I am Rod Wynne-Powell, and this is my way to pass on snippets either of a technical nature, or related to what I am currently doing or hope to be doing in the near future.

A third-person description follows:
Professional photographer, Lightroom and Photoshop Workflow trainer, Consultant, digital image retoucher, author, and tech-editor for Martin Evening's many 'Photoshop for Photographers' books.

For over twenty years, Rod has had a client list of large and small companies, which reads like the ‘who’s who’ of the imaging, advertising and software industries. He has a background in Commercial/Industrial Photography, was Sales Manager for a leading London-based colour laboratory and has trained many digital photographers on a one-to-one basis, in the UK and Europe.
Still a pre-release tester for Adobe in the US, for Photoshop, he is also very much involved in the taking of a wide range of photographs, as can be seen in the galleries.

See his broad range of training and creative services, available NOW. Take advantage of them and ensure an unfair advantage over your competitors…

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Wednesday 30 May 2012

Warm Wednesday at Stockwood Discovery Centre

I had not visited the Gardens at Stockwood for some while, and I knew that it would be a mass of late Spring colour, and judging by my own garden, the bees would be hard at work pollinating.

I was not disappointed. There was such a variety that I was there far longer than intended, I was spoiled for choice. I had travelled light; with just the Tamron 90mm Macro lens on the Canon EOS 7D with ringflash attached. I specifically wanted to limit myself to just this lens as it would allow me to concentrate on detail. The reason for using the ringflash was to grasp the opportunity to freeze any bees if they came into frame, even if in flight, and I did succeed on a few occasions. The beauty of the Tamron as opposed to the 100mm Canon macro is I am able to move in closer, and it is nevertheless a very crisp lens.

Monday 28 May 2012

Dancers End Walk

I learned that BBOWT – an ugly Acronym for the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust, had a Nature Reserve at Dancers End, Just off the A41, and it made great play of this being the site for the Duke of Burgundy Species, well sadly I never saw any butterfly beyond a lone Cabbage White, flitting around the lower field before even entering the Nature Reserve. I met up with a couple who have visited regularly to walk their dog for the past twelve seasons, and they have never seen one. Later still I met a man who was doing a survey and he has not seen any for several seasons either.

Had that been the only reason for visiting I would have been sorely disappointed, but I was planning to enjoy the walk and just see what was there, so my enjoyment was not curtailed, but since so much is made of this species, I do feel they should update their information.

Upon arrival at the Car Park, what struck me was the fine architecture of the Pumping Station, it was sad to see that it was faring so badly from neglect, but it is an imposing sight, and I do hope that it is restored before it crumbles into oblivion.

The walk really begins after crossing a field of knee high grass and the road to entrance. On a Summer Sunday I do advise you cross that road with cautions as the route is favoured by cyclists who rush silently down the hill in fair numbers due to the remoteness of the lanes hereabouts. When I arrived it was before eight, so very quiet, but when I left, I had to stop and pull to the edge every fifteen yards, and they were using the lane in both directions!

Anyway back to the walk. The first stretch is across an open field, but no sooner do you go through the gate it becomes a slog as it it is steep, and thoughtfully there are steps, but with three heavy cameras it drew sweat and had me puffing in the heat, there are defined paths, and within the woods the flora is very varied, with some areas full of birdsong and others unnaturally silent, and over to my left as I climbed there was a very strange bark, though what made it I never learned. It was very loud and short and definitely was not a dog. I heard it later as I returned from the central meadow, it sounded very much like a warning but I have never heard any sound exactly like it.

I have tried to capture some of the feel of the place and was surprised to find a few clumps of bluebells that were still fresh, as elsewhere they have been over for some time. I can certainly recommend a visit if you want complete serenity and enjoy solitude; it is a step back in time.

No Duke of of Burgundy butterflies, peace, tranquility, Dancers End Pumping Station, Nature Reserve, BBOWT

Thursday 24 May 2012

Warm May Afternoon, at Tringford

The afternoon was warm, and the reservoirs seemed an inviting thought, as I had not been down there for a while. When I arrived it was surprisingly quiet with little bird activity on Tringford, so I took to Marsworth and Startops along the path between the pair. I found myself chatting to a trio of walkers who wondered whether I knew of a pathway behind the reeds – the only route I could surmise was beyond the stream, and highly unsuitable for a group clad in sandals and bare feet! We walked along further and I heard fish splashing vigourously at Startop's edge, and they informed me it was the fish spawning.

Although I had no polariser for the lenses I had with me I did try to capture some of the activity, but the water was so churned that it was extremely difficult to do the scene justice, but Nothing ventured nothing gained.

There was a single heron that was in the distance that would occasionally reposition itself on some of the  stands in the middle of Marsworth, and it could be seen to duck when the terns or gulls swooped nearby. There is something rather charming about a heron's graceless launch into the air and its landing, whereas in flight it is exquisite. I took a shot of greylag goose in flight over Tringford, and only realised when processing the shot that circling above was a red kite!

I returned to Tringford where I met the bailiff and an angler who was using a catapult to send food pellets out to attract the fish to unbaited food; hoping to benefit later from their acceptance of the same food when baited.

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Grand Union Canal at Hunton Bridge

An angler had mentioned that kingfishers were in abundance along the canal around Hunton Bridge, and I thought he mentioned Mary Capel’s Wharf, but maybe that was a failing of my memory, as search as I might online, I found nothing beyond who she was and her connection to Cassiobury Park and her marriage to the owner, the Earl of Essex. However on my return from a long walk in both directions from Hunton Bridge, I used the phrase Lady Capel’s Wharf, and realised I had all but arrived there when I came to the White Bridge, which gave onto the Grove.

The gallery of images depicting my journey along the towpath, initially cover the distance towards Hemel Hempstead, before returning to Hunton Bridge and setting off in the opposite direction towards Watford. Rhodadendrons were just coming into bloom on the far side from where I joined the path. much of the journey was within the tunnel of overhanging trees, but in the sunlight beyond I first spotted a comma butterfly i the hedgerow, then just beyond I spotted a snake swimming leisurely from the far side, asking those I met what species it was, proved to be fruitless and despite an angler’s insistence it was an adder, it turned out to be a grass snake!

At a fork in the canal, a family of swans had settled with its cygnets, and then beyond the towpath alongside a lake was an amiable dinosaur, followed by a crane and a heron, the crane being of the species ‘mechanica’, and one I recognised from my time photographing progress work at the Foresters Development in Harpenden over the last eighteen months.

A robin was gorging itself on a worm; though spotting wings, maybe this mouthful was not for itself but possibly for its offspring. A recent set of apartments along the far bank looked extremely appealing in the pleasant sunshine, and the repetitive shapes of the flyover supports I found fascinating as I passed beneath. The locks, the curves of the canal’s travel and the bridges also have charm as do the manicured lawns of some of the private dwellings along the route, but it does disappoint me to see so much discarded rubbish alongside such amenities and I felt this was epitomised by the plastic throne in the undergrowth by the ashes of a small fire and crushed lager cans. How is it difficult to bring back lightweight empty cans when it was so easy to carry weighty full ones?

Monday 21 May 2012

Birds of Prey Centre Visit

The Saturday outing was a practice for Sunday’s visit, courtesy of my daughters Catherine and Lizzy and Tim, to the Bird of Prey Centre at Old Warden and Shuttleworth College. I arrived in slight drizzle, grey clouds, and early. I had no real idea as to what I should expect, and thought I would be learning how to take good photographs of the birds in static situations and on the wing, but it soon became apparent it was a day of opportunities to see a wide range of different birds, and in the morning we would have the chance to have the birds placed in fairly natural situations within the woods, on branches or tree stumps.

Our mentor for the group was John who joined us carrying what resembled an Indian’s charpoy, or low bedstead frame without the springs which had four owls of differing species and sizes tethered two per side; this rack he carried much like Victorian ladies had hoops beneath their voluminous skirts. Every so often one owl in particular would lose his footing and end up upside down with wings a-flapping, which meant John had to stop and reset him upon his perch, none the worse for wear.

We would walk along the path to spy a likely setting, and the group would be asked to choose which of the four was to model for us – Decisions, decisions, everyone at first was too coy to choose, giving John the opportunity to chide us. During one particular session, a red kite flew overhead and was calling which set the model owl and one other very much on edge as they felt threatened, and became very distinctly alert; the original kite was also soon joined by another and both soared low around the top of the tree canopy, presumably as one or both of the kites had a nest nearby.

A very generous buffet lunch was provided for us, and this break gave at least some of us a chance to gather more suitable footwear, or other lenses for the afternoon session which involved short flying trips with a variety of birds from the Centre’s collection arranged so that we all had the opportunity to capture these magnificent birds in flight. At first I thought it might be best to shoot from the side and pan, but I quickly learned that was far from the easiest way, and soon realised the success rate was vastly improved by having the bird fly more or less towards me. As I gained in confidence and success, I then experimented with zooming from the 200mm end of travel to 70mm as the bird approached, leaving Canon’s engineering expertise to handle keeping focus as it grew larger, but I made the transition from tele to wide in order to avoid clipping the full wingspan. I had earlier used a prime  lens of 300mm, believing in panning, but soon realised that the zoom had a much higher success rate, especially as by shooting from the moment the bird left the perch, this set the focus for the servo to retain the same object (the bird in this case) sharp as it tracked towards me.

I was very pleasantly surprised by how effective this proved, but I still needed more practice – one skill I did hone was the ability to delete failures – shots with clipped wings, or the bird of the moment disappearing out of frame on any of the four sides, or more prosaically, being either out-of-focus, or blurred due to too low a shutter speed! Since I was operating with Aperture priority, it came as quite a shock that due to the low light levels, I could find my self shooting at 1/40th of a second until I took up the ISO to somewhere around 1000! You do however get great sense of speed with the extreme blurring of the background, but an even higher chance that even the subject is blurred!

I have to say a great thank you to Catherine for the present, and to the Centre for what they had organised and provided – I had a really great time. If I had a criticism, it would be that we could have been given badges that gave our first names, because I believe that would have made the group gel more. Apart from John our mentor and guide, the only name I learned was Keith, and this was as we left! Oh, and a few of the birds’ names, but here it was perplexing a female bird named ‘Bruno’?

Wednesday 16 May 2012

DNA Meeting at Rhubarb Café

It is some time since the DNA had met up, but it certainly seemed worth the wait as everyone was in good spirits and it was not long before the whole room was a hubbub of animated conversations, with greetings followed by the anecdotes of all that had happened since our last gathering.

There were also many new faces, which is always a good sign. Mike Benjamin called everyone to order to ensure the staff were informed of our meal choices, moneys were collected and pre-meal drinks were already being consumed as we made for our tables. After we had enjoyed our Jacket Potatoes or Lasagne, Mike announced our Guest Speaker, David Kirkland who had been one of the architects at the inception of the Eden Project.

David delivered his presentation with measured ease as he drew on his belief in sustainability and Creativity drawn from Nature, to explain how the project was started by Tim Smit who despite offering no money, inspired architects, engineers, construction companies and banks to help him make use of the EU grant to bring future prosperity, jobs and life to Cornwall at a time of low employment and severe underfunding. His vision and the architects' desire to tackle the task despite all the difficulties that had to be overcome carried the enterprise forward, and David illustrated all the challenges that lay ahead and how it was tackled. It was an inspiration to this audience which rightly applauded him for giving us all something to consider in the present economic circumstances. So thank you David, and thank you Andy Coomar for inviting him to speak to us.

Tuesday 15 May 2012

A walk Amongst Ashridge's Bluebells

Even though I instinctively knew that the rain of the last few days would mean that the bluebells of Ashridge would not be their best because they had been due to bloom at the onset of the rain, I made a point of getting up early as there was a good chance of early morning Sunday sun, and the Spanish Grand Prix was destined to be recorded by my computer.

As I arrived in the small designated parking area there were only a few cars already present, and absolutely no one anywhere to be seen. The sun was still slanting strongly from the edges of the wood, casting long shadows across the golden leaves of the numerous paths, and blobs of dappled sunlight across the bluebell patches. Once within the woods, I spotted a couple of others of a like mind, but either of more willpower, or lesser distance to travel, for they were other photographers whose tripods were already up, and were fully concentrated in the shooting process. I wanted some low level shots so had brought along a groundsheet, and I was very pleased at my forethought, as the ground in the pathways was often very soggy.

My preconceptions of the state of the flowers was regrettably very accurate, as the flower heads were small, often already dying, and definitely not at their best. They were also less abundant than in past years, but nevertheless the whole expansive area still manages to exude a charm that is hard to ignore. Looking up however I was sad to see that several of the trees showed signs of having died and shed their bark to leave bright dead, white wood to gleam in the bright sunlight. I hope this is not a sign of another devastating disease is to be visited upon our trees.

None of the images I managed to capture were outstanding, but I hope they provide a varied view of this seasonal event; it was certainly an excellent way to spend the early part of a Sunday morning, and it was pleasant to exchange a few words with others there to enjoy the scene. By the time I left, the woods were alive to the shouts of young children, and it was hard to take shots without other photographers in critical positions within one’s own pictures. And the car park was now full!

Saturday 5 May 2012

Two Days - Several Sites

Toureen Mangan needed me to capture several sites in short order; one in Luton, the others in London. After the briefing in London I headed for the first – The Luton Aquatic Centre, a clean and carefully laid out Wates site with good security, on the northern side of Luton.

The baths I believe are to be used by some of the foreign Olympic teams for training, and the bottom of the pool can be raised and lowered according to its useage. Again I believe it is designed for multi-usage beyond that of Swing and Diving.

The second day had me driving to the west of the London Congestion Charging Zone to Battersea, Fulham and Chelsea, which meant an exhaustive search for parking and a long trek back to the site to join my camera equipment and later a harder trudge with all the kit back to the car, but that was the second of the venues; the first that day was over Battersea Bridge to Howie Street, where parking less fraught and fractionally less expensive.

Toureen Mangan had done all the concrete work here at the new Dyson Building for the Royal College of Art, and their particular feature was the main staircase, so I captured this from several angles. Another aspect of the concrete work was in the Auditorium where they were proud of the ceiling work at the back, which I managed to capture despite the area being almost pitch-black – the exposure was twenty or so seconds!

City Basements a subsidiary within the Group were responsible for my next port of call in Cheyne Walk, a very cramped location where they were hard at shoring up and using their Silent Pile Driver in a process known as ‘Top Down’ – an increasingly popular method of working, adding space to Inner London buildings, something this company are justly proud of their skills at this process; it involves supporting the original structure whilst they first shore up the perimeter with Frodingham piling, then when that is complete removing the existing soil to make the void where the new space is created. When you look at the footprint of this particular plot it is hard to imagine bringing this amount of machinery into such a tiny area to carry out the work.
As can be seen there are some nice features inside and out that are worth preserving.

Next, was to take myself off to the edge of Hurlingham Park to Broomhouse Lane where a much larger area has been shored up with piling and the concrete base has been laid, and men were putting in water-sealing and welding was being carried out. I have tried to convey just how deep this hole went by showing the men alongside to give scale.

From the high vantage point of the Site Office, there will be an excellent view when they play polo here in a few weeks!