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 28 December 2013

Bright Winter Saturday Sun

Late morning, and I gather my camera gear and head off into bright sunshine blue sky and wispy high clouds. I am going beyond the Lower Luton road heading towards Tea Green and I spot a kite soaring high, but I soon lost sight of it, and have to content myself with landscapes with trimmed bald hedges. In the narrow lanes it is not possible to avoid the flooding from the recent heavy rain, but I drive calmly to ensure I am not forced to drive through them by oncoming cars.

Am I alone in observing that four-by-four vehicles force me into taking to the mud, potholes and soft verges as they leave a full two feet clear of any such hazard? It would seem that unless they are farm Landrovers, the ‘almost saloon’ four-by-fours seem to consider that it is infra dig to get their wheels dirty, and that I must be a ‘Towny’ driving a saloon car, and should therefore expect to dirty my wheels and be scuffed by hawthorn branches! I was driving with consideration, yet these same drivers rarely held up a hand in thanks, yet every saloon car that I either slowed or stopped for, waved in grateful acknowledgement.

I was never to see a kite or buzzard for the rest of the day. I captured landscapes in the main, before passing the River Lea at East Hyde where I decided to stop as the bridge was thronged by stopped vehicles and people gazing across the fields. I spotted the heron in the far distance, and later a Little Egret, and I took a chance to change from my 70-200mm to the 100-400mm and was lucky enough to catch sight of him beyond a pair of swans, and on the second occasion of it flying, managed to get two shots before bad light stopped play.

As I climbed the hill beyond, the sun was setting behind a large tree, and a father and son pair of cyclists stopped alongside for a refreshing drink after the climb, which meant a nice silhouette or two to round off the afternoon.

Friday 27 December 2013

Christmas Day at Babraham

Jonah’s Family Christmas – Babraham

Once again, I was honoured by being invited to join Jonah, Catherine, Holly, Poppy, Carla, Paul, Carol and Barry for Christmas Day. I arrived after midday through my losing track of time despite being woken at just after seven, having only retired to bed after two the same morning! For the first time for a very long time it was a Christmas Day that was bathed in bright sunshine, so the journey over was very pleasant and rather than having Classic FM on, I was treating myself to a CD of varied recordings that were my personal favourites.

The last track had not finished playing when I reversed in through the lodge gates, so since this was one of my all-time Rock greats, there was no way I was going to cut off Free as they played ‘It’s All Right Now’ full blast with plenty of Bass, so I continued with my rhythmic pounding of the steering wheel, and foot stomping till the very end, little realising I was the subject of an iPhone movie directed by Holly from within the house!

I gathered all my presents and gear, and tried ringing the bell, and knocking, but finally opened the door and joined the family throng. There were hugs all around, followed by a swapping of gifts and we soon found ourselves gathered in the kitchen which glowed from the bright winter sunlight streaming through the windows. We later moved out to the lounge to chat and watch Holly and Poppy practised playing a game of table netball, and excited chatter soon filled the air as many of the presents were opened and discussed.

To make way for the repast to follow several of us took a walk to view a new housing estate then back to the High Street, where I grabbed a shot of the words beneath a statue to  Jonas Webb before continuing to follow other public rights of way and along the side of the fairly fast flowing Granta river, passing a both a bridge and weir before crossing one after the Babraham main house and entering a churchyard. The principal reason for taking the shot of the statue’s inscription was in case I could somehow use it in relation to Jonah, however Paul and I were both intrigued as to who this man might be; it turns out he bred a new strain of the previously rare Southdown sheep he had bought from a Sussex farmer which seems to have become one of the predominant breeds in this country and around the world. In wandering amongst the graves we came across members of his family buried in the churchyard.
Noting the flow of the Granta beneath the nearby bridge, it behoved us to play Pooh Sticks, before choosing to walk further along till we reached a security gate for the Institute – there was a contemplation to walk beyond and through the grounds, but we resisted the temptation, though nevertheless this still attracted the interest of a security patrol, so we had a friendly banter with him before returning the way we came. By the time we arrived back at the lodge, Carol and Barry had arrived and Jonah and Catherine had the table laid so after further present-opening we sat down to savour the fruits of their labour. There is nothing like a brisk walk in the fresh air to work up an appetite, which made space for us to eat our fill and enjoy the spread before us and the sounds of much laughter soon filled the room.
We played games such as Articulate and Charades to more hilarity, and I continued to take pictures and display them on the iPad as they were taken, this may have let the lads down through a lack of total concentration on my part as the Lads lost to the Lassies after a close fought battle. In Charades, it rapidly became the Carla and Paul Show as the rest of us were no match for either of them. Sadly all good things come to an end and Carol and Barry were soon bidding us farewell, and I was concerned that Holly and Poppy were due to be up very early the following morning, and the lounge was to be their bedroom, so it was not long before I was doing my round of thank-yous and heading for the door and the drive home; this time to the more sedate sounds of Classic FM and the increasing amount of rain.

Thursday 19 December 2013

Sawston Village Concert – Trinity College

As a family we all headed for the centre of Cambridge and grabbed a quick snack before making our way to Trinity College Chapel in light drizzle. We were all looking forward to listening to the choirs, in particular obviously the one in which Holly and Poppy were performing, and for us to join in.

We had to queue for a short while outside, which gave us a chance to catch up on news, before finding seats from which to get a good view of the girls. I had hoped I might be able to photograph the proceedings, and simply took a handful of shots before the service started, but the first announcement that was made was no mobile electronic devices or cameras during the service, so I confined myself to taking shots afterwards to add to those I managed beforehand.

As we came out into the vestibule I took shots of the beautiful statues and the magnificent organ, whilst waiting for the girls to ready themselves for the return, and it was now no longer a drizzle outside, but a downpour! So reaching the cars in the car park was very welcome. The service was well-organise, beautifully sung and the harp playing was excellent, my only disappointment was that there had not been a raised platform for this instrument such that the audience could have seen the harpist at work. One piece she played managed to sound like a plucked Lute or Mandolin, which I found very unusual, and in conversation I learned I was not alone in this thought.

Friday 13 December 2013

PENHA Fundraising Meeting – Adulis Restaurant

For the second time this year I found myself being invited to an evening in aid of the Charity PENHA, held once again at the friendly Eritrean restaurant, the Adulis in Brixton Road, close to the Oval Tube Station. There was to be traditional music and dance from the Horn of Africa and the traditional coffee ceremony and the opportunity to watch and listen to Vanessa Champion who spent some time in Uganda to see the work being done among the pastorialists of the region.

I arrived early enough to be present as they set up for the evening, which meant I was able to watch the dancers practising and this gave me a chance to see whether I might be able to improve upon the shots I took at the first event back in June. At that time I was using the Canon EOS 5D MkII and the highest ISO I used with confidence then was 2000 ISO and I struggled very often to shoot faster than 1/30th of a second. Adam Woolfitt very generously allowed me to borrow his MkIII for the evening, which entailed a full day accustoming myself to the different way of working. I learned in that time that the differences between the two versions were substantial. My testing suggested I may well find it viable at around 6400 ISO and this was confirmed very soon. As the evening progressed I pushed things further.

One other difference on this occasion was that I set up my iPad on the bar and plugged in CamRanger, which gave me a good chance to review shots I had taken as well as provide others the opportunity to look at the shots I took within a few seconds of my taking them. Many found this intriguing and it allowed me to become involved in conversations about this 'magic'!

I felt very welcome as many of those in the restaurant knew who I was and said how much they liked the shots I had taken on my last visit, however their names escaped me, but several of the faces I did remember.

Zeremariam Fre spoke to introduce the evening to the guests and explain a bit about the work being done by PENHA and how it differed in its approach and explained that the audience would also hear from Dr.Tekeste Ghebray the former  Executive Secretary / head of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) about his involvement, and also how later Dr Vanessa Champion would relate the story of her recent visit to Uganda with some of the photos she had taken when amongst the Pastorialists and where she saw first hand what PENHA were not only advocating, but putting into practice.

Zere and his wife also spoke of what was happening during the evening, of the Dance Group, the Coffee Ceremony the food on offer and the various hand-crafted goods that were on display and for sale, all in aid of future work by PENHA. A point that was stressed was how in this group of countries were many whose differences were in conflict, yet were brought together by this organisation.

The Ethiopian Dan-Kira Dance Group were very energetic and despite the difficulties of operating at such low light levels and in a confined space, I did manage to capture some of the infectious spirit of their display. Many of the audience were tempted on the dance floor amidst great applause, and the dancers from the audience were not all in the first bloom of youth! The rhythm and volume were infectious and irresistable!

One group of girls from an NHS HR company were present because one of their number was going out with a member of the dance group, and they asked me to capture them on camera, and even insisted they take a shot of me with one of them; modesty prevents me from showing this shot and also I had 181 acceptable shots and so one had to go and that was the victim! It exists on the Cutting room floor, and anyway I was not told her name…

Vanessa introduced me to a very interesting Architect who listened carefully to my concerns related to the Chaulington project and gave me a very interesting idea to try to solve issues that surround this local plan and how I might create a competition to arrive at a solution. Anyone who is interested in what is an excellent idea for the development for Vauxhall's current Vehicle Storage Area with almost no local resistance, but needs to resolve numerous external issues first, enter "Chaulington" into a search engine. I was buoyed up by this architect's answer, so much so that I have passed his comment back to my contact at Vauxhall; I must now get his name from Vanessa!

Sunday 8 December 2013

Chaulington – thus far

The various partners concerned with formulating the plan for the sale and redevelopment of the former Vauxhall Storage area at Chaul End, announced that on Friday and Saturday they were returning to the Community to show and discuss where they had reached, and what they had put together since the last gathering.

Sadly, I felt the community response was poor, and I felt that the appearance of apathy was not entirely to be blamed on the residents of the local villages and hamlets; I think that the small card that was distributed was poorly designed with no clear focus on what was to take place, and when I visited I made just that point. The map detailing the clearer idea of what was to be put forward needed to be the main feature and considerably larger – the invitation to visit had to catch and hold the recipient’s attention on the journey from letterbox to recycling bin. Timing was also poor; the competition from pre-Christmas shopping was always going to be a disincentive, especially after a week at work.

I visited on the Friday and read the content of the display boards overnight and on Saturday morning taking my notes along for a brief discussion just before closing on the Saturday afternoon. There were points I felt were not given prominence and some questions I had, that were not answered, and the response I got was that some were not items for that stage in the process, and this I am afraid I do not accept. Unless certain aspects are fully resolved at the start, their power to be implemented is diminished, if not completely lost when only introduced towards the end of proceedings. This area is severely disadvantaged currently due to past mistakes. It is essential that these are tackled head-on as prerequisites before the development is considered, before an even greater burden is heaved upon the surrounding communities.

The whole idea of developing this land with a large residential component has very few detractors and a lot of goodwill, because Bedfordshire needs more housing and the location has numerous benefits. The scheme has a power rarely seen in this context, and it is this power which needs to be wielded to remove some of the problems that currently exist and ensure a far better integration with less negative impact on the lives of those who live in the areas of Caddington, Slip End, Chaul End and Aley Green. It would seem that all to whom I spoke were already assuming that some issues were totally insurmountable and were not even going to be fought against; well that is not good enough!

Chaul End lane as a route, although it has issues (pun intended) at both ends, is a vital thoroughfare, and so to hear of only negative changes envisaged due to safety concerns was unacceptable – that route needs its solutions implementing prior to the added burden of the extra traffic from some three hundred more dwellings are added to the mix.

I also saw no ground rules set for the introduction of workshops and/or offices interspersed into the plan other than centrally in a so-called flexible unit; that shows no imagination as to how communities develop organically. A new community of the size envisaged needs places for work opportunities within walking distance with space for transient traffic for delivery/collection, there needs to be a level of self-sufficiency built in, especially to cope with the effects of being snowed in during winter. I asked the question of what the changes in micro climate might be expected by the change of use, and I was offered the answer that this would have been considered empirically by experts – I was distinctly worried by that response as the experts’ handiwork I have encountered in this locale over some thirty years leaves me underwhelmed to the point of despair.

Caddington and Slip End suffer from a completely misplaced Postcode, or rather as Julian Lyon pointed out: a bad misreading of postcodes by reading only the first part of the numbers. This needs addressing (pun intended again!) for the entire area including the new development, so that this is not perpetuated.

I saw no mention of stages of construction, and it seemed to me the work needs to be staged, to allow the community to grow at a pace that allows it to blend with the existing structures, so they can adapt. The construction phase will be the most disruptive to the existing community and the less this impacts negatively, the greater chances of successful overall integration.

There are rules in rural areas that make lighting paths difficult, but I suggested that it would be worthwhile taking a look at a lighted pathway from Sawston to Babraham in Cambridgeshire which is a very successful and much welcomed recent addition, that is used by cyclists, pram and buggy users as well as walkers.

In the past when discussing this project I have referred to this area of Bedfordshire as being:  “…a Museum of Crass Mistakes of Poor and Inadequate Planning…” I feel here is an opportunity to break out of that mould. To that end the ground rules must be laid down at the outset, they are well nigh impossible to be implemented further down the line. This project has value to all concerned and must be viewed in this light. Future generations need to be proud of what is done here, I just hope the opportunities are grasped.

As I have stated earlier, I may well be leaving the area, but I would like to think that I may be able to still offer constructive suggestions that make this area a good place to live.

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Retouching, Research and Guidance

Retouching has held a fascination for me from my earliest days practising photography – I was working for a studio just off Hatton Garden in London, and this was and still is the very heart of London’s Jewellery manufacturing, obviously famous for diamonds in particular.

We worked for various companies producing their catalogues and for my part I was creating compositions of rings and brooches and these were propped up by various means to give depth. At that time our methods were often crude as we were using  plasticine and pins and mainly tungsten lighting creating considerable heat so they could sag or even fall over during the invariably quite long exposures! If we were lucky then it was simply that either the  pin or the plasticine would show, if we were less lucky then it was a reshoot! We invariably worked with 10 x 8in colour transparencies which did give us the opportunity to have them retouched by a local company, Gilchrist; it was a balancing act as we judged whether the additional film and processing was less expensive than retouching. There was also another aspect: There were occasions when it was not possible to avoid nasty reflections of adjacent items, due to how tightly we had to pack them into the composition and I would often have liked to have these treated, but our clients were disinclined to spend the extra.

This desire for higher quality would ultimately bring me to a rival of Gilchrist, Longacre Colour Labs, where within a year of joining them I became their Sales Manager. This in turn would lead me to set up ‘SOLUTIONS photographic’ and by the time the digital era had arrived, I was doing my own retouching using knowledge I had gained from watching the retouchers working with dyes and bleaches and duplicate transparencies. Clients that I had acquired from my earlier photographic work now became clients using digital technology.

Two very interesting things happened this last week, one involving technical guidance which I provided remotely for a client I first met by travelling to his villa in Provence for five days’ training in connection with Photoshop; this time it involved Lightroom and also help with ascertaining why his website was no longer providing pinsharp images from his work. I produced a web gallery of his pictures that both viewed fast and were razor sharp, the other was providing another client who was now producing 1/32 Scale figures for World War One and Two aircraft, the retouching of an aerial and insulators on a Spitfire for his catalogue cover. This was not simply to draw a line between a post behind the cockpit and tailplane – this required research by both of us so that what I added was as authentic as possible for the marque of the modelled Spitfire.

Both clients were pleased with my work, and importantly I enjoyed the challenges involved and will soon be visiting Chichester to provide further help with Lightroom and his backup strategy for the former, possibly next week.