Welcome

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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Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Trip to Three Locks

               The opportunity to meet up with family is not an opportunity to miss under the current situation, so when my younger daughter called to suggest a meeting halfway between both of us, with her children. The destination on offer was for us both to head to the Three Locks Public House on the Grand Union Canal.
               We both had a reasonable idea of just how far this destination was from each of us and though I arrived earlier, it was not long before we both pulled up along the main road. It was a bright afternoon with large clouds in a bright blue sky — excellent weather for us all to be out in the fresh air and at the healthy distance as required under the current restrictions, and for me to grab the obvious photo opportunities available. It was a chance to catch up with Lizzy and for the children to run around in a different location. I was pleasantly surprised that despite the obviously well known spot, there was more than enough space for everyone to have no difficulty in keeping adequate separation at all times.
               As before, the camera I chose on this occasion was the LUMIX FZ10002, especially since this was very much a family outing, not a specifically photographic sortie, though still too good an opportunity to miss in such inviting weather, and photogenic location. The only disappointment was just how short a time we had together. I have to admit that I do find it tough to be forever keeping my distance from my family; especially as we have always been ones for family hugging.
               So to my mind the gallery of images in this instance was simply my stamp on the occasion, and a memory of a relaxing, all too short time in glorious sunshine with family and a camera as ongoing therapy!

Sunday, 12 July 2020

Harrold-Odell Lake Avian Activity

                A lake with abundant wildlife on the water, and close to shore, was where I was headed, and seeing a space on the main road outside Harrold-Odell Country Park seemed like a good spot to park, since I suspected the Car Park itself was likely to be crowded. My guess was accurate.
               Although I was planning to use my EOS R, and the Sigma 60-600mm with its 1.5 Converter, I still slung my LUMIX FZ10002 over my shoulder, and this was a good move, even though it only came into its own at the end of my visit.
               Once I had mounted the camera on my Benbo tripod, I was good to go, and first stop was the small area closest to the car park, where I could get an idea of what activity was on the main lake, after a short while there I then started a walk anti-clockwise around that lake, glancing through the trees to get a feel for what I was likely to find. A Black-headed gull had monopolised the now tilted post at the first stop, and as I ventured further, it seemed as if it was interested in featuring in photos, as I feel sure it was the same bird, that later I spotted gliding in search of a meal and every so often after circling, would swoop to the water, and then spend time in amongst the swans, geese and ducks, on the water amongst them.
               The swans some with young, seemed to be protective, but also in the distance with no young could be seen to be fairly aggressive amongst themselves! As a consequence the swan families and this gull feature strongly. In the case of the gull, I wanted as much panning activity as possible, so I was very grateful for his equal desire to assist. He (or She) put me through my paces, by often flying just by the treeline, which was certainly challenging! 
               Although hardly an attractive bird, the Egyptian Goose features fairly frequently as it is not every day that oneness them, but I have spotted one here on an earlier occasion.
               As I walked around, several times I spotted a species of almost colourless damselflies, but every one bar one never seemed to settle, so were too elusive to warrant the effort to photograph them. This lone one however seemed happy to stay close, so I brought out my LUMIX camera and attached the closeup lens then stretched out my right hand, palm-down in the hope it might land, meanwhile since I am naturally right-handed I gripped the camera awkwardly with my left hand, and contorted myself, such that I could hold it to my eye and operate the shutter with the same hand. It obviously felt I should be humoured having gone to such effort and duly landed on my free left hand, and patiently stayed there to allow me a couple of bursts, and at the end stayed put till I offered him a leaf upon which he could alight.
               This entire scenario was watched by a man in a wheelchair and his carer, who were seated nearby, so having succeeded in getting my shot, I showed them the result on the camera. They probably were convinced I was nine pounds short of a tenner! But I was really chuffed with my small success! Butterflies appear to be fairly trusting of humans, as this was not a one-off for me. I have also put seeds on my hand for Robins! Palm down, always.

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Stewartby Lake Nature Trail

Stewartby — The Season is Still Progressing
As Lockdown eases, the weather makes it easier to keep the crowds from yearning to be in the Great Outdoors, which imposes a limited restriction to the numbers of people going out, although it is less enticing for photography. Summer is fast approaching, and then the desire to be outside and involved more intimately with our families becomes irresistible – but we must be patient. Over the last months, taking photographs has been a blessing for my wellbeing; in fact, I do not think It is an exaggeration to say it has been a ‘blessing’ because were it not for the opportunities offered by the taking of photographs to be outside, I would not have been as calm about the enforced separation from all the members of my family.
As I have mentioned in the narrative of my blog, the taking of photographs is still as important as ever, and still very much a challenge. The camera most in my hands of late has been the LUMIX FZ10002, and I still feel there is more to be learned about how to handle it to best advantage; it is very capable, but has its quirks; what I need to do is configure some of the various controls very specifically for my personal needs, but so far I am wary to set these up, in case I manage to screw things up, so I am hoping that with isolation relaxing, I will be able to contact someone to guide me through setting up some speedy access to specific controls for my way of working.
I am eternally grateful for going to this year’s only major Photo Show and meeting up with Steve Scrase. Fortuitously he awaited my arrival at the stand he was at — the Panasonic stand. When we met up, he told me that a colleague of his had bought a LUMIX camera, with which he was most impressed, so much so that Steve convinced me that I should take a look. It was not long before I had the Mark II version of the model his friend had praised so highly. It did not take long handling the MkII version for me to be convinced that this camera which could not be described as ‘Professional’, since it was not weather-sealed in any way, definitely lived up to the praise of its image quality. I had a play and also had put a card of my own in, so that I could look in even greater detail later. Looking closely at the images, it took only a matter of moments to check out its price and decide it was worth a punt. After the Show and a day’s use, I then ordered a charger and a second battery, and it has become the camera of choice during this time when using my fully professional kit would likely be frowned-upon.

This camera is very capable and versatile and lives up to its early promise, but has its quirks, and is still challenging; there always seems to be one parameter missing when you need to finesse something swiftly, and that is a needed conversation with someone at Panasonic. The shots in these two pages were all taken using this camera, some with the addition of a closeup ring — I needed the exercise for body and soul, I hope they give someone some pleasure. It is difficult to believe, but every shot in this gallery has been captured with this camera, sometimes assisted by a single 1-dioptre close-up ring for a few shots. As a result of my experience with its results, it now is kept within the soft neoprene cover for when it might come in handy. A note to Panasonic; please provide more metadata from the camera to be embedded, in particular, orientation if that is possible.

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Stewartby — The Small World

I have been using an interesting small Camera, since a colleague of mine mentioned how impressed a friend of his had been with it when he had bought the first incarnation of the LUMIX FZ 1000. We were at the only Photo Show in London this year, and fortuitously we arranged to meet where he was at that moment— the Panasonic stand. I had gone to the show with no intentions of purchasing anything, but simply to keep myself up to date with what was happening, and meet ‘friends of long-standing’ (thus avoiding saying I was meeting ‘Old Friends’!) I played with it awhile and after numerous inspections of the images zoomed in tightly, I was equally impressed as my colleague’s friend had been who had bought the earlier version (without the Flip ‘n’ Tilt Screen!)
It was an almost instant over-secretion of the Want Glands, as I could see immediately the potential of a ‘take everywhere’ small camera with an impressively long range zoom lens. I was fully aware that it boasted no weather-sealing whatsoever, but at the weight, price and image quality, it could be seriously useful, and way more usable than a phone camera. This is a serious camera, not a toy, but excellent value when I took into account the ‘Show Price’.
Having played with it seriously for a couple of days after the show, and seen only one snag, the maze of (to me) surfeit of different controls to master to get what I needed, I purchased the essential ‘extras’ a spare battery and a separate charger. It is now always to hand, and has proved its worth during the Worlwdwide Lockdown that followed — it does not attract attention compared to had I gone out with my long-lensed camera and heavy tripod — I am just any other bloke with a small camera! An absolute Godsend!
This last trip out was with one small addition, a supplementary Close-up ring, one of the set of four that I have just purchased from the small UK company —  SRB Griturn — every image in this gallery was taken within close-up ring permanently attached, it was the least power one, which proved excellent, with no downsides whatever. They come from this small friendly company I have known and bought from over many years. This particular ring will handily fit a plastic holder I already had, and will stay in my camera’s soft case permanently making the camera even more versatile!
This gallery contains only insects and the plants upon which they either land upon or feed from, I had hoped for sightings of the rabbits that live in this small wood, but no such luck on this occasion.


Green bottle fly, butterflies, damselflies, ladybirds, bees, hoverflies, Stewartby, opposite to Lakes

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Marston Thrift – Hottest Day

Close to Marston Moretaine but North of the A421 is an area of land with a mix of woods, heathland and small lakes; it is large enough for it never feeling overcrowded. The southern entry has two roughly parallel paths either side of a stream, providing a pleasant cool walk in the woods before opening out into a series of paths that spread to several others offering a variety of ways to wander as many do, with their children or dogs.
In the cool of the walk through the woods I took shots of small areas  of plants which were illuminated by the these shafts of light breaking through the tree cover, before finally coming out into the bright sun. I have long been fascinated by the hoverflies that enjoy the nectar of the wild flowers, and how they genuinely seem to play in the shafts of sunlight that break through the cover of the trees to bathe the floor of the woodland paths with pools of shifting sunlight — they seem to spend much of their time alternately hovering in the beams, or dive-bombing those of their number already enjoying the beams. Whilst hovering they frequently flick through 90 degrees every so often, or move swiftly vertically up or down. They seem to be tempting photographers to try to capture them whilst hovering, but know that humans lack their reaction time, because every so often they hold station for a reasonable length of time, as if baiting you! Although I have on occasion been lucky, the odds definitely seem stacked in their favour. I enjoy a challenge, but on this occasion — Advantage hoverfly. 
I did find later that there were several around a particularly tasty flower, and as I concentrated on ones that were static others would occasionally fly within the same depth of field, which meant they were reasonably sharp.
Later, I had some fun capturing a pair of dogs jumping into the lake for sticks thrown by their owner resulting in a bit of friendly rivalry over returning it to the owner. I enjoyed my time in the woods, and I was back using my EOS R, but on this occasion with my Canon 100-400mm lens — it proved to be a good choice and it was a very pleasant way to be out and about making the most of the very warm weather.

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Brogborough Lake — Favours Dragonflies

A warm and windless day under blue skies means the Lake favours the birds, not Windsurfers, though Paddleboarders can also enjoy the calm and the sunshine under edge-to-edge blue. Families of geese enjoy the calm too. Dragonflies, and Damselflies enjoy the sun’s warmth, with the latter also enjoying the lakeside bushes beyond the reeds.
Due to the lockdown, I am restricted to the Anglers’ vacant swims as a shooting spot, bordered by the reeds favoured by my chosen subjects, and I kept as close to the trees, to get some respite from at least some of the sun. For much of the time, the abundant sunshine meant the Dragonflies kept mainly to the air, and their main activity was chasing and being chased, with only a few paired up. The damselflies were to be found also on the field-side of the bushes, or close to the water occasionally flitting amongst the reeds, and favouring the shade. In the water, just a few feet from the shore were some bricks seemingly originally from buildings, since they were cemented together, and judging purely from their siting, I suspect these were not the normal failed brick firings that are to be found as evidence of these lakes past, but the carefully haphazard placing by photographers to bring subjects a convenient distance for their shooting! — “Not Guilty, mLud”.
But who am I to complain, when I am guilty of benefitting from their positioning. There is one noticeable downside to the bank side here, especially with the lack of recent rain — the geese and Swans have graced the shore with their droppings, due to the absence of the disturbance from Anglers. I remained in this spot for quite some time, and noted once again how the Dragonflies came in pulses of activity, with lulls between, which perhaps is a strategy for feeding, disorder that in the lulls, their prey return. If such is the general case then presumably that is the cue for myself to treat the breaks as food and drink time.

Monday, 22 June 2020

Station Road, Marston Moretaine—Flowers

A Walk with a Camera Along Station Road proves worthwhile. The bees were active, especially along an entire front garden wall of Heather, and this was true on both sides of the main road, it also tends to attract the owners’ attention, and when that occurs, I often find I am shown their back gardens, or at least allowed to step into the front garden to get closer, or better angles.
Most of the time the sun was out, but on a few occasions, the clouds passed across the sun. When that happened, and the ideal viewpoint really needed the sunlight, either to highlight my particular subject, or put shadow beyond, I would have to be patient, and stop and wait awhile. Fortunately, on this afternoon trip, I was fairly lucky. On occasion some compositions needed for the breeze to die down, so I could take a shot with a flower without others  partially obscuring the main flower, or grouping.
Capturing bees either in flight, or bees on a particular flower can sometimes be difficult, especially when they alight, for mere fractions of a second. Sometimes, I found myself poised on a particular flower, and waiting for a bee to land, only to have the breeze to pick up, and dislodge the bee, or blow a leave across the bee just as I am ready to take the shot! However overall, on this short trip, I was reasonably fortunate.

MOT Visit – Photo Therapy

          Unable to do anything but wait at the Showroom whilst my car has its MOT Inspection Carried out, I resort to the only activity guaranteed to relieve any Stress or Boredom – taking pictures!
          As I always bring a camera along in case there are new vehicles which might interest me, I came with the handy small camera ideal for such occasions, the Lumix FZ10002, which allows for wideangle through to telephoto, so after taking a wander both upstairs and down, I then went outside and found a suitable break in the hedge to reach the path alongside the Parking Area where New and Secondhand Models are located, and chose a few vantage points that highlight the architecture of the Building. Sadly the light was less than ideal, as there was edge to edge Cloudy Gloom, but these photos were not destined for a glossy brochure, but simply an exercise in viewpoint selection to make the best of the interesting design, it mattered not.
          The end result is a 5x3 grid of pictures that allowed me to breathe fresh air,  remain calm, and lessen the time spent till I was called to sign off and pay for my Service. I was able to do this earlier than I had feared, so duly grateful. In return, Perhaps someone looking at the blog might even pay Thurlow Nunn a visit as a result of seeing the shots of the building inside and out…

Friday, 19 June 2020

Bedford Priory-Grebe-Omitted Sequence

          In my last blog entry's images I extracted some interesting shots of a Grebe and its single offspring and their observed relationship, but then forgot to introduce it to the same blog entry. I shall now put that omission to right!
          I feel privileged to have witnessed the interaction I captured. I wonder just what the Correct interpretation Is? At the time I kept hoping the parent would take more interest in the youngster, especially as up till that moment, I had always felt the Grebe was a model of exemplary parenting!
          I suppose that now I shall never know, unless a Specialist Grebe Expert is able to interpret the behaviour from the edited sequence of images I have displayed; they are in the original sequence. The Grebeling displayed regret.

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Priory Park Bedford — Nature Abounds


              I knew that the roads would be busier than of late, but definitely, it was immediately obvious that traffic behaviour was less aware than it had been before the LockDown; it struck me strongly that skills and awareness had yet to return to normal; I had barely been on the A421 from the Slip Road for a couple of minutes when the car in the left lane began moving into the outer lane in which I was now travelling; it could have simply been a momentary lapse on that driver’s part, but since the car was barely going faster than the vehicle being passed, and there was no indication, it alerted me to there being less traffic awareness due to a  long period of low volumes of traffic. From that moment on, I was on higher alert!
              The SatNav was set for Priory Park, in the hope of finding plenty of activity from birds on the lake, in the woods, and in the air, I was not to be disappointed. It was better news from the cycling fraternity on this occasion, they were far better behaved than the car driver I had recently encountered! Surprisingly, the Car Parks were not full, but since the sun was from a minimally clouded sky, I opened the sunroof to the tilted position, and slid the cover forward to keep the interior from roasting.
              I had come with the LUMIX fz10002, and a spare battery, so left the soft case in the boot, and strolled into the small closed-off area in case there was anything of note, but the Jackdaws I had noted and heard, remained in cover with only a few swift excursions, I suspected they were tending to their young from the excited chatter, but never spotted the nest. My stay there was very short.
              I was soon heading into more quiet, wooded areas before venturing lakeside where I spotted a swan gliding along the shoreline, then a far more purposeful pair of Grebe. I soon began looking at the banks and reeds, at far more of the smaller denizens; damselflies, often paired up with customary heart-shaped linking and also dragonflies. Then, on one of the lakes carpetted with tiny green vegetation — algae? 
              As I moved around the paths, I also found numerous ladybirds, of at least two differing species, whereas there seemed less diverse butterfly species. Soon, a violent flapping alerted me to a Heron breaking cover and flying through the tops of nearby trees, and this was proof, if I needed it that this LUMIX was an ideal tool for a more relaxed photography trip under such circumstances — ladybirds, butterflies to heron, and on to landscapes! And, all without the encumbrance of a heavy tripod! I was very fortunate that I spotted the heron landing close to its nest, as since I carry no binoculars, I would otherwise never had got the static shot.
              I also managed to get shots of circling black-headed gulls in flight. Catching sight of a couple of anglers soon after, I got shots of an interesting remote-controlled gadget for discerning the depth and weed cover beneath the lake’s surface, by traversing the area and sending back results to the operator onshore. This gives the angler the advantage of knowing where to place bait, and how to avoid line entanglement by weeds. To a non-angler this seems slightly less than sporting. It does however seem fairer than a wartime pursuit of lobbing hand grenades!
              Mallard males tend to be aggressive in their pursuit of either potential suitors and sometimes females, and though I might find this aggression disagreeable, it does make for excellent detail when fortunate enough to be using a fast shutter speed as it is a good advertisement for lens quality!
              Overall, I was pleased with the variety of images for this outing, but disappointed that much processing time was lost due to my car being serviced and a lack of replacement courtesy car meant being marooned till the work was completed.

Sunday, 14 June 2020

Brogborough Lake Opens Partially

              The relaxation of the Lockdown saw Brogborough Lake open solely for members of the windsurfing club, so for my photography of the action, I was stationed outside the club boundary to photograph activity on the lake for both the natural bird and insect life, as well as the activity of the windsurfing community. So for the present, my not being a member precludes my presence within the bounds, so I set up just outside the Club area in the second spot with access to the water’s edge of the lake. Set up here, if the wind died down, there existed the opportunity to photograph the indigenous dragonflies and damselflies, and the windsurfers, if the wind kept the insect life at bay.
                  The wind direction meant that the windsurfers spent their activity at the distant end of the lake so, coupled with the natural lulls kept them at a distance from where I was located. Also, the narrow angle of view afforded from this spot, by the reeds also limited my opportunities for capturing the action on the lake. I came here without a firm idea as to what subjects I would capture, so the content of what I would be shooting was entirely down to happenstance. There were a few more hydrofoil craft than on my previous visits, as well as the kite sail in the hands of Sam Barnes. 
                  I also added a few more shots to my collection of cloudscapes. The main regret concerning the shots of the windsurfers is that all the activity took place at a distance, and with a restricted angle of view, but it was good to feel less restricted than hitherto recently.

Tuesday, 9 June 2020

Marston Lake Afternoon

 
I drove to nearby Marston Lake, having first ascertained that it was open once again. I parked up at the very first swim, where there was already a parked car, that I believe belonged to the local bailiff, but I could see no sign of anyone nearby, so perhaps he was checking out the various anglers on foot. After a while having taken a look across the lake to see just who was around, I returned to the car, to make my way around further swims to gain some idea of what life there was around the lake. It was very quiet on the lake, with a lone swan close to the far shore, and a few black-headed gulls endlessly working their way around the lake generally a short way offshore for most of the time, would drop to the water presumably in search of fish close to the surface.
I stopped at each swim as I made my way round the road to get differing views of what life there was on the lake, and disappointingly, it was the quietest time I had spent there, perhaps possibly due in part to the cloudy and cool weather; there was minimal birdsong, or calling. Along the way as I travelled between the various swims, I would chat to any anglers I met to question whether they had seen or heard the Woodpecker I had come across at one of my earlier trips to this lake, or had sightings of the Grebe I had come across before I learned of the mink, which gave me cause to wonder whether it was this incident that caused the Grebe to disappear.
l parked the car at the last swim accessible to the car, and took a walk to the last few swims, and finding no one, returned and took out my Sigma Sports lens — initially using it with the attached 2x Converter. With the front two Benbo tripod legs placed in the water,  I set up the camera as low as it would go, so that I could sit on the bank and be as close to level with the eyepiece to shoot. At first  I took some shots of the water lilies, and then the mating water boatmen both walking on water and on the flat lily leaves, bobbing in the wind-rippled water. I watched the gulls as they flew just a few yards from the shore, occasionally swooping down to the water presumably to catch some fish.
As I was at the bank with two of the tripod lengths in the water (a feature made possible using the Benbo tripod) so I could shoot from as low a viewpoint as possible, a Swan I recognised, due to its noticeable swelling to its neck came in close — I judged rightly or wrongly, assuming I might offer it food, but I verbalised my apologies in case it might bridge the species divide. Capturing this varied subject matter, especially the panning shots of the gull on the wing, provided me with the opportunity to continue to hone my skills with fast-moving and somewhat unpredictable direction changes, and overall I did manage to retain focus much of the time. The only noticeable failure on my part was moving the focus point around the screen; somehow that feature eluded me absolutely, so I shall have to consult the manual to work out how to unlock this currently stubborn resistance to my moving it from the centre of the screen!
This flaw apart, it was good to be using this camera and lens combo once again, but this hiatus has allowed me to get to grips with the Lumix, so the LockDown period has had some side benefits. I am hoping that in future handling, either will not be too daunting a readjustment between both cameras.

Saturday, 6 June 2020

Return of the BrogLake Windsurfers

Unlike the last visit to the lake at Brogborough, on this occasion, the wind returned, and the sun beamed from a background of Cumulus Clouds scudding by. On this occasion I brought out my Full-frame EOS R with the 60-600mm lens and 2x Converter to give it an airing, and dust off my cobwebs on its use! I wanted to keep operating from a low-level, but this was not as easy as in the past, because the Swans and Canada Geese had taken advantage of the lack of Anglers’ Activity and reclaimed the shore by layering it with Guano! I searched the nearby expanse of thin reeds for suitable bricks to build myself a seat as close to the water’s edge, yet give my tripod some ground clearance, and settled to see what my subjects would be on this visit. Certainly the wind did not favour the Dragonflies and Damselflies, but as I set up, my first subjects entered Stage Left – two families of Canada Geese rode the waves close by the shore. Once my presence was noticed they chose to head for deeper water, but not swift enough for me to miss the opportunity!
The  relaxing of the LockDown regulations had allowed for a few to take advantage of the sunshine and more importantly the steady wind to attract members of the Windsurfing community to the water, from the moment of a few coming into view, my subjects for the visit’s photography turned to human activity! The new season brought two new sails to the lake, and I had to ask what this new kit was called, and learned they were wingsails from Emma Barnes, to avoid showing my ignorance! Certainly, I took more shots of these, but only put those of interest into the gallery, with a couple of shots of a particularly spectacular wipeout! Also to keep my hand in I grabbed a few shots of the aerial activities of a Blackheaded Gull as it was in range. I noted that several gulls were tending to follow the windsurfers for chances of the windsurfers distracting their prey and giving them a chance to swoop in.
Another opportunity was for me to capture skyscapes for their use as backgrounds for greetings cards, as there were some soaring Cumulus clouds around. The spot from which I was shooting was less than ideal due to the reeds and the wind direction, giving me a restricted angle of view, but it was an enjoyable afternoon to be out with a camera I had not used for a while.

Thursday, 4 June 2020

Brogborough’s Lake Life

  The warmth and sunshine invited me to the nearby lake at Brogborough that would normally be the venue of Windsurfers when the wind provided the power for the practitioners to perform; but on this occasion, the water was barely ruffled by more than a whisper of a breeze, and the origins of the lake could clearly be seen by the abundance of bricks that lie strewn below, close to the shore. Amongst the reeds, the dragonflies occasionally landing would create momentary stirs in the stillness and, if the perch seemed too insecure the dragonfly would take to the air in an instant. The damselflies with their lesser weight were more patient, and on occasion, even when coupled with a mate could be seen congregating on a single reed stem.
It was this life I had come to record, as on the last visit I had spotted their arrival in small numbers, and the week long warmth had resulted in an explosion of activity since my earlier visit. I sat down intending to stay at the nearest bay to the entrance to the field, careful to avoid the Swan’s and Geese’ droppings, but after a short while I felt I needed to be closer to the water’s edge, so returned to the car for my small rucksack that has a cushion within, I use for such eventualities. I also picked a few bricks from around, to give me a sound base.
A short way into the water was a small group of bricks that I suspect was an earlier addition by either an angler as a support, or by another ‘Smudger’* as a prop for the likes of dragonflies to alight and provide a ‘natural’ backdrop lapped by water. Certainly, both Dragonflies and damselflies visited this small outcrop of bricks as did simple flies, and it is a workable distance from the nearby bank to serve the purpose of providing a resting place for these species to be captured by photographers. I have now provided a temporary seat as yet not covered by incontinent geese and swans!
I later found a sun-bleached wooden plank from another ‘Swim’ to give a clearer backdrop to see whether it attracted as a landing pad for Dragonflies, and it proved successful, but may well be removed by following anglers. Fortunately, the current Camera, (Lumix FZ10002) that accompanies me works well at these distances, but once the limitations due to the current restrictions are lifted, I will go back to using my longer lenses and larger format, but before that period ends I do wish to get some help to try to more fully understand how to reprogram some of its controls to allow me more instant access to some of its functions. Looking into the capture data afterwards, I do note, I could have lowered the overall sensitivity to lessen the Noise more when the sunshine is so prevalent, or to add greater depth of field, by stopping further down. 

          *Smudger was an early, sometimes mildly derogative description of a travelling photographer.

Sunday, 31 May 2020

Sunny Priory Park, Bedford

Supposedly a tentative loosening of LockDown, but the roads were busy with traffic, and the Car Parks at Priory Park, Bedford we’re filling steadily, I found one of the few vacant spaces in my chosen one. In the branches of a tree above a black bird sang heartily, and a robin came from the bushes to the path seemingly searching for food. Poppies bloomed in the grass alongside the path, and numerous dog roses bloomed in the hedgerows, out on the lake parent Canada Geese formed a close guard on their young as did the Greylags. Watching the ducklings, there are often some more adventurous than others, but the parents were keeping a wary eye out for those that strayed. Early on I was pleased to see a Grebe or two, but these were adults. I soon took the less-travelled paths and found numerous mating pairs of damselflies, and dragonflies in reasonable numbers on the reeds.
On the water in the smaller lakes, were Mallard families, as well as more Canada geese groups, out on various handy perches were gulls relaxing and watching for potential prey. I soon found a Grebe with a single youngster nestled on its back, and from its condition, I suspected it may have had a fight to protect its young as normally Grebe are very well groomed, and this one looked tousled. The floating lilies were yet to open, but those in the reed margins were well ahead. In the trees were a pair of nesting Heron, but In the distance, and  had I not been in conversation with a lady photographer and her husband, I would not have seen them, and although I was able to get a shot; armed with only my handy LUMIX, this was definitely a shot for my grown-up camera and it’s 60-600mm lens preferably with its 2x Converter! Perhaps with the lessening of restrictions I will return with the EOS R!
Perhaps the highlight of my visit on this occasion was to squat down and capture the lengthy grooming of a swan, which I found fascinating; the swan seemed to have all the time in the world to ensure its plumage was in tip-top condition. It did keep its beady eye on me at frequent intervals, but never once showed any animosity towards my interest. It had evidently been at this task for some while due to the evidence of white down all around! I stayed at this spot for quite a time, in the main due to my fascination in how it was able reach every part of its body, yet for 99% of the time I was there, it only occasionally lifted one or other leg simply to extend its reach and retain balance. During my time spent at this spot, a group of young lads who had been present on my arrival, had a visit from other friends before finally leaving; the couple with whom I had chatted earlier and a Czech pair of girls were the only people that ventured to this location. One of the two girls had gone to the end where the lads had been earlier, but when the swan I had been observing came up to the path, unwittingly they had become separated either side of the swan! Once I realised the girl had wanted to rejoin her friend, but was afraid of the swan’s intention, I told her to slowly walk past, and it would be fine, and she definitely was not going to move fast, as I could appreciate from the look on her face! The second girl did speak English, so she translated my suggestion and very tentatively the nervous colleague passed the swan and joined her friend. I then watched the swan return to the water’s edge, but missed the full extent of its stretch and flap to remove the last of the down, and its actual launch into the water.
I do have a very full set of images of the mammoth preening I had witnessed. Appearance for a swan is definitely a high priority! After this spell, I made my way back to the more public area, and got a few shots of youngsters sailing dinghies, and got a closer shot of the Grebe and Grebeling, and a Magpie wandered across my path, on my return to the car.
Altogether a very enjoyable way to enjoy the afternoon in the Park, I suspect it will not be too long before my camera becomes the EOS R with the Sigma 60-600mm and I am lugging a heavy tripod once more! I am also hoping to speak to an expert on the LUMIX who can help me to set up some of the controls to improve access to those I need speedily!

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Brogborough Lake Path Walk

Since the Lake is not open for Windsurfing or Angling currently, I parked to one side of the gate to avoid blocking access, and entered the path that encircles the lake along with my currently ever-present LUMIX camera, ironically in the hope of capturing this year’s Dragonflies, but although they were around, they rarely settled, or hovered awhile, and also rarely came close, whereas the damselflies were numerous and were even to be found In the field margins.
There were spiders either hanging around or very busy linking up several different branches or leaf groups. I also noted a strange winged insect with long tails, but my first interesting bird was a distant Wagtail which, as I quietly manoeuvred closer would loop past me to hop around the same distance from me, but on the other side of me! I moved closer to it, but even more slowly, and have relied on cropping the images to use at a fair size. It kept me busy for a while, as it was rarely still for long, and they are interesting birds. I did get some shots of one Dragonfly, but at one stage the reed he was on fell into the water, and wet its wings, so when I spotted that it had become partially submerged, I got a small branch, and lifted the reed out of the water, so that it’s wings could dry out, and after five minutes, was relieved to witness him dry enough to flap his wings, and moments later take to the air. I was mightily relieved, and it lifted my spirits in realising I had likely saved its life.
Two Geese families soon appeared slowly from the right of me as the respective parents carefully watched me to see if I represented a danger, the appraisal lasted a couple of minutes, then both the Greylag and Canada Geese families slowly brought their charges gingerly past. They had judged that I was not a danger, and both sets of parents kept their young close as they passed by; so they were still taking no chances.
I had thought that the Dog Roses would soon have finished flowering since I had seen the first of them quite some time back, but they were still making a good showing as I continued walking further around the lake. The still waters on this trip meant that it the bottom of the lake clearly showed the origins of their past life as the numerous bricks were evidence of where they had been unceremoniously dumped if they were damaged or otherwise sub-standard. At least now the large planting of trees and expanse of water coloured by the reflection of extensive blue sky and high thin clouds made a most attractive sight, which once the current Lock Down becomes a distant memory will return to, become the background to joyous human activity for Windsurfers, Hydrofoilers, Paddle-boarders and Swimmers, not forgetting the Swans, Ducks and Geese that call this expanse of water their home too.
On this trip, I spotted later a gap in the bushes where a small makeshift bridge had been built over the stream, and decided to risk crossing over, and found myself on a raised bank, with a path bathed in shafts of light from gaps in the cover of leaves which attracted the flying of hoverflies. I decided here was an interesting challenge for this camera, to try to capture then in flight, or possibly static on the back of my hand, but this is one activity that is hard to master using a mirrorless camera, but I do like a challenge, and I spent fully half an hour in attempting to capture at least one, in flight. It was not going to be a great shot, but that was no reason not to make the attempt! They do not match the quality of the rest of the images, but it occupied my brain hand and arms, and I hoped the hoverflies might take a leaf out of the lone fly’s book, by realising I meant no harm.
My last two shots were of the shadows cast by shafts of sunlight through the trees that silhouetted some of the taller weeds in the wide verge.

Friday, 22 May 2020

A Country Garden; Flowers, and Birds

I travelled further afield, and put the camera to the test once again to capture the Summer Colour of late Spring in an English Country Garden, and the beauty that abounds. Some flowers are now beginning to fade, but new ones begin to take their place, all under a cloudless sky and in very warm sunshine.
On my journey, it was noticeable how recent talk from the government had already had an effect on the volume of traffic, both of vehicles, and upon both families and individuals taking advantage of the great outdoors. Fortunately, I found that overall behaviour seemed controlled and relaxed, I just hope that the coming weekend retains the same reserve, and that common sense prevails and restraint is observed, so that no rise occurs in infection.
The gallery on this occasion depicts interesting young birds being fed by a parent, and the colours of flowers at this moment in the season. I feel very privileged to be given the opportunity to capture the results of the owner’s hours of diligent work.
Once again, all these photographs have been taken using the eminently versatile LUMIX FZ10002, and handheld, and had I not been wearing a bright blue shirt,  I might have been able to approach a tad closer on occasion, and it was certainly a joy to work silently and not disturb the young Starlings whilst being fed. I am exceedingly pleased that I bought the camera earlier in the year, because my much heavier gear being toted around during this enforced Lock Down would definitely have attracted adverse comments whereas this camera attracts no interest by either humans or the wildlife!
I was rather surprised by a Mallard on a nearby roof ridge, that was not what I expected of a duck! Altogether a very satisfactory way to spend an afternoon.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Riverpark, Bedford — What LockDown?

I decided that although I was very much aware that almost anywhere I chose to visit would be crowded, so would require careful navigation — there were two possible Bedford locations large enough to make keeping my distance acceptably straightforward. On this occasion, that destination was Riverpark. Close by the car Park, was a quiet enclosed area which naturally drew me in! Though my camera was  to hand, the reaction of a Muntjac is way faster, especially for a mirrorless camera, but despite my speedy reaction, it had disappeared from view way faster than I was capable, I did marginally better with a rabbit a while later, but rear ends of most animals fleeing are rarely of great note! But, I kept the two shots of its exit.
An overflying light aircraft gave the chance to practice my skills at shooting distant, moving subjects when out and about with this mirrorless LUMIX FZ10002. The most serious handicap with this camera is focussing in fussy scenes, or more detailed backgrounds behind a small or diffuse subject. I need to speak to someone with an understanding of how to set up custom controls so I can speedily alter apertures to define the depth of field I might need.
Other subjects that I managed at least some shots were damselflies and Demoiselle butterflies, ducklings, goslings, Swans and Jackdaws, and an overflying helicopter, which is testament as to how versatile is the LUMIX with its fixed zoom lens. I enjoyed the exercise, and it was good to see that all the youngsters behaved well with the birds and their young, and everyone I came across were very respectful of distancing at all times.
There are numerous well-shaded paths, that wend their way around small lakes, and I spent quite some time sitting on a conveniently sited stone by one of those small lakes capturing shots of the activity in amongst the reeds. When I next venture out I will likely visit the river Great Ouse, but walk in the opposite direction to the one I took on my last a fortnight or so back.