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…

View any Gallery by Clicking the relevant TEXT Headline

Saturday 26 December 2015

Brogborough Lake – Boxing Day 2015

Many moons ago in what sometimes seem like another life, Boxing day was Day when Brands Hatch used to celebrate a very relaxed afternoon of motorsport, with often various humorous added attractions and all of us Marshal's used to be delivered of a Tot of Rum. Well, with a fairly stiff breeze and in the morning a fair amount of sunshine, I wondered whether the spirit of those days might prevail at Brogborough lake, with many turning up to work off the excesses of Christmas Day. I cannot be sure that was the motivation, but certainly there were several enthusiasts determined to take advantage of the conditions.

I was pleased me guess was basically correct, the atmosphere was relaxed, and despite there being no refreshments available, and sadly for the participants no showers, there was energy in abundance and I set to putting up my heavier tripod. After taking a few shots from this angle one of the sailors suggested I might like to take advantage of the wind direction to venture into the thicket and take shots of those jumping head-on, despite the direction of the sun – although the sun would not oblige by moving swiftly behind my right shoulder, it did take cover behind the clouds so that the lighting was far more favourable than directly into the lens.

This I did and I found the clearest spot I could, but it was far too slippery to consider making my way down to the foreshore – that is going to be a luxury of far drier weather, before I can take advantage of a low angle. For now, some shots were going to have the horizon bisecting the top of the sails in may shots. One lingering disappointment when shooting from this viewpoint is I see no faces, so the shots seem anonymous which is a shame.

Christmas is still the season of jumpers – fortunately! I did not expect to be shooting windsurfers in December, let alone on Boxing Day. It was also far warmer than any Boxing day at Brands Hatch, and that covered thirty-odd years.

Tuesday 8 December 2015

Aylesbury Dignitaries Grace St. Mary's Carol Concert

The Aylesbury Concert Band played before the Mayor and other Council Member's at the Annual Carol Concert at St.Mary's Church in the centre of Aylesbury Town. My daughter who plays a Baritone Saxophone in the Band needed transporting there, so I arrived as the rest of the Band were setting up, and on this occasion I was playing a very low profile with regards the taking of photographs by only taking a handful of shots during the preparations and main performance and in the more relaxed and informal period at the end whilst the assembled dignitaries handed out mince pies and mulled wine. The lighting was in the region I tend to describe as 'Unavailable Light Photography' – to be truthful with modern technology it might more truthfully be described as 'Barely Available' and I found myself shooting at 12,800 ISO at often full aperture. In my defence, I have not applied any noise reduction to these shots and would definitely need to do so were any needed for print reproduction at more meaningful sizes than in the gallery, and some might not pass muster even then.

The music and the singing was thoroughly enjoyable and the church was packed to capacity actually requiring more seating to be found, and I could still see a few standing. By not using flash and using a long lens I felt I was being very restrained and this allowed me to retain the atmosphere even though this resulted in several either blurred or unsharp images that never made it into the final gallery.

This was my second Carol Service of the weekend the first having been at Fairford Leys where I was also treated to hearing an intimate Saxophone Quartet playing giving my tapping feet an airing!

Monday 7 December 2015

Brogborough - Seriously High December Wind!

I only had a couple of hours at the most to get my fix of Windsurfing activity at the lake at Brogborough as in the afternoon I was due in Fairford Leys to enjoy hearing and watching my daughter playing Sax with the Aylesbury Community Band at a Carol Concert. On this occasion I would not be carrying a camera to the event, so needed this fix!

I wrapped up warm and setup my heavy tripod to give me some sort of stability, to have considered the carbon fibre one would have been lunacy, if I had a quick release mechanism for it I would have been best served by bringing along my Gitzo! In the future I think I will give it serous consideration in such blustery conditions; I must look into the possibility.

I found myself holding as tightly onto the camera to keep the tripod firm as contemplating  simply keeping light pressure on the shutter release whilst shooting. A tripod is supposed to be stable, well not this particular day! I was rewarded by some seriously skilled people braving the conditions to enjoy their sport and giving me some shots of which I was proud; there were several sequences where I came close to anticipating the start of the manoeuvres, but aligning the shots I would definitely be relying in sorting after the event in post processing as I might just as well have been in a bobbing dinghy as being on sloping dry land in that wind!

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and stayed only long enough to survive a very stiff neck and my painful and weak back which went just a few days before. I left the shots in chronological order and so some sequences will span some galleries I am afraid, but I had no more time.

Wednesday 25 November 2015

Evening Skies over Nearby Landscape

Spotting the richness and power of the clouds, I hastily grabbed my camera and shot out to Stewartby and Houghton Conquest where it is marginally less flat than here in Marston Moretaine to capture a few quick shots of the effect these could have on mundane and unremarkable landscapes.

There were barely enough to create a gallery, but they could later provide backgrounds to cards with plenty of space for an accompany message. Simply Grist to the Mill. The image that heads this piece was me playing with duotoning one shot in Lightroom to almost simulate a snow scene.

I also took the chance to visit an engineering works who manufacture robot parts for the automotive sector of British Industry in case they might ever have a need for my services, but sadly they already have an incumbent, but I try to leave no stone unturned, and I had earlier helped a photographer based in Cardiff hoping it might generate some training at a future date, so the day was not not a washout.

Monday 23 November 2015

Ampthill Christmas Lights – Switch On

Andy Fox came around to drop off the last of a series of mounted prints that now adorn the walls of my new home, and casually mentioned that he and his wife, Debbie were going to the switching on of the Christmas Lights in Ampthill that evening, and this struck me as a good way to spend the late afternoon and early evening as it was generally well-attended and a good show.

Since my arrival was not likely to be all that early I decided not to chance going too far into Ampthill to park, but I do need all the exercise I can get, so I parked just off the A507, giving myself a fair trek to reach the town centre; I soon found I had been overly cautious, as it soon became apparent I could have parked far closer, but I was not going to waste time and petrol to make the change. It also gave me a chance to add to my stock of images of autumn and textures.

The central roundabout had the access to the High Street barricaded off to make it a pedestrian thoroughfare and the Sainsburys car park had become a funfair with stalls, rides and charity tents and was filling with people when I arrived, and though the afternoon was cold, it was still bright and families were along full of the festive spirit. The decorations were mainly confined to shop windows, and the lighting scheduled to be lit were not extravagant, but that mattered not a jot – the atmosphere engendered by the throngs of people was all that mattered and the street was a happy place with chattering children and shiny balloons depicting Minions, Mickey Mouse, Super heroes and Ponies, and it was not long before one was lost to the sky, but I did not hear the sounds of crying for its loss, just a few adults remarking that it was on its way to the stars!

There was dancing and music playing in the run-up to the count down and dusk began encroaching very gradually with the crowd density increasing in direct proportion to the darkening of the sky. As I recorded the scene unfolding I spared a thought for such gatherings on the continent realising just how fragile was this peaceful scene I was witnessing, and I wondered how many of those present sensed those same sentiments – if they did, it certainly did not show or dampen their spirits, for which I was grateful. It is however worth at least understanding how tenuous this grip on everyday normality really is at this time, whilst not becoming despondent and fearful.

I enjoyed the event very much and was really grateful to Andy who brought the event to my notice, I hope I have captured the essence of the evening in the gallery of images.

Thursday 19 November 2015

November on Tring Reservoirs

I felt I needed to chance taking the opportunity to Visit the Reservoirs at Tring for possibly the last time this year., despite there being light rain forecast. When I first arrived it had not yet started, but as I took the first few photographs the first few drops arrived, but I was well wrapped up in case it got worse, but surprisingly for mid-November, it was not too cold – at least before I had been stationary for long.

The first bird of interest was a heron standing in just a few inches of water, but it barely moved during the time it took me to set up the tripod, and actually losing my footing on the steep bank of Startops End lake. I was surprised at just how many birds were on the water considering how much noise was being made by the workers presumably doing repair work to the far bank.

I headed beyond the end of the path between the two reservoirs of Marsworth and Startops End and waled along the Grand Union Canal, meeting the occasional dog walker, but as yet no anglers. I settled to wait by the reed beds in the hope of possibly catch sight of kingfishers, but for the first hour and a half, only a dabchick appeared, though I failed to capture the squirrel on two of its charges across the fallen branches and into its favourite lair within a large bush on the far side.

Also, the mink never ventured out of its hollowed tree trunk, but my firm favourite, the well-groomed Robin did join me and partook of my seed offerings, and gently chirped as it flew around its territory either side, behind me and by my feet. I did catch a fleeting glimpse of a heron overhead, but as there was so little leaf coverage, it almost certainly decided against landing on any of the high branches due to my presence.

Although I never felt like giving up and returning to base, it was a very long wait before the arrival of a kingfisher, and as luck would have it, he had succeeded in in catching a fish and was landing on a distant branch to swallow it. It took him quite a time to swallow as it was fairly energetically twisting in the vain hope of escaping, but a final deft flick, possibly also bashing it on the nearby trunk and the kingfisher began to turn it so it was headfirst and in one large gulp, and a straightening of its throat, it was down.

I stayed for another hour, but was visited no more, and by now was cold frosting still for so long.
I climbed back up the steep, muddy bank and made my return journey to the car. I did stop in the hide and chatted to an ex-Postie, newly retired and another birder, Michael eponymously named for his career and we all three chatted as I still took the opportunity to grab shots of a gull and some Crested Pochard, whom I managed to capture in flight as they left the lake and we also had a visit from another Robin and a Dunnock.

As Michael and I walked back to our cars, who should be coming in the opposite direction but Bob Menzies the Bailiff for Tringford!

Friday 13 November 2015

Windy Friday at Brogborough Lake

Most of the summer when the sun has shone there has been next to no wind, therefore not the most exciting time for action of the windsurfing variety on Brogborough Lake. Along comes November and both wind and sun, but the sun has a cold brightness, and when the wind is strong enough to blow my heavier tripod over, my hands on the cold metal of camera and tripod soon became very cold indeed.

I knew I was not going to be free over the weekend, so the lesser numbers on the water had enticed me over in the afternoon of Friday, and I concentrated on trying to capture longer sequences as the keen freestylers practiced doing their turns in the air, I was very grateful that Sam Barnes offered suggestions as to what to look out for and where to expect the action, and where in the past I would be more concerned with the start of a manoeuvre, Sam made the point that the landing was more important, so I tried  to take longer bursts where hitherto I would stop short as I felt that to concentrate on the ignominy of failure might be unkind when the surfer failed. However, I could see his point that this might in fact help my subject to see why there was a failure.

So we shall see, I just hope that I don’t get a clip round the ear by showing a sequence where the end was less promising than the the start. This also reminds me that on this occasion I started shooting with the 150-600mm lens, but  that often meant that 150mm was too long due to how close inshore the windsurfers often came, then I remembered that I had put the 100-400mm in the car, so I swapped over, which meant I could be closer to the water’s edge and therefore have a wider view before the bushes obscured my view.

Thursday 12 November 2015

Steppingley Reservoir Visit

Since the sun was out and autumn is almost over, I decided to check out a reservoir near Steppingley, just in case it is another possible location for wildlife; looking at the area using Google did not show a promising area for parking, and I had driven almost the entire area around its location without even catching sight of it or anywhere likely as a spot from which set off after parking, but found myself in a spot that was quiet and very attractive and likely to be above and beyond it. I spotted one of the local residents sweeping leaves from the churchyard and learned that where I had parked was fortuitously the best place to do so, and he gave me directions as to how to reach it.

It looked decidedly waterlogged, but I decided to chance it and grabbing two cameras, one with the 100-400mm and the other with the 24-105mm and made my way into a field and down the hill and soon could make out the lake in the distance. I had been informed there was a footbridge off to my right at the bottom, but I managed to completely miss it and headed off clockwise to the left, but was spotted by the farmer and learned I had passed it and was now on private land – not an auspicious start! On the walk back I did find the footbridge and headed off in the correct direction.

The reservoir is well equipped with stages from which the anglers can fish all around the lake, and I was introduced to two new angling terms I had never encountered before ‘leger’ and ‘swim’ in connection with such positions – they were on a sign by one of the stages.

Although I spoke to a couple of the anglers and learned there could often be wildlife hereabouts, they all informed me it was currently quiet on that front, but there were plenty of ducks! Mainly Mallard as far as I could tell, not quite what I had in mind. I did a complete circuit and returned up the hill and with judicial stepping managed to keep the amount of mud I collected to a manageable minimum. I returned via a different route and stopped to take some shots of the varied autumn colours still to be found by the laneside.

Not the most successful of trips, but the old school called Folly House was certainly of architectural interest and I do now know how to reach that particular reservoir.

Saturday 7 November 2015

November Windsurfers at Brogborough

Sometimes I get time to play, so here is another jump, in black and white:

Saturday morning brought rain and wind, but I had learned that it was due to dry up later, but I welcomed the wind as it held the promise of there being windsurfers on the lake at Brogborough, and I was hoping I might be free enough to go down there, but this time by car, not bike!

The rain took a while to stop and the wind remained unabated, but the sky brightened so I gathered camera and lenses and loaded them aboard my car, and was soon on my way more in hope than certainty; it was quite a relief to see a fairly full car park at Brogborough Lake. I did not delay, but immediately brought out the tripod and set the 7D MkII and 100-400mm onto the Acrotech head and made my way to the lakeside. I was surprised by just how waterlogged the grass was; much more so than the I had experienced just two miles distant – there were even large puddles of water in the grass.

Initially I set up right by the water’s edge, but after shooting from there I soon found my feet slithering in the mud as I swivelled to follow the windsurfers, and retreated to more level ground a bit further back, I little realised that I would be moving many more times as each spot became a morass of slippery mud due to my frequently moving my feet.

Shortly for a while the sun broke through the cloud cover, but at first this was short-lived as it began to spit with rain. Fortunately it did not last too long and the sun returned  giving some good lighting for a spell. I was blessed with a few taking advantage of the gusty wind to jump, but I did not manage to capture every instance as there were too many people to cover and in every direction, but despite my lack of knowledge as to when any one person might choose to leap, I did capture  a few sequences.

It was such a wonderful opportunity as for several weeks there has been very little signs of wind except when it was tipping it down and was very dull, there had bee n sunshine but on days when there was not a breath of wind. I hope that what I have captured meets with approval from those who did do some jumping.

Monday 2 November 2015

Autumn Morning Mist at Marston Moretaine

Click – A Monochrome Alternate View for a few shots in black-and-white

I am not an early bird, more a night-owl, which is my downfall when it comes to capturing the undoubted beauty of sunrises and the dew-laden webs of autumn spiders. Sunday morning I was up early – for me and by foregoing breakfast was able to be out with my camera before the sun had had a chance to burn off the heavy mist, so I walked along the road towards the Nature Reserve, trying to capture some of the charm of the glowing mist before the sun had claimed the day.

We have been lucky that this year the autumn colours have remained with us for longer, due to the absence of high winds alongside the rain, and so there was still colour to be seen in the hedgerows. I even learned of a plot of fenced-off land that will become a graveyard that explained something of the tarmacced walkways in the field opposite the Nature Reserve’s land – the wooden sign giving this information was festooned with the work of numerous spiders beaded with droplets bestowed by the dew.

I entered the Nature Reserve by way of the kissing gate and learned that I was definitely a late guest to the party, as there were cyclists and dog-walkers enjoying the warm morning mist; there was simply no chill to the air and all those I met were warm in their greetings too. I presume the lack of wind was allowing the low-lying mist to enclose the warmth from the previous day and the sun was definitely winning the challenge to clear the air and herald another pleasantly warm autumn day. I used the time to capture what I saw, even though there was nothing to make the heart beat faster, just serenity, and reminders of the year that was passing in the faded green and russet tones of the hedgerows.

Monday 26 October 2015

Autumn Cycle Ride around Stewartby Lake

 I have been considering how I might reach the far side of Stewartby Lake straightforwardly by cycling, and after taking a good look using Google Earth spotted that there seemed to be a way from the old A421 through one of the newer estates, and the weather on the Sunday afternoon favoured my attempt.

I had hoped that the geese would be in abundance, but despite the large numbers I had seen on an earlier visit when I had taken shots of some water skiers, the most abundant were gulls; and yet they were not present in great numbers. The sun was out, it was pleasantly warm and the colours were autumnal; it had rained recently so the grass was still wet, and the steep banks leading to the water’s edge were slippery, and not all had been provided with wooden steps.

As I cycled clockwise from where I had entered the track via a bridge over the brook, I would stop at each clearance to take a look at the water’s edge and a few I would venture down with the bike, so it was safe as I explored further. I was trying to decide likely vantage points for future visits. Three-quarter way through my trip, I learned that I would have to consider carrying some kitchen towels and Swarfega, as my chain came off the cogs and I needed to get it back into play, leaving me with a very greasy right hand! Also there was little point in my considering bringing a second camera with an alternative lens as this simply added extra weight and the delay in swapping would not have been fast enough, so it never came into use.

I decided also that the prominent Wind Turbine was worth capturing from different angles, it has already proved to be a good marker when I am out as the land around is so flat,  it can be easily spotted.

Altogether the trip was thoroughly enjoyable but other than a nice shot of a powerboat and its wake, it was hardly full of enticing photographs, but it added to my knowledge of possible vantage points and I was impressed by some of the sleeper creations that formed hides overlooking the wetland habitat.

Wednesday 21 October 2015

Woburn – Last Warm Autumn Day 2015?

The brightening sky was alluring and prompted me to clear any outstanding work such that I could get out and the intended destination was Woburn Park and its deers. Having readied my camera gear and finished a longish telephone call, I was all set to go, but received another, and it was one I wanted to answer, so I finished that, locked up and set off for the park and chose the main A421 route foolishly as it it has works going on at the roundabouts that lost me yet more time.

I parked up in the car park by the church assembled the camera on the tripod and set off for the lake by the entry kiosk, taking a few shots of autumn leaves and the winding pathway under the overhang of trees. The deer were just beyond, but close to the small lake, so I moved slowly closer observing the more active stags within the group and despite the main rut being over, there was still some activity, and the sun was intermittently out from behind the clouds.

Occasionally some of the visitors would alight from their cars to join me in photographing the activity cars, some merely with camera-phones, but a few with telephotos and the likes of Nikon and Canon, some were chatty; some were soon back in the cars and were off to visit the main house, Woburn Abbey.

I found myself witnessing something completely unexpected, and was lucky enough to even capture it – the sight of two deer standing on their hindlegs, and boxing like kangaroos or hares! Those frames made my trip completely worthwhile! They also provided me the opportunity to engage some of the visitors in conversation and show them what I had been lucky enough to see and record. One man in particular, Alan Goodger who it turned out had worked in the photography business for many years and we were able to recount shared experiences from before the arrival of digital photography, and we both had a wonderful conversation which lasted from before the deer had all laid down to rest until we took the path back to the car park, rounding off a very enjoyable, warm and productive afternoon; possibly marking the closing curtains of Summer and the definite onset of of Autumn.

Tuesday 6 October 2015

PENHA Fundraiser at Calumet – Exhibition of Vanessa Champion’s Photos

The exhibition sponsored by Fuji and hosted at the Calumet UK’s London Showroom in Drummond Street entitled ‘A Change in the Air’ is an exhibition of photographs from Vanessa’s trip to Uganda; it documents and celebrates the nomadic pastorialists in Africa.

I had been lucky enough to be invited to the Private Viewing, and the evening did not disappoint, I have met several of the PENHA people in the past and they are all very friendly and welcoming. The evening displayed and supplied samples of the indigenous fare of the region and the audience was even informed not only of the content but the preparation of the food provided, along with wine and juices to moisten the palate to aid mingling and conversation. I mentioned the event to two colleagues, Adam Woolfitt and Geoff Dann, who both came along, both are fellow photographers, and this event was not short on other photographers; due to Vanessa’s assiduous efforts at enticing all her photographer friends such that there is no stone left unturned in her efforts to ensure maximum publicity for her endeavours on behalf of the charity PENHA.

I hope I have given a flavour of the fun of the evening against the backdrop of Ness’ images from her trip. I certainly enjoyed meeting some from previous engagements and new ones with whom I was introduced. For the observant some may notice that the colour can sometimes vary despite my best efforts to correct the shifts in post-processing, at certain shutter speeds the fluorescent tubes sometimes displayed bands of magenta or cyan horizontally across parts of the scene, due to the interaction between the frequency of the mains and the shutter speed in use, but I have done my best to conceal this, also since in a group sometimes one person might catch the colour shift and not another or they might be presented less favourably I have taken some groups at different moments and included both, thereby minimising offence and hopefully pleasing a few more.

Sunday 4 October 2015

Brogborough Becalmed then Vulcanised!

I had done my chores – Shopping, Gardening and Washing, the mist had lifted and it was a warm and although we were not forecast wind, there were a few gusts here, which is not too far from Brogborough Lake, so I felt that the exercise of cycling there might just be rewarded by a few gusts and some activity amongst the windsurfing fraternity; I therefore gathered my camera, 100-400mm lens, tripod and gimbal head, and collected my bicycle.

Arriving at the lake, I was not exactly swamped by windsurfers! There was also less of a breeze here than back at Marston Moretaine! I did learn that Sam Barnes was going to venture out shortly and there was one other person getting his sail ready, so I took the opportunity to pump up the front tyre which I had noticed was low before getting the camera set up. By the time I was ready two people had taken to the water, and soon that number was increased by a mighty 50% – two men and one lady. Today was not going to be a day of action and drama, so I noted that reflections on the water could add to the challenge of providing some interest and proceeded to attempt to capture this in the shots I was taking.

The young lady who I later learned was Lisa, looked very poised as she crossed serenely in front of me; I imagined that staying up with so little wind must be quite tricky to remain balanced, and I never once saw her down in the water which was impressive to me.

I had found a spot close to the water’s edge, but I spent most of the time at an awkward angle because the two men spent a large part of the time off to the right, and I had chosen a low viewpoint on the slope so I would be at the correct height for the eyepiece and this was really more suited to the action being in an arc immediately ahead. I spent a relaxing time till the wind dropped completely and then I started to pack up the tripod, when over the new A421 I spotted the Avro Vulcan flying in the direction of Stewartby and Bedford, and immediately realised this must be the day of its last Airshow at Old Warden, and so I took to standing on a table for added height and hoped we might yet catch another glimpse of it. We were very much in luck as we were treated to three passes before it headed off for home, which I took to be Scampton in Lincolnshire. I was thrilled because this was to be its very last flight. I count myself very lucky indeed as I was up at Cottesmore in Rutland for its first Air Test after refurbishment and sadly witnessed the failure of its undercarriage flap to close which meant it lost a whole season of flying, so to accidentally take pictures on its last flight was a very good way to end the day!

Thursday 1 October 2015

Season End Visit – Stockwood Discovery Centre

A Light breeze and warm sunshine giving an Indian Summer Day and the chance to pay a visit to the gardens at the Stockwood Discovery Centre opened a window of opportunity to nip down to see what could be captured before Autumn closes in.

I did wonder just how much might still be on show, but gardener, Jan said there was nothing much new, but she reckoned I would still manage to find something of interest, so I grabbed the moment, and my camera.

You certainly could not say that the place was a riot of colour, and because schools were back the area was not swamped with families visiting, but there were rewarding images to be found by diligent searching, both in the greenhouse and outside around the gardens themselves. I reckon my short time was well-spent and I hope it shows within the five pages of the gallery.

Tuesday 29 September 2015

Sunday MoonDay – Sunset WaterSkiers

Over the past several days at varying times of an evening, I have heard the characteristic squawk of geese as they passed over the house, and in several V-formations and generally large numbers; but never predictably enough to have a camera (and preferably on a tripod) at hand, so since it was a Sunday evening I decided I would go in search of where they might be, so that I might put myself in the best position to catch them in flight.

I drove round to Brogborough Lake to the Windsurfing Club to enquire whether they had seen them, and learned that they had indeed, but only in the mid-afternoon, whereas I was hoping to capture them either in the early morning or early evening light. Sam, co-owner with his wife Emma, said well if you cannot find them at least you have the Eclipse of the Moon at three am! At first I felt that was a difficult time for me, but it sowed the seed of an idea, and seeds tend to germinate in my mind, and it did make me ponder a possible timetable, since it was very likely to be a clear night…

I mentioned that the geese seemed headed to the other adjacent lake at Stewartby, and Sam said he had heard there were large numbers seen over there, so I thanked them and headed in that direction, I decided I would not return the way I had come, but head in the direction of Liddlington. It was at the junction of Sheep Tick Lane that the low rays of the evening light was falling on the edge of the Allotments and a bed of roses, some dying Red Hot Pokers, and tall Sunflower heads. I could not simply pass them by, so parked up for a few moments to grab some shots for possible use as cards.

This route to Stewartby meant I had twice to cross level crossings before parking close by the Sailing Club. This allowed me to be be in a possible position to see the geese against the sunset backdrop should they be taking to the skies. I could see that the far side of the lake was certainly crowded with a large congregation of birds on the water with just a few occasionally taking to the air, but they were largely silent, so since geese are notorious for loud conversations when planning to fly, it seemed unlikely they were due for takeoff anytime soon.

However in the foreground at the pontoon, there was human activity by a powerboat and I soon spotted a young lad in a wetsuit with a ski, and the preparations suggested an imminent departure, and a lone angler seemed to sense his fishing activities were about to be curtailed, so decided I would record the scene and hope for some interesting shots of a skier in nice lighting. I proved to have arrived at a vary opportune moment, and was able to get shots of two different skiers before the last glows of sunset had faded from the sky.

I added two shots of the moon either side of midnight; the full moon and the total eclipse of the Super Moon giving me the Rose Moon – I slept for an hour and a half before getting the total eclipse at around three o’clock and back to bed at after four for a lie-in.

Monday 21 September 2015

Bicester – Heritage Open Day

I had learned that Francis Newman was planning to exhibit his Ferrari at the Bicester Heritage Centre on the Sunday morning, so I decided I would drive over there and meet up with him. The morning started at my end in sunshine, but by the time I was ready to get into the car for the journey, the weather had deteriorated to become as forecast – dull and misty, but I let Francis know that I was heading over, so took the camera with the 24-105mm lens and a pakamac in case rain came and joined the steady stream of cars heading along the A421 for Milton Keynes.

As I navigated the series of roundabouts that are the signature feature of Milton Keynes environs, the mist increased in density, though not as dense or as unpredictable as to be described as fog; I was simply driving through low-lying cloud! I came upon the entrance to the airfield quite suddenly and duly paid my £5 entry fee and parked up. I texted Francis to check where I might find him, but before I set off for the Motor Transport Yard, took the opportunity to capture a couple of the aircraft on the perimeter that stood with the backdrop of the lingering mist.

Using the map as a guide proved misleading as the gate I had entered was not the Main Gate as I had presumed, but once I had queried one of the marshals, I regained my bearings and headed towards where Francis was located, standing beside his blue Ferrari, after a short catch up chat I decided I did need to have a shot of his car and its owner. We talked for a while about the forthcoming Grand Prix where Vettel and Raikonen were hoping for some good luck against the Mercedes for a change, and we were soon joined by another friend who it transpired was now the Logistic Support guy for next year’s new entrant to Formula 1; the Haas team; that sounded quite an achievement and also a lot of hard work!

Francis and I soon went off in different directions as we sought out different vehicles of interest that were on display. I came back once to the yard to chat further and though his car was still there, he was not, so I continued my trip around the area, before returning once more only to find the car and Francis gone!

When I finally felt I had seen all of interest, I headed for the car and took slightly different shots of subjects that had hitherto been shrouded in mist, and once in the car, the sun was finally overcoming the mist and a glider passed overhead.

Wednesday 16 September 2015

Goodwood 2015 – Revival Meeting

Having already enjoyed a splendid day at Goodwood Revival on the Friday, I assumed that I could not be so lucky weatherwise on my second visit of the weekend, but I had not counted on the excellent contacts Lord March must have up above, for despite some suggestions that we would not be so lucky on the second day we had yet another day of fine weather.

The journey south was freer of cars on the motorways as it was no longer a weekday, so it was both leisurely and speedy and both Andy and I were able to get our cameras sorted quickly in the Old Control Tower, so that we saw and listened to the band playing on the Startline for the Track Blessing. Followed by the Gassers Demonstration performed by a varied assortment of  American themed cars burning rubber and being assisted by a Red Indian offering a Goodwill Dance for each entrant and the equally frenetic Startline Marshal flagging each one off!

As that display came to an end I took Andy through the tunnel beneath the track and entered the Pits area and later the area close to the Chicane. Despite not seeing Simon Diffey’s name in the programme, I did spot the car I had seen him drive in previous years a Type 51 Bugatti and recognised his gold crash helmet, so I was able to follow his race, and later see mechanics working on the car in the Paddock.

There is far too much to cover in a single day at Goodwood, so I outlined for Andy a few of the regular attractions and I did form the impression that he was enjoying himself and he felt that the effort of acquiring the outfit and its accoutrements had been worthwhile. Like me he was impressed by how friendly everyone was and how many would engage themselves in conversations with total strangers.

Knowing Andy’s interest in aircraft we also headed towards the airstrip and spent some time wandering amongst the static ones as well as those in the sky. Whilst in the Old Control Tower we met the New Zealand High Commissioner’s wife and I made sure I took some shots of the pair of them as they later drove around the circuit as part of the Bruce Mclaren Tribute. Lord March led the tribute by reading of Bruce’s career moments and achievements from the Starters Steps erected centre track and it was good to see Jackie Stewart amongst those in the forefront of all the drivers coming to show their respect. It is truly amazing that Bruce is one of the few men that have been winners of races in a car he designed and built; that he drove and won so many championships, yet died at the age of only thirty-two and, whilst testing at this very circuit in 1970.

I got a call on my mobile in the afternoon from a friend who had bought his wife along to the event for the first time, and we arranged to try to meet up, and were successful. It was good to meet Alasdair after a gap of a few years as he was one of those who helped me understand the intricacies of computer networking, such that I could write that chapter in my book ‘Mac OSX for Photographers’ back in 2008.
I have been lucky to meet numerous really interesting people at Goodwood over the years and this weekend was no exception as I met an Opera Singer who was a friend of a Russian lady who had organised an exhibition of Lord March’s photographs in Moscow. Also because the noise levels are often very high conversations are more often one to one, so Andy was speaking to a different set of people to me. Sometime I must catch up with his discussions!

Once again I am really grateful for the opportunities offered by my being a guest of Lord March at this event.

Monday 14 September 2015

Goodwood Revival 2015 – The Friday

I do need to have faith in SatNav – I had set my destination correctly, but I felt I had no need of the M25 to reach colleague Martin Evening’s home, so when it instructed me to come off the M1 and take to the M25, I spoke out loud that you must be wrong, so continued for a further junction feeling that I knew better – wrong! I ended up by simply doubling back and wasting several minutes taking its correct advice and joining it further round! I was late by precisely the number of minutes the extra unnecessary mileage took to right the wrong.

I made my apologies for the late arrival and we loaded Martin’s gear and set off. Both of us marvelled at scenes that we witnessed as the sun glowed through mist that lay in many of the valleys as we headed south towards Chichester and the Goodwood Revival Meeting and discussed how we must try to get out early at this special time of year as we both regretted how the pace of life and responsibilities had made this difficult to fulfil.

We made good time and headed into the track, in our haste failing to take accurate notice of where I had parked the car! Since we had rather special tickets that invited us to the Old Control Tower, I suggested this was a location we find early whilst there was time and fewer crowds. And it was really fortuitous as after checking in there, we headed for the first floor now decorated with Liberty prints and furniture and fittings depicting the Sixties, and almost the first person we met was Lord March whose guests we were lucky to be for the day. It was good to be given a chance to have a brief chat with so busy a man, but it did give us a chance to thank him and have a brief catch-up.

There were so few guests at this time that we were able to accept the hospitality of tea and coffee and explore the opportunities of shooting from the higher viewpoint and it was not long before both of us had enjoyed the offered drinks and had begun taking pictures.

I think Martin was fascinated by the costumes and the characters represented, because I was already fully aware that the cars themselves held little interest. He was certainly new to Goodwood’s atmosphere, and the level of noise was an issue. So during our day this would be reflected in the images we took. I am definitely more of a recorder, Martin’s experience with taking control of models for fashion and hairdressing would be more apparent. My background from years of being an Assistant Chief Pit Marshal for the BRSCC would also have a bearing. Viewing Martin’s FaceBook pages will therefore be like visiting two different shows! I hope mine still provide interest.

Later on the lawn by the track beneath the Old Control Tower, we chanced upon Neil Barstow and his wife, Janet, where conversation was far harder trying to compete against the thunderous raw of American muscle cars.

The picture that heads this piece is of Simon Diffey in the Bugatti Type 51 coming out of the Chicane, the car is owned by Richard Collier.

Monday 31 August 2015

Aylesbury Proms in the Park Concert, 2015

I spent some time trying to consider the minimum amount of gear to take photographs of the Aylesbury Concert Band’s Proms in the Park event as I knew I would be some distance from the car, and I might encounter rain, so not only had I to consider overall weight, I had to also take account of bringing some form of protection against a probable downpour of rain, yet I knew I would want a long lens for shots of the musicians and singers and since there was to be a fireworks display to round off the evening I would need a fairly wideangle lens, I could not consider taking two camera bodies, and knowing the likely level of lighting, taking a tripod was sensible.

On the outward journey I had a bag over each shoulder and a seat and a brolly strapped with a bungee to the tripod bag, and felt impressed that I was travelling so light, nI also knew that the journey back to the car would not be so tidy!

I arrived early and trekked back to the park from the car park, and I thought I would be standing around before anything began, but rehearsal was still taking place and even after that had finished the stage was taken by a couple of singers who entertained the gathering crowd with medleys of songs from the fifties, already there were other photographers there to cover the activities. It was a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere with numerous family groups settled on the grass with children enjoying the warm afternoon either playing or relaxing on rugs; the air was full of laughter and chatter and the music from the stage was the backdrop.

Right from the start therefore there was an opportunity to capture the scene and even take a few shots of the band before rehearsal had finished. The gallery that results is therefore not simply of the band and their guest singers but coverage of the atmosphere that surrounded the stage. I was always conscious of trying not to obstruct the view of the audience, but it seemed no one particularly bothered and everyone was happy to let the four photographers wander across the front of the stage and various audience members did the same with their camera-phones, Russ whom I might describe as the official photographer even used his small steps to get a higher viewpoint from time to time and all of would occasionally take to the back of the stage to get shots. I am sure therefore that the shots of the event will reflect the laid-back nature of the whole event.

All the favourites from the ‘Last Night of the Proms’ were there and much appreciated with patriotic fervour, waving flags, glow sticks and dancing!

It did rain for a short period, but certainly not long enough to put a damper on the evening and did not prevent the launch of the fireworks at the end of the day.

Friday 28 August 2015

Stockwood Discovery Centre – August 28th 2015

I had not been down to the Centre since I moved house and wanted to catch up with Jan Tysoe. I was not prepared for her news however – Alex Hyne, whom I had known during her period of working at Luton Hoo’s Walled Garden and met again at Hyde Hall, had died earlier in the year. Coupled with that Jan’s husband had been diagnosed with Throat Cancer and though on the mend had had to endure considerable pain when operated upon. For this reason she was only working for half the day so she could visit him in hospital in the afternoon. Hence Jan allowed me first into one of the locked greenhouses. Jan also let me know that one of her volunteers, whom I also knew, Bridie had retired.

I was very envious of Jan when she told me she had twice seen a Hummingbird Hawk Moth in the Gardens, which is something I have longed to photograph. She managed to get a shot of it on her phone, so has promised to let me see it. Why am I so envious? Both my youngest brother and my son-in-law have both seen them and captured them in photographs, whereas I have only spotted one briefly at Luton Hoo and just not had a chance to take a photograph because it was too far away and flew away and over a greenhouse!

I did however get up close and personal with a bee today! I met a new volunteer in the long greenhouse, one Keith and I believe much of what I photographed today was as a result of his earlier handiwork in planting them.

Although it was very warm, the greenhouse had all its windows open, so it was very comfortable for a change. I hope that today’s pictures can give pleasure to Jan.

Friday 21 August 2015

A Marsworth Kingfisher and Other Birds

I have not visited the Tring Reservoirs for quite a while as I am that much further from them, and settling into my new home and pressure to find paying work has taken priority, but circumstances prevented me from working today, so I went to bed somewhat earlier than usual so that I meet leave in plenty of time to arrive at Marsworth’s lake with some chance of settling to wait upon the vagaries of kingfishers perhaps calling by after two hours and still being before nine and the most prolific birds were Wood Pigeons and Mallard  ducks followed by the occasional moorhen. A Heron did take a look, but despite my being in the shade of hawthorn bushes I guess he must have seen me as he turned in flight and disappeared in the direction from which he had arrived. I was visited by the local Robin, but far less frequently than I had been accustomed, but nary even a flyby by a kingfisher till about ten to nine.

He came to a branch much nearer than I might have expected which made a change. Soon after a pigeon took the same spot after the kingfisher had flown elsewhere. I was lucky then to see him or at least another male of the same species twice more, but he never did any fishing, so there were no shots of any catches, but at least some nice portraits. A family of female Mallards did come for a preening session close by, and I was surprised by three explosive leaps of what I can only presume were catfish, but never in the same spot and my lens was never trained in the same direction, I have to say that my Robin looked very dishevelled which was a disappointment as he was normally impeccably groomed.

After a further hour and a half I called it a day and returned, but not too disappointed.

Tuesday 18 August 2015

Woburn Park – DH Moth Airshow

A friend of mine, Andy Fox told me that over the weekend he would be manning a stand at the Airshow to sell some of his photos, and I decided I would make the time to visit the park to see what it was all about. Since I had a long walk from the Free Car Park, I made the decision to eave the tripod in the car – this lack of foresight lost me valuable shooting time as I then had to make that journey twice in order to make good my mistake! I soon learned that trying to use the 100-600mm lens handheld for shooting aircraft in flight was really not satisfactory; after all why go to all the trouble of buying a carbon fibre tripod and leave it in the boot of your car (and make the same trek twice!)

On the first trip to the field I had the camera in a case that had both a spare battery and spare card, on my return to the car I dispensed with the case in order to offset some of the extra weight of the gimbal head and tripod, forgetting that by so doing I was leaving my safety net behind which consideration dawned upon my feeble brain only as I left the car park for the second time! I had been watching some aircraft both arriving and others doing circuits, but on my return flying was over till 2pm, so my mistake cost me dear! Speaking of deer – the airfield is normally their domain and several of their number felt they should protest by nonchalantly heading across the arrogant human’s airstrip several times during the afternoon.

I was fortunate that on both the occasions I was at the protective boundary in the company of keen aircraft buffs who knew the aircraft types and some of their history. I found that even without aerial activity there were subjects of interest from the public, the main road and the deer and of course there was time to chat to a couple of other photographers.

 I have since learned from Andy he had a very successful time in the marquee selling some of his photos and recruiting potential visitors for his wildlife days at Clophill – the highlight of his weekend was meeting a ninety-three year-old ex-pilot who proudly spotted one of Andy’s pictures of a Sea Hurricane and told him that he had actually piloted that specific plane! Andy managed to get the back of the framed picture signed by the pilot and have his photo taken with him and the picture. Andy promptly popped a ‘Not for Sale’ Sticker to that one and it is now in pride of place in his own Sitting room!

Although the show was originally dedicated to De Havilland Moth aircraft it has over the years been extended to embrace other aircraft models, and although it has had some lapses, it seemed well attended and was blessed with a good amount of sunshine and attentive attendees, I certainly enjoyed my Sunday and will likely return next year, and I will be back to the park itself for the deer in a month’s time or so.

Wednesday 12 August 2015

An Afternoon with Evening

It is sometime since Martin Evening, whose books I tech edit, and I have met up; the last being when he kindly offered me a ticket to join him at this year’s Festival of Speed at Goodwood – sadly on that occasion he had been unwell and so I ended up going down alone and feeling guilty as if my being there was under false pretences. He came to visit for two reasons: I was lending him a US Army Sargent’s uniform for the Goodwood Revival Meeting and giving him the first glimpse of my new home in Marston Moretaine.

After a brief tour we both then gathered some camera gear and I took him on a tour of the local environs by first heading for the Brogborough Lake, but any intention that I might show him where the windsurfers hang out was dashed by the gates being closed as we passed by and by a severe lack of wind and any potential windsurfers!

I parked up just beyond the entrance and we took a stroll along the water’s edge beyond, chatting and taking the occasional photo of dragonflies, and in Martin’s case the receding pylons walking across the landscape and disappearing in the distance. The wind then did pick up a bit and this blew away at least some of the cloud cover. Our time there was brief and we soon turned back and I then drove towards Lidlington then left in the direction of Marston so that we would be approaching the Nature Reserve before reaching Marston Moretaine, we drove in and parked up so Martin could take some shots of the rusting brick-making machinery that stands by the entrance to the Visitor Centre and Restaurant; I had left my camera in the boot, but decided on reflection that I would take it out so returned to collect it.

We then headed for the walkway through the reed beds and on up to one of the hillocks where Martin watched a small sailing dingy in the distance and I took a single shot of the view across to the chimneys of Stewartby from the peak. Martin had a menagerie of his neighbour’s animals to feed before supper, so we then headed back to the car and my place where we had a brief closing chat before he journeyed back to Berkhamsted. It was good to know that the uniform fitted perfectly and that we had managed to catch up, and I do so hope he does not have a too exhausting and stressful time before the next Goodwood trip, so that we can do that together.

Wednesday 5 August 2015

Brogborough Sunny Break – Mild Wind

I decided I needed a break from assembling bookcases to house my large paperback collection, so after tidying up having reached the early ‘M’s of authors, I gathered my camera and bicycle and headed off down Woburn Road away from Marston Moretaine, but just before the exit onto the old A421, my chain came off the sprockets and jammed itself between the pedal and a bolt head. As laid the bike down the basket on the front containing all my camera gear, fortunately strapped carefully within also detached itself and lay in the grass. It took more than five minutes to free the chain and then get it all back, but what little grease remained on the chain now covered both hands!

I remounted for the short journey to Brogborough Lake and the hope that I might find a way to clean up satisfactorily upon my arrival at the windsurfing area. I was in luck as the charming lady who supplied me a welcome cup of tea had some wipes that worked wonders in removing the grease such that I could delve into my pockets to find the money to pay her.

No one had yet ventured out as there was next to no wind, so I lingered with my tea before setting up my tripod and camera, hoping that as I had left Marston Moretaine in a fair breeze, that the wind speed would rise sufficiently to tempt people onto the water. In this lull, I did spot a lone dragonfly, and I hoped I might catch sight of more, which I did briefly, a while later, but again only a singleton (possibly the same one!)

At first I captured local family activities and training exercises and then I spotted André whom I had met before and a little more action seemed promised; I suspect that August holidays and the lack of a stiff breeze played their parts in keeping the numbers of experienced thrill-seekers from the lake. Every so often the wind would rise and André and others would take advantage and provide me with images that were a little more exciting.

In the end I captured some interesting shots and definitely enjoyed my afternoon – the journey back with a following wind passed without incident and brought my mind back to how I might make space for yet more bookcases to hold the latter half of the Author’s alphabet from ‘McC’ onwards; Billy from IKEA will be paying me further visits!

Thursday 30 July 2015

Canon CPS+ Parkour Event in London

Canon has a scheme known as ‘CPS+’ where they organise varying events that challenge practising professional photographers to experiment with areas of photography outside their own specific areas of expertise to both expand their horizons, meet with other photographers and often invited photographic product suppliers in an informal atmosphere that allows the delegates to handle lenses and bodies with knowledgable and helpful Canon staff.

Canon invite the ‘plus 1’s who need not even be Canon devotees as the subsequent publicity and goodwill promotes their products to a wider audience. I have personally benefitted from the knowledge imparted and been more than willing to promote Canon and its products by whatever means available, most notably by expressing my gratitude via this blog and conversations with colleagues. The Canon staffers have always been impeccably well-organised and the Canon staff have been attentive and genuinely pleased to ensure everyone is able to get the most out of the day.

This Parkour Day started with refreshments and registration at the Frontline Club just a short distance from St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington; Frankie Jim from Canon set the scene followed by two speakers, Samo Vidic and Scott Bass who respectively spoke about working with Red Bull and shooting Parkour illustrated with a few photographs on screen.

How come I was there at all?
At the very last moment, having earlier been informed I had not been lucky enough to be invited, my luck changed! Canon phoned me up to say would I like to come, and bring along a guest ‘plus 1’ – originally that was to have been Geoff Dann, but once he had learned we had been unlucky, when a photoshoot came along for that day, naturally he had booked it in, so in haste I contacted several others from my circle of friends, and Julian MacDonald was not on holiday and was fortunately delighted to take up my offer, and it would give him the ideal opportunity to handle a lens he had been considering to purchase.

Originally there was talk of a twenty minute walk to the venue, however Canon had thoughtfully provided a series of taxis which meant the walk came at the end of the day. The venue was next door to a large Studio complex in a secure fenced off area where Canon had set up a table with their comprehensive assortment of lenses and camera bodies if anyone wished to sample the toys on offer. I did take a quick image on one of their lenses, but when it came to shooting the athletes, I was going to stick with my own 5D MkIII and 24-105mm.

I soon lost track of time as I settled into trying to capture the three participants as they went through their repertoire, and understand what they were hoping to see from our efforts, when I thought I had succeeded I asked each for their judgement on whether I had got what they were looking for in a particular action. Although I definitely added considerably to my shutter actuation count, the vast majority of images may well end on the ‘cutting room floor”!

Both Julian and I had thoroughly enjoyed our day, and now comes the hard part of turning raw captures into finished images on the blog, then judge whether I had achieved some success. I do not see any masterpieces appearing, but what I can say with sincerity is a big thank you to Canon for giving us both a great afternoon.