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Photography Workshops by Canon Northern Explorer of Light Christopher Dodds





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Hip to be Square

Atlantic Puffin SQUARE PORTRAIT (Fratercula arctica, Macareux moine, ATPU) Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve of Canada, Réserve de parc national du Canada de l'Archipel-de-Mingan, Quebec, Canada. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds. Canon EOS Canon EOS 1DX, 600mm F4 L IS II, 2X Extender III, Canon 25mm Extension Tube II, Canon 12mm Extension Tube II, Canon 1.4X Extender III. Jobu Designs Algonquin Tripod & Jobu Jr. 3 ISO 3,200s, f/16 @ 1/200s Manual exposure & manual focus. PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.

The forecast was dismal; mostly rain and high winds for the three day Puffin trip, with a heavy rainfall warning in effect for our last day. I didn't sleep much the night before the workshop; I was too excited to get back to the island, but worried the high winds would sabotage our safe boat landing once there. As is often the case, the forecast was wrong. We had an awesome time and I had an awesome group of passionate photographers.

This image was made when an Atlantic Puffin flew-in and sat almost right beside me while I sat on the seaweed covered rocks as the tide went out. I quickly added both extension tubes and both tele-extenders to my 600mm lens and began manually focusing the monster rig. I just love getting close and personal with Puffins!

Hip to be Square

Always remember to think about the aspect ratio of the image when you first open it in your RAW converter; avoid always using the same aspect ratio and remember that many social media outlets make best use of the square format. Use whatever aspect ratio works best for the image, rather than the the aspect ratio of the original capture.

2015 Luxury Live on the Island Puffins Galore

Be sure to email me to join the wait list for my 2015 luxury trip! The lighthouse and the keeper's home have been totally restored and we will be sleeping on the island within feet of the Puffins, Razorbills and Guillemots. A gourmet chef will prepare our meals and we will have the island all to ourselves during the golden hours. Be sure to be among the first to know all of the details as soon as they are released by emailing me your co-ordinates to


Northern Fur Seal Pups of Saint Paul Island

Northern Fur Seals NEW FRIENDS (Callorhinus ursinus, L’otarie à fourrure du Nord) Saint Paul Island, The Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea, Alaska. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds. Canon 1DX, 600mm F4 L IS II , 2X Teleconverter III, Jobu Designs Algonquin Tripod & Jobu Jr. 3 ISO 4,000 f/8 @ 1/1,6000s Manual Mode.  PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.

Here's a couple of Northern Fur Seal pups from my Saint Paul Island workshop. Seals only have one baby at a time, so these two are neighbors meeting for the first time. They are fascinating to watch, and their calls sound very much like a barn full of baby sheep. I shot this image with my Canon 600mm f/4 IS II and 2X Teleconverter wide open at f/8 to isolate the subjects from the volcanic rocks, and used a shutter speed of 1/1,600 of a second to be sure to freeze the rapidly vibrating mouth and teeth while they were calling.


Creating Intimate bird portraits

Crested Auklet Portrait (Aethia cristatella, CRAU) Saint Paul Island, The Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea, Alaska. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds. Canon 1DX, 600mm F4 L IS II , 2X Teleconverter III & 25mm Extension Tube, Jobu Designs Algonquin Tripod & Jobu Jr. 3 ISO 2,500 f/16 @ 1/500s Manual Mode.  PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.

Here's an intimate portrait (of what has to be my favorite bird) from my recent Saint Paul Island Workshop; the Crested Auklet. Getting close and isolating the subject against the dark cliffs requires lots of patience, but the real secret is simply approaching the cliff edge slowly so they don't flush before you even know they are there. Always remember to use a small enough aperture to maximize the depth of field, which is extemely narrow at the lens/extender/extension tube minimum focusing distance. Choose your shutter speed to freeze the birds sudden movements and any feathers blown around by the wind if there are any.

Using a sturdy tripod with a good tripod head and micro-calibrating your camera are, of course, the foundation to crisp and sharp images.


Quality, not quantity?

Tufted Puffin BAD HAIR DAY (Fratercula cirrhata, Macareux huppé, TUPU) Saint Paul Island, The Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea, Alaska. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds. Canon 1DX, 600mm F4 L IS II , 1.4X Teleconverter III & 25mm Extension Tube, Tripod & Jobu Jr. 3 ISO 1,250 f/16 @ 1/400s Manual Mode.  PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.

My Saint Paul Island trip was simply fantastic; I had a sold-out group of eight fantastic photographers (six repeat workshop clients) and we enjoyed near perfect photographic conditions with endless photographic opportunities. While preparing for this year's trip, I pre-visualized a portrait of a Tufted Puffin with it's hair (or tufts) blowing in the wind; I was thrilled to have the opportunity to make the image above on an overcast day with gusty wind blowing it's tufts all over the place.

I spent a considerable amount of time perched on top of a cliff with my camera pointed straight down at this Tuffted Puffin waiting for that perfect moment to press the shutter thinking about the old "Quality, not quantity" adage (An adage is a short, usually philosophical, but memorable saying which holds some important fact of experience that is considered true by many people, or that has gained some credibility through its long memetic use. - Wikipedia). You see, I had a participant who I never saw take a single image during the entire trip; all eight days! When asked, he would simply say "Quality, not quantity" with a big smile on his face "Don't worry, I got some good stuff here". He said he was from the old school.

Well, If I had not perservered and hit the trigger every time this Puiffin's head swang back, and forth, I would not have made this image. I took 101 frames during the session; 14 were timed perfectly for the head angle, 13 had at least one nictitating membrane covering an eye and only one made me happy (okay, really happy)! I spend an incredible amount of time photographing very fast moving birds and have very good hand eye co-ordination, but if I had only pressed the shutter once, like the gentelman suggested, I would not have this image. While I agree it's useless to push the trigger unless there is a change of producing a great image; the very best image may have been the one you didn't take. I truly do believe that once your subject presents, you owe it some time and effort ... you owe it the very best result, not the first one - smile.

2015 Saint Paul Island Photographic Expedition/Adventure

I have, yet again, secured the very best week to be on Saint Paul Island for 2015. Do join me for the trip of a lifetime from July 5 to July 12, 2015. This is an Eight day (seven night) photographic dream trip - read more about my July 5 to July 12 Saint Paul Island Photographic Expedition and Adventure HERE.



THE Ultimate Bird Photography Workshop

Northern Gannets LOVING  (Morus bassanus, Fou de Bassan, NOGA ) Parc national de l'Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé, Bonaventure Island, Quebec ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1D X, 70-300mm F4-5.6 L IS USM @ 277mm Hand Held ISO 800, f/7.1 @ 1/1,600s Manual mode. Click HERE to order a print or license image for publication.

The Ultimate Birds Photography Workshop

If you really want to master bird photography; birds in flight, portraits, shooting from a tripod, shooting hand held, with long lenses and short lenses, then this is your chance to join me, Christopher Dodds (Canon Northern Explorer of Light) at the very best venue I have found in the world to teach bird photography!

I have hosted thousands of photographers during my Gannets Galore workshops on Bonaventure Island and many of them have produced winning images during the workshop; some of those in world class competitions.

This is the perfect workshop for you no matter what equipment you own, or the skill level you are at. This is the perfect opportunity for the seasoned pro to take advantage of my site knowledge and logistics, or a total novice to master the skills to become a competent bird photographer. Super-telepoto lens not mandatory - you don't need a big gun to take full advantage of the Gannets of Bonaventure Island; many award winning images have been made with a 70-200mm lens! I am not satified unless you are creating images I would be happy to call my own.

Read more about my Gannets Galore workshop HERE

Thanks for a truly remarkable photographic experience on both land and water! The Zodiac rides were a wonderful way to spend the early mornings during your Gannets Galore Photo Tour. I was amazed at how close we were able to get to the birds and the seals. The nonstop action at the Gannet colony provided countless photo opportunities every second. Now I can see how you can still find it interesting and challenging even after visiting the island over 350 times. Your extensive experience photographing at the colony meant that we always knew where the best opportunities were at any given time as the wind and weather constantly changed throughout the day. And your excellent tips on exposure, technique, composition, and use of flash allowed us to take advantage of those opportunities and capture some wonderful images.
 On a logistical note, your fluency in French also proved invaluable at many points during the trip when you came to the rescue of us dumbfounded English speakers. 
Hope to see you again soon, maybe even on a June trip back to Bonaventure!

Mike Milicia Boston | MA | USA