Being new to playing in an orchestra, I'm a little flummoxed as to what the role of the conductor is and how I should be "using" the conductor. While I'm playing in the orchestra, I'm so fixed on the music in front of me (and what the rest of the section is doing) that the conductor could be doing about anything. In the end, I need to figure this out.
On this point (somewhat), here is a great post about conducting technique. I love the video at the end. If you have the chance, turn off the sound of the video and put on whatever music you'd like. It seems to work well with almost anything else. Its like the harmony between Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and the Wizard of Oz. Crazy man.