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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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.