and lens from the tripod, so that on arrival, I took out a far more robust tripod, and was soon capturing shots with far more action, where a certain amount of blur only adds to the images.
One set of images, which is of Phil Ashton is a sequence from Frame 71 to 77, really impressed me – had I stopped after a couple of frames I would have missed the very successful continuation of the move, because, at first glance it looked unrecoverable, but his skill became apparent from the outcome! That sequence really made my day, In an earlier posting, I had not known his name, but have since put that right, as it definitely deserved a mention.
         This was not one of my lengthier visits, but provided me with some interesting images, and I worked out a far better assembly of tripod and head for the future, so the time was well spent.


        I stayed just long enough to know that there were to be no more Jumps for me to capture and I headed back to sort through the images and prepare this entry, having had a worthwhile day's shooting.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Goodwood Revival Meeting 2019

The Duke of Richmond and Gordon seemingly has the Weather Gods in his favour, for in the more than ten years I have been lucky enough to be visiting his grounds to attend the Revival Meetings and the Festivals of Speed, I have only encountered inclement weather on two occasions, and only one of those was really a problem, but every last one has proved thoroughly enjoyable.
My early contact with Goodwood was through Peter Morley a neighbour of mine in Bromley, Kent. He was a Rally Driver and a Director of Tesco, who at the time was the Assistant Chief Pit Marshall at Brands Hatch, a role I later inherited jointly with a colleague Peter Melville, when Peter Morley became the Chief. The first occasion he invited me to Goodwood, it was a regular and fully functional race track, and a year or two before the fateful crash that brought Stirling Moss’ racing career to an end. On that occasion as we drove through some of the villages, people waved to us as we passed, and Peter told me that when he had come to a standstill for a longish time on some occasions, villagers had offered him cups of tea!
I cannot speak for all UK motorsport venues, but for an atmosphere of joyous camaraderie, Goodwood for me has been in a class of its own, followed closely by Brands Hatch, Oulton Park, Lydden, and Castle Coombe. Short of some major disaster befalling you, Goodwood never fails to deliver.
I always bring a camera, and on this occasion, I had decided to forego my superb Sigma 60-600mm and had brought my much earlier and far lighter Tamron 150-600mm on the mirrorless Canon EOS R body. I had one further ‘tweak’ — the 2x Converter — which meant I was actually using a 300-1200mm full-frame camera! Knowing There would also be opportunities for closer work, I also had the 24-70mm — which I used to get shots within the ‘Motor Show’ feature.
I will make an admission that despite my careful preparations there was one failure on my part; the one item which could have made my life far easier was still carefully nestling in the boot of my car — a monopod! However, that only surfaced once I was trackside, since to make the trek to the car would lose me too much time, I was going to have to rely on whatever support I could find, such as the top of fence posts, and my daughter’s willingness to provide her shoulder on one occasion! The sacrifices one’s family sometimes endure for their forgetful parents!
Goodwood as I mentioned is a friendly place and an example is a charming mother of two young children who was just in front of me at the banking, who opened a conversation wondering whether she was in my way whilst shooting, I assured her she had no need for concern. Later, she had insisted the boy and girl stayed together which was good advice, and later still when both were at the front fence, in return I suggested that they don’t watch from beneath the wire fencing as they were at that time, because they were unprotected. Somehow, interactions between strangers here at Goodwood is the norm.
I watched an old business colleague, Simon Diffey, do well in his race, and listened over the speakers to his delighted response to his good fortune whilst being interviewed. Later I briefly met up with him, still in high good humour. Another familiar face I spotted was photographer, Jeff Bloxham, but I failed to catch his eye as he was trackside at the Kids’ Pedal Car race and we were in the enclosure. Over the years visiting Goodwood rarely has there been a time when I have not come across old friends, but perhaps the clue is within the adjective ‘old’!
Also, most of my visits, I have bumped into Charles March during the course of the day, as in what I term my ‘former life’ he had been a client of the retouchers, The Colour Company with whom I had worked for many years — in fact it was through them that I had been twice invited to stay at the house to give him some Photoshop help. This day, I did listen to him over the Tannoy, give a moving tribute to his absent friend, Stirling Moss, and later watched him take Susie, Sterling’s wife around in one of the many cars he had driven to success over the last many years. I have tried since to find a recording of his piece, but thus far, in vain. It undoubtedly came from his heart and in his own words as a friend. Sadly, Sir Stirling was not up to travelling to be present.

The last pictures from our day were all taken on my handy 24-70mm, and this turned out to be one of the very few times when I never used its handy macro feature, but this lens if I ever am limited to just camera and one lens and weight, proves invaluable. Another, wonderful, warm, and welcoming day nears its end, just the journey home and the parting with my daughter Lizzy as she heads back to her husband and young family.