Gone Camping with Chris Watson


I’ve just returned from a glorious vacation in the French Pyrenees. The first week was spent with 14 other curious and remarkably generous recordists. It was a one week course led by Camp and Chris Watson. I was first hipped to these workshops from my pals Bob and Bethan Kellough years ago, and I finally decided to attend one after being pestered by another pal, Rob Byers.

We all had the pleasure of learning from Chris Watson on a daily basis, while being regularly fed French baked goods and powerful mustards.[1] Each day, when it wasn’t raining, we’d head to beautiful locations that Chris scouted. It was almost impossible not to find beauty in the region.

One of the most striking visuals, aside from the surroundings, was seeing 14 other people hauling around esoteric gear in muddy fields and wet mountainsides. This field recording disease is typically a solitary affliction, and all of a sudden we all felt like we were on some all-star team. Everyone came from different backgrounds and experiences; the group was made up of musicians, birders, enthusiasts, programmers, teachers, writers, and the audio curious. Some just loved cheese.

Each individual brought their own ideas to the table and Chris created an environment that brought out contributions from everyone. I’ve never been part of such a free-flowing exchange of ideas. Everyone went looking and listening for different things and Chris was also there to help us find what we were looking for.

This is one spot down a path that Chris help me find. I’m rolling with a double-ORTF Schoeps right here[2]:

And while I was down that path, Chris Watson, Rob Byers and a sizable group of the crew were dunking hydrophones in a river:

Rob was also really lucky to capture these amazingly close up sounds of Tawny Owls.[3]

And this is an area with a large canopy and a ravine. This is the double-ORTF rig again:

I love the depth of the image and the sense of space. Just like Neal Diamond, I’m a believer. In his case it was when he saw her face, and in my case, it was when Schoeps saw Cooper.

  1. I learned on the first day that french mustard destroys all the American dijon mustard.  ↩
  2. Rig consists of Schoeps CMC5′s with MK4 capsules setup for double ORTF. It was tracked with a Cooper CS 104 feeding a Sound Devices 744T  ↩
  3. For some reason since I left, I’ve had Tawny Owl stuck in my head set to the tune of Call Me Al. I’m not happy about it. taw-NEEEE OWWWWL. Just taw-neee OWWWWLLLLL. Terrible. Rob’s rig consists of  Schoeps CMC5′s with MK4 and MK8 capsules setup for MS. It was tracked with a Cooper CS 104 feeding a Sound Devices 744T  ↩

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Michael Raphael May 30, 2019