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 31 May 2010

College Lake Nature Reserve

The recently opened Visitor Centre at College Lake is nearing completion; the outside landscaping is yet to be completed. The building and its interior is a very interesting structure, and very carefully placed to provide excellent views of this one-time Chalkpit. It stands such that for most of the day, the sun is behind, and is curved to ensure that only the evening rays fall on the far front where the restaurant area lies. The lake itself has beautiful landscaping, several islands and a splendid octagonal hide.

The Visitor Centre is topped with soil and grass, and is surrounded by baskets of varied vegetation. Once I had entered I was very impressed with what has been done to the interior. The staff were very welcoming and I asked whether anyone objected to my taking photographs of the interior; permission was readily given. There was a superb exhibition of large photos of wildlife and many explanatory boards especially aimed at informing children and adults alike. I had initially thought I might have to come back at another time because I did not have a wideangle lens, but after I had sat down with a cup of tea, I realised I did have a zoom with a moderate wideangle so popped this on and took a few shots.

After my tea I tried in vain to capture some of the swallows and then went back to my shorter zoom and took some exterior shots and some details. It is obvious that the architects for this project have put a lot of thought into what has been built and how the outside area will be finished. I do hope this whole site is a success, my only concern is the size of the car parking area which was almost full, and the entrance, as it is onto a narrow and busy highway.

It is well worth a visit.

Pigeon Fancying

Although there are several pigeons in the area, they generally spend their time flying from one rooftop or treetop to another and occasionally dive into the privacy of the pine trees, but two came and relaxed in more open branches, and because of the wind and occasional drizzle these two snuggled down to rest. For a time they seemed to take it in turns for shuteye; I never saw both with their eyes shut. These two were noticeable as they had long and grey beaks and somewhat poor grooming.

Then suddenly in flew another, much plumper bird, better coat and an orange beak. I have no idea of the sex of birds, so I have no idea whether this was a male and the earlier pair males, but this newcomer landed alongside the upper of the pair and immediately began ‘tonguing’ with it! A few moments later the one that had been on the lower branch joined the couple to claim the attention of the incomer, but after a few shared moments the new bird turned back to its first choice after a brief threesome clutch, then it was all over and the original pair were back on their own. There seemed a short period when they nodded to each other, before the luckier one posed proudly and both flew off!

I have no real idea as to what just took place, and I have no better idea as to the relative genders! But it was fascinating behaviour whilst it lasted, and I had never seen it before.

Saturday 29 May 2010

Flowers and Pollination

I am quite sure that Corfu has far more interesting garden life than Caddington, but half an hour spent in my own back garden just yesterday lunchtime, nevertheless reminded me of the young Gerald Durrell and his fascination for the closeup world of a wall in ‘My Family and Other Animals’.

All this group of images were taken handheld with just the one lens and no flash. They did however rely on the intermittent bright sunshine between scudding large Cumulus clouds, and the dying down of the breeze; and not a little on the amazing high ISO response of the Canon 5D MkII – most were taken at 1600 ISO! If I had steadier hands the yield would have been greater, but what I lack in steadiness I make up for in patience and determination.

The TUC-biscuit spider was barely a millimetre in total length, and these bees were tiny compared to ones I’ll see later in the year, most were less than a centimetre and a half, they were also very energetic – I wonder they ever had time to gather nectar! A true gardener would have been horrified by the couple of clusters of black aphids that populated a pair of flower stems, but I wanted to get as detailed a shot as I could, so persevered to get the shot I did. The fine hairiness of the stem made an entirely natural home for this colony.

This lunch break was my Gerald Durrell moment.

Thursday 27 May 2010

Lilac in Bloom

Graced with a couple of days with brilliant sunshine into very late afternoon, gave me a chance to have nice light on the lilac blossom in my front garden, so I just grabbed the camera and popped in a card and took about fifteen or so shots so that I had some raw material for occasional cards.

I also wanted to ensure that keywords were present as a test from Lightroom (it took a conversation with John Beardsworth to make me see something that was hidden in plain sight – thank you John!)

I just love the high key feel to these images. Even the presence of cars and houses is less obtrusive.

Monday 24 May 2010

Bluebell Woods – Return Visit

I timed my arrival at Ashridge for the end of the day, when the lower level of the sun shone deepest into the woods, and was ever-changing. Remembering some of what happened from a lighting standpoint from my last visit was useful.

I happened to be talking to someone else with a camera, in an area with no sunshine, and I said that shortly the sun would go low enough to penetrate this far into the woods and would light up the log across the path in front of us. He was amazed that barely thirty seconds later a shaft of light fell just where I had indicated, and slowly spread wider! Sadly, he managed only the one shot as his battery then ran out. He was grateful however that I had suggested he take a longer exposure stopped right down and using his time delay.

Not long after there was a group of foreign twenty-somethings trying to use their time delay to take a group shot with much hilarity as the photographer made his way back to the group in a stooping run to fall in a heap as the shutter fired; they were all in hysterics after several failed attempts, so I offered to take the shot of all of them, at least admitting it could never be quite as much fun! They were happy for me to do so, and they then took a look at some of what I had taken, one girl then came over to ask how they might see my shots, and as I finished taking that shot, she came out with the immortal words: “Do you come here often?” to which my obvious reply was: “That sounds awfully like a chat-up line!” We both laughed. When I mentioned the incident to my younger married daughter, she was equally amused!

Oh, and yes this time I made very sure that Image Stabilisation was OFF!

Saturday 22 May 2010

Of Birds and Bluebells

Somewhat late in the day I set off once more for Tringford reservoir, but my normal route was barred for some reason beyond Whipsnade, so I had to return and take an alternative route via Studham. They were holding their May Fair, and the organisers must have been delighted by the response, there was barely a square foot of space left; cars were parked along the verges for nearly half a mile! This diversion was to influence what happened after I left Tringford to return.

I met Bob the Bailiff resting on a bench in the woods, and he immediately offered to take me out in a boat on the lake, which I gratefully accepted.

I wanted to test using a gimbal head on my tripod, and although it may seem obtuse to use a tripod in a boat, it does in fact make some sense, as these were shallow draught boats.

Bob does not take kindly to cormorants as the reservoir is not stocked to be their larder, but I was nevertheless happy to take shots of one perched on some branches in the water, but it was the heron we were actually trying to approach, and as we concentrated on the cormorant flying off, we missed how the heron also took leave! After my trip on the water Bob introduced me to his wife, before they left for a night out at a restaurant.

I stayed on for a while, but I left after another hour and on the return trip I turned towards Ashridge, and as the light was brilliant and low. I stopped off in the bluebell woods, which was pure happenstance or serendipity, though I did not realise that accidentally my lens was set for Image Stabilisation, which should never be used when a camera is mounted on a tripod, and so much of what I took was lost. That was very careless of me. I think I shall return.

Saturday 15 May 2010

Early Start at Tringford Reservoir

I am not an early bird by nature. I tend to work till the early hours of the morning, and generally need little more than four hours' sleep; except when very tired, I rarely find I can sleep uninterrupted for eight hours.

So the thought of arriving at Tringford Reservoir at or before seven o'clock in the morning was daunting, I set the alarm for 5.15am and because I had been undecided till the last minute, I actually went to bed around 1.30am – then woke before the alarm – around five. I got up after a five-minute doze, before switching it off.

I arrived at the reservoir about a quarter to seven, and walked along the Trout stream, just catching a pair of Mallard ducks coming in to land in the field bordering the stream, there were already a handful of greylags in the centre. There were no other signs of conspicuous activity either along the length of the stream or in the Tringford lake, so I strolled over the road and into Marsworth where there were more signs of life and spotted a well camouflaged duck in the bushes, some other ducklings and Greylags on the bank and in the water, and a small birds singing its heart out!

I wandered along to where the path forked to go to Startop reservoir then turned back, and it was now that a biting wind came on, and I was heading straight into it as I headed back to Tringford and the Fisherman's jetty to meet up with the bailliff, Bob.

For the rest of the day I was capturing swans landing and taking off, Coots and Mallard trying their damnedst to get their evil way with their females, I missed several opportunities to get the heron in flight, I spotted the capture of a crayfish by a crested Grebe, the flighty visits of a Robin, and a soaring Red Kite.

I witnessed the success of two fishermen in their boats, and conversations regarding buzzers and lures, I managed to stay wakeful till around three o'clock, and reached home with definite signs of tiredness, but it had been well worth it for the images I captured.

Tuesday 4 May 2010

Maydencroft May Bank Holiday

May Bank Holiday Monday was a day of April showers, and I found myself caught in three of them. I took a leisurely drive towards Maydencroft Manor, home of the Williams family, to try to capture some more of what goes on across their land. Having gained their permission once again, I wandered around capturing the colour and the wildlife to be found there.

Tom, their son was readying his offices for a new man joining Maydencroft Rural in a new venture, Jack the dog was his normal welcoming self, the peacocks were doing their barking for him, the peahen was quite unheeding nesting atop a table, Franey was gardening and Bob was on his favourite charger  striping the green sward for the first Cricket match on the 23rd.

The magnolia was in full bloom, ducks and geese were in flight, a bold blackbird was bright enough to know that if she kept close to Franey there might well be worms on offer, the young black lambs were occasionally gambolling in the front field, and a lone robin was keeping an eye on me whilst I took pictures of one of the peacocks.

There was a massive pizza-shaped pair of fungi close by the statue of a maiden, and the bluebells were out in the woods. the very first shot in the gallery was taken in a gorgeous valley just beyond Luton Airport taken on my journey over, because there was such wonderful lighting dappling the valley wherein lies Offley Chase. Spring and early summer in England is  a beautiful place, and should never be under-estimated. It is certainly a green and pleasant land.

Saturday 1 May 2010

Creative Suite 5 is now – Available!

Photoshop (and the rest of the Creative Suite) CS5 is now available on the streets.

Certainly the response I received from someone at the University of Bedfordshire when I discussed some of its features yesterday and let him see what Russell Brown had to say, suggests they will be putting in orders this summer! He could see straightaway how the students will be able to take advantage of Puppet Warp in their work.

I hope I can show them much more of what has gone into this product in several key areas; it’s only a shame I do not have the expertise to show just how powerful the new painting tools are. Try the wet and mixer brushes if you want to turn an existing photo into a painting, and if you can paint, then try your hand on a blank canvas, let your creative juices flow.

Anyone who is wondering what CS5 brings to the table could do a lot worse than pay a visit to Dr. Russell Preston Brown’s excellent website. Go for it!