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 27 June 2012

Floral Abundance at Luton Hoo's Walled Garden

I had not visited the Walled Garden at Luton Hoo for some while, so it was pleasant to see more new signage and the expanded area of the garden. The recent rains, and warm nights meant there were blooms in abundance, which meant that in some areas the younger plants that had seemed well-separated, had now become dense areas of overlapping species providing an artist's palette of extraordinary variety.

Although bright, it was very humid, and as I worked close in, the bees provided continuo as they serenaded through their favourite repertoire. One corner close to the greenhouses was particularly redolent of the scent of its flowers. Every once in a while a breeze would come, and the grasses would sway, but ironically they often occurred when I was trying to capture a single slender bloom, and I would be trying to hold still in an awkward stance and would find my glasses would steam up, and I'd have to break off just as the wind died back down!

I had arrived somewhat late and was probably on site for an hour, and as I finished shooting a few drops of rain desultorily fell, but stopped almost immediately.

Tuesday 26 June 2012

Testing the new 'Boomerang' Plate

Back at the Focus on Imaging Show earlier this year, I tried to find a manufacturer interested in the production of a camera plate that would add functionality to the ease of use a gimbal head when using lenses of around 300mm. My issue was that with very long and heavy lenses these proved really efficient, but the lesser mass of say a 300mm f/4 did not work as well. I reckoned that there was not sufficient leverage from gripping the camera body because of its proximity to the axis of the rotating arm and the centre of gravity of the lens.

Panning was fine using the bulky upright of the gimbal head, it was the vertical movement which was less efficient, to test out my theory I angled a straight bar forward from the camera baseplate and added a pistol grip that was now in line with the centre of gravity of the lens/camera body, and with the added leverage of the pistol grip the balance of effort in both panning and raising or lowering of the lens was more equal resulting in far smoother use of the gimbal head with such a lens.

This morning Calumet came up trumps with a prototype of what I envisaged, and I set out out to test whether it worked by taking my Canon 7D, 300mm f/4 and gimbal head and the newly christened 'Boomerang' plate to the Grand Union Canal near Wilstone, and the gallery of images here is the result.

Obviously I have no idea whether Calumet will produce the plate, but for those photographers who would like to have smooth and controlled movement from the less weighty and shorter focal length telephotos, this plate opens up the world of gimbal heads, and I think it's the way forward – it is far more controlled than a ball head.

I only used the 300mm lens here and was only disappointed that the two kingfishers I spotted that sped like Exocet missiles along the reeds did not return later, which would have been the real test! But I did spot a Muntjack and a mobbing of a mating pair of damselflies by a mating pair of water boatmen!

Tuesday 12 June 2012

Smart Objects – What are they?

Photoshop over the last several versions has moved to more and more non-destructive editing.
Smart Objects is just one of the ways this has been achieved.

What is meant by non-destructive?

It means that whilst working for a client or one’s self, the changes that are applied to the image file can be restored and re-altered differently; it means that when a client changes his/her mind, it does not mean a complete rebuild, or painful de-construction.

One of the simplest ways in which this can be accomplished is to apply a Layer Mask directly to a layer, rather than erase a section, which would be destructive by being non-reversible.That is not strictly so if one has had the foresight to check the History Option to allow for Non-Linear History, because under those circumstances one could step back to before the erasure, and paint from the earlier complete state. However someone who operates in that mode is likely not to have set this option anyway.

Select History Options from the flyout menu, top right

then check the box against 'Allow Non-Linear History'

When colour correcting: rather than work directly on a specific layer or layers, an Adjustment Layer is best applied above, which can either be linked only to the layer immediately beneath, or all those layers below. This means that the alterations can be made, yet later returned to and applied differently.

Here the mask is fully operative  

Here the Mask has been switched off temporarily

Since an adjustment layer has a layer mask option available by default, the mask can provide the means to apply the effect preferentially to specific areas, and this mask can be either altered at a later stage or switched off by holding the Shift key and tapping the mask icon for that layer. Since it is a toggle, that in itself is non-destructive.
This shows that in Colour Balance, I reduced the red component within the Shadows

Because I knew I might need to alter the size of the image I was bringing in to the existing image, at a later stage, and did not wish to lose its original quality, I made this a Smart Object from the flyout menu in the Layers panel.
Selecting a layer in the Layers panel and using the flyout menu to Convert to Smart Object

I took two photos: one of the remote in the hand, the other the Speaker Dock with the iPhone inserted. The idea was to combine the pair into a single image, whilst giving me the opportunity to alter the relative sizes of each at a later date.

This is where the concept of Smart Objects comes into play. The Smart Object is a file within a file, which in the Master image seems and behaves like a single layer. In the corner of the image icon within the layer is a label as shown here:
This shows the small label in the bottom right to designate this layer is a Smart Object

Double-clicking this image icon in the layers panel will open the image as it was last saved as a Smart Object (it is stored as a .psb file within the Master file). This means that even if you scale the Smart Object to small size, followed by enlarging it, each transform is made from the original file stored in the Smart Object, so it does not lose the initial quality of the file.

Here is a montage of the two files where the background of the Speaker Dock has yet to be scaled down, followed by the final relative sizes. But, at any time thereafter I can rescale the elements without adversely affecting the original quality of either image.
Here both images are the same size they were taken

Here they are at the relatives sizes I decided as I was primarily showing the Remote

The layered Master file contains both images at their full resolution, offering maximum scope for non-destructive future editing, as both elements are Smart Objects within a single file.

Thursday 7 June 2012

Wandlebury Woods Visit

The sun had slunk behind the clouds by the time we set off for Wandlebury, but that was not enough to dampen our spirits. Despite the girls telling me that there were no ponds or lakes, we had barely entered the park before coming across a small jetty alongside a reedbed. There were numerous pond skaters or water boatmen, a pair of mating damselflies, a leech, a wounded damselfly and numerous newts. We stayed a few minutes there hoping that the damselflies might come nearer, but it didn’t happen, and the wire covering over the wood planking was hard on the knees when we bent down to get nearer to our subjects.

As we left Catherine decided to challenge the girls by bursting into a surprise run between them, and I captured the happy blur as they sped off into the woods. I was soon asked for one of the cameras, and it dawned on me I could have brought all three along as I effectively had three willing sherpas to carry them, without overburdening myself! I will remember in the future!

Holly remarked that she could well understand why I loved taking photos as she became fascinated by using the camera with the macro lens, and within minutes Poppy wanted some time with the camera. Occasionally I would swap over or swap lenses between the bodies. Catherine was using her iPhone as well as one or other of my cameras, so the gallery contains images taken by all of us at one time or other.

Catherine enjoys standing on her head and this always results in help from the girls, though I am not certain whether this makes it any easier. She also likes to practice jumping, so this gives me practice at capturing the peak of the action, and both girls enjoy climbing trees, running and jumping. We were recently described as a very ‘huggy’ family at Joshua’s christening, and this was also much in evidence. We did not get to cover the entire circular walk, because it started to rain, but it gave us a good dose of fresh air.

When post processing I did a bit of exploration of some subjects in black and white and with toning.