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 29 July 2013

Caddington’s Flowers after the Rains

When Britain experiences a heatwave, there always seems to be a sting in the tail, we generally pay for it with heavy downpours and in some areas flooding. Nearby in Caddington certainly, one of the drains regularly becomes overwhelmed in such scenarios, and today was no exception, we had several short sharp showers and claps of thunder, but Manor road was only awash for a few minutes, but in some of the showers it fell with a vengeance and as I later walked through the village with occasional spits, I did see some flowers that had taken a battering, but overall I was pleasantly surprised, and I captured evidence in the main of a lot of colour.
By one of the road name signs the nearest resident had planted lavender and despite looking slightly forlorn, it was pleasing to see numerous bees taking their nectar fix, but that was rare during my observations, in fact it was a wasp that I caught sight of doing some pollinating.
Despite the drizzle I experienced as I looped round Elm Avenue, it was the birdsong I mainly heard rather than the hum of bees at work, which has been a notable feature for this year sadly, also I do not see too many butterflies or hoverflies, all of which used to be a common sight in and around the village. There was one very vociferous female blackbird that came close and I was hoping to get a shot of, but she kept to nearby trees finally flying to a nearby rooftop, so I imagine originally I was close to her nest and the calls were to make me follow her away from her chicks.

There must be a good few hardworking gardeners because I came away with eighty useable images.

Small World Insects at Tring Reservoirs

I went hoping to catch sight of dragonflies at Tringford reservoir, but what caught my eye almost as soon as I had parked my car, were tiny orange beetles flying amongst the long grass and wheat. This gave me a further chance to use the image-stabilised 90mm Tamron Macro.

I am aware one should not apply human attributes to other species’ behaviour, but I did notice that on more than one occasion a lone beetle would observe a copulating couple quietly going about their procreation activities, and he would move in closer and investigate said couple by moving his antennae and gently touch the male on its carapace, then move around and investigate from a different angle. I felt this was either voyeurism or educational interest. In one instance the lone beetle flew around to different viewpoints rather than stroll.
As I was observing this activity I also spotted other stirrings and flitterings; a tiny moth, several damselflies, mainly male, and of far greater interest a cricket, which I spotted initially only from the movement of grass blades six or so inches apart. Only when I moved in much closer was I able to spot the reason for the movement – a beautifully still cricket, who so long as I moved smoothly and slowly simply ambled along the stem.

I then spotted a mating pair of damselflies; out of range of the macro lens, but just close enough for the 70-200mm Canon lens to be of use. The remainder of my time was spent on the far bank of Tringford before moving to Marsworth, where the Tern were diving often successfully for small fish, and I was lucky to catch one. I also heard a squawking Mallard behind me and so swung around and panned and somehow the light had dropped way down and so I found that I had taken a few shots at a mere 1/40th of a second, but my panning must have been spot on, because surprisingly I even managed one shot with it obviously mid-squawk!

Sunday 21 July 2013

Front Garden Pollinators

The day started overcast, but bright and cool for the second day after the hot sweltering days of the preceding week, and as I took lunch I noticed that the hoverflies were out, so I was tempted to grab my camera and the Tamron 90mm f/2.8 with Vibration Control to see whether I was correct in finding this focal length more suited than Canon's 100mm.

However the hoverflies were not in the mood for hovering and were not as abundant as I had first thought, however the sun was finally burning through the cloud cover and this had brought out three types of bee to my front garden and also a couple of butterflies, the ever present Cabbage White which definitely always was flighty, and a small brown butterfly which I later discovered was a Gatekeeper – rather apt considering it was my front garden, but it invariably kept its wings folded, only rarely opening them, and often just as I had moved close enough to see detail, it would open them and flutter off! However patience and determination prevailed and I did catch some fleeting glimpses of its full spread.

Thursday 18 July 2013

The A602s Hot Rod Crowd

The path that life takes is somewhat erratic; even more so when you try to mix ’n’ match what you do with your time, and I make decisions with the loose belief that if I re-organise myself according to what gives me a chance to exploit my expertise, then paying work will materialise. I have never photographed a Hot Rod Cruise Event, and so I accepted the invitation to join the members of the A602s at a meeting of varied Hot Rod afficionados at the Three Feathers on (would you believe?) the A602. The invitation came from recent member John Broughton, and he had mentioned that the group were planning a special event to obtain photos for a proposed calendar to be sold in an attempt to raise money to help a young girl to rehabilitate once she comes out of hospital from an accident after suffering terrible injuries due to being knocked down by some motorcyclists.

This was to be a way for me to take photos at an event where they have access to Fairlands Park for an evening next Wednesday. Naturally I hope that at some future date this may provide a work opportunity, but in the short term it puts me in front of a completely different set of people who from today’s showing have made me welcome.

I used the iPhone SatNav to find the initial venue, and it clearly told me to take a right turn into a Sainsburys Supermarket, so on the offchance there was a through route I obeyed! It simply proved to be an interesting diversion, and though after ignoring this direction, it caught up, but left me somewhat nervous as to the outcome. I slowly regained confidence as it did seem to be taking me in the generally correct direction from my scant knowledge of where I was heading, and the miles were counting down in the right sort of timeframe.

I was the first to arrive, and when a bright yellow Hot Rod appeared I wrongly assumed it would be the main man Grant Pinney, but that did mean I got to meet someone. I brought out the camera and then started shooting as others started to arrive, and I pointed to the sky to one guy, saying that looked very ominous, and he told me he had just passed through a short sharp burst on his way over, and since that was in an open top vehicle he was glad it was over quickly. I reckoned he was being over optimistic if he thought it was over as a few moments later it started to spit. This soon turned into a shower, but fortunately it was shortlived and it just meant a few cleaning cloths appeared to bring the motors to their gleaming best.

I was only able to briefly speak to Grant, but he said we could catch up at the Emperor’s Head our second stop, so I mingled and grabbed shots whenever the occasion arose. It was somewhat frustrating that as I was about to take a shot of the participants with a backdrop of their vehicles they would spot me and clear a path to the vehicle, when it was their animated conversation that was the subject as they discussed the cars. The cars were stationary; they weren’t going anywhere! After a wait for one particular member, everyone set off for the next venue, and that was when I rejoined John and I travelled in ‘King Dick’, the car I had photographed a week or so earlier. I jumped out just before the end to catch the cars arriving and parking up on the grass, and I took a few more shots before having a Coke and a banger. I managed the briefest of chats with Grant, and we swapped cards and promised to be in contact before Wednesday, so more car pictures coming to a gallery near you!

Wednesday 17 July 2013

Festival of Speed Saturday

Serendipity has always played a part in my life, that is not to say there is no planning involved; I am fairly careful to adhere to plans laid down, so avoiding disrupting those of others, but I was only scheduled to visit Goodwood on the Friday originally but I met a group in the Sponsors’ enclosure who due to the misfortune of their engine not being ready had been unable to complete in the Rally area, Martin had two spare tickets for the Saturday, and very kindly offered them to me on learning I would not be visiting on the remaining days.

At the end of the afternoon, Claire, his wife gave me her number so we could meet back at their campervan, so Peter was destined to remain in his vehicle charging his battery whilst I rendezvoused with my benefactors to collect the tickets, the deal struck was that I photograph their car in the Rally section at next year’s event, which I will be thrilled to honour!

My journey home on Friday was doubly enjoyable as Peter invited me into his cousins’ house where he and Diana had been staying and I had a very relaxing chat and something to eat in their Hindhead home with their excitable Labradors, before setting off and getting in touch with Lizzy and Tim to decide how best to use the gift of tickets, and much as Lizzy would love to have come, Tim was thrilled to join me. We set off slightly later than planned, but we miraculously managed to sail through the traffic, but just parked slightly further away than Peter and I had managed the day before.

Duly doused with a liberal coating of sun-block cream, we gathered our camera kit and headed in as we came to the installation in front of the house, this day it was bathed in sunshine, rather than a backdrop of clouds as it had been on the previous day. The early part of the day was spent in the enclosure where we had an excellent view of the exit of the first corner, which meant we soon found ourselves amongst other like-minded souls, and I was able to help a couple of them as to how to set up their cameras to get the best out of the opportunities to pan their cameras. They were excited and keen ‘students’ and it was rewarding to see their pleasure from their improved results. Although both had very different cameras, there was considerable rivalry, and they planned a competition and envisaged a return journey of considerable argument as to who had the best shots of the day!

It was good to see the Vulcan again, but clashing with the Supercars certainly made it harder to get the best of both photographed, but the challenge was good!

Tim and I visited the commercial area where I showed him the surfing display on the Peugeot stand, and he captured interesting angles and details of cars we found on display whilst using my EOS 5D and the 72-200mm lens – he had lent his own camera to his mother prior to the weekend! There was one slight hiatus in my day when after visiting the Lotus stand I began getting the precursor blindspots to migraine, and so had to lie down in welcome shade whilst Tim went off for water so I could down two Paracetamols; fortunately I caught it in time, so was soon back on my feet and we headed for Molecomb to watch the reinstated Soapbox event.

We had bypassed the Supercars earlier in the day, so we spent some time watching the bikes setting off from the start, before visiting the cars in that area and seeing Steve Ryder talking to camera about a portrait of James Hunt; although the likeness was excellent I was less impressed than with the excellent Peter Hearsey artwork to be found within the Stables Yard.

My two days at a Festival of Speed were exhausting in the heat, but wonderfully enjoyable amidst an impressively friendly atmosphere, also due to Tim’s excellent observation of a way of avoiding the crush to exit our car park by the way we entered, we left by a different gate, and made excellent time on the return journey and one last memory: an ambulance came up behind us blue lights blazing, and we managed to immediately find a small gap on the left to pull in and let it by without losing our place in the queue, and then ahead to watch two others do precisely the same, such that we provided no hindrance to its passage with minimal fuss, sadly after passing through a village slowly we saw she had made less progress with others beyond us three.

Now the task of culling, editing and making sense of all the photos taken over the two days…

Monday 15 July 2013

Festival of Speed, 2013 – Friday

Despite having gone to bed later than optimistically planned, I awoke before the alarm by way too much to consider going back to sleep, but I did make the effort, and failed, so by 4.36 I was abluting. Obviously the inherent excitement of going to the event prevailed over the need for sleep!

When I awoke it was looking clear, but as I prepared it got cloudier. The trip down at first surprised me by the level of traffic, until it dawned on my enfeebled brain, that in fact it was a working day that I had selected to go to Goodwood to avoid the heaviest onslaught of the general public, but completely forgot that I had always gone on Saturdays or Sundays in the past. Did I mention my brain was enfeebled?

I broke the journey to pick up my guest for the day, Peter Knab, another but far more celebrated photographer, at Hindhead. From there the journey was to be in his Range Rover, and so I was chauffeured for the final stint. We definitely were correct in choosing to arrive early, as the Super Car Paddock was far less crowded, than it would be just a mere two hours later. We tarried awhile there overloading our glands of Envy, before We toured the Style et Luxe lawn and Peter renewed his acquaintance with a car that he had photographed at the height of his career as a fashion photographer, and he reminisced over the other cars from an earlier era. He was then completely blown away by the elegance and mechanical achievement that was the installation right outside the house, they made a very etherial and unreal picture against the clouds, and this was in stark contrast to how they would look when we were to revisit the area under blue sky and sunlight.

We moved then to the Sponsors’ Enclosure where we spent quite a time preening our panning skills from the far corner, close to the track, before going walkabout and witnessing firsthand the inherent dangers of motor racing by being directly opposite the point at which one driver shed his car’s body dramatically as he hit the straw bales and ending safely right by the marshals, this meant that the delay in the programme forced by the Red flag was only slight as we all heaved sighs of relief that the driver was unharmed, though undoubtedly he was somewhat shaken. We moved down into the commercial area after that where once again Peter admired the elegance and engineering brilliance to be found on the Rolls Royce and BMW stands and the very crowd-pulling surfing spectacle being put on by Peugeot. It was here that Peter’s knee decided it had a part to play, and forced him to make for his car for a rest, where unbeknownst to him his car had set its alarm off and duly flattened his battery resulting in a troubled time searching for one of the fourth Emergency Service, which curtailed his full enjoyment of the day.
Meanwhile I was back at my panning post unaware for some time the drama unfolding with Peter, but Lady Luck was favouring me by my being offered two tickets for the Saturday! So another early rise beckons…

Tuesday 9 July 2013

Gravely Cricket Club visits Bamville

The Sunday was far too hot to be inside, so initially I headed for Childwickbury (pronounced as if there was a double ‘d’ and a silent ‘w’), just south of Harpenden as I had been led to believe the wildlife was worth a visit, however, I did not take into account that an Art Fair was being held there, making the park somewhat inaccessible for my plans, so I soon came back out of the grounds and thought I would take a look at Bamville Cricket ground in case they were playing at home. At first I saw little activity, and was about to move off when I caught sight of Peter Carr, and realised that I was early enough for the start. The visitors this day were a team from Gravely.

At this time there were still golfers wheeling their caddies across what would become the pitch, so I took a good long long look before proceeding across the sward, heading for the pavilion. I ascertained that there was indeed going to be a match, and so I retraced my steps to my car and put the 100 - 400mm lens on the 7D, and put the 24-105mm on the 5D MkII, and returned and was promptly offered a drink, which I speedily accepted.

For once I was able to capture the coin-toss between the two team captains, with the pavilion in the background and a few shots of the erection of the sight-screens. Not being a cricketer, nor a cricket photographer, I shoot really to test my skills at timing, and trying to vary the viewpoints which often means that I can find myself at the wrong end for some of the action as each over changes ends. Ideally I need to be the other end alternately, but that is rarely possible, and on a hot steamy day definitely not an option!

I tried to shoot bursts on this occasion, but still twice missed the best shots by lifting off too soon. This meant I did a lot of ‘chimping’ and deleting straightway to avoid the burden of too much culling back at the computer. This could also result in lost moments, so I am still very much learning how to tackle this sort of work efficiently. Often I wanted to shoot both the bowler’s delivery and the batsman’s response, and this makes focussing accurately an issue.

But I persevere, and they do say practice makes perfect.

Sweltering Reservoirs Afternoon

It was very hot, so being near water appealed, and I hoped to see dragonflies out and about, but I only glimpsed one at high speed as it shot by whilst I was at the Tringford reservoir, though what I refer to as standard damselflies abounded and many were now flying tandem. I always assumed if they were blue they were male, if brown – female, but I caught sight of at least two occasions where I saw blue on blue or blue on blueheaded, brown damselflies, so I need to look into this assumption further.

On Tringford the tern were successfully fishing and were around in fair numbers with only the occasional gull coming in, whereas later on Marsworth, black-headed gulls predominated. I was invited to be rowed to the bottom end of Tringford in case I could get slightly closer to the egrets which had seemingly supplanted the grey herons of earlier seasons, but they were mostly far more nervous than herons and our rowing soon displaced them from a greater distance than herons. According to the water bailliff, the cormorants had taken a day off from their recent massive incursions, but he was not there during my visit and they still came in, so maybe his presence earlier this day had deterred them temporarily as I saw at least four during my stay, and one in particular seemed anchored to the middle tower, presumably using the extra height and the still waters to keep an eye on its prey. Certainly whilst we were on the water we spotted at least half a dozen fish clearly, keeping close to the edges of the weeds, as they made there way to the bottom end.

I moved to Marsworth and the canal, where I only saw a few tern, but did get a glimpse of a grey wagtail on the steep sloping banks of Startops. The brightness of the day and the heat seemed to keep the fish from feeding on Marsworth, where the fish though often right at the surface, took the flies rather than from the bait offered by the anglers, so most of those to whom I spoke were hoping for better luck towards evening.

What was noticeable was the abundance of tadpoles close to the shore in places, so if they can avoid massive predation, frogs could be having a resurgence later in the season. This day then, was to prove to be the day of the damselflies.

Wednesday 3 July 2013

A Brief Visit To Discovery Centre

I was delayed in setting off for the Stockwood Discovery Centre garden, and am now down to earth – literally the gardens there, where I was hoping to thank Jan Tysoe, one of the gardeners for suggesting another garden I should visit. One of the Victorian greenhouses is undergoing a total refurbishment, because it had deteriorated badly and was no longer safe. This means it is far less easy to navigate from one side of the garden to the other, so it was a while before I caught up with Jan, Bridey and Sam, and it was as I was making my way around that I spotted another familiar face, and this lady accused me of following her, but I reckoned she was stalking me, as I was there first!

Anyway we both then went in search of Jan and found them on the other side, beyond the fenced off area around the greenhouse. As I was under the impression the greenhouse I was planning to visit was locked Jan came over with me to unlock it to allow me to photograph a flowering cactus and some Morning Glory, that she had mentioned were looking splendid.

I was in there for a short while, then went around other areas, and despite my initial comment that I thought there was less than I had expected, I soon found more, so Bridey had been correct in her mentioning that there was quite a lot to see.

Flash Red Ford Special

What am I supposed to do? I walk out of my front door with camera gear, and there parked right outside was this bright red naked-engined, old-bodied Ford, sporting the name HotRod atop the Offenhauser twin Rocker Covers – was I just going to walk on by, without succumbing to its blatant invitation? “Take my photo, mister” – no chance!

As I peer inside I spot movement and start to speak, but the man in the driver’s seat leaned towards the passenger side and said “I’ll come out”. It turns out he is more than happy for me to oblige his steed’s request to take some photos, and in the ensuing conversation I learn that his wife has bought it for him, and he tells me a little more about it, as I walk around taking different views, and try to ensure I have a minimum of a dozen shots so the gallery looks tidy, he then mentions that the rear suspension has something different, so I find myself on the deck looking up its backside, where I spot the King Dick Spanner.

We chat some more and he invites me to a show, I think he said ‘The Outlaws’ at the Feathers in Markyate the following Thursday, where there will be more cars of the same ilk. So I have an idea where I might find myself a week from now. He accepts my card, so he can see what I have taken and we go our separate ways; him in a subtle masculine rumble from his car’s exhaust, me to get in my more mundane car, to photograph some flowers.

Tuesday 2 July 2013

Hot Sunday in the Country

It was destined to become the hottest day of the year so far, but it started very fresh with a gusty wind, and I had set my computer to record the Silverstone Grand Prix, to leave me the whole day in which to take photographs. Initially I had hoped to be receiving a new macro with image stabilisation, but what was delivered was a bitter disappointment that cost me close on twenty pounds to return, because it was for Nikon, not Canon. But that made me even more determined that I should take my mind off that blow and make it a day when I would take beautiful pictures, and subject matter did not matter!

And so it turned out, carried three cameras and an extra lens to cope with any eventuality. The extra warmth had at long last tempted damselflies to leave the water and seek the sky, and I cannot believe many people could have been inside, because I found cyclists, dog walkers, joggers, families with children, courting couples, people setting up picnics, people heading towards fairs, village fêtes and all by ten o’clock – no one was going to miss this spell of un-British weather of a Sunday! For a change also everyone I came across was smiling and willing to pass the time of day.

Not only that, seeing that I obviously mean t business by having two cameras around my neck, they even volunteered where I might find particular species without my even asking. However, with so many humans out and about finding shy birds such as kingfishers by the river, would seem to be ambitious! The suggestions of red kite was more realistic, and ironically later I was to see one alone overhead later in the afternoon. My first subjects were wild flowers, tree blossom being buffeted by the wind and the travelling shades across a field of grass. Not long afterwards, I thought I spotted some butterflies, but soon realised they were Demoiselle damselflies, and so I became determined to really try to get decent shots of both males and females, there turned out to be many more males, and when paired in flight seemed to be competing for the few females’ attention.

I drove to likely spots then walked deeper into woodland, or followed the tracks of disused railway lines, and on several occasions would spend time desperately trying to capture hoverflies in flight, but this was a day when I failed miserably and spent as much time erasing blurred images as actually shooting, I followed one river through waist high grass and nettles and on one occasion a dog disturbed a heron which took to the wing, but i failed to get a reasonable shot, but later I spotted it returning, but failed to see where it landed, so having retraced my steps, I turned again and walked quietly by the bank where the trees and bushes gave complete shade, and spotted it beyond some branches at the same time as it saw me, but I did get three shots off, one of which was passable. What really amazed me was just how many families with families were bathing or paddling in the river by the weirs, something I had not seen since swimming at Newnham had been stopped due to the Polio scare.

Whenever the chance occurs to photograph flowers I grab the opportunity, even though I can barely discern the difference between weeds and flowers and certainly can only name the most common half a dozen, but I choose viewpoints that accentuate their surrounding or contrast them against others of different hues, also I do love textures, and so leaves more often catch my eye.

Moving in close to attempt to capture the pollinators from bees to hoverflies is something else I endeavour to capture, but I do see fewer this time around, so I am very aware that crops in general are not going to enjoy a productive yield, so prices for our food are inevitably going to rise by the end of the growing season as producers ask higher prices in relation to lower amounts.

The gallery this time around reflects the variety I found and took correspondingly longer to process and make some sense, but also on my return I had the recording of the British Grand Prix to watch and that was quite a rollercoaster with fortunes changing frequently. It was a highly emotional several hours, but that filled me with dismay as to what should or could be done by the end of the week when the Nurburgring race is run. So many tyre failures is simply not acceptable.