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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Sunday 30 December 2018

A Visit to Tring Reservoirs and its Birdlife

          The sun shone hazily when I left from home, but by the time I reached the road towards Dunstable, cloud cover had become complete, and as I proceeded further south, mist came down getting denser till I reached Pitstone, when it began to lift, but any hope I had entertained that sunshine might prevail were dashed, as it simply became a typically dull British day.
          I drove to Tringford where I spotted the Water Bailliff, Bob Menzies  and another angler chatting by the entrance, and before I could get out to open the gate, Bob began doing so for me, allowing me to enter the field to park. Another angler soon joined the group before they all set off to the Pub. Before I could set up my camera and lens I had to close the gate as members of the Public just wandered into this Private Angling Club. I then began assembling the camera, gimbal head and tripod and closing the gate behind me headed across the road to Marsworth Lake.
          My trip got off a good start because the first bird I saw was a grebe, one of my personal favourites — it was at some distance which was a shame, but no worry I was going to be around for a while yet. I was using the Benbo tripod, and so did not close the legs to save time whilst moving along the path between the two lakes. I would stop every so often to change my viewpoint and thus the camera was immediately available. However as I write this piece, having edited the images, it is apparent that was probably not my best decision, as it meant that I was not carrying it well, as I am in quite a bit of discomfort from my back now. I just hope that a good night’s rest improves the situation.

          The tally of different subjects from the afternoon, covers a gull or two, a shoveller, swans and cygnets, a grebe and some pochard. So, considering I also broke off to chat to some other photographers, some of the anglers, and members of the general public, I had quite a relaxing and enjoyable afternoon.

Saturday 29 December 2018

Brogborough Lake — a Short Spell of Wind

          I did not harbour high hopes of high winds or sunshine; just a keen desire that I might be lucky enough to get a decent breeze to encourage some sailors to choose this time for some outdoor exercise on the lake, and upon arrival there were certainly a fair number of windsurfers out on the lake, and there was certainly more wind here than I had experienced at Marston Moretaine, just up the road.
          At this point it did not look particularly promising, so for a short while, I just stood and watched, however, the wind improved, and the sun at least was attempting to break cover from the clouds, so that made me get back to the car and breakout the Benbo tripod, attach the gimbal head and take the 7D MkII with its Sigma 150-600mm Sports lens and lock that in place. I spread the legs, set the central column vertical, and locked the tripod and set the lens balance in the long Arca Swiss shoe, and hefted it on my shoulder after closing the boot, and locking the car, headed for the jetty.
          The legs were not perfectly aligned with the slats; but two out of three was not too bad! Holding the camera and lens firmly, I loosened the bolt, put the last leg in place, aligned the central column vertically, then locked everything firmly. I loosened the gimbal head’s two nuts, did a quick check of ISO speed and exposure, and was ready for action — just in time for the very first jump of the afternoon. The omens were good!
           The sun even brightened a tad and although while setting up I had spotted Sam on his hydrofoil and without having to pump his board to begin planing, I was too late to capture any shots of his activity. However, I did manage to capture some more jumps by Richard and Geoff, and also a newcomer from the North, so I felt rewarded for my decision to head out to the lake. The spell of reasonable wind did not last for too long, so for a change, I was left with a good time to get the gallery of images up on the blog before the end of the same day as the action. This was a great way to end the year on a high.

Friday 28 December 2018

Marston Lake — a Second Photo Visit

          The day started overcast, that brightened by around ten, but l got involved in relaxation having lain in a dream state before heading to a wash and shave. Breakfast over I decided to head towards the small lay-by I had used on my previous visit, but on this occasion I intended shooting with my heavy Benbo tripod and the 150-600mm Sigma Sports lens.
          Having assembled it, I planned to turn right as  I came to the junction by the lake and walk the short distance to the end of that track, where I met an angler called Andy, who had been there since the morning before. We chatted as I set up the camera, and I learned he had never seen any kingfishers here, which was not the news I had been hoping to hear! He had been to a spot in Germany where there had been several — not the reassurance I was seeking!
          In the course of further conversation, he did however say he would keep an eye out, and let me know if any ever appeared, and where he spotted them, and so I gave him a card should the occasion arise. I was most appreciative of that offer, because he was a frequent visitor and always for longer periods than I could manage, so that was very welcome.
          On my arrival, the cloud cover was almost total, but for a while, it lessened breaking into parallel lines, with pale blue beyond — a pattern I saw just once before earlier in the year, though on this occasion it was less clearly defined, and beyond, in the middle distance, the pattern was repeated but at ninety degrees to the first group! On the water were several small groups of Coots, occasionally chasing each other with gusto, for reasons only they understood, but it just seems Coots are just noisily antisocial as a breed. Of greater interest to me were a fair-sized group of Tufted Ducks, and I glimpsed possibly the same lone Grebe I saw on my last visit.
          I saw that a circling Gull had landed, and I was lucky enough to get a short burst as it took off a short while later. Although Cormorants are not one of my favourite birds, one came just within reach, so I grabbed a few shots as it passed by. Also, the Robin paid us a visit, but despite being offered some fish bait, it kept its distance and was always behind intervening branches, so does not feature in this gallery. The light became too low eventually, so I bade my angler friend farewell, and headed homeward.

Monday 24 December 2018

Marston Lake — a Possible New Venue

         Since the rain had stopped, I decided to nip round to the lock-up and get the bike and reconnoitre a nearby lake just beyond the turn off to the station beyond the Allotments. I was heading towards Lidlington, but before there, there was a gated entrance to a lake reserved for anglers and just beyond, a small lay-by. I checked this out first because I had in mind that it would be ideal for me to park the car, if I were to visit with a heavy tripod and the big lens at some time in the future.
         On this occasion I travelled light; without any camera; there is a small pedestrian gap beyond the gate, that I wheeled the bike through, then I parked it beyond the bend, so as to be hidden from the road, and leant it against a tree, and followed the road around yet another bend, and came to a junction, where the track went around the perimeter of the lake in both directions. Ahead was a parked estate car with its rear door open and its driver engaged on his phone, I nodded that I’d wait patiently till he was free and withdrew to a distance to allow him the privacy to continue his call.
         Shortly he wound down his window, I enquired as to whether he felt that since I was not an angler, whether it was possible for me to enter the area to take photos. He answered immediately that there was no objection, and during the ensuing conversation I discovered that he was the local Water Bailiff; so I had definitely found the very best person to learn more about the lake and its wildlife. Most importantly I learned they did have kingfishers, and he even suggested where they were most likely to be found. He explained that the path to the right was short and only went as far as the last jetty from which the anglers fished.
         I decided to investigate this path first, and found it was a very short distance. I returned to his parked car and continued our conversation, and even in that short period of time I noticed that there was a fair amount of bird life. We chatted a while longer, then I set off around clockwise from the junction, having asked his name having volunteered mine and given him one of my business cards.
         I strolled slowly along the path, every so often taking paths towards the foreshore to get an idea of the viewpoints each offered. As I returned to the main path, I tried to remember the man’s name, and realised that it had not registered at all in my failing brain! I was going to have to embarrass myself, by asking him when I next met up with him! I refer to the route around the lake as a path, but it is in fact a road in that it is wide along its entire route with enough width in parts to accommodate cars being parked without blocking it for others going further round.
         Every time the route forked off to give access to a small area from which to fish, I would investigate, though in some cases, I did not go right to the water’s edge, because either I did not want to disturb the angler, or I could see that it was very muddy and steep due to all the recent rain. I soon reached the bank directly opposite to the bailiff’ car, and soon after that I spotted that on that side, there was no enclosing fence, and between there was an area of scrub with a public footpath beyond.
         I walked as far as I could in that direction then turned back and returned to the bailiff’s car, where I apologised for so swiftly forgetting his name, and learned it was Mark, which I realised was so easy to mark for the future, had I made that simple mental note on the first occasion! We chatted some more, before I then headed back to my bike and rode home.
         At that time I was not sure when I would return, but in the afternoon of Christmas Eve, I returned with my lightest long lens the Tamron 150-600mm and this time parked in the lay-by just beyond the entrance, set up the lens and camera on my carbon fibre tripod with the gimbal head, locked the car, and headed in towards the lake. I decided that as the sun was already getting low, I would head to the right and the short distance to its very end, where I set up the tripod on the short and somewhat fragile wooden jetty. After a while I heard the whistle-like call of a robin who came to investigate. I also caught sight of a blue tit, but it was far shyer, as was a blackbird, out on the water I spotted a couple of cormorants, several coots and a lone young grebe, and I was lucky enough to capture its good fortune to succeed to secure itself a reasonable sized fish for tea.
         I soon found that the sun was falling into clouds as it fell towards the horizon, so I took a few further shots as I headed for the gate and my car, and a couple of the setting sun over Brogborough. Though brief, it was a very good way to head into Christmas.

Monday 10 December 2018

Fairford Leys Christmas Concert in the Centre

After a dash back to Marston Moretaine to change into clothes that were more suitable for the afternoon in the centre of Fairford Leys and to also offload the pictures taken at the lake of Windsurfing activity so there was no danger of their suffering any mishap before I was back to processing that afternoon’s images, I collected a group of lenses that I felt would be suitable for the inevitably low light levels I would encounter.
I gave myself a reasonable amount of leeway as I knew there would be a higher level of traffic as the route involved passing Milton Keynes, and to add further insult the A421 road now has a 40mph limit which actually simply backs up the traffic such that even that speed most of the day is an unfulfilled dream; it tends to be a series of 20mph spurts between 10 second standstills, I found it pays to hold back and keep a steady speed of around 18-22mph and save fuel, frustration and brake wear, and fortunately the driver behind seemed to agree as he did not come up and sit on my rear bumper – that was a pleasant surprise.
Although the traffic was still fairly heavy after the spell before the new sections, at least it moved at a fair pace, so I arrived in reasonable time such that my daughter and I were able to take a relaxed pace as she collected her music and most importantly some pegs to anchor it to the music stand, though she did find she was missing some of the necessary pieces she was due to play.
We arrived early and found a place to park with ease and headed for the centre, however, actually reaching the venue had still proved to be somewhat circuitous, as it was later to be repeated when leaving! As we took the saxophone and music bag from the car it dawned on me that my camera gear was still sitting in Quainton with Tim, Lizzy’s husband and the children – they were due to follow shortly, and when Lizzy broke the news to Tim, he had very fortunately not left the house! Acquiring the missing music sheets fortunately presented no problems and the afternoon went well, so whilst Lizzy got herself organised I simply stood around like a spare part, but was soon very relieved to see Tim with my camera bag (some Professional Photographer I turned out to be!) Tim very generously did not make a meal out of it.
I set up the most likely lens I would be shooting with; the 35mm f/1.4 and took a few shots and set ISO 3200˙ and found I could get by at:

Yes, ‘get by’! – if I needed more speed, I had a stop in hand but at least I could cope with the inherent grain at this speed – Thank Goodness for Image Stabilisation or what my friend Adam refers to as Anti-Shake, also when you have my level of unsteadiness I am grateful for the burst, because sometimes the second image can be usable if the first suffered from my tremble.
I think I did occasionally open up to f/2.8, and 1/8th of a second I think was my slowest shutter speed, so I am grateful for the technology jump from my earliest days when 400 ASA still meant I had to use auxiliary lighting and a tripod! Even in Brighter light levels!
Flash under the situation such as this was out of the question as it would have been extremely distracting to those who were playing as well as killing the ambiance of the scenes I captured.

Brogborough Lake Saturday Early

The forecast promised wind, and from a good direction and certainly as I set off, it was living up to that, so after a chat with some of those already, and just unloading, it looked very promising; so I returned to the car and started to set up the camera and Benbo Tripod.
A short while later I had the Sigma 150-600mm on the 5D MkIII body for a change. Normally I go for the 7D MkII as it has a faster burst rate, but it seemed worthwhile checking out just how the different body worked in practice, and I can report that generally it seemed fine, though the distant shots maybe failed to focus accurately on occasion, but that was down to me rather than the camera I reckon! The wind however was not behaving as forecast and was as fitful as the day previous.
There were a few brave souls already on the lake, one of those being Richard McKeating who was not alone in choosing to cover his face well as the windchill was definitely evident. This visit was not going to be a long one for me, but had nothing to do with the weather; I had learned only the night before that my daughter who plays Sax, was due to play at the Fairford Leys Christmas Carol event, and I always enjoy the Aylesbury Concert Band playing.
I set myself up on the pier, and every so often it was severely rocked, and on the second time I looked round to see why – the dog had leapt onto it then back onto the land! I had mistakenly assumed it was one of the waves, even though they had not seemed that large. Sam Barnes was out twice using the Hydrofoil; the second run with greater success.
Since there were not too many takers early on, I did also try to keep my hand in shooting passing cormorants and gulls. I was lucky enough to catch a few jumps performed by the afore-mentioned Richard, but missed one when suddenly I realised my preparations for Lizzy and her Concert had made me make a silly mistake which was not to reformat my Compact Flash card and so it swiftly ran out of space, and to make matters worse, the pre-existing shots were of my last visit to this lake, so working out which had to be deleted was in danger of removing this day’s images. Sorting this out took me valuable time, as I had specifically only put one card in the bag because I needed everything for later in the day.
I stayed long enough only to leave when the wind began to improve, but since I was Roadie for my daughter I could not arrive late and I had to change into smarter clothes before driving over, and, for safety, offload these images, so they were ready on the computer for my return. I apologise for my abrupt departure.

Friday 7 December 2018

December Wintry Sun at Brogborough Lake

There was a slight breeze in Marston Moretaine, but that was no definite indication it would be equally windy at Brogborough Lake, but no wind here definitely meant No Wind at the lake, so it was worth a trip to see whether any windsurfers had turned up.
I packed both cameras and set off in hope, and was rewarded; as I turned into the entrance, I spotted two sails out on the lake, though there were not too many vehicles parked, but with the anemometer spinning the omens were good, but, until I was sure, I did not tempt fate by unloading the boot so locked the car and wandered to see who was around and Sam was togged up, so I chatted to another windsurfer and it seemed I was in luck, so returned to the car and started to set up the tripod. On this occasion I was going to use the 5D MkIII rather than the 7D MKII body, and the Sigma 150-600mm lens to see how I fared with this combination as at least I then had the full frame even though not the fast burst rate.
Sam decided he would risk a run with the hydrofoil despite the gustiness of the wind, so initially I concentrated on that, but it was apparent the wind was too gusty and although he did get it up, it was not sustained, so he came back out with a conventional board, so I then took shot of the others on the lake, the wind dropped after a short spell, and came came back in for another attempt and on this occasion at least for a short spell he was airborne, so I managed a few shots, before he returned to swap again to a conventional board.
I was also lucky as I was treated to a couple of jumps, even though I gathered the wind direction was less than ideal, I also managed some shots of three sailors in a group which is always handy.
I stayed as long as I could, as standing at the water’s edge in a high cold wind the windchill soon began to get though my light clothes as I held onto a cold camera and lens, with only minimal movement unlike those on the water who by expending much more energy were able to keep reasonably warm.
I did notice that using the full frame body the distant images seem small, but upon examination were just fine, but when close to, it was noticeably easier to frame, knowing that the quality was there. In the past I was always more concerned with the burst rate, but in the situation here this was far less of an issue compared to trying to capture birds and insects in flight, where the speed of the cropped frame sensor body was a definite benefit. I shall use this body slightly more often in the future.

Monday 3 December 2018

2018 Aylesbury Mayor’s Carol Concert

Not only is Warming Global, it is local to Aylesbury for December, and the atmosphere at St. Mary’s Church in the centre of Town is equally welcoming as it is the time of year for Carols Sung to the Aylesbury Concert Band’s backing to the Choir’s and Congregation’s cheerful singing of familiar and happy tunes to celebrate Christmas. The Conductor of the Band was Rob Wicks.
The Congregation’s singing is augmented by the voices of the Aylesbury Choral Society’s Singers and the Bedgrove Junior School Choir. There were no less than six Readings, read in order by the following people: Aylesbury Town Mayor, Councillor Mark Willis,
His Honour Judge Sheridan, DL,
Group Captain Katherine Wilson, Station Commander RAF Halton,
Mr Stephen Archiebald, CEO Carers Bucks,
The Right Honourable David Lidington, CBE, MP,
Sergeant Joe McNicholas, Mayor’s Cadet.
Father Doug Zimmermann officiated and gave the Christmas Address to the congregation and invited everyone to stay to partake of the Mulled Wine, Fruit Juice and Mince Pies served by the Councillors of Aylesbury Town Council  and Volunteers from Ayesbury Lions.
I can personally vouch for the excellent sounds provided by the Aylesbury Concert Band and the enthusiastic singing by all present, a very enjoyable evening and much milder than we could have expected and the rain held off making packing all the musician’s instruments less of a stress than might have been the case were it raining heavily or been far colder.

Friday 30 November 2018

Brogborough Lake – Late Autumn Sun

Despite the Eve of December, the Sun shone brightly across the Lake at Brogborough, and the wind came in gusts, but it was Friday and the lake eventually had a lone Windsurfer braving the conditions to take advantage of the whole expanse of the lake to himself and the occasional birds.
Initially I brought only the 24-70mm lens to take shots of interesting leaves and the views of the lakeside coves, but once I had caught sight of the windsurfer, I went back to the car and put the 150-600mm onto the full-frame 5D MkIII, but because this brightness seemed to be fleeting, I only added the monopod, so that I could hastily return and capture a few shots for which this lake is best known.
On the side of the lake from which the wind was coming, the clouds were slowly gathering, but for the moment the sky was a crisp, clear, rich blue with just the very occasional small puff of cloud. It was certainly difficult in the gusts to keep the camera and lens steady, but had I brought out even the lightest tripod, I might well lose the opportunity that now presented itself.
What acted in my favour despite the gusty nature of the wind was the sun was bright and the air clear, so I was able to use a fast shutter speed, so long as I held the monopod and lens as firmly as possible and focussed carefully.
I surprised myself by capturing a couple of moderately crisp shots of a cormorant flying by, but the percentage success was barely 35%!
I had not put any gloves on and had only a pullover, so the wind finally proved to be the deciding factor in when I stopped shooting and put the gear back in the car, and found a spare plastic bag to put the now well mud-clogged wellies in the boot and don some shoes for the return drive after a hasty cup of warming tea.
Nothing spectacular to show for the sortie, but competent considering the conditions, however the lens I would have liked to use I had re-packed and returned to Sigma the day before because I had not anticipated such a bright day, and also knew there was a journalist waiting his turn to give it a test.

Wednesday 28 November 2018

Sigma 60-600mm Lens Test II – Harold-Odell Country Park

  Having lost the Good Weather and the lens due back to Sigma, I paid a visit to the Harrold-Odell Country Park a bit north of me in Bedfordshire. What sunshine there was was on the milky side, and although Gulls and Ducks were the most prolific of the birds on the lake close to the restaurant, I started shooting from there but my first subject was a raven strutting its stuff and occasionally sounding off as if it was annoyed.
There were numerous gulls just moving lazily on the water, and occasionally diving, presumably for small fish, every so often taking to the air briefly before landing back again nearby. In the distance but on the bank on my side of the lake a heron was on the foreshore, so whilst moving past some of the grazing cattle, I gingerly made my way closer to it, and taking a shot or two before moving again – all the while it had its beady eye on me, obviously fairly cognisant of the focal length of my lens, because just before I came into a decent distance from it, off it flew to the far shore, but I had been going for quality so was using a low ISO, so once in flight it was not possible for me to continue shooting, bearing in mind it was increasing that distance with each flap of its efficient wings! – I was already at 600mm and also because it was the 7D MkII, was cropped too!
The cattle also seemed to be moving towards me all the time, and they had weight and numbers to their advantage, and discretion, a long lens that was not mine and the heavy tripod meant the decision was taken from my hands and was replaced by my gear! Also the clouds began to look more threatening and was definitely suggesting that I should continue in the direction I was now heading which was leading me back to my car, but nevertheless I still took a few more shots at the shorter focal lengths of the lens of the distant church and swans in the foreground – these two swans were also very much keener to preen than pose elegantly for me, so valuable time was lost by my waiting for the heads to be above water and hopefully displaying their elegant necks.
In both these recent Lens Test galleries I have therefore ensured that I use the full range of this lens in fairly real world scenarios, and though I had been warned that at the wider end there might be some slight Chromatic Aberrations, what I encountered was subtly different, and was not directly correctible – a shot of some branchless trees at a distance against the brighter side of light from the occluded sun exhibited a red edging either side of the silhouetted branch, hence being uncorrectable using the edge-shifting of the individual channels within Adobe Camera Raw. I do not think this is actually Chromatic Aberration, I think it more likely that the sensor is swamped and is overloading nearby Red photosites. However, it would be very wrong of me to highlight this issue as overall, I did not find any other major issues at the 60mm end throughout all the shooting I did with this impressive lens. Also, this is not attributable to the Sigma lens but the camera.
I would have no insurmountable problems at all in the envisaged situations where I might encounter the need to be able to frame my windsurfing shots when the sailors approached closer, or racing cars and powerboats similarly forced me to widen my framing of the subjects.
By way of describing a typical situation I have on numerous occasions faced, has been that a Windsurfer has gybed coming towards me, the beginning and end of the manoeuvre are uncropped in relation to the full sail, but at their closest point midway through, the crop is severe both on the hull and the sail, because the subject is way too close at a focal length of 150mm, however with is extended range dropping to 60mm we are almost the equivalent of a Normal, Standard focal length lens.
Currently there is not a specific Lens Profile for this lens, but as a start point, I chose the Sigma Sports 150-600 profile without a major issue ensuing, except in the single somewhat ‘centre-jour’ situation mentioned in this narrative
Once Sigma Stock levels return to being available, I shall be making a purchase!
This is a full-width section of the 7D MkII file at 1024px wide. Note the red fringing of the two major  skeletal trees, it does not appear in the gallery, just here as a postscript to show the only issue I encountered, and one that is down to the camera's sensor, not the Sigma lens.

Tuesday 20 November 2018

Birthday-Part II – Brooklands Visit

My actual Birthday this year fell on the Saturday, and both my daughters were unable to join me, or have me over to one of their homes, so a happy solution was arrived at whereby I was going to be celebrating over two days, and having thoroughly enjoyed the weekend’s first day in London with the elder daughter and one of my twin grandchildren, Poppy who had recently entered Halls of Residence.
Day Two, the Sunday, involved my driving to Quainton and my younger daughter’s new home, where I would become a passenger for the trip to Brooklands and its Museum. Both children were looking forward to the day, not so much for being with me, but more about what was on offer, as there were so many things to see and enjoy; it was a familiar venue they both relished.
The journey was broken by a stop for some food and was not burdened by excessive traffic though the day was not quite as warm as the day previous, but was equally bright. There were plenty of visitors, but it was not overcrowded, and we took a leisurely stroll around, and I indulged in some camera-clicking, and capturing the two youngsters enjoying the tracing, the overloading of a boat, the dropping of a bomb, and especially the driving a car around a circuit in the simulator were highlights of their day, as well as visiting one of the workshop areas and riveting a small piece of aluminium to create a an aircraft were highlights.
Later we were on different sides of the Hill as we watched different vehicles climb the steep gradient that climbs towards Brooklands famous Banking. On this occasion, there was nothing spectacular and none failed to make it, though the pace for some was on the gentle side. Also, some vehicles definitely were appearing a second time, though possibly with swapped drivers.
On this visit, I learned more of Brooklands’ History that I had not known before, and it was why I made a point of taking photos of the Descriptive Boards, such that I could read them later at leisure. Although I took many photos of the children enjoying themselves, I have really been laughing out loud as I have spotted amusing interactions I had missed whilst actually taking the pictures, so really I am spreading the enjoyment of my Birthday even beyond the weekend. I count myself very lucky to have a wonderful family, who have on this occasion made it last so long.

Monday 19 November 2018

Clerkenwell Birthday Visit with University Granddaughter

         My birthday was to start fairly early, as the plan for the day was for me to meet up with my elder daughter and one of her twin girls who has just settled into student accommodation having started at University in London.
         My daughter had to take the other twin to work before she could take a train to town, so Poppy and I chatted as she finished getting ready then we all headed for the Tube to Farringdon, where I could show Poppy Clerkenwell where I had spent much of my time as a photographer, with two studios just off Hatton Garden, and also the last employed job before I started ‘SOLUTIONS photographic’ — Longacre Colour Labs, where  I had been their Sales Manager.
         This area of London holds many pleasant memories for me, as I maintained many contacts even after becoming self-employed and return for Clerkenwell Design Week despite all the changes to the area that I first new.
         For many years this area held the workshops for London, and once held numerous photographers and Designers, who moved to either Covent Garden or the less expensive areas of East London around by Old Street and City Road.
         Poppy, despite being here a short time had already acquainted herself with parts I had thought she would not have found; that I had considered known to only a few! I was pleased by that. We took a stroll around the garden of St. John’s Priory, which allowed me to create a montage of Poppy in three windows, to depict ‘See no Evil, Hear no Evil, Speak no Evil, as a small piece of fun. We were greeted by a Friendly Robin and some late roses there before a walk to Clerkenwell Green where Catherine and Poppy found a quirky piece of architecture just by one of my erstwhile clients Design Bridge.
         I was treated to lunch by Catherine and we later headed towards areas familiar to Poppy, and soon we were seeing London heading into evening and Christmas, and as darkness was falling seeing the lights reflected off the Thames, and we spent a short time by the Festival Hall and the skateboarders by the river, and all too soon it was time for Catherine to head for home to pick up Holly from work, and for Poppy to head back to Halls to catch up on her work, and for me to head back to my car back at East Finchley and drive back home, in the knowledge that I had another early start as my other daughter was treating me to a visit to Brooklands Museum.

Sent from my iPad

Wednesday 14 November 2018

Brogborough Blessed with Sunday Wind

After a somewhat dull and almost windless Day on the Saturday, Sunday brought cheer to Brogborough Lake and anticipatory smiles to numerous windsurfers. This being November did however mean that the hardy sailors were well covered meaning that when I was lucky to have them heading towards me I was greeted by a balaclava clad face making facial recognition tough.
I set myself up beyond the boundary of the Windsurfers’ club area and trudged my heavy Benbo tripod a fair distance along the foreshore and was atop a steep bank. Had it been dry for a while, I might have been tested to climb down to have low viewpoint, but it had been wet for a few days, so I was not about to risk myself or the Benbo with Canon EOS 7D MkII camera and valuable Sigma 150-600mm long lens, so I was exposed to the wind, and obviously very conspicuous to my subject sailors, and that soon became obvious as several headed straight for me, the long lens and heavy tripod obviously a magnet!.
Today was a day when I arrived fairly early as I was not going to be staying around too long as I was due to be over to my daughter’s house to pick her up to go to the Aylesbury Mayor’s Concert in celebration of the Centenary of the Cessation of Hostilities in the First World War. This also the reason this gallery is much delayed as I decided that event and its images was a higher priority.
I hope the wait is worthwhile; certainly I enjoyed the favourable bright sun and wind and considering how short my stay was, there is a good number of shots in the gallery that I am finally putting up on the blog. I have spent a considerable amount of time stuck in front of the computer, and have a stiff neck for my troubles. To be completely honest though there is also another reason for the delay, and that is that I stayed up late one evening to watch the recording of the penultimate Grand Prix of the 2018 season to watch Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton settle the team Prize for the Year.
Motor Racing being a sport of major interest for me having been an Assistant Chief Pit Marshal for some thirty years for the BRSCC. A further reminder of that career for me was when I learned of the recent death of the Racing Driver, David Morgan. It was quite some time ago, when Crystal Palace was a regular venue for Motor racing and the two Assistant Chief Pit Marshals, Peter Melville and myself on the very last lap of a Formula 3 Trophy Final, had to jump over the barriers to part the two drivers, David Morgan and James Hunt from a fight that had ensued whilst the other cars were still racing past! The crash itself was not covered by the BBC, but the scene was carried in print, and in the next week’s BRSCC News magazine!
Excuse the digression, but I still maintain my interest as I am fortunate that when I was Sales Manager of a London Colour lab we used to do retouching for Charles Settrington, now Lord Richmond and due to him asking our Retouchers regarding Colour Management, they recommended he contact me, and it was fortunate only the day before he had been in the audience when I had been speaking at TUC Congress Hall, so he got in touch, and subsequently I went down to Goodwood House to help and stayed the night, so he could have my help from the following morning! As a result of this friendship and work connection I have been lucky enough to be invited to the circuit ever since.
Back to the matter in hand, do enjoy the gallery of Sunday’s pictures, sorry for the delay.

Monday 12 November 2018

Remembrance Service – Aylesbury Concert Band - St. Mary's Church

I drove to Quainton to pick up my daughter to collect her and the far less weighty Tenor Sax and head for the car park in Aylesbury Town Centre where she would be playing with The Aylesbury Concert Band to celebrate the Mayor's Centenary Remembrance Service in Commemoration and Thanks for those who gave their lives in service of their country in The Great War from 1914 to 1918.
I was joining her for the Rehearsal, and I soon learned I was going to be some considerable distance from the Band, so began shooting early whilst I was still able to wander quietly around to be able to obtain less obstructed views of the Band Members, I also realised that with the low level of lighting I was going to find it hard to get the quality of shots I wanted without something to give me extra support, so I soon headed back to the car to collect my monopod as a tripod would not be feasible.
It was definitely a good move, because I found my self shooting at speeds of 1/20th of a second if I wanted to keep a low ISO and the noise level to a minimum, which meant I was often over-shooting to ensure the success rate was good. The Conductor, Rob Wicks's, baton was certainly going to often be a blur even when I had managed to hold my camera and lens steady! Almost all of the shots in the Concert proper were taken at full aperture, and I still often had to resort to setting an ISO speed as high as 6400˚. During rehearsal, I should have pushed the speed higher as I was in the low light in the left aisle whilst Alison Langer was practising her piece, and I really needed the extra speed to capture the pianist's hands at the keyboard.
The Concert was full of Music that was familiar and often rousing, and there is always a great chance of me singing with gusto, especially when the audience can cover any mistakes I might make in my exuberance. The congregation were amused by the presiding Minister's request we sing Jerusalem through a second time to allow enough time for the Collection! I was more than happy to oblige.
Altogether another enjoyable evening, the only slight sadness was that the length of the event meant that on my return I spent very little time with my young grandchildren before they went up to bed.

Sunday 11 November 2018

Brogborough Saturday – A Light Wind

As I left Marston Moretaine, heading for Brogborough, there was a reasonable amount of Wind, so I felt there might be a reasonable chance of some action on the lake with the Windsurfers, but on arrival, although there were several people milling around preparing themselves, there was little evidence of the wind here – where it mattered!
I was almost considering leaving without even setting up the camera, but the wind came up a little, and the light was good, and I was hooked – so back to the car and I set up the tripod and camera; the activity of the participant windsurfers had made it impossible for me to resist and I realised that to leave now having shown my face was to let them down.
There would be a gallery of images to show for my attendance, and I will have given those who came a chance to relive the afternoon, they would be grateful I did not snub them just because I felt there was nothing exciting, and I learned there was a better wind on the Sunday, so I began shooting and for my trouble I got a cheeky response later (frame 6132) which later I spotted whilst editing is probably a comment on the first shot in that sequence (frame 6119) where I failed miserably in my focus, so although it should have ended up on the Cutting Room Floor, I have let it stand to atone my sin in failing. (Note to self: Must do Better).
So in gratitude for those who showed their skill on the water, please enjoy the rest of the shots I captured.

Friday 9 November 2018

An Autumn Afternoon in Bedfordshire and a Kestrel

Grabbing the kit I headed northwards to the A421 to go East towards Sandy on the A603, (a number familiar to my late father whose first Squadron in the RAF was the eponymous 603 University Air Squadron); I stopped along the way at Eyeworth where soon after I parked my car I spotted a Kestrel atop a chimney pot at a farm. However, I had very specifically only got the 5D MkIII with the 24-70mm and 100mm with me, my 100-400mm was stinside the car a hundred plus yards back down the lane!
I did quickly take a few shots using the zoom at its longest but headed back to the car in the vain hope of the bird remaining atop its viewing platform. It took a few moments, and I was rewarded with it staying there just long enough before it flew off, to capture a mere handful of pictures. A little later I got some of it on the telegraph lines, but as I stealthily tried to move beyond it for better lighting, it duly moved the same distance I had managed, to keep the same angle relationship from the sun – birds and numerous other animals know precisely what a photographer's need and which focal lengths they are using, to thwart us in our endeavours. To illustrate this, on one occasion, I had been shooting a kingfisher at some distance with a maximum 400mm lens and twice (in the very same timeframe) it has flown so close that only a lens capable of focussing to less than four feet could have focussed, and it settled for twenty seconds just beyond arm's length, then flew closer still in an arc then disappered into the far distance!
A couple of years ago when in the same spot at Marsworth, a heron landed around fifteen feet from me, where it was largely shielded by intervening branches, so I silently removed the camera from the quick-release plate and tried to move to my right to clear the majority of intervening branches, and I hung precariously from a spindly piece of adjoining bush and almost fell into the water, but on this occasion I managed to grab three shots before my strength and dodgy standing meant I had to return to safety – it was close, I did slip but fortunately I did avoid falling!
A screenshot of where that item is on my blog for those who might be interested:
On this afternoon I only managed a mere handful of images, but it gave me a further insight into the surrounding countryside that is close around me, and I shall certainly venture into this area again. The hydrangeas close by to where I parked were in the shade and looked very fresh, possibly due to the woods close by, the narrowness of the road and shielding from the buildings, and most obviously due to the care afforded by the house owner.

Wednesday 7 November 2018

Brief Visit to Perse School

Over the weekend I paid a visit to Sawston, Cambridge and Saffron Walden, to meet up with my daughter and Granddaughter for a snack lunch at a small restaurant where she now works, and later visiting my daughter's School in Saffron Walden, where she had work to complete prior to the following week. Whilst there I took a few pictures of her pupil's work and their beautifully airy classroom.
The images of the bee early in the accompanying gallery were taken in my daughter's adjoining neighbour's front garden. The flowers it was feasting upon were in surprising condition given how late in the season this was, and is a testament to the effect this late warmth and the care the neighbour has taken in looking after them.
These images were delayed by my working on a large tranche of images from the weekend taken in the continuing Autumn warmth at one of my pair of nearby lakes, at Stewartby the former site of a large brickworks for which this county of Bedfordshire was renowned; many of which have now become centres of Leisure activity in this area.

Tuesday 6 November 2018

Stewartby – A Warm Autumn Walk

Monday, afternoon, and I find I have cleared my desk, and since it was very warm considering we were now in November and Autumn was coming to a close; it is often a time of cold winds and rain. I decided it was too good a an opportunity to miss as the light would definitely soon be departing as the clocks have now gone back bringing evenings ever closer.
I drove a short distance to Stewartby Lake and decided on a walk around the lake anticlockwise toting the 5D MkIII and the 24-70mm with its Macro facility. There was a milky sun which occasionally was almost completely occluded by clouds, and always when I really wanted the direct sunlight to break through! There was no human activity on the surface of the lake, so if I were to find subjects it was going to either be leaves or possibly some avian subjects, so I wandered along the path occasionally diverting down smaller paths that led to the foreshore to see what I could find.
Some of these were tunnel-like with the sun if out, reflected on the water amidst dark foliage, The ducks on the water soon paddled out of sight due to the narrowing view I had and their sense I might offer danger. I found that the ivy clinging to the branches of trees seemed very fresh presumably at the expense of the host trees whose branches they clung to and climbed.
In one of the clearings on the opposite side to the lake I found an abundance of apples, and there seemed to be way too many to be simply windfalls, but I could be mistaken. When photographing the foreshore it is always obvious who the previous owners of the land were, because of the abundance of bricks with names such as London Brick, or Phorpres stamped in their frogs. These lakes such as nearby Brogborough owe their origin to the London Brick Company's excavation of the local clay. They have now become lakes and been acquired for more leisurely activities such as powerboating, sailing, windsurfing, and fishing and the enclosing land has cycleways, paths, grasslands and picnicking areas, and is home to birds, butterflies, and insects in wide varieties.
In my walk of a mere sixth of the way around the lake I met some really interesting people with whom I chatted, one who had two wonderful dogs he was walking, a man who worked nearby at a local engineering business, who showed me a super quality picture he had taken of a dragonfly that landed close by to him, and a charming young lady who who had just settled down to rest on one of the many seats provided, with lake views that take the stresses out of workaday life. This lake and its paths are wonderfully peaceful and friendly places, which every so often can be somewhat less peaceful when this quiet gives over to the exciting sights and sounds of powerboats.
I am guilty to photographing both the peace and the roar of life in this park, the Forest of Marston Vale; it caters well to a lot of Community activity and it has a large Wind Turbine that even powers the Visitor Centre and its power surplus is fed back to the National Grid.

Friday 2 November 2018

Autumn Sunset Images, Bedfordshire…

The Day had been much warmer than yesterday and the wind had died and just as the sun was setting I was free enough to take a quick drive to two spots where I felt the low angled sun would provide a peaceful landscape, despite lacking any clouds which to my mind always add to any landscape image.
The first spot was on the road from Marston Moretaine towards Cranfield where the low sun’s glancing rays just caught the gentle undulation of the ploughed fields. The second was the lake at Brogborough which is normally the background to my shots of windsurfers, paddleboarders and dragonflies, but where the essential is for bright sun, a reasonable wind, and some scudding clouds, this evening with barely a zephyr to ripple the surface of the lake, it was the calm and serenity of the clear evening that attracted me to capture a few images.
Had I been free a few evenings back I would have been able to capture some stunning clouds that I witnessed as I drove back here only a few minutes earlier on that day, those were skies just for the eyes (if I were only a painter! But then, I don’t complain as I do enjoy my ability to capture at least something of what I see with the help of my cameras and share these on this blog).