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…

View any Gallery by Clicking the relevant TEXT Headline

Wednesday 26 December 2012

Christmas Family Dinner

This year has seen a new man in Catherine’s life – Jonah; and he generously invited me to join Catherine and the family to join him for Christmas Day. I was made to feel very much at home and it was far from a last minute thought, as his daughter Carly and husband Paul, and her mother and her husband must have known I was joining them as they both gave me presents when greeting me with Christmas wishes, making me feel extremely humble, as I had been aware that Carly and Paul would be there, and guilty that I had not thought to bring them anything.

We were all in the lounge barring Jonah who had his red Santa pinny on and was busy putting the finishing touches to the banquet that was to follow, away in the kitchen, but he did break off to welcome me. My entrance seemed to be the catalyst that started much activity on the present distribution and unwrapping front, followed by much oohing and ahing, and wows from twin grandchildren Holly and Poppy, followed by hugs and kisses.

The lighting was as warm as the atmosphere, as we all began chatting, and I learned Barry was guitar-playing Folk Singer, and Carol was a teacher, Paul was in Banking and Carly helped disadvantaged families within a London Borough. Much of the conversation revolved around memories of travel across Africa and the Far East, and this continued when we all were summoned to the Dining room and the sumptuous meal of beef, turkey, pigs in blankets and all the trimmings.

Two sets of crackers were pulled, one hand-crafted and one bought, the latter with the obligatory riddles, accompanied by the customary groans, Jonah was the last to join the table and was praised and thanked for the delicious spread before us. Whilst still in the Dining Room after eating our fill, we did attempt a new Trivia Game, but soon decided it was better played in the lounge, but to begin with, our ability to fathom the rules was no better in the new venue! There was much hilarity and good-humoured frustration, but we then decided on a change, and it seemed as if more time was spent trying to understand the rules than was actually involved in playing the game. Setting time limits was not universally accepted as being fair, and was a source of much banter and recrimination, and after both games, I think I was on the losing side, but it was marginally less hostile than playing  Monopoly!

Teas and coffee followed on and peace and relaxation took over; all too soon Carol and Barry were saying their goodbyes, and later I made the opening gambits towards leaving, and after more hugs and kisses, I thanked everyone and with Catherine acting as lookout I drove out of the gate, taking her directions to reach the A505 and set off for home. Most shots in the gallery were taken at 5000 ISO with very slow shutter speeds at almost full aperture; often at no more than 1/15th of a second!

Sunday 23 December 2012

Sawston Village College Annual Concert

Once again the opportunity comes around for me to photograph my young grandchildren as they perform in the Cambridge University Church of Great St. Mary’s. As usual the church was packed, and despite it being December it was extremely warm within. The girls had been dropped off earlier whilst we parked the car, and this year there was no queuing to get in.
We had decided to sit up in the gallery, but ironically this did not really provide the viewpoint we had anticipated, but it did at least offer me the chance to move around.
The service started with organ music followed by a hymn, with two verses sung by the Madrigal Singers, followed by the Bidding Prayer from the Reverend Bruce Waldron. After another hymn sung by soloist Sam Fitzgerald and the Madrigal Singers again, the first lesson was from Genesis Chapter iii read by a governor of the school, Mrs Polly Stanton. The Chamber Choir then sang, followed by another lesson, this time from Year 7 student, El Mayo, from Isaiah ix, then we all sang The First Nowell, followed in its turn by a lesson from St Luke i read by parent, Mrs Kate Brett. There were further songs from the Choir and Madrigal singers, who also sang verse 2 of O Little Town of Bethlehem, this time followed by a lesson from Luke ii read by staff member, Miss Anita Langdale.
The Recorder Group played In Dulci Jubilo with passion, but this piece is so powerful, I felt the Organ should have been chosen, and as if in agreement, soon after it came in with great gusto for a later hymn introduction!, but before that came another lesson from Luke ii from Year 9 student, Birte Mattes, followed by the Junior Choir singing Diamond Bright.
Then followed It Came upon the Midnight Clear and more from the Madrigal Singers, and a lesson from St Matthew i read by Year 11 student Januree Harris Hercules, and Chamber Choir singing The Lamb, and God Rest ye Merry Gentlemen and a lesson read by the Assistant principal, Mr Peter Wallace,. from St. John i. The rousing penultimate hymn: Oh Come, All Ye Faithful allowed me to sing one of my favourite carols, prior to Rev. Bruce  giving us a prayer and Blessing leading on to the Madrigal Singers with A Clare Benediction from John Rutter.

The final hymn was Hark the Herald Angels Sing followed by applause from the whole congregation in gratitude for a splendid and entertaining evening. The organ played us all out as we crowded every exit waiting for all our young charges.

Friday 30 November 2012

Frosty Countryside at Sunrise

Lousy English weather, a cold that has hung around (still not shaken off!), and helping others out has kept me from taking photos for the blog for quite a time, so when I gather there was a possibility of freezing fog followed by sunshine, I prepared for an early start.

There was a heavy frost but no sign of freezing fog, so shots of lacy frost riming the trees did not happen, but as I was up before the sun, there was a fair chance of some pictures. I took a couple of shots as I passed through Whipsnade, and found a chance to park before the turn off to Ivinghoe Aston, where I captured one mounded field catch the first rays of the rising sun and turned gold.

The mist covered the view towards Billington Church which slowly appeared as the sun rose higher, having stopped a while there I carried on down the hill towards Ivinghoe, stopping briefly at Pitstone Windmill before branching off the main road to Pitstone Hill, where I took more shots especially the abstract shapes of ice in frozen puddles, before continuing on to Aldbury and across towards Wigginton. I knew that the daughter of an erstwhile colour printers lived in Wigginton Bottom, but the name of the house eluded me, so I thought I would search it out, but alas the lady was out, but I dropped a card in the door, hoping she might remember me and call back sometime.

I had hoped to meet up with my daughter and grandson, but I did not hear from her till I was almost back home, but I am due to help with converting their bathroom to my grandson’s bedroom over the weekend, so nothing was lost.

Thursday 8 November 2012

Tringford Anglers' Do

Wednesday Evening was the Annual Gathering of the Tringford Anglers, and I was honoured by being invited to join the assembled group, so to repay the compliment I took along my camera to record the event.

Ironically, I arrived early, and so felt obliged to wait in the Car Park behind the Anglers’ Retreat till the appointed time of six o’clock, and as a result met up with ‘Stumpy’ as he parked alongside, so we chatted, until he put in a call to Bob; only to learn that he was already ensconced in the bar! Our turn to join him.

The bar was filling, but as I had never met everyone together, I was not sure who were members, and who were simply the regular patrons, but Bob I knew so headed that way. As the evening progressed I brought out a couple of A3 contact sheets of fishing-related images I had put together over the last couple of years and a handful of finished A4 images, and these did the rounds. As a result, some of the assembled guests were able to see what I had shot of themselves, and some were even able to relive the moments of some the their captures I had taken.

When the buffet was announced, many of us moved to the annexe where caged birds were merrily chirping away – for buffet read Banquet; the food was both excellent and abundant and heartily enjoyed, but there was far too much left, so several lucky visitors came away with Goody boxes!

I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to chat with some of the members and learn about their daytime occupations, and hope to meet many during the next season. So thank you Bob for inviting me along.

Friday 2 November 2012

Autumn Colours as Leaves Fall

A drive on the warmest day of late, with little more than the occasional light breeze – this is how it should be in the English countryside; not the grey damp, mizzly days to which we have been subjected recently. I parked in a spot between two large puddles of indeterminate depth on the edge of a wood near Codicote, because I had just spotted wonderful dappled sunshine and shadows displaying the colours I consider truly autumnal: golden brown fallen leaves, bronze and green ferns, and dark brown and black tree trunks with rich green moss carpeting their feet.

At first I took only the 24 -105mm zoom, but spotting a robin and a tit flitting from branch to branch and a squirrel, I returned for the 300mm. How shortsighted of me! I should have covered all the bases, because I now no longer had surprise on my side! The sunshine was intermittent, which in some cases was handy as the lesser contrast could be beneficial, but generally I do like the brightness of sunlight., though really then, flash would come in handy, and I rarely venture out with flash unless I specifically need it.

The sounds from some hidden birds was tantalising, because they travelled around and above me with no form to show me what species was responsible, at least the robin, with little more than a whisper of wings against the ferns remained just a few feet from me as it circled.

I spotted at least three grey squirrels, one on the ground the other two leaping from branch to branch and scurrying up the trunk to the highest reaches of the tree, but one only of this pair remained in sight, intent on munching leaves from small twigs.

Having spent some time in the woods spotted some dramatic clouds across a field and stopped promptly to grab the shot of the tree against this backdrop, and then followed the road to Ayot House – I should have taken note of those clouds as I barely managed the shots of the house before being caught in the rain! I then continued my return trip when the sun came back out, so I stopped again, this time to wander along the river by East Hyde.

Sunday 14 October 2012

Interesting Tringford Friday

Once again I cleared all I could by early afternoon, and decided that I had not been in contact with Bob the Bailiff at Tringford Fisheries for a while, and a restful afternoon at the reservoir is quite appealing on a day that had the possibility of autumn sunshine. I put in a call to check Bob would be there, and set off, with every intention of taking some paperwork to my accountant in Ampthill at the end of the day, having also called her to see that was acceptable.

I arrived at the car park and walked along to the jetty, and no sign of Bob. I returned to the car to collect my camera and relaxed on the end of pier with my 300mm, occasionally taking shots of a gull that was circling at the top end, and heading into wind towards me keeping an alert watch for fish below the surface. Having watched this unfold for a while I called Bob and learned he was in a meeting. As I got up I was amazed at what I saw in the shallows only a few feet in front of me the brilliant colours of a large freshwater crawfish! Even though I had no polariser, and was faced with the wind creating constant ripples to the water surface, I was determined to record this because I reckoned this specimen was a good ten inches end to end!
I heard the clang of the gate and went back to the car park expecting Bob, but it was two other anglers who explained a friend had joined Bob at the Anglers’ Rest Public House and so he had stayed on! When I used to work at Pelling & Cross (now Calumet) their local hostelry was the ‘Doctor’s Surgery’ and their custom was such that the landlord moved with them! So much for Office Meetings!

I should show more respect for  my friend, as when he returned he made good his offer to row me down to the bottom end of the lake which gave me more opportunities to gather shots of herons. When we came back from this trip, I offered to take Bob home, and in Cheddington we stopped off at the Three Horseshoes, where I imbibed a half of bitter shandy, and we chatted to his local friends at the bar. A while later another local entered and hailed Bob, I looked up and it was a face that was extremely familiar to me, fellow photographer, Kevin Sansbury – neither of us knew we both knew Bob! What a small world! I stayed longer than intended, which meant my trip to the accountant was not made till Saturday! My life seems governed by serendipity, I plan very little to an exact timetable, and I had no idea how this trip would end – colourful crawfish and learning Kevin and Bob knew each other!

Tuesday 9 October 2012

Autumn Afternoon at Stockwood

Decks cleared by noon and the sun was still around after clearing the morning’s mist, and though clouds were beginning to gather again, I decided it was worth filling up with petrol then dropping by Stockwood Discovery Centre in case there was any colour to be found in the gardens.

At first sight, it did not look too promising; the beds outside had been cleared, presumably for Winter bedding plants, and once through the entrance and past the Café, it certainly looked very end of season. I came across Jan one of the gardeners, and stopped to chat to get an idea as to where there might be some flowers eager to be captured by my lens. I drew her attention to one I had spotted, and learned it was a hollyhock, so that added just under 90% to my knowledge of flower names! Later I met someone who asked whether I knew all the names of the flowers, I replied that Tulips, Daffodils and Dandelions was about my lot, and I had already forgotten the new addition!

I may not know many of their names, but I do take a fair amount of time looking for details, lighting and texture, and as often as not I go for leaves rather than flowers. One leaf was in bright sunlight and from the front is drab, but backlit is quite another matter – it is a rich red, so I took shots front and back to illustrate the dramatic difference. I look for contrasts and shapes, which means I may often look at a group or section for some time before selecting one particular viewpoint. When I look back on today’s images I am surprised by just how much I found. This is very much a testament to the diligent work of Stockwood Discovery Centre’s gardeners, their choice of plants for every season, their weeding, their tending, their siting and their display.

It was also good to know that the stolen Wenlock Jug was now back where it belonged.

Thursday 4 October 2012

Woburn Deer Park

What does a photographer do when his main working computer develops a thin vertical green line from top to bottom of his screen? Although not debilitating in its own right, it could be a precursor to further problems, so it has to be taken to repairers and that means I suffer its loss for several days. It was marginally out of warranty, but Apple agreed to carry out the work under warranty, and it had been arranged that I take it to the Milton Keynes Apple Store.
When I took it in I was advised it could take anywhere between five to seven working days.

Upon this basis, I swapped out the faulty machine with a much older less powerful, though larger screened model, and connected up to those discs whose contents were the most vital for my continued working. I also made a complete clone of the Mac that was going for repair, but unfortunately it was unable to boot this older machine, so I sincerely hoped I would not be delayed too long.

Once I had worked as far as I could go, I chose to take advantage of the sunshine, and do what photographers do, I went to take pictures, and the location I chose was the Deer Park at Woburn. I arrived in the continuing sunshine and blue skies, but ominous black clouds were amassing, and soon the wind rose, and it began to drizzle, but I moved into the lee by some trees and continued shooting, and for a while it stopped raining, but the sun was shy and hid behind clouds, just occasionally casting its light on parts of the landscape, before new dark clouds arrived and the showers started again.

As I walked up the grassy path towards the House, my phone rang. Surprisingly, it was the Apple Store Milton Keynes who had only received the Mac from me the day before, to say it was now ready for collection. I thanked the chap for expediting the repair and asked when they closed, was told six o’clock, which meant I had a chance to get there just before they closed – I turned around and began the long walk back to reach my car and journey onto Milton Keynes. I arrived with half an hour to spare, and bought the Camera Connection kit for the iPad by way of saying thank you, and now have the task of putting all my kit back as it was! I would not be able to post process all the pictures till it was all up and running again, but it gave me an opportunity to tidy all the cabling, vacuum all the accumulated dust and check it all out. That made for a very long evening! I did start on looking at the photos, but after all the exertions, I had to give in and get to bed. This morning I caught up on all the email, and finished culling and the gallery is just going up.

Then I have to get off to London to the AoP Awards where I am collecting one for Martin Evening who is indisposed, where I will also be meeting up with Geoff Dann.

Saturday 29 September 2012

Marsworth Kingfisher

Seemingly it is difficult to avoid a very early start if you are to successfully take shots of kingfishers, the weather forecast was for the next day to be clear and dry despite the last several days having been wet and windy. So I made up my mind to prepare my kit for a sortie to Marsworth after little more than four hours, but out of synch with my established body clock, so sleep was more than a tad perfunctory.

Having parked the car, I put the lens and camera on the tripod, and took the almost empty camera bag along with the three-legged seat, a groundsheet and spare battery, and set off in the moonlight, but I was soon in the tunnel of trees and little more than the occasional glimpse of the moon filtered through the branches until I emerged by the reeds of Marsworth. A mild glow was appearing on the eastern horizon, as the full moon was setting slowly in the west, the puddles on the gravel path reflect the sky glow weakly, as I trudge towards the lock and the final tricky descent to the waterline.

In the dark and with the tripod, gimbal head and long lens over one shoulder and the camera bag from  my neck on the other side, it was difficult to make my way down the slippery path and by the hawthorn and other bushes, none of which can hold my weight, so balance is important. I made it down with a few pauses to test the ground beneath my feet, and into the brighter gloom at the fallen tree and the water’s edge. I now had to set myself up on the slippery and rotten bark and the most tricky part was finding secure purchases for the tripod legs, but eventually I succeeded, seating myself carefully entwined by the tripod legs on the groundsheet. Despite the cold, my exertions had warmed me considerably!

In totally unavailable light I caught my first glimpse of a kingfisher after an hour’s wait, I could barely see the branch upon which he had alighted, and he flew off only a couple of seconds later, but that at least gave me the hint he might land just there later, and it was closer than I had hoped, so not taking a shot was less of a disappointment. It was to be another forty minutes before he returned, and by that time the sun was up, and lighting the reeds, and the upper branches of the trees on the far bank.

I was to be graced just once more with the presence of a kingfisher, and then a long and fruitless wait as all the previous warmth left me, and my legs and bottom became stiff and seemed to weigh far more. Eventually I succumbed, packed up my gear and left; the small gallery has near duplicates, but gave me a neat grid, I was disappointed by far too many that lacked good focus, which was not good news as I had manually focussed all the time.

I have a long way to go yet.

Wednesday 19 September 2012

Luton Inspire Pools

Featured in ITV's 'Splash' on Freeview Saturdays, at 7pm Ch.3, and 8pm Ch.33
Active Luton runs the Inspire Luton Sports Village which is located just off the main road to Hitchin. This is the site of an entirely new complex devoted to healthy activity – two swimming pools and a large gymnasium.

My interest stems from having taken photographs for a specialist groundworks company who were involved in fundamental works in the construction of the two pools – Toureen Mangan, a comparatively young company who have been listed in the Sunday Times ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ over several years. They were subcontracted to Wates for whom they have also won awards.

Driving past one day, now that the pools are open to the public, I thought I would see whether I could obtain permission to take photographs in the more glamourous state they are now in, completed. I paid a few visits to try to find someone who would be prepared to allow me in and finally succeeded. Members of staff were informed of my coming, and were happy to help me to get the shots I wanted, even though it was late on a Sunday.

I wanted to shoot when the pools were empty, as taking photos when members of the Public were using the pool presents too many issues to resolve. Taking photos at the end of a session presents its own problems, the splashed water around the perimeter is not so attractive, and there were numerous drinks bottles, sweet wrappers, life jackets, and other working paraphernalia dotted around, and the floating lane markers were out ready for the change in use of the pool. Tidying of these was my task, as the staff were moving the boom to the end to allow for the bottom to be moved, and I needed to avoid delaying them. Working in the ambient humidity levels there was perspiration-inducing – my pale blue shirt was now very duotoned; darkened by my sweating profusely. The humidity level reminded me of my time in Aden when first arriving there from the UK when I was in the RAF.

I was not complaining, I really wanted to take these photographs, as much to show how versatile these pools were, as indulge my interest in architecture. When the diving boards are in use the bottom is lowered to the full depth of the pool, but when just swimming is taking place, it can be raised. The length of the pool is also variable by repositioning the boom and this has small diving platforms along its length.

Gates to the main fixed diving boards are electronically closed when the pool is not at its full depth for safety reasons. Most of what I have discussed concerns the large pool, but the moveable bottom is also a feature of the smaller, Community Pool. The bottom there is raised to the surface to retain as much heat as possible when not in use, and this is shown in the last two shots in the gallery of pictures taken.

I would like to thank all those who helped to make this an enjoyable and satisfying shoot, and I hope that the results are pleasing.

Tuesday 18 September 2012

Goodwood Revival 2012

This year I went to the Revival Meeting with my younger daughter who is carrying my next grandchild, so the pace was somewhat more leisurely; I had to be mindful of how much walking was involved.

We arrived in glorious sunshine and just high level clouds, and since we had set off later than many times before, and met traffic – the crowds had already amassed. 
Coming from the Car Park you walk through a multitude of vintage cars, a Funfare and an area of marquees selling memorabilia, games, clothes, you name it. Yet you have not yet ventured past the main entrance; I am sure many people spend hours in just this one area, and surprisingly, not everything at these stalls is at a premium.

The atmosphere was as it has always been at Goodwood’s events, one of joy and ease. There is always far too much to see in just one day, but everyone is happy, polite and patient, you never feel jostled.

The roar of engines for the first race was underway, and already aircraft were in the sky displaying their skills above our heads. One of my first port of calls was to say thank you personally to Jo Willitts for my tickets, but although I managed to enter the Richmond Viewing Area, she was not around, so had to leave a message with someone else instead.

I also made a call to a friend who was down for all three days, but the Friday had been too much, he and his girlfriend had overdone the day before, and were still at the nearby farm. We did however meet up much later at the banking beyond Madgwick, what a splendid couple they made – Toby with his pith helmet and white jacket, and Jo with her wide-brimmed straw hat - charmingly Colonial!

Sunday 9 September 2012

A Seriously Early Rise

I arrived at the reservoirs before dawn, very much at odds with my biological clock, after a far too brief, and very disjointed sleep. It was mild as I walked eventually along the path between the Marsworth and Startops lakes, and setting the camera to ISO 6400 took s a few shots of the reflections and silhouettes of the far bank against the slow dawning light.

I then walked to my bankside destination where I crawled through the undergrowth to arrive by a fallen tree and set up the camera and my seating, and awaited the rise in the light and hopefully, the arrival of a kingfisher. Ten minutes elapsed whilst still in comparative darkness, and there was a rustling of leaves and cracking of twigs. I greeted the visitor with the guess that he was after the same as myself. It turned out to be Merv, the generous and experienced wildlife photographer who had alerted me to the spot just a week back, I continued to set myself up, and we chatted in whispers. He spotted a kingfisher that I was unable to even see, such was his experience, but even at elevated ISO my chances of getting a shot was zero.

Merv spotted a muntjac in the clearing on the opposing bank, and when it came into my sight I managed to get a few shots of it before it continued its stroll back into the undergrowth.

Later, we both spotted a kingfisher zooming past, but on at least two occasions I simply had to accept that one had passed by, as I failed to register anything. Finally, one alighted on a branch in plain view and I managed to take a shot or two even when it moved to a fresh perch, and as he left I managed to get a blur of wings, that you can just make out is a kingfisher.
Those were the last sighting of any kingfisher perched in our tree studio, though we did see two more fly-bys.

At the end of four and a quarter hours we bid farewell to our viewing platform and walked along the canal till we came to the fork in the path where we went our separate ways saying that we would no doubt meet again as we both frequent these reservoirs. I was no longer a kingfisher virgin! There were too few images to create a gallery, but as a record…

Heritage Open Day Saturday at Luton Hoo

I drove to the Walled Garden to see what I could cover at the event, taking only one camera, my trusty 5D MkII and 24-105mm lens. I was surprised that there seemed to be far fewer visitors than I would have expected since entry to the event was free. But after only ten or fifteen minutes many more arrived. I must have arrived at around many people’s lunchtime!

I had been here only last Wednesday afternoon so I was not expecting to see too much of a change, I was soon disabused of that, as many more blooms were present than earlier, and weeding had continued unabated, and there were still even some volunteers working away as visitors wandered around. Deborah who designed and manages the Apothecary planting was constantly surrounded by enquiring visitors. The visitors were a mixture of individuals of both sexes, couples young and old and several family groups. I also spotted a few in guided tours learning of the history of the gardens and the plans for its restoration and regeneration.

The encouraging sign as had been the case on the Wednesday, was how many honeybees were to be found on the flowers; a welcome profusion. I was saddened by seeing that one of the greenhouses had suffered a serious collapse, I just hope some form of support can be arranged before the onset of winter.

I spotted a daytime moth which had made one particular flowerhead its territory, and was fascinated by its complex wing structure. I cannot find a name for it, it has a mark that is similar to the Silver Y moth, but it did not have the distinctive Y structure.

Friday 7 September 2012

Warm Walk in Woburn Park

Woburn Abbey Grounds is criss-crossed by Public Footpaths, so some of the best things in life are still free. In the case of Woburn, even the car parking is provided free, at the edge of town.

From there it is but a short walk to the Lodge Gate and the Cattle Grid, I mention this as cars passing across this gives a burping sound, which soon becomes a distant memory as you walk deeper into the woods and alongside the lake. It was here that as I walked through the long grass I first spotted a dragonfly flying quite high before alighting on the branches of a pine tree. I now kept my eyes open for more and was soon rewarded.

I spotted a red one on a fence post, and soon realised it was using this as a staging post from which to make sorties for food – it would lift off, cruise around no more than five feet away vertically from the post, catch a fly on the wing and land to swallow it, before flying off yet again for another bite. I therefore hoped to be able to capture it in flight, but it was far too fast for that. A short while later I was able to take a shot of a larger blue one on the reeds.

Amongst the blackberries I spotted a couple of butterflies possibly grizzled skippers, but both were reluctant to open their wings when static. As I stayed close to the water’s edge in a gap between the reeds I was visited by a black swan family. When they realised I had no food they glided away.

I continued walking, past the cattle grid and beyond the farm yards till I came to the entry kiosk, where I checked where I was able to freely walk, here there were a few deer taking a refreshing break by stepping in to the lake from the shade of the trees flanking the bank. I followed the designated public foot path, till I met the path that climbed the hill leading to the House, from here I was able to take a few varied shots of the house and its setting, and just before I took this path I spotted a grey squirrel scampering in the grass. I met and chatted to a few other people, before returning the way I came and encountered the deer again in the water by the entrance.

Thursday 6 September 2012

Wheat Harvest Alongside A6 Slip End

I spot yet another Combine at work; this time in a large wheat field alongside the A6 close by Slip End.

Today was hot and dry and the harvester was trailing what seemed like billowing smoke as it powered its way through the ripe golden field, I had spotted it on my way to Luton Hoo, and since the afternoon was not yet over, I pulled off the main road and once again grabbed my cameras to see what I could record, I have a suspicion it may well be the same vehicle I had captured earlier at the end of last month.

The crop was different on the last occasion as it was oilseed rape, and the going was very different too. The ground today was much drier. I was not there long, but it was a useful record. I do not want my cameras to feel neglected.

Wednesday 5 September 2012

Early September in the Walled Garden

Later, I visited the Walled Garden Project at Luton Hoo where volunteers were in abundance, and here the bees were in even greater profusion, and with a stronger breeze here the scent from the lavender was even stronger. The late rain and the recent warmer weather has given the large contingency of volunteers a good deal of extra wok redefining the paths among the individual garden beds. Here the sounds were not of shrill children, but the enthusiastic and friendly chatter as everyone bent to the task before them.

As I strolled through capturing some of the scene, certain areas were pointed out to me where the bees were extremely busy with their labours, and it was mentioned that I had not visited for some while, and one lady had noticed that my house was on the market, which showed I was not as invisible as I had thought.

I found that a new restoration project was afoot; that of a milk churner, and the one man Drag Saw was very much a working machine now as its engine had been running! I also paid a very quick visit to the Cactus house before leaving.

Early September, Stockwood Discovery Centre

If a Wednesday afternoon proves to be light on paying work, I grab the opportunity and my cameras and set off on my personal PR for some of Luton’s under-noticed gems. The Stockwood Discovery Centre falls into this category, although it is becoming ever more popular amongst young mothers and their children who do flock to the play area and in bright and warm weather to the grassy park space, but not too many stray into the gardens and wander among the flowers and the scents from some of the roses and the lavender.

Today, the good sign was the car park was full, and attendance was high. The shrill cries of young children could be heard from all around and the sun shone from a cloudless sky, I soon came across two of the gardeners who felt that the sun was causing the the flowers to look somewhat jaded. I hasten to add these were their words, so I set out to prove them wrong. Yes I was aware the flowers were not at their best, but there was still beauty to be found. As hopefully my gallery of images shows. Certainly the bees felt there was something to get out of hive for!

Monday 3 September 2012

Early Tringford Visit

I was awoken very early by a client wishing to call in to collect some DVDs from me before he went to London, so rather than greet him in pyjamas, I made up my mind to take advantage of the early start as the weather was bright and dry even though on the chilly side.

I delayed him a few moments to show him other examples of my work, then tidied up and set off to be early at the reservoirs. I called at Tringford initially in time to help Bob Menzies with the preparation of a few boats for the anglers to set out on the water, then captured one angler casting. Across on the far side a large group of greylag geese were assembling, so I waited to see whether they would be flying off and just before they did, I received a call on my mobile, so missed most of that opportunity, but not long after I did capture a group of Canada Geese setting off, and they flew very past the very angler who had earlier been casting.

I then headed for Marsworth as there were now only a few coot and a lone grebe to be seen here, as I walked by the reeds I spotted a dragonfly, flitting by, and with great difficulty did manage to get a few poor shots of it in flight. Walking further along the path I heard a frantic flapping of wings and just caught sight of a grebe seemingly simply practising a takeoff, since it never took to the air but made several spurts despite not being chased by any other bird. At the junction of paths a coot was twice spotted dragging reeds to presumably create a nest, and on the bank of Marsworth two mallard were in animated conversation whilst others nonchalently stood alongside.
 I took the right fork to follow the canal and spotted some interesting artwork on the side of one of the narrowboats, that was named after the lady’s Nanny and had been painted by her husband, and towards the lock I spotted two artists facing opposite directions, one sketching the Lock, the other the canal and trees, and behind the bench I walked down towards the lake and some fallen trees in case these would provide any interesting wildlife, but all I found were a myriad of water boatmen.

I returned to Tringford in time to spot one fortunate angler landing a trout! And a wonderful rope ladder cloud formation.

Tuesday 28 August 2012

Poulteney Bridge Environs

I thought I would take a chance on parking in Bath, so set off along the A4, a route I used to use when hitchhiking to and from RAF Yatesbury, I drove right through the tourist-crowded centre and almost out the other side and found a spot at the very end of the road that would take me towards Chippenham, and which meant I avoided a lengthy queue when I finally left later on!
I walked back the way I came, then along Great Poulteney Street till the Bridge, where I took the steps to the riverside. Having navigated those who were enjoying alfresco coffee, teacakes and chat and being bustled by half of humanity, I arrived under the shelter of trees where an artist was well on the way to completing his watercolour of the scene, I checked to see that he did not object to my capturing his work in the foreground, and later was able to capture a couple fascinated enough by his work to discuss how long he had been labouring on it.

I was also able to encapsulate the scene by having a Japanese man directing his partner as to how to take his portrait, a man gently feeling his future offspring kicking or moving within his spouse’s womb, a young mum sunbathing whilst her child slumbered in a buggy, a two-child family resting and a couple ‘chimping’ the most recent digital shot on their point ‘n’ shoot camera by the railings in the background. I promise I did not stage it! Everyone was in their own world, yet part of the whole – bustling serenity.

The roar of the water over the weir was as fascinating for the birds as the human populace who were being brought to the very edge downstream in a pleasure boat, there were two types of gulls and innumerable pigeons and a lone cormorant flew overhead aloof to the smaller birds below. I walked back up the steps and once again passed the couples oblivious to the mass of tourists squeezing past, and walked around towards the centre to choose a higher viewpoint of the weir and the bridge. I spotted that some of the gulls did fly close to the parapet, and hoped in vain I could capture one coming straight for me from the direction of the bridge. Since it was not to be I simply practised catching them in flight regardless, and was quite pleased with my improving success rate.
I spotted a man shooting with an iPad! Maybe, I should consider doing handheld shots using a Sinar P with my old friend Scheimpflug at my elbow! I three times chatted to a photojournalist, Christopher which added interest to my afternoon.

Later, I walked towards the Gardens where the Portishead band was playing in the central bandstand, paid my fee, and joined them to savour the atmosphere and yet a different viewpoint of the Poulteney bridge. My sense of humour came to the fore when I spotted two organic statues, the first which brought to mind Oscar Pistorius of Blade Runner fame in the Olympics, and then another who I imagined to be a black belt in Judo!

The sky had been clouded over for some time, so I chose to return to the car and set off home, so that I could look forward to post-processing  probably 20GBs of raw images from the weekend!

Monday 27 August 2012

Bristol Harbour Walk

The Bank Holiday Weekend was the ‘Family Get Together’ arranged by Mandy for the Saturday, and I stayed overnight and then had the opportunity to visit both Bristol and Bath before returning.

As I drove in I spotted a great viewpoint for the Clifton Suspension Bridge, so parked up and took a circuitous route to reach the spot I had seen. It was difficult to get exactly the shot I had originally glimpsed, because the sun was too often obscured by cloud, which was a shame.

Bristol was vastly changed from when I last visited, and I decided to take a walk along the harbour front of the Cumberland Basin, and found myself talking to some of the residents in their front gardens. There was a very obvious pride in their gardens, and their floral displays, and one group were particularly happy to chat. One lady mentioned she was visiting and that her display was further along, so I made a point of photographing her balcony and double-checking I had the correct apartment!

It was surprising how many languages I heard spoken amongst the visitors; Japanese, French, German, Polish, Scots, and just occasionally English! After I had walked till I could get a good view of the SS Great Britain, I returned to my car to drive to Bath.

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Watford Technology Cluster

Receiving an Invitation to visit the West Herts College to attend a networking event and be shown the facilities at the College was a great chance to meet others within the local creative community and the staff and some of the students. The aims seemed to be very similar to those of the Design Network Association of which I am a member, so it was very easy to accept, and I invited another member, Product Designer, Peter Carr, to be my passenger and navigator and join me for the evening. It was no surprise to meet Andy Coomar and John Breckley, two other DNA members, as they were local.

We were made very welcome by college staff and members of Clock a local Design Group who were one of the sponsors of the evening. We soon found ourselves in conversation with some of the students, one doing 3D design, one doing photography and another illustration. Duncan Murray announced that we should all find someone we had not yet met and discuss what we did and were hoping to achieve, in a two minute conversation – it seemed very much like Speed Dating!

Then we were invited to form small groups and we would be taken on a whistle-stop tour of all the facilities before returning to the Performance area we had been congregating, this gave us the opportunity not only to see the facilities, but also get involved in discussions with staff involved in those specialist areas. I for one, found this very interesting and the equipment was impressive as was the overall layout; it was very well laid out. We returned once again to the first area where there were now pizzas and an array of savoury nibbles, and a wide range of drinks, and then onto the presentations from Jamie Mathews, CEO of Initials Marketing, who gave a resumé of their six years to the present day to help inspire the students present, and a talk from Syd Nadim, CEO of Clock, one of the evening’s co-sponsors.

Then it was back to more networking, I took every opportunity I could to take a few photographs of the proceedings, the facilities we had been shown and when leaving a few quick architectural shots – too good to miss!

Sunday 19 August 2012

Tring Tern Time

On the hottest Saturday for some time, I visited the Tring reservoirs in the hope of capturing images of dragonflies; this did not happen, I saw only one very fleetingly, but with a bright sky there turned out to be a good opportunity to capture gulls and common tern in flight, and with any luck perhaps the terns in dives, something which has proved elusive in the past due to their incredible speed. I was luckier this day, but even then, twice the images were blurred despite shutter speeds of 1/1000th of a second and faster! I have every respect for the TV cameramen who manage to follow actions like this with such accuracy and quality.

A member of the public had discarded a whole slice of bread at some time and a hapless duck went towards it and was duly mobbed by a greedy flock of gulls who gave it no quarter. Flock seems an inadequate description for a collection of gulls, a ‘squabble’ of gulls would seem more appropriate. Terns seem on the whole to be better mannered, though I have seen a successful fishing tern subsequently mobbed and robbed in flight, by its compatriots.

Although I recognise the inflight turn of a tern, to a dive, it is still very tricky to follow the bird down and capture the dive and the result; the burst rate of the EOS7D is just able to capture part but invariably the critically important actions occur between frames. This day I was using the EOS5D II body, so I felt proud I had captured something of the dive because the rate is far slower due to the larger image transfer.

As I wandered away at the end of my sojourn I spotted a robin, and just by the stream saw some tiny fish swimming over the weir, and I shot that shot to show a small girl what her mother was trying to point out, earlier I had seen some slightly larger young fish swimming between tow tanks by the Grand Union Canal.

Friday 17 August 2012

Late but Welcome Garden Visitors

Writing over four gigabytes worth of files to DVD takes time, so I got the chance to grab a camera and go into the garden and capture some of the more than welcome visitors to my budliea. Till today, I had seen no more than a single peacock and a cabbage white and those only in the last few days. The warm wind that has blown today was a godsend. Bees and butterflies were at last in my garden.

I had to write three DVDs, so that gave me two photo breaks, I made the most of the opportunity and used the 300mm with the 1.4 converter, then changed to the 100mm macro, and for a change I even managed to get some sunshine some of the time, and I now had a tortoiseshell join the peacock and cabbage white. The three shots of the bee in the gallery was a bee simply struggling to climb through the leaves, perhaps he was drunk from all the nectar!

I have been running one of my cameras in a box at a Shell Service Station which has been undertaking a three-week refurbishment of its retail shop, taking a series of time lapse images, hence the mammoth writing of DVDs.

Monday 13 August 2012

Caddington Stroll

The Day had been cooler, and the threat of rain was forecast for the end of the day, so with email and work up to date, I took a look in my own garden, and finding that the lone peacock butterfly had taken its leave, I took a stroll with the 100mm macro lens along Manor Road.

I found some interesting variegated hydrangea, and a few bees working their magic, and went along Elm Avenue and on into the Crescent, taking the occasional shot, before a few raindrops made me consider whether I should head back, but it stopped after a few more desultory drops, so I continued slightly further before heading back, taking a few more shots along the way, on my return I also decided I should do something about the windfalls from the Bulis tree in the front garden which the wind had blown along the pathway for pedestrians to crush under foot, making a sticky mess, so before I could take a look at my images, I did the decent thing and cleared the path. Tomorrow’s rain can do the rest.

Sunday 12 August 2012

Brogborough Lake Activity

I had thought that there would be a fairly strong wind at Brogborough Lake, and that therefore there would be great opportunities for fast windsurfing, but arriving at the lake the wind was less strong than I had experienced at Caddington when setting off! The Windsurfing Club has changed ownership since I was last here, but the new owners were as happy as Tony had been that I could come along and take photos. Everyone was as friendly as it had been in the past, and I found myself in conversation with two photographers, one retired and one still working. It was a joy to be there.

Whilst there, I did set myself up with a low viewpoint, but because the wind was equally low, I spent much of the time just chatting with occasional bursts of activity. Whilst talking to Ian Jamieson, I would be mid-sentence when someone was getting a good wind, or some dragonflies would come speeding by, tantalisingly close, and so conversation would stop as I made attempts to capture the moments.

I was once again trying out the effectiveness of my ‘boomerang plate’, and I am firmly convinced that if it is put into production it will prove beneficial for photographers using shorter focal length telephotos with gimbal heads. I was using the prototype with my lashed-up pistol grip, and the balance was good, allowing me to follow the action with greater precision.

Friday 10 August 2012

Tringford and Westcott – In Flight

I paid a visit to Tringford for relaxation and to use just the 300mm lens, I hoped for some glimpses of dragonflies, and the outside possibility of a kingfisher, as one had been spotted, but that was not to be, and in fact even the dragonflies were infrequent visitors, though damselflies were prolific and I caught sight of a lone demoiselle, and a lazy swimming frog. A spider had a well-stocked larder drying in the sun!

I did manage one sharp shot of a dragonfly in flight which was rewarding, in the afternoon as I parked my car I caught sight of a less flitty butterfly that was visiting a single lavender plant, and managed to capture it in flight. The compromise was high ISO making for a graininess of result, and the need for more accurate exposure, so I was lucky.

Wednesday 8 August 2012

Slip End Rape Harvest

I am returning from my trip to the Shell Garage again having changed the memory card in the camera I am taking time-lapse images of the refurbishment, when I join a queue of traffic for several farming vehicles entering a field at Slip End, and I recognise the Combine Harvester.
It is the very same machine I photographed a few days back! Once again the late afternoon light is beautiful, so I park the car, grab the camera and follow the vehicles into the field.

I am early enough to see the blades being attached to the cab, much like the Mach 3 razors are clicked onto the handle! I am recognised immediately by the farmer, and we chat very briefly before I start to capture their work in this new field. Once the blade assembly is secured the farmer moves off to combine and the Blade holder is re-sited and then the driver of that vehicles shoots off to collect the tractor and trailer for offloading the rapeseed from the combine harvester.

I then take a few shots from the field and later hitch a ride in the tractor to capture some of the rest of the activity, before returning to process the last couple of days’ time-lapse images.

Sunday 5 August 2012

Evening Harvest

Returning to Caddington in a different way because of the roadworks for gas-pipe laying, I found that the farmer was out bringing in the oilseed rape with a new combine harvester, so I stopped, grabbed a camera and captured one lap around the field before the sun dipped below the horizon, thus losing all colour, and subsequent interest on my part.

It seemed a fitting end to the afternoon, so deserved a small gallery of images.

Priory Park Bedford

Andy Fox, who has now gained his LRPS for his photographic work, contacted me to arrange a visit to Priory Park, Bedford, which turns out to be close to Cardington, the last RAF Station at which  my father had been stationed, and ironically the first I went to when four years later I joined the RAF. The entire area close by has been transformed almost beyond recognition over the last few years, but the park is a vast haven of lakes, woodland and wildlife.

We parked up and Andy showed me on a plan where he suggested we walk to make a round trip of it. The first thing that you see is a carved wooden totem pole, and Andy said there had been another carving, but local youths had set fire to that, resulting in permanent night closure of the park. That desecration saddened me that anyone could be so wantonly destructive.

We headed for the the Labyrinth and its carvings, before moving to the river.  (See if you can spot the owl, the horse and the shapely lady – they are not carvings!) One of the first things that I saw were large dragonflies, but they conclusively evaded being photographed, but one particular brown one gave us both quite a few laughs, flying often tantalisingly close and always at high speed. Andy was closer to getting a shot than me!
Soon one species of damselfly, I believe to be a banded demoiselle soon turned out to be a very frequent habitué of the reeds and nettles at the river’s edge.

It was whilst we were concentrating on these close to the ford, that we heard a loud scream of laughter as one girl managed to slip and land on her backside before reaching the water whilst her children looked on from our side. After much further laughter the father made the attempt to cross and had no sooner got to the water than he followed suit! He was not quite so lucky, as he got a soaking and filled his trainers with water, which he had carefully removed beforehand! He was not very happy at the thought of sitting in his car in sopping clothes, so we suggested he might walk for longer!

Although we saw a few more dragonflies, and numerous damselflies, there were very few butterflies to be seen. We did watch a persistent tern diving for fish, and a grebe with a single youngster, before our return to the car. We were very lucky weatherwise, as no sooner had we arrived back at Andy’s, the rain came down in a sharp shower! Altogether a very enjoyable afternoon.

Sunday 29 July 2012

Bamville Cricket Club vs Edlesborough2

Although I have had an open invitation to take photographs of the Bamville Cricket matches of a Sunday, each time this year that I thought I might make it something else cropped up, or I simply forgot, so this Sunday I was determined that I would make it, but having had a gloriously sunny but cool morning, I set off from Caddington in drizzle, and arrived at the far end of Harpenden with at least some sun.

I had intended to give my boomerang plate another outing with the gimbal head, but managed in my haste to leave it behind on the dining room table, however that turned out to be fortuitous as I was able to use it with my Acratech ball head, and found it was equally effective with this, which means that this is a seriously versatile plate in another setup than I had originally intended.

Bamville's pitch is fairly unique in that it possesses a unique boundary, that falls away dramatically on one side, and is also shared with a golf course.

I tried a few initial shots using the 1.4 Converter with the 300mm lens, but in fact that was too restrictive, so removed that and stuck with the 300mm on the Canon EOS 7D, some other shots taken early and at a break were on the 24 - 105mm. My neck was suffering due to the cold wind I experienced [part of the time, so I left before the end, so I have no idea of the score, but then I only wanted to see what I could capture as I am not a follower of the game. I just hope that as a record it pleases a few of the players.

Thursday 26 July 2012

Harpenden ‘Classics on the Common’

I have not managed to visit the car and bike display on the Common at Harpenden in previous years. This year Peter Carr a local Product designer and I have met up to visit the 2012 ‘Classics on the Common’ – all the Common, bar the Cricket pitch, is completely overtaken by parked cars and bikes from all eras, with milling crowds of all ages and colour thronging the lines of vehicles. In the main the bikes are under the shade of trees,

Overhearing conversations of others, confirms to Peter and I that we were not alone in pointing to the types of vehicles we had once owned. When talking to some of the current owners we reflected on the costs of ownership from those periods in our lives – cars bought for a few pounds, enjoyed for months or years and often sold for more than we paid for them! I could not match Peter’s knowledge, experience or range of vehicles owned, yet I had owned a fair few in my time, though never anything exotic or powerful.

The sheer joy on everyone’s faces and in their chatter certainly was a far cry from the doom and gloom reported in the media. I know the hot sunshine was a contributor, but this was a crowd out to enjoy itself, and to consider purchasing in some instances. The spirit of the festival, because that is how it seemed pervaded the whole of Harpenden and the place was very much alive, and I am certain it will have given the cafés and restaurants a welcome boost, along with all the burger bars and ice cream vans on the common itself.

Peter and a group of his friends were due to meet for Dinner at a restaurant, so we parted after meeting up with his wife Sue, and I returned to my car for the journey home and to put my pictures into another gallery.

Tuesday 24 July 2012

One Seriously Hot Day at Stockwood!

Today was one of those days when two showers is essential. So what do I do? My desk was clear, so I paid a quickie visit to the Stockwood Discovery Centre, bump straight into Jan who says Ladybird larvae are to be found, in the greenhouse! It is 29˚ C outside, whatever made me consider entering the inferno that is the greenhouse?! No sooner does Jan unlock the door when it is apparent even the vegetation which have been watered earlier, are wilting, so in offering to sacrifice myself I have at least saved some of the plant life! Jan then hosed them down yet again, and I am sure I heard them sigh in relief!

Jan showed me where they were to be found; at least where they were when she last watered them,but I did find a couple and I must have found the most energetic or camera shy insect on the planet, and beads of sweat were pouring off me and covering the camera, but I managed to end up after a gruelling ten minutes with a couple of acceptable images.

Were it not for all my camera gear I would have asked her to water me from head to foot with her hose. I was glad to be thanking her for the opportunity, and escaping to the fresh air, and to hopefully dry out taking other shots in the gardens. Even after returning to the car I had to drape a throw across my seat to save it from being soaked. I was pleased though with what I had captured in the short visit.