Five hours is quite a lot of travelling at both ends of a weekend & I thought long and hard about committing to this for a two day workshop. But the Intermediate/Advanced Digital Processing Weekend fitted with the processing skills I wanted to learn, so I went ahead and booked.
I'm so glad I did.
Arriving late on the Friday evening only gave me time to be introduced to the other participants, have a quick chat about why we were there and look at some images from David in which he had used the techniques we would be covering. My first impressions were good; a friendly welcome, a beer bought by our host, a venue well-suited to our needs and nice people to work with for the next two days. The latter was obviously beyond David's control, but it all added up to high hopes for the following days. I don’t intend to go in to detail, here, about the content of the course (that information can be found on David’s website) but rather upon the quality of the teaching.
Saturday morning saw us looking at some tips for optimising computer set-ups for photography; both Mac and PC users were catered for and questions were answered knowledgeably and thoroughly, without being overly geeky. Very occasionally over the weekend, David was asked questions to which he was not entirely sure of the answer, usually when there was a Mac/PC procedural difference. It was really refreshing that, when these rare events happened, David did not try to bluster his way through an answer, but rather state what he did know and make us aware that this was not a definitive answer. I'm sure that he later made a point to find out, though.
The day continued with ever more complex procedures which, at times, left one or two of us behind. This was exaggerated because we were trying to watch what David did on the projector screen, make notes on his actions and carry them out on our own computers. However, this did not go unnoticed & David quickly took control of the situation, suggesting (and, at times gently insisting upon) a learning model for us to use. This worked really well and resulted in much less ‘falling behind.’ I was also very impressed by David's deep understanding of the techniques he was teaching us; not just of the 'what to do', but also of the why we should do things in a certain way to encourage best practice. Some of these methods, he explained, were not always the quickest, but they always produced the most accurate, non-destructive results. We were also able to discuss how we might apply these techniques, singly or in combination, to achieve our artistic goals in a variety of situations.
Sunday saw us learning yet more techniques and the level of teaching matched our needs really well; there was just the right amount of recapping the previous day's work to allow us to build upon what we had learned. As a teacher, I appreciated this effective and professional approach which allowed us all to happily work through the skills being taught. There were, of course questions, and again these were all answered thoroughly and attention was given to the needs of individuals without being a hindrance to the group as a whole. The pace was good throughout the day and although there were one or two occasions when many of us failed to keep up, David's response was always patient and understanding, allowing us all to make the required progress. Unfortunately, due to train times and work the following morning, I had to leave before the end of the session, missing the culmination of a difficult selection technique. However, I emailed David that evening to ask what procedures I needed to implement to complete the task I was unable to finish and very quickly received a helpful, detailed answer. Great service.
Overall, this was a very successful weekend, despite the travelling time I needed. The content covered matched the course description and the teaching was of a high quality throughout. For me, the things that made it really succeed, were the way we were treated as individuals and that the course was delivered in a friendly, supportive way. Both of these themes were exemplified by an incident on the first day. One of the participants had problems with his laptop during the morning (we brought our own) which led to him not being able to follow a great deal of the day's content. David then spent some of his free time in the evening working with this individual to go through everything again and make sure he had reached the point where we had finished the day. This impressed me greatly, not just from a professional, teaching point of view, but also from a personal one. They are qualities all teachers should strive for.
This course sold out very quickly (as did the repeat of it in September) and I now fully appreciate why. David is an excellent teacher who delivers high quality content in a friendly, attentive way and I would highly recommend him and this course.
You can find details of other courses he runs, as well his his stunning images, at www.davidclappphoto.co.uk