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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Friday 29 July 2011

A Few Westcott Flowers

My daughter needed a rest from the constant feeding, comforting and nappy-changing, so I visited Westcott to give her that respite and naturally to indulge myself with my new grandson.

We went for a long walk around the village to help him sleep, but he took a while to succumb! I spotted a couple of bright white and pink roses by my parked car and after our long walk, whilst he slept, I took a handful of shots in their garden.

Avian Visitors to my Garden

Every so often I find surprise visitors to the garden. On this occasion, the most attractive was a goldfinch. This is the first time ever; I have pigeons and collared doves, robins, blackbirds and blue tits.

I stopped filling the bird feeder for a while when I found I had a grey bushy-tailed animal stealing from it, and so I left it a week, before refilling it. Instead I have been putting out seeds and peanuts in the morning on the ground, but that rather favours the pigeons and collared doves, whereas it is the smaller birds I wish to encourage.

This small gallery of just nine shots was taken through the closed and dirty kitchen window. I then cleaned the window, both sides and found a number of very unwelcome but very dozy flies, which I swatted on the nice clean window! The corpses were then picked up and put out as an offering to the birds, and were obviously considered tasty as they were scoffed within a few minutes.

Jarvis Foresters Development, Harpenden

As I was parked in the High Street, I was limited to one hour, and on this occasion this was insufficient – the alarm I set on my phone warned me that time was up, but one half of the site I had not even seen on this visit.

I found that on several floors underfloor heating pipes were going in as well as much of the plumbing, so I was going up and down the scaffolding as I was also trying to take note of all the roofwork that was going in – in one area even the tiles were starting to go on, so really I need to pay another visit to get a good idea of what has happened this week.

I am actually falling behind with the post processing which bothers me, and this has come about because I lost time going to Milton Keynes with my Mac, so the Apple Store engineers could reload my system, because the DVD supplied originally would not work, and having erased the disc, I now had no machine until I restored its system, and they could not supply a replacement, but would happily reload one for me, which involved two round trips to Milton Keynes, if I brought the kit in. The issues I had also pointed up a faulty keyboard which they replaced, and they also had concerns over the machine so arranged for me to have it replaced free, so I shall have another machine in my hands only a month after taking delivery of this one. So it’s not all bad news.

Luton Hoo Visit 26-7-11

Wednesdays are volunteer days at the Walled Garden Project at Luton Hoo, and the morning started very grey and cloudy, so I worked in the morning and only went over there once the sun was shining, because I had heard that a humming bird hawkmoth had been seen in the gardens a fortnight back, and I knew they needed bright sunshine to appear.

However, I was to be disappointed, there was no sign of it. I was told that I should take a look in at the Cactus house as there was a splendid flowering of no less than five heads from one. The gardeners tending this had never witnessed such a display in over thirty years of working with cacti. The blooms last for no longer than a couple of days, so I was indeed honoured and lucky that it should occur on a Wednesday.

I was also delighted to see large numbers of hoverflies who were equally excited, which gave me further chances of capturing them in flight amidst such colour. It was not just in the greenhouses that they abounded, there was a profusion in the garden as well, so I did not miss the opportunities. There were many bees, but few honeybees, and there were also several wasps. A few cabbage white butterflies could be seen, but only one Peacock that I could see.

Saturday 23 July 2011

Tringford Birds Doing the Fishing!

I arrived at Tringford and took a wander along the Trout Stream, through the overgrown weeds to the bridge where there were innumerable water boatmen skittering across the surface. The lens was less than idea for the subjects as I was still hoping for a glimpse of a kingfisher.

Meeting up with the bailiff, Bob Menzies, I found just one fisherman out on the water, but though he managed no catches, the birds on the other hand were far more successful. The juvenile grebe was proud that within a five minute period he caught two fish, whilst the parent managed just one. I managed to capture both!

I spotted one common tern that had landed on the skeletal jetty remains on the far side of  the Tringford reservoir, but later after a short walk around the Marsworth lake, I was successful in capturing a tern in flight with its fishy mouthful. And I got a brief glimpse of a heron before it took flight.

So, despite Bob rowing me across the lake and my catching site of only a single heron; it was spooked without my getting a clear view of it, that trip was no more than a very tranquil journey across the still waters. Bob is very good that way. One thing I forgot to mention to Bob, was that I spotted that a bee is nesting beneath his left rowlock!

Tuesday 19 July 2011

Harpenden Site Visit 19th July

Although there was sunshine on my arrival at the Foresters Development site today, I could not claim I had brought it along; it certainly did not last long, and in fact the clouds threatened rain during my short visit.

Some parts of the roof are now coming close to becoming watertight, or at least having some cover from the elements. Electrical wiring and light fittings are going in within the basement area, and even more piping is in evidence. The different areas of the site are at different stages, yet it is more evident as to how it will look when completed.

It is somewhat ironic that despite it being more than halfway through July, it is way cooler than it was a few weeks back; so much for English weather!

Sunday 17 July 2011

Weekend Hoverflies

As I write this I am reminded of my father who as a member of the Royal Auxillary Air Force just prior to the Second World War was a ‘Weekend Pilot’. He was with 603 University of Edinburgh Squadron, and it was from this squadron that a pilot shot the first German aircraft over the North Sea.

I never cease to be amazed by the incredible control exercised by hoverflies in gusty wind; they manage to hold their own despite the violence of the gusts, and once I begun taking photos of them, I found their structure incredible for such a small insect. When viewed at a distance they seem to possess no colour but when up close the yellow and black pattern of their bodies is striking, as are the enormous  reddy brown multiple lens eyes. Beneath their wings lies the secret of their flight success, miniature mass dampers in pale yellow, and at the wing roots, the body is very reminiscent of a helicopter. The more I try to capture them in flight, the more I realise that there are different species.

Through my reading I have learnt that when the eyes are clearly separate in the middle, I am looking at a female, and from colleagues I have learnt that they will happily land on an outstretched hand.

Over this weekend with little sun, they have been less in evidence, but every so often the sun did come out, so I took my chances and used the Canon EOS 7D with a Sigma 1.4 Converter and the 550 EX Speedlite to capture the shots shown in the gallery.

Thursday 14 July 2011

Luton Hoo Walled Garden Visit

It has been some time since I visited Luton Hoo, to the Walled Garden Project, and after clearing the desks I set off via Slip End. As I was approaching Pepperstock very low overhead swept a Red Kite – what a wonderful sight, sadly it was not until I got to the Motorway bridge above the M1 could I park up and grab the longest lens I had with me!

Well, you can imagine the rest, but in case you think luck was on my side, let me say, it glid around me as I got out my 90-200mm, and then soared ever higher and more distant as I got my camera out and and focussed upon him. I waited for a while in the forlorn hope it would return, but after five minutes spent watching a diminishing speck, I gave in and drove the rest of the journey to Luton Hoo. But when s/he was close, what a magnificent bird and to see his/her full wingspan and forked tail…!

The Potting Sheds are undergoing refurbishment to the roof in part, due to earlier high wind damage that rendered it unsafe, so I made my way in via the greenhouses and into the garden, aiming for the Mushroom house to see how the handcart was faring, but as I walked along the bed beside the long greenhouse I spotted several young Allium that was an airport for hoverflies. Out came my 100mm Macro with 1.4 converter to see what chance I had of capturing these phenomenal pilots in flight. I was there, rooted to one spot for probably ten minutes trying to capture contrasting coloured backgrounds to these hovering insects and as close as I could to reveal their fascinating detail.

After that I spoke to the two men who were doing the conservation and restoration of the handcart from old oak to replace the woodworm-eaten sections, trying to capture their handiwork.

I then returned to the garden to capture some of the blooms in the central growing area. I got chatting to some of the volunteers from I learn that the week before they had a visit by a humming-bird hawkmoth, a specimen I had spotted the year before, but never managed to photograph, but with very little sunshine, it was nowhere to be found this afternoon; I did mange a cricket. There was a lot of colour today, and even here in the main growing area, an abundance of hoverflies, so they feature strongly within this gallery.

Monday 11 July 2011

Jarvis – Foresters Development 11th July

Arriving initially in sunshine, I owned up to Trevor that one reason, (but not the only one) was that I would have found it difficult to maintain my boast that I always brought sunshine with me! However, the sun soon left the scene as if to say you can’t even make that claim today!

The main change to note was even more roof trusses in place across the site, but a visit to the nether regions of the basement showed that even more drainage was in place, and that the electricians were beginning their routing of cables. Another area was being populated with switchgear and junction boxes, but it was also the only storage area available to them, making it difficult to take tidy photos.

At the far right end of the site, gable end brickwork is looking more finished and at groundlevel a brickie was pointing up one of the many dummy chimneys, which will eventually be hoisted into position using the crane, and bolted in place.

I then left the site to meet up with the editor of Harpendia, an embryonic magazine covering a wide range of local topics, it will be interesting to see whether I can help.

Friday 8 July 2011

Front Garden Hoverflies

On returning from getting a roll for lunch, I spotted a number of hoverflies by the front door, despite a strong breeze blowing the bushes, I just could not resist trying to capture them, as I like a challenge. I knew it was going to be hard to capture one in flight, but it did not stop me popping the 100mm Macro on the 7D with the 1.4 converter to try my luck.

I set 800 ISO and put the camera into manual mode having used it as a lightmeter first to ascertain what it considered the exposure to be – it read 1/250th at 5.6, so I set it at 1/250th at f/11 and popped up the flash, and after a few shots; some in sunlight some in shade, and some that I erased due to poor framing or movement or focus blur, I twice got shots of one of the hoverflies in flight. I kept the better of the two for the last shot in the gallery.

I have to own up that I find them a fascinating insect, and I love the opportunity to record the detail of their structure and strive to improve the quality of in flight images I capture. The females have distinctly separated multi-lens eyes, those of the males meet in the middle. A while back, I also learned that if I place my hand beneath them when they are hovering, they will often land, hence the shots on my fingers.

Friday 1 July 2011

1st July Visit to Jarvis Development at Harpenden

I had a deadline to meet – I had to find four different images in Lightroom to create two birthday cards and get them in the post before I could set off for the Foresters site being developed by local builders, Jarvis in nearby Harpenden.

The sun was fairly shy today, often disappearing behind clouds, but the temperature was ideal. Arriving on the site, it was very apparent that woodwork was the name of the game now, roof trusses were topping several of the areas where steelwork had been prominent earlier.

The basement is now becoming a maze of pipework for drainage, water and electrical services and this work is also now moving to the floor above, it is quite a challenge taking shots down in the basement, and I find myself regularly using 4,000 ISO and shutter speeds down to 1/60th and still barely managing an aperture of f/4, whereas outside in the bright sun I am using 100 to 200 ISO and shutter speeds as high as 1/250 at apertures of f/14, but if I need to capture movement I drop the shutter speed as low as 1/30th. It seems ancient history to recall using a 5x4 or larger camera on a tripod and having to set up sometimes as many as six separate flash bulbs and still only manage to capture in black and white! That was the 1960s!

Digital photography is definitely very liberating, and what is impressive is being able to produce quality results with post-processing in programs like Lightroom, I can create images where the verticals remain vertical without resorting to lenses with Tilt and Shift movements, by taking into account some spare area in the images to allow for cropping. When you also factor in the ability to maintain good colour between sunshine and cloudy shots, it is a real bonus. All this post processing can be carried out within just the one program – Adobe Lightroom.