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Thread: Interview with Landscape Moderator and BPN Associate Producer Robert Amoruso

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    Moderator Julie Kenward's Avatar
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    Default Interview with Landscape Moderator and BPN Associate Producer Robert Amoruso

    This week we’re talking to BPN’s Associate Publisher , BPN Co-owner and Landscape Forum moderator, Robert Amoruso.

    Robert currently lives with his wife, Cynthia, in Orange County, Florida (near Orlando), but is originally from Rhode Island. He’s also lived in Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, Texas, New York, and Kentucky during his lifetime.

    He got his start in photography when he was around 17 years old with a Mamiya 35mm film camera. He moved onto Minolta and, at one point, owned five different cameras including their professional models and their first AF camera, the Minolta Maxxum. He later moved to Nikon film cameras and Bronica 6x4.5cm medium format. For many years, he also used 4x5, primarily in black and white. In 35mm, he shot color negative, color slide, and black and white (Tri-X being a favorite). He made the switch to digital cameras in 2003 with the purchase of a Canon Rebel, followed up by Canon 10D and then he later progressed to the 20D, 1D, 1Ds and 1D Mark III. He currently uses a Canon 7D and 5D Mark II. He had his own darkroom through the years and processed slide film, but mostly black and white in 35mm and 4x5 sheet film.

    To see Robert’s current work, you can look through his Bosque 2009 album here on BPN or head over to Robert’s website or blog.

    Now let’s get to know Robert a little better!

    Do you consider yourself to be a professional, semi-pro, or student?

    Professional, though I do not derive the majority of my income from it.

    If you’re not a pro, what’s your day job?


    Though still considering myself a pro, I am also co-owner of an engineering services company whose primary clients are window and door manufacturers.

    What do you do when you’re not out with a camera in hand?


    As a co-owner of PTC Product Design Group, I am the company’s Licensed Professional Engineer in charge of the company’s day-to-day operations. This includes managing projects to completion, dealing with the clients, interfacing with the Florida Building Commission and in responsible charge of two other engineers.

    The company’s main thrust is assisting manufacturers of exterior building components (windows, doors, siding, soffits, roofing, vents, solar collectors, most anything that is an exterior component to a building) in obtaining compliance to the Florida Building Code and a process known as Product Approval required by state law.

    What make/model of equipment do you use on a regular basis?


    Currently a Canon 7D and 5D Mark II.

    My Landscapes lenses are Canon 24mm; 45mm and 90mm Tilt/Shift lens Manual Focus; Canon 17-40mm, non-IS; Canon 24-105mm, IS; and the Canon 70-200mm f/4 L, IS.

    For avian and other wildlife, I use the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS; Canon 100-400mm f/4-5.6 L IS; Canon 70-200mm f/4 L, IS; and a 1.4x teleconverter.

    What editing software do you use?


    I use Breeze Browser Pro, Downloader Pro, and Photoshop CS5. I am starting to use Lightroom 3.x more and more. I also use Photomatix Pro and all of the Nik Software plugins.

    What classifications (or genres) of photography are you primarily known for or interested in? (i.e. Avian, Landscape, Macro, etc.)


    Avian, Landscapes (in Florida, primarily ocean and beach-related), and Wildlife (most animals that come my way but with a great interest in the Coastal Brown Bears in Alaska).

    When you’re not out photographing one of your primary interests, what else do you enjoy photographing?


    I particular like architecture, ships and boats, and most things related to the ocean (piers, etc.)

    Would you say your biggest strength lies in your technical skills with the camera, your artistic expression/interpretation, or your post-processing skills?


    Artistic expression/interpretation combined with equal technical skills to obtain my vision in camera.
    Post-processing skills would be next.

    Do you conduct any classes, seminars, or workshops?


    Yes, primarily in Florida (Gatorland, St. Augustine Alligator Farm and East Coast Central Florida) and the Coastal Brown Bears in Alaska.

    I have also presented and run workshops at the Titusville, FL Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival every year since 2007.

    Have you ever been published? Won any awards?


    Birds category of the 2006 Nature's Best Windland Smith Rice International Photography Competition
    3rd Place in Professional Category of National Audubon 2011 Photography Contest
    2nd Place in the Birds in Flight Category of Wildbirds magazine in 2011
    Regularly place in NANPA Showcase include Top-Ten

    What was it about photography that first drew you in?


    That’s a tough question. As a left brain engineer, the technical side of it intrigued me and still does but, as the years progressed, I continued to study the artistic side. I read books devoted to the subject and studied other photographer’s work to see how they composed images and manipulated light.

    I was first most interested in landscape photography and, to this day, consider it my prime passion. Living first in the Northeast and then later in the Southwest, I spent a good amount of time either in the mountains of New Hampshire and Maine or the deserts of Arizona, New Mexico and west Texas.
    Upon moving to Florida, I found the landscape perplexing and gravitated to photographing birds. All the while in Florida, I continued to pursue landscapes at the seashore – mostly sunrises and sunsets. With a natural love of the ocean from growing up in Rhode Island, the Ocean State, I find I’m always drawn back to it.

    Today I feel that my natural left brain technical side compliments my developing right brain artistic side quite well.

    What keeps you coming back for more?
    I love birds and I love to photograph them in an artistic way to enhance their natural beauty; that is why you will seldom see an image I create of them that does not have a near-perfect background. I strive to produce that look wholly in the field. To me, the background in the image is of utmost importance - many times more important than the subject itself.

    With landscapes, I love the interplay of light upon the shapes that make up the scene. I work to shape those elements into a pleasingly artistic arrangement that speaks to me, records for me how I feel about the natural splendor that is developing as the moments pass and the light plays its song upon the landscape.

    Whose work do you most admire and why?
    Landscapes – Ansel Adams (of course) but I would also include Galen Rowell, David Muench, Marc Muench, William Neill, and Frans Lanting. I am also discovering many great British and European photographers working in a manner I am studying including Joe Cornish, Charlie Waite and David Ward.

    Avian Photography – I would first have to mention Arthur Morris who introduced me to avian photography and taught me much of what I know – he continues to this day to do so like so many others. Since then, I have worked with Charles Glatzer, Jim Neiger, and James Shadle, all of whom have taught me much. My good friend, Robert O’Toole, is always a pleasure to be with. The best technical whiz with Photoshop that I know, he is also an extremely gifted photographer. His images always amaze me.

    Do you have any current mentors or muses? Anyone who’s rocked your world with their knowledge of photography?
    At this time, not really. As I mentioned earlier, I continue to find European photographers working in a manner I am currently exploring (that being long-exposure photography using neutral density filters - not just for sunrise or sunsets, but pretty much anytime). Oceans, seas, beaches and other bodies of water are popular subjects for this type of photography and, with my love of the ocean, it seems to be a natural for me. I guess it is more a “style” of photography then a particular person at this time.

    How have you personally grown and/or changed because of your love of photography?
    I find photography relaxing. I am generally an impatient sort but, in the field photographing birds or landscapes, I find I have more patience then I normally do in day-to-day life.

    I know some photographers that will spend all day with one bird to get an image but I am not that patient as I know something great may be happening around the corner. Afield, I find I am at peace with myself.

    Those that approach me in the field may find me aloof as I am intensely into the moment or in anticipation of the moment - many times to the point of ignoring them – though most times not purposely. I am hard of hearing and if I am concentrating and looking through the lens I will probably not even hear you.

    During my workshops, though, my utmost attention is given to my participants. I do little photography for myself with most of my images going to demonstrating principles to my students. That is what differentiates me from many other tour leaders - I am there to help them.

    Has your photographic style changed over time? If so, how?
    With avian images, I strive for a simple look, one of removing the bird from distracting elements. This is, of course, an inspiration from Arthur Morris.
    I have many people tell me my imagery differs from Artie’s and others of that ilk. When I ask them to describe it to me, minimalistic comes up. (I am still trying to quantify that particular question to myself with regards to my avian images.)

    On the other hand, my landscape style has pretty much remained consistent though most would not know it as few of my current followers and fellow photographers have seen much of my earlier work because it is all in negatives and slides.

    I strive for maximum depth of field in my images, believing in the old Group f/64 philosophy of “sharply focused and critically framed images” – no edge distractions and compositional elements laid out to move the viewer through the image in a deliberate way, etc. My images are non-manipulated in ways that depart from the original. However, I do embrace many of today’s new post-processing choices (such as HDR and enhanced tonal manipulation) that depart from that previously mentioned…an oxymoron if you will, in style.

    How has holding a camera to your eye changed the way you interact with the world around you?
    I constantly evaluate light. When I am out walking with my wife I will remark on the quality of light and how I wish I was someplace where I could make an image of it.

    I am always looking for birds. I quite readily see that Red-shoulder Hawk sitting it a tree.

    I feel that photography has enhanced my appreciation of nature and my desire to preserve it.

    Over the course of the last year, my wife and I have become Certified Florida Master Naturalists, fulfilling three core courses each lasting seven weeks. In December, we finished a special topic course on Conservation Planning. The Florida Master Naturalist Program is run by the University of Florida and I highly recommend it to anyone living in here that has an interest in the state’s environment. (Similar programs are also held in other states as well.)

    I have also become a board member of the Orange Audubon Society, my local chapter.

    How long have you been involved with BPN?
    I’ve been involved since its inception as one of the co-owners and publishers.

    How has being involved in our forums changed your photography?
    As a moderator, I have become much more knowledgeable in interacting with fellow photographers in explaining my feelings about their images. This experience helps me to better my photography; to critically consider my images and how they can be made better.

    Meeting interesting people and talented photographers is a great pleasure and I have learned a lot while participating in the forums. We have some outstanding minds that are very helpful by imparting their knowledge and lending their time to BPN.

    What’s been the best piece of advice you’ve gotten here at BPN?
    An oft-hand comment led me to investigate luminosity masking many years ago and it is now a mainstay of my post-processing techniques.

    What forum do you spend most of your time in? Why?
    Most of my time is spent in Landscape because it is my love and, also, because I am the prime moderator with some great help from Morkel Erasmus.

    I also contribute in Wildlife and Digital Workflow as a moderator.

    I also dabble around here and there were I can be most helpful.

    Got any advice for future photographers?

    Learn the basics. I find that many people who still cannot make a good exposure are out trekking to Africa and Antarctica. Stay close to home and hone the craft, at least the technical side, before going afield on expensive safaris only to return with mediocre images. Workshops with a pro are the best way to learn things quickly; always ask a lot of questions.

    What’s currently at the top of your photography dream list? (Where do you most want to go or what do you most want to photograph?)
    The Antarctic.

    More bears! I love bears and would especially like to photograph Polar Bears.

    Yellowstone – I have still not been there even though I have been to many of the National Parks.

    North Gannets and Loons are favorites that I would one day like to get up close to. I do have Gannet images when strong easterly winds brought them close to our eastern shore but I am looking to visit a Gannet nesting colony.

    A trip to the southwest (now that I am using digital), followed up by a trip to the Northeast.

    We’ve all heard the phrase, “You can’t take it with you” but if you COULD take it with you, what one camera body and lens would you strap around your neck for all of eternity and why?
    I am still looking for that one so I guess I need to stay alive for a while longer.

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    Jules


    __________________________________________________ ___________________________

    I'm a girl with a camera fetish. The only designer label you'll ever see me wearing is Canon. :)

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    BPN Member Hazel Grant's Avatar
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    Very interesting interview, Jules. Thanks.

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    Forum Participant Harshad Barve's Avatar
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    Great interview Jules ,
    TFS

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    Thanks for another great peek behind the lens Jules! I had the good fortune of meeting Robert last year down in Florida and shoot with him on the Hooptie Deaux for 1/2 a day. His comments are very helpful and encouraging. His work shows great versatility that is not found in many others work.

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    BPN Member Brendan Dozier's Avatar
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    Great interview, Jules. Nice to learn more about you, Robert. Whenever I visit the landscape forum, I always learn a lot from your critiques.
    © Brendan Dozier 2012

    www.brendandozier.smugmug.com

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    BPN Member Sid Garige's Avatar
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    Great job Robert and Julie.
    ----------------------------------------------------
    Siddhardha Garige
    http://www.luminepixels.com

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    BPN Member dankearl's Avatar
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    Robert is one of the most helpful and informative critics here.
    A very nice interview.
    He is never shy about giving critiques and advice that are useful.
    Not just the usual crop advice or whatever, he gives specific PP info and specific critiques that are very informative
    And useful.
    Although I don't post much in Landscape these days, having turned my interest more to birds and wildlife, I hope you will jump over every now and then as you do, to give me your insight and critique.
    It is really appreciated.
    Dan Kearl

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    Lifetime Member denise ippolito's Avatar
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    Another great interview Jules!
    Robert your images and talent are inspiring.
    A Creative Adventure
    PHOTOGRAPHY by denise ippolito


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    BPN Member Kaustubh Deshpande's Avatar
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    Robert, nice to know more about you. A great set of images to go with a fine interview by Jules.

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    Wildlife Moderator Steve Kaluski's Avatar
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    The voice behind the man, interesting interview, thanks guys.
    ARPS
    www.untamedimages.co.uk

    Photography should evoke more than it describes.

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    Avian Moderator Stuart Bowie's Avatar
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    Its always great to learn more about our fellow members.

    Well done for putting another great interview together Jules.

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    Super Moderator Daniel Cadieux's Avatar
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    Great interview. Robert is a great asset to BPN, and although I met him for half a day last year I'm glad I got to know him better now...

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    BPN Member Jamie Douglas's Avatar
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    Nice to learn more about you Robert and a nice interview Julie.
    Wildlife and Nature Photography by Jamie Douglas, please visit: www.jamiedouglasphotography.com






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    Wildlife / Landscape Moderator Morkel Erasmus's Avatar
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    It's great to get more insight into your person and art, Robert.
    It's a pleasure of working with you...
    Morkel Erasmus

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    Wildlife Moderator Rachel Hollander's Avatar
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    Thanks Robert and Jules for an interesting interview.

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    Another interesting and insightful interview, and those photos … beautiful.

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    I'm reading this interview long after it was published. Very insightful interview. He has a unique way of seeing things in the field. It is true that he spends most of his time teaching during workshops. I've been fortunate to do a workshop with him. Looking forward to more in the future.

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    Forum Participant Robert Amoruso's Avatar
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    Thanks to all for comment.

    Thanks Ravi. It was great working with you.

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