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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Monday 27 May 2013

Late Spring in Herts and Beds

Home Counties fieldscapes are a testament to how the weather has adversely affected our crops, and a reminder if ever we need one that food prices later this year will be higher than before. The rape fields in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire show large barren areas and overall patchy coverage quite clearly, and the long cold spell has left the bees keeping to their hives. I have tried to do my bit, by picking up weary bees that have been near no vegetation outside, and carefully placed them near wild flowers, and inside in just the last couple of days helped trapped ones indoors to reach the outside. One way I have learned that can help is to place a small saucer or somesuch with a few pebbles and water near to where they frequent – they need water, and the pebbles will ensure they do not drown.

Whilst photographing in country lanes and woods, I am really saddened by the numbers of plastic drinks containers, crushed cans that abound maybe we should have days when we hold littergather days and give out prizes for the amount collected within designated areas, and also have a star grading for areas of natural beauty that remain clear of our detritus.

Sunday was cool but bright and the kerbside near Studham caught my eye with its clusters of opening fern fronds, gorse bushes with Cow Parsley entangled, bluebells and really surprisingly: white bluebells. It would seem from information I have gleaned these are native, as their pollen appears to be creamy white.

I only stopped awhile as I was heading for Hudnall and Nettleden, I wandered for a short while in the woods where there were surprisingly few bluebells, and at one stage spotted the towers of Ashridge College, but the most stunning wildflower that I do not remember seeing before, was in abundance here, and I spotted it in three different stages – I now know them to be ramsons; it has broad floppy leaves, and what look like seed pods, but these sheaths protect the flowers till they are ready to emerge and then burst open to display a cluster of white six-petalled flowers, and I saw bumble bees hanging precariously from these fragile flowers, obviously enjoying the nectar they provided. One area was simply a green and white carpet surrounding a tree trunk. Above in a canopy of green, backlit from the sun, a chaffinch sang its melodious heart out out.

By my feet I spotted a tiny butterfly, which I took to be a grizzled skipper, but this one had unusual ‘roundels’ dotting its wings, and when I first spotted it, it was amazingly well-camouflaged, as only the flick of its wing gave it away, and if I glanced away, it took a while to relocate it. These woods had numerous stone-built walkways and bridges, and there was new brickwork and fencing going in in places, I came out of the woods and returned to my car by road, spotting tiny blue creeper flowers clinging to the ancient walls of the building opposite to where I came out. When I arrived at Nettleden, Yew Tree Cottage sported a new flowering of Wisteria lending a chocolate box air to this delightful 16th Century building, and the road that led from its side uphill sported some more colourful gardens. I then drove towards Tringford, so that I could visit the Grand Union Canal and the Tring reservoirs.

I parked up and walked almost the entire distance to Bulbourne Lock taking in what I could of the wildlife and occasionally chatting to members of the public along the way. It became obvious that this was the time for chaffinches to be singing their hearts out for a mate. I also spotted a young Mallard family out for the afternoon away from the reeds, and some slightly older ones in a mad dash for some food offered by some of the public along the bank. The anglers were also out in force, but the conversations I overheard did not suggest they were having much success. The locks on the other hand were working overtime and considerable energy was being exerted by young and old alike to keep the boats flowing in both directions.

I found one spot near Lock 40 to sit and watch what was happening on Marsworth reservoir, and was greeted again by a chaffinch, and then a young robin approached, and a kingfisher flew by at high speed three times, and coots, mallard and grebes came close and after watching one heron land amid the reeds, another pair appeared and flew by, and the few common terns that I saw seemed successful to a degree in their swoops for food, as did the swallows, the flies were out in profusion which seemed to be handy snacks for the chaffinches.

Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire fieldscapes, chaffinches bluebells, white bluebells, woods, common tern, grebes, coots, Marsworth reservoir, Grand Union Canal, herons, Canada geese, mallard ducks, Hudnall, Ashridge, Oilseed rape, Nettleden

Thursday 23 May 2013

Clerkenwell Design Week 2013

Clerkenwell has long been a part of London during my working life, and I have a great affection for what I always thought of as the working centre of the great city. It has changed almost beyond recognition in some areas, but it has retained a strong beating heart. Design Week – a tad over-egged since it takes place over just three days certainly showed how much hard work can be found in such a small area, a considerable effort had gone into creating a warm and buzzing atmosphere, and creativity abounded. I joined fellow photographer and resident of the area, Geoff Dann to explore what was on offer. I started by going to the bottom of Charterhouse buildings which was a cul de sac I once knew very well indeed as I used to park there when I first set up ‘SOLUTIONS photographic’ in 1986. Back then the Ahrend showrooms which inhabit the building now, was a Car Park on a former bomb site belonging to St. Bart’s hospital.

The staff of Ahrend were extremely friendly and helpful, and more than happy for me to wander around taking photos, and I duly entered my votes for the best exhibits by architects in their Art Competition, and this visit was made before meeting up with Geoff. Later we not only made another tour of Ahrend, but we also met up with one of my former colleagues, retoucher John Swift in the very building from which I started my solo career. Back then I sat in a deckchair with a pile of telephone directories by my side and a  monolithic ‘luggable’ Motorola mobile phone atop this ‘desk’ as I rang around drumming up business from all over the country.

Geoff particularly wanted to visit the Priory Church in St John’s Square opposite another of my earlier haunts when I had been Sales Manager for Longacre Colour Labs, and although it did seem somewhat irreverent for their to be exhibition stands within the very chapel itself, there was a cabinet maker who was very happy to discuss with Geoff, the making of custom furniture which involved both modern digital techniques with old-world craft skills – one cabinet, a steal at £8,000!

We also visited a company whose range of bathroom furniture featured a magnificent SuperLoo which promised to cleanse the sedentary occupant front and back when flushed – a snip at a mere £7,000! There we met up with photographer Gareth Gardner who was exhibiting some of his work downstairs and with whom we had a chat. In toto, we enjoyed our visit there; there were several bathroom variants, the baths often complete with water!

Brewhouse Yard had changed to such a degree, I even had to ask Geoff what had been there previously, even though I then well-remembered the brewery as it was somewhere my father frequented when he worked for Allied Breweries! Earlier, before I had even entered Ahrend, I got a call from Charlie Campion of the John Thompson Partnership whom I had met during the Chaulington Planning Weekend, and he very kindly agreed to meet up at lunchtime even more generously taking me to a restaurant where we had a very enjoyable conversation as he had his lunch and I joined him in a white wine.
The further two highlights of the day were our visit to the new Zaha Hadid Gallery, and where we arrived in time to be invited to the inner sanctum on the first floor where they housed a vast range of maquettes which showed how many of their projects were developed, this was a guided tour so we learned the story of their organic growth from concepts that evolved from constant research and refinement. Once again we were allowed to photograph in the two floors; ground and basement, but photography was naturally strictly out of the question on the first floor. Our stay here was far longer than anywhere else! The Americans would have justly described this as ‘awesome’.

We also paid a visit to Milliken who had three excellent speakers who covered the 3D Modelling scene, and that was very interesting and well presented with some very open and honest commentaries of how journalists loved hype, but were less than interested in practicalities.

 There were two areas: the Farmiloe Building and the House of Detention where entry was restricted only to those with registered badges, something neither of us wished to do as we like to control the access others have to us, so sadly that meant there were areas we never visited. I felt that was unnecessary intrusion; I am happy to let anyone know who I am and what I do, but I receive enough spam in my email without extending this reach further. I do feel the Organisers let themselves down in this instance. I hope this is something they reconsider for the future.

Sunday 19 May 2013

Bluebell Wood near Preston

I went for another walk in a Bluebell Wood, close to Preston in Hertfordshire, and parking nearby found something resembling liana vines in a scene from a Tarzan novel. Before entering the wood I also noted how badly this year's weather had damaged our crops – in some fields between 30 and 50% had been lost – a sure sign the cost of our food in the coming year will be considerably more expensive.

I travelled up a lane, and accidentally strayed into the grounds of a cottage, but fortunately I was soon routed back to the public footpath, and despite the very low light levels managed to capture the abundance of bluebells carpeting the wood. The golden brown of last season's leaves formed the pathways through, and the lush new leaves seemed to float in horizontal clouds, with here and there brighter glimpses of open land beyond. There were even a few tentative signs of weak sunshine towards the end of my walk, but even 'fleeting' is an exaggeration for how long they appeared.

After I returned to the car and had a welcome sip of hot coffee, I drove first to Tringford, then on to Westcott near Waddesdon to return my grandson's coat which had accidentally been left behind, and as I approached Quainton, where a Thomas the Tank Engine can sometimes be seen, I spotted a bright Virgin Hot Air Balloon preparing to take off in the evening calm; I took some shots from where I first saw it, then drove to the railway bridge to get a couple of shots as it headed east towards Waddesdon and Aylesbury, and then I headed for Pitchcott and Whitchurch and home.

Friday 17 May 2013

An Afternoon in the Hertfordshire Lanes

The morning sunshine had waned, and the clouds were increasing, but as what work I had was done, I decided I would grab my cameras and head off out. I had no clear direction but I was on the lookout for spring blossom and garden flowers and any early pollinators I might find. I headed in the direction of Kings Walden and Preston, and I was in luck. By the edge of one hamlet was a couple of trees in full bloom with numerous bees in attendance and by Kings Walden there were a series of fields with Longhorn cattle, and what was handy was they came ambling towards me to munch at the long and lush green grass at the hedge and fence with no fear for my presence, their offspring were less sure however. Later when I had found a lane with distinct banks of bluebells, a car stopped and the lady told me she had seen me earlier by the cattle and told me where I might see young owls in the early evening, which was really charming.

The lanes leading towards the central green at Preston were awash with colour, but nowhere there to stop, so I parked by the Red Lion pub, which had featured in an episode of Foyle’s War some time back, I was by the local well, whose depth is checked regularly to ascertain the water table depth, this snippet I learned from one of the nearby residents later that day. What I find fascinating when out and about with cameras and lenses is how often I am involved in conversation and regaled with local stories, equally, when my phone goes and I mention where I am, often as not the person calling recounts some personal recollection of the very place I happen to be – such was the case this afternoon, when I mentioned the pub and my location the person at the other end told me that the pub when threatened with closure was bought by the local residents!

I then walked back down the lane by which I had entered the village and was able to take several photos of the blossom on trees and individual flowers that had earlier caught my eye, on my return, the light shining through the leaves of the trees on the green also fascinated me as they were so fresh from the recent rains. I walked beyond my car and recognised that the flowers in the garden by the side of the house had caught my eye in past years, and I soon found myself in conversation with a man tending to his garden, who told me that there was a wood just a short drive away that was absolutely a riot of bluebells. He gave me directions and it was he who told me the depth of the well. I thanked him and set off, hoping I would remember the directions accurately; I need not have worried as they were very clear and easy to follow, and although by now there was no sunshine, I did manage to find somewhere to stop and was able to get a picture or three, and the sun even came out for a moment before I left. I returned to thank the kind gentleman, then set off back, though I did stop at the edge of one village to capture the strong light on a thin strip of oilseed rape in front of a cottage with dark sky beyond. Later I also spotted some towering clouds silhouetting a line of trees.

Monday 13 May 2013

Afternoon Interlude at Stockwood

Desk clear, sun intermittently shining; Computer screen or Camera viewfinder? – Camera and Macro lens wins! A short drive to Stockwood Discovery Centre, a wander around the gardens, looking for subjects and one of the gardeners who I had heard was back after a spell in hospital. Nowhere to be found, so started taking photos, and then Jan turns up, I was then invited like royalty into the greenhouse. Bear in mind it was none too warm outside despite the sun as the wind was chilly and I had donned a pullover. Foolishly I did not immediately strip this off so I soon realised this was a bad mistake as saunas can be less hot and humid than how it was in here!

Jan introduced me to her apprentice, a tall lad called Sam, who was obviously keenly learning with a good mentor, I took a few shots as we chatted, and she suggested Sam look at what I had shot, and he seemed happy with my efforts. Jan also showed me some shots of her own of a simply magnificent frog they had seen in the greenhouse. I do hope that his recent non-appearance is not down to being overcome by heat as I have never seen such a varied number of colours on a frog, it was truly fantastic, and Jan had some very good shots of it. I hope I get a chance at photographing it.

Illustrious Moored at Greenwich

Deciding to get up early on a Sunday morning to visit London and endeavour to get photographs of an Aircraft Carrier in London may on first sight seem like a good and simple idea; I also planned a route from a main London Tube station, what I failed to take into account was that the Underground does not  get up so bright and early! I arrived to see gates closed and padlocked and a sign beyond showing its opening and an hour and a half after when I had hoped to be at Island Gardens on the Isle of Dogs.

I had not scheduled for bus routes from Old Street, and had come equipped to carry a bus pass and Oyster card, and was also unaware that I had used its credit fully; hardly an auspicious start. Numerous buses also were not in service proper, displaying Rail Replacement on their boards, and life is not enhanced by bus drivers not knowing either English or other destinations or landmarks of other routes. So I used the trip down as overdue exercise and finally joined the DLR at West Ferry, and got out at Island Gardens, and made my way towards the river bank and the entrance to the Greenwich Foot Tunnel. It was just beyond there that I caught my first sight of HMS Illustrious – on the far bank beyond the Cutty Sark. It was in London to mark the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic.

As I watched, rowers came down from their boathouse with their boats for their morning's workout on the Thames. This gives scale to the size of Illustrious, since they were less than half the distance to this vessel. I watched for a while from this viewpoint, but realised this side of the Thames was less than ideal because of the angle of the sun, so I hurriedly walked beyond the Foot Tunnel entrance, taking a few more glimpses from this bank of the Carrier and other sights, before returning to the DLR station and taking one more stop to Cutty Sark and joining the early visitors to Greenwich, and the station's eponymous Tea Clipper. This also the other end to the Foot Tunnel. At that time I was unaware that there was an opportunity for me to get aboard the Aircraft Carrier, and by the time I learned of this the queue was similar in length to those that had once greeted an opening of an Apple Store or the launch of a new iPhone! I had no desire to wait for several hours in a long phalanx of families for the privilege.

Eventually I returned to the centre of Greenwich and the opportunity to revisit St. Alfege's church which was famous for the grave of Thomas Tallis and the splendid interior architecture featuring a magnificent Trompe l'oeil arched window. Many years ago I had taken black and white photos of the building for some client or other and met the vicar who had been using an air rifle to deter pigeons from nesting atop the pillars of the church's fine portico! To think that back then I had to use additional lighting in the form of expendable flashbulbs and high speed black and white film to record the scene, and now was able to take high quality colour photos handheld!

I made my way to the DLR station and while waiting took some shots of its interior before returning my car near Old Street Tube and was greeted by sunlight on a splendid piece of London architecture, so unpacked the camera once again to record what I saw, before taking the opportunity to have a sip of hot coffee and phone Adam Woolfitt to see if he was in, he was and we had a chat about how he was getting on with some lens reviews and the public beta of Lightroom 5. The front facade of his house was resplendent in the welcome sunshine as were some of his flowers, which I decided were too good to miss as well, before I even entered! I stayed only till the start of the Barcelona Grand Prix, before returning to my car, ostensibly to go home, but it dawned on me there were some other London friends I had not seen for a while. They were more than happy to see me, and we sat and chatted in their garden and I was plied with a tasty sandwich, fruit and drink before the weather changed and the forecast showers arrived. Eventually I took my leave and did finally set off for home and the post processing of the photos I had captured. The end of a most enjoyable sunday in London.

Tuesday 7 May 2013

Bamville Cricket 1st 2013 Match – Just a Few Highlights

For those not looking to see whether I managed to do you justice as a player, be you a player from either side, here are just a few shots that I felt gave the day some spice. If I have captured the moment you were clean-bowled and you do not wish to be reminded, then you may prefer not to be singled out in these highlights and prefer to be lost in the crowd of the images I was trying to capture the feel of the afternoon, you may consider going to the fuller, extended set of pages in the larger gallery.

Either way, thank you all for giving me some practice.

Bamville Cricket Club – Season Opener

This was the first match of the 2013 calendar, and it started in bright sunshine with Cumulus clouds that eventually dimmed the sun somewhat. Although I am not a follower of cricket, I need as much practice as I can get to capture the moments in the game, so here was an opportunity to be out in the warm sunshine, and keep my hand in. Believe it or not, I did do some fairly extensive culling to arrive at the enormous gallery of images that appear, but so those playing do not feel neglected, I have tried to cover as many as possible, and so that the collection does not look too samey, I kept on the move around the boundary.

Most shots were taken on the 100 - 400mm lens on the Canon EOS 7D, with a few fillers on the 24 - 105mm on the Canon EOS 5D MkII.

For those who do not have the stomach for looking through the larger gallery I have made a single-page gallery of the more notable images from my own viewpoint, some show my sense of humour rather than any merit from a cricketing perspective.

Sunday 5 May 2013

May 4th Visit to Butterfly World

I took the scenic route to Chiswell Green and Butterfly World, and because along this route missed a turning, it meant that I literally came in behind my daughter and son-in-law as they entered the Car Park. They had come from Westcott near Aylesbury and I from Caddington; different distances and different set off times!

I was able to simply lock up the car and grab my camera, they had to consider provisions, assembling a double buggy, and attending a toddler and a a baby, so their organisation took just a tad longer. Up till that time the weather had been alternately bright and showery with a light breeze, and Chiswell Green had had its shower. Once we were within the complex of Butterfly World, the breeze picked up, and our heading took us to the boudary beyond the giant ant, and it was a brutal wind that greeted us as we sat down to do some feeding; the low mound beyond the hut no defence against the cold onslaught of the wind, but being hardy, we persevered, then made our way towards the Tropical Butterfly greenhouse.

Inside, Joshua was upset by the butterflies flying past his head and decided it was not for him, but a few minutes later all was well, and he came back in. This was a period when I did a bit more concentrating on trying to photograph the butterflies than grandparental duties, but I returned to those once we were back in the open and visiting some of the various gardens. Here Joshua has to be watched a little more closely as he has a great affinity for water as he does thoroughly enjoy swimming, he has yet to understand that ornamental ponds are not in the same category.

We made our way slalom style through these gardens, but they have yet to reach full splendour as it is so early in the season, and every so often we would see staff planting out. We walked around as two groups for a while, as Tim and Joshua toured where the giant chalk butterfly is carved, and Joshua found the pipe openings where you could shout or sing and listen to the echoes, this was a very new experience! Meanwhile I took shots of the wall that has household bric-a-brac embedded, I found the dilapidated books particularly fascinating. Lizzy and I also found somewhere to take some shots of Tilly. We all met up again and walked round the entire lake before returning to the Beehive Loos and a stop for tea in the shade of the outdoor restaurant area, where I managed to get some more colourful flower shots.

Before long we realised it was fast approaching closing time, so we headed for the turnstile exit and the car park, where we said our goodbyes – Lizzy, Tim and the children to Barnet and myself off to Caddington. This gallery is a record of the generality of the visit.

Friday 3 May 2013

The Hope only Partially Fulfilled

I set out hoping to get better shots of kingfishers, in the plural, but after a long wait, despite catching flashing flypasts, I only photograph the one, but in two awkward spots.

I had arrived before sun up, set my tripod and gimbal head up, and although over the water's edge to get the best viewpoint, I would have to stand the entire time, it was over an hour before even a hint that there might be any kingfishers about, and as on earlier visits it was the 'plosh' of a dive for fish that alerted me, the first close to the bank to my left, and then I saw a flash of blue crossing low over the water to disappear on the far side. In the meantime I was visited briefly by a grey squirrel, who promptly turned about and scurried back from whence he came.

The pigeons were their normally noisy selves, with one couple in particular destroying the early morning calm by their boisterous mating ritual, moorhens and mallard sailed serenely along the overhanging reeds on the far bank.

In the past the only kingfishers I have seen were iridescent blue, but the one that paid me a visit this time, albeit fleetingly, was green in colour, it also chose a spot to my right on a tree stump, only just visible through the intervening branches, which proved to be painfully difficult to swing the camera to, so I took to handholding the camera as he patiently stayed in view.

After he flew off, it seemed permanent as a further hour passed with no sighting. By now I was beginning to feel the cold, so packed up and returned to the canal towpath, along the way I spotted a blue tit gathering twigs for its nest, and a really chirpy chaffinch, and golden reeds in the sun. Later still a different chaffinch cheekily stole a piece of bread a family had thrown to some ducks and geese on the the path. It swiftly grabbed it and moved to the safety of a tree branch to feast on its booty, and I just managed to capture it as it pulled a piece off it to nibble.

When I arrived back at the car, I was thinking I would text Lizzy, when the phone rang and she wondered what I might be doing! My reply was to get everything stowed and make my way over, and I spent the afternoon with her, Tilly and Joshua.

My Own Garden Pollinators

I was at the kitchen window washing up when I spotted the telltale flight patterns of hoverflies – the very first I had seen this year, and as often noted in the past, the spots where the hovering was taking place were repetitive, and the fly hovering would be mobbed by another, then both would fly off, and one or other would return to the same point in space.

For a moment I wondered should I be tempted to try capturing them in flight, then I dried my hands, gathered up a card popped the 100mm Macro on the Canon 7D, and went out into the sunshine and slightly gusty breeze. There were several different hoverflies around, the predominant ones were furry, not the smooth and sleek wasp-like ones of summer, these wore winter coats! At first tried to be near the common spot in space, but it seemed like my presence modified their airspace, so the hovered elsewhere. So, I thought I would make life a little easier and simply attempt to get close when they were static, resting for ablutions on leaves bathed in sunshine or the warmth of a terracotta pot.

It was at this time I spotted a very different insect, one that not only hovered, but was wedge-shaped and with a long proboscis, I described it to myself as a hummingbird hoverfly, something I had never before seen. Later courtesy of Google and a Utah Wildlife site, I learned it was a bee fly, and as I had suspected was a Spring pollinator. It flew slightly slower, and so as I was still wearing ‘L-plates’ this was nature making it easier for me to get up to scratch! What was not quite so useful was there only seemed to be one of this species and it had a habit of hiding, so not everything was stacked in my favour! Here was my challenge – catch it sipping nectar, and then withdrawing and moving to the next flower, and I got lucky. I managed to get one of the more abundant furry hoverflies away from the bushes and close to the daisies in the grass, and then when it landed on one for a wash ’n’ brush up. I also spotted one tiny bee disappear down a tiny hole between flagstones, and on closer inspection realised there were numerous small holes excavated, that most likely were the homes of my other flying friends.

I did a quick check in the front garden, which was normally a very good hoverfly hunting ground, but not today, but I did spot the bud of a lone tulip, took some quick shots before going to the back again and finishing my shoot. I felt like very like Gerald Durrell in ‘My Family and Other Animals’, with my pre-occupation with macro photography of insects, but it really is a whole new world when you are up close, and the aerobatics of hoverflies is endlessly fascinating.