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Old 18-11-2008, 19:30   #1 (permalink)
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Visions of Light - Andy Rouse Seminar

This is more of a review than a Q/A so apologies if I have put it in the wrong place. As it isn't a camera or lens review I have put it here as a follow up to what I already said but Crew, if you think it needs moving, feel free

Visions of Light - A Day-long seminar series with Andy Rouse

Held at Arundel Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre, Sunday 16th November 2008.

I booked for this day back in September and frankly it was a real bargain. The cost was £50 for the day which included entry to the centre which is close on a tenner in itself. To make it even better, they also gave each of us a £25 gift voucher (no minimum spend) to use at Warehouse Express, sponsors of the event. Refreshments were also provided f.o.c.

Unfortunately the event sold out extremely fast so I know a lot of people who were disappointed but they are planning to do them again in the future.

The day was planned between 10am and 4.30pm and they were prompt to get started in every session so we didn't lose a minute. I hate going to these things and being told 'we'll just hang on for a few minutes' and have to wait for the people who couldn't be bothered to get there on time! So does Andy Rouse apparantly so no danger of that here!

Morning Sessions

The two morning sessions focused on wildlife photography, looking at loads of examples of AR's work with detailed comments on each one inc hints and tips on how to approach the shots. The pictures were shown direct from his own laptop so were the originals of the pictures you can see in his books. They were absolutely stunning and I found myself just being inspired by looking at them and hearing from a man totally absorbed by what he does.

AR's passion for wildlife, even above photography per se, really shown through. I got the feeling that if he had the choice of getting a once in a lifetime shot of a rare animal at the cost of that animal being distressed in any way, he'd drop the camera, enjoy the moment and not bother with getting a shot of it. It is that love for animals that makes him so good at what he does.

He has won more awards than you could fit in an IKEA show cabinet but he never came across as boastful in any way. He knows how good he is and he doesn't need affirmation from anyone else to prove it!

Afternoon sessions

After 90 minutes for lunch and a trip out into the wetland areas of the centre to take photos, accompanied by the man himself, we settled back into the auditorium for more words of wisdom and tuitional commentary.

Prior to the event, everyone registered to attend was invited to submit a photo into a special competition that would be judged by Andy Rouse. They had to fit the theme of Visions of Light and you could only enter one shot per person. That was quite a challenge and I really struggled to choose the one I would enter.

In the end I thought I would go for something a bit different to what most others were entering but if I am really honest it is partly because I knew most of the people coming were professionals and I didn't have a prayer of winning anyway! I didn't use natural light nor did I show a wildlife shot so I thought it would be ignored. For those familiar with my gallery, the shot I settled on was this one:

Penny-Farthing in lights! - Pixalo Photo Gallery

Well, I didn't win, no surprise there. However, although there was officially only one prize, more money to spend at Warehouse Express, AR said he found it impossible to select just one from so many so had picked 5 that he particularly liked and so he showed those and spoke about them. I am delighted to say that I made it into his top 5 and he gave a prize to all 5 of us: a signed coy of his book 'Understanding RAW photography'. I will do a review of the book in a few days but let me read it first!

Technical sessions

The main two sessions in the afternoon focused on technical aspects of taking photos and showing us his workflow from camera to computer and through to final print. I found it interesting though not hugely informative but that is mainly because he does virtually the same as I do anyway. I didn't find out anything new about Photoshop but in fairness I didn't go there to learn about Photoshop anyway!

What interested me far more was what he does when taking photos. I was delighted at this session as I totally concur with his methods (and if I didn't, I would change mine to suit his, he knows a lot more than i do!) in that he keeps things very simple.

He uses two bodies, one mounted with a telephoto and the other with a wide lens. That way he can switch easily and quietly. As for settings, this is basically his set up 90% of the time:

Both bodies set to ISO800 almost all the time but he is happy to go faster if needed.. He uses D3's which are renowned for their noise handling so ISO800 is virtually noiseless. He doesn't keep changing the ISO, just leaves it there.

Aperture is simple: for the telephoto he uses f4 to f5.6, mostly the latter. For the wide angle it is f11 or f16. That's it! No faffing around constantly changing things, if the light is the same, don't change the camera is the way he works.

Keep in mind that he tends to do the same type of shots, wildlife, so doesn't have t make as many changes as someone doing a wide range of different types of shots would. He happily admits that landscapes are not really his thing though he has learnt a lot from his friend Joe Cornish (another that i am a big fan of!) He also admits he is 'crap' (his word, not mine!) at macro so doesn't bother as there are plenty of others who can do it so much better.

In short, he knows what he is good at and sticks to that. He knows his animals really well so he understands their behaviour and what they are likely to do, when and where. That is the key to getting good wildlife shots, not knowing how to change apertures and shutter speeds on your camera!!!

He leaves his cameras ALWAYS in AI Servo as he very rarely uses a tripod so it is important that the camera compensates for slight movements of the body ad hands. He also never uses spot metering or even partial metering but just leaves it on full matrix but does use the different focus points when necessary.

He shoots exclusively in RAW so doesn't have to worry about white balance as he can sort that out later. However, he generally use the sunny white balance setting rather than the AWB. He said he never uses the cloudy setting, even on a cloudy day as it tends to warm the image too much with an orangey cast.

It is his simple approach that has helped him achieve some of the most fantastic photos that I believe a lot of people would miss because they are so busy faffing around with settings on the camera.

Conclusion

This was a fantastic day out and worth doble the amount I paid for it. I would do it again in a heartbeat and if you get the chance to go along, do so. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Cheers,
Rob
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Old 18-11-2008, 20:09   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Visions of Light - Andy Rouse Seminar

Sounds like you had a brilliant day, I don't know much about the guy but from what you say I like the way he works. I've made a mental note on his choice of leaving the camera on servo mode, makes sense when shooting wildlife, more importantly handheld. I must keep mine on.

Wonder if he will come up to sunny Scotland someday.
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Old 18-11-2008, 20:15   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Visions of Light - Andy Rouse Seminar

Thanks for the insight into the day Rob and congratulations in getting into the top five
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Old 19-11-2008, 00:34   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Visions of Light - Andy Rouse Seminar

Thanks for sharing this with us Rob

As a matter of interest, how many ppl attended?

I have his book 'Understanding RAW photography' TBH it's good for beginners + a bit interesting to flip through, but really if you're already comfortable working in RAW + have your own workflow, there's nothing new in the book really. Still, it's aimed at beginners (to RAW) after all.

The seminar was a bargain to be sure ... I felt sure the organisers must've made a mistake, but on AR's website he's promoting another event (that he's doing with Joe Cornish, of whom I'm also a fan) for just £20 per head It's great that they are obviously not just out to make money, but have made sharing their knowledge + expertise very affordable

Look forward to seeing some of your shots from the day Rob
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Old 19-11-2008, 16:25   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Visions of Light - Andy Rouse Seminar

Sounds as if you had a very enjoyable day out Rob, & good-man with the image.
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Old 19-11-2008, 20:16   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Visions of Light - Andy Rouse Seminar

There were just under a hundred people there Charlotte, the max the auditorium could hold. It sold out in under 48 hours so I got lucky really.

I didn't take an awful lot of pics on the day, did get a few but to be honest I was too busy sitting and chatting with Andy Rouse during lunchtime, felt I would pick up a lot more there than shooting ducks in the wetland areas

If I find a couple worth showing I'll stick 'em in the sharing thread

Cheers,
Rob
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Old 21-11-2008, 07:39   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Visions of Light - Andy Rouse Seminar

I also thank you for sharing this, it must be a pleasure to attend a seminar with someone like him.

Congratulation also for your Top-5 position, your picture is really great.

I will "hopefully" attend next year my first seminar with Arthur Morris. I have already the reservation and made the down payment.
If it all works out and I will be actually able to attend, I will post also a review.
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Old 25-11-2008, 08:53   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Visions of Light - Andy Rouse Seminar

A great account, Rob - and well done on your top 5 placing
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Old 28-11-2008, 19:02   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Visions of Light - Andy Rouse Seminar

Sounds great would love to see him if he comes to Edinburgh.
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