Autumn In The Ariege: a week-long workshop with Simon Stafford, 19th – 26th October


Autumn In The Ariège
19th – 26th October 2013

Led by Simon Stafford, this week-long workshop has been arranged to provide you with the opportunity to indulge yourself with your camera in the peace and tranquility of a quiet, rural corner of south-western France.

The Ariège is one of the original departments (counties) created as a result of the French Revolution and takes its name from the River Ariège. Although predominantly a farming area, over half of it is mountainous with extensive forests and remains largely unknown. The region has had a rich, varied and at times violent history stretching back through the Middle Ages and far beyond to the Prehistoric period.

During the six full days of photography you will have the opportunity to shoot environmental portraits of colourful local characters, capture the rich culture of French rustic life and its historic architecture, plus photograph the diverse and spectacular landscape.


From the base at Manzac with its glorious view of the Pyrenees you will explore some of the many unspoilt villages and towns, which have seen little, if any, change in decades; for example the traditional Sunday market at Montbrun Bocage. Here, in addition to the traders, their wares and customers, you will find some of the inhabitants engrossed in games of pétanque.

Other locations will include Rieux Volvestre with its historic cathedral, many medieval timbered buildings, magnificent river bridge and impressive weir complex, while at Maz d’Azil you will marvel at the way the River Arize has carved out a huge cave in the limestone rock, where evidence exists of cave dwelling from 20,000 years ago.


Photographing local people will be high on the agenda, both in their typical environment, such as the many artisans, including blacksmiths, millers, potters, and cabinet-makers, together with more formal photographic portraiture of models in the purpose built daylight studio at Manzac. In the studio sessions Simon will not only demonstrate techniques of working with natural light, but also provide instruction in the use of small, portable camera flash units, so you can shoot pictures with complete control of the lighting to extend your creativity.

The landscape of the region offers many opportunities for photography, so it will also form a major subject during the workshop, which has been timed so you can capture the glorious autumnal colours. There will be visits to a number of interesting and inspiring locations, including Roquefixade with its impressive ruined 13thcentury Château.


he number of places on this exclusive workshop will be limited to a maximum of eight to ensure that each photographer has ample time for their photography and plenty of opportunities to consult with Simon. Access to all the locations is easy and will require no more than a basic level of fitness.


Day 1: Arrive at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport, where Simon will greet you. Transfer by road to Manzac (approx. 1 hour). Welcome to Manzac and introduction to your hosts, followed by a short briefing on the week’s activities.

Day 2: The day will be spent photographing local French culture and architecture, starting with a visit to the street markets at Montbrun Bocage.

Day 3: An early start to a landscape location to photograph the sunrise. During the middle part of the day we will photograph details in the landscape, before moving to another landscape location for sunset.

Day 4: A day photographing local French culture and architecture; in the morning there will be a visit to the street market at Montesquieu-Volvestre, followed by spending the afternoon at Rieux Volvestre.

Day 5: The morning session will involve location photography of artisans at work; during the afternoon there will be a session devoted to portrait photography in the daylight studio at Manzac.

Day 6: A full day of landscape photography in the regions of Roquefixade and Montségur with their spectacularly located ruined châteaux.

Day 7: A morning of environmental portraiture photographing local artisans. During the afternoon Simon will lead a session devoted to the use of flash photography for portraiture both in the studio at Manzac and outdoors.

Day 8: Simon will hold a review session during the morning, looking through your pictures from the week to offer some final words of advice before closing the event. Following lunch you will be taken to Toulouse-Blagnac Airport.

Please note that it may be necessary to alter the itinerary at short notice subject to the prevailing weather conditions, or any other factor that may affect your photography. This will be done at the discretion of the workshop leader.



Simon will be with you throughout the trip to offer guidance in a relaxed and informal manner, with the purpose of helping you learn and gain more from your passion for photography. He has a wealth of knowledge to share, so you will be encouraged to seek instruction and ask questions to ensure you make the most of the photographic opportunities.

Feedback on your pictures is crucially important to help you develop and hone your photography skills; Simon will be keen to provide this at anytime on a one-to-one basis and during the more formal tuition sessions, if you are willing to show your work, within the group.


Throughout the workshop you will be accommodated at Manzac, a fully restored 19th century farmhouse with a complex of attached gites, owned and run by British couple, Giles and Louise Nevill.

For further details visit the Manzac web site.

To see what others have said about Manzac take a look at the feedback on the Trip Advisor web site.

Each guest will have their own twin, or double room, with private en-suite bathroom and toilet, together with access to several communal lounge areas, and the private garden.

You will stay on a full-board basis and the price is inclusive of all meals and beverages, with the exception of two meals, a lunch and a dinner, which are taken in local restaurants, each at an estimated cost of €30 per head. Meals are prepared on the premises and use local produce whenever possible; please note that if you have any specific dietary requirements these can be catered for. On days when we venture a little further from Manzac a packed lunch will be provided.

Price & Booking

£1,349 per person for a current standard Nikon Owner subscriber.

£1,189.00 per person for a Nikon Owner gold subscriber (i.e. a £160.00 discount for a gold subscriber).

A deposit of £350.00 is required to confirm a booking. The balance is due 70 days prior to departure.

What is included: Transfer from/to Toulose-Blagnac Airport, full board accommodation, inclusive of all meals and drinks taken at Manzac (with the exception of the two meals taken in local restaurants), all transport during the workshop, all photographic tuition, plus the services of the models for the studio based and environmental portrait sessions.

What is NOT included: Travel to/from Toulose-Blagnac Airport, two meals taken at local restaurants (estimated cost of €30 per meal per head), tips, personal/travel/medical/photographic equipment insurance, all sundry expenses of a personal nature, including any food or beverages purchased while away from Manzac.

Toulose-Blagnac Airport is served by a variety of airline companies operating from a number of locations throughout the U.K. and Europe. It is the sole responsibility of each guest to arrange travel to Toulose-Blagnac Airport.

Please note that further details of the workshop, a list of recommended equipment, together with some general photographic advice, plus the full terms and conditions of booking are available in a PDF document that will be sent via email upon request to: (please quote: Autumn in the Ariège 2013)


Please note the number of places has been limited strictly to ensure each guest has ample opportunity for photography and tuition time with Simon Stafford.

To register, please email your full name, postal address and postcode, as well as your daytime mobile and landline to Gillian Greenwood:

If you are also a current Nikon Owner subscriber, please add your user name and subscription number to the email.

Due to the limited number of places do register as soon as you are able to in order to avoid disappointment. If you do not subscribe to Nikon Owner currently, please would you be kind enough to make a note of this in your email. In order to receive the discount, if you would like to do so, you will be able to either upgrade your subscription or re-join Nikon Owner as a gold subscriber when I call you to acknowledge your booking registration.

Please note that it is essential that you reply by email rather than by telephone.

About Nikon Owner noci-magazines (1)

Standard Annual Subscription – normal price: £69; special price: £59 when booking this week-long workshop

  • 1-year Subscription to Nikon Owner + 3-year warranty on all new Nikon products from Grays of Westminster
  • Nikon Owner magazine, a superb, glossy full-colour 60-page quarterly magazine that is 100% Nikon. Each issue delivers benchmark technical reviews of the very latest Nikon equipment, thought-provoking interviews and articles with world-class images. All back issues are now available on line as PDFs.
  • Private user-name and password to subscribers-only website
  • Simon Stafford’s Technical Helpline
  • 18-month warranty on second-hand Nikon from Grays of Westminster
  • 10% off Think Tank bags purchased at Grays of Westminster
  • Special trips and events
  • Discounts on events and training sessions
  • 10% off any training courses run by Nikon UK

Gold subscription: – special price: £231 when booking this week-long workshop

  • 3-year subscription to Nikon Owner
  • 5-year warranty on all new Nikon products from Grays of Westminster
  • 2-year warranty on second-hand Nikon from Grays of Westminster
  • Gold Priority waiting list for all new Nikon releases (top of the waiting list)
  • A half-hour tutorial on the phone or face to face, by appointment
  • Special offers to Gold subscribers throughout the period of subscription
  • A signed copy of Heather Angel’s Wild Kew while stocks last or a Simon Stafford Nikon Magic Lantern Guide of your choice.
  • Nikon Owner quarterly magazine as above
  • Private user-name and password to the subscribers-only website which includes a forum, message board, technical equipment reviews, events page and use of a photo gallery
  • Simon Stafford’s Technical Helpline
  • 15% off Think Tank bags purchased at Grays of Westminster
  • Special trips and events
  • Substantial discounts on training sessions organised by Grays of Westminster, including Mike Maloney’s Workshops, Heather Angel’s Wildlife & Natural History Workshops, Simon Stafford’s Definitive Flash, Portraiture and Macro Training Sessions, Michael Eleftheriades’ panoramic and colour-calibration seminars and Chris Weston’s Photographic Courses.
  • 10% off any training courses run by Nikon UK

With very best wishes,
Gillian Greenwood
Features Editor and Events & Training Coordinator

DISCLAIMER: Nikon Owner magazine and Grays of Westminster are only taking the initiative of arranging and facilitating this week-long workshop on the strict understanding that they are solely acting in an introductory capacity and anyone planning to come will be deemed to have agreed that they fully understand this as a condition of joining, and that no liability whatsoever is accepted either by any of the organisers, Grays of Westminster or Nikon Owner magazine in this regard.



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