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Photography Workshops by Christopher Dodds


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Cotton Carrier Review & Nik Software SHOCK & AWE!

Atlantic Puffin Vertical PuffinScape(Fratercula arctica, Macareux moine, ATPU) latrabjarg, Iceland. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1DsMKII, 17-40 F4 @21mm. 550EX Flash manual mode. ISO 250, F10 @1/250s Manual mode. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION. An old favorite REMASTERED using NIK SOFTWARE's VIVEZA 2 and Color Efex Pro 3.0 PRO CONTRAST.

Nik Software

**UPDATE OCTOBER 6, 2016: Since writing this post, please note that Nik Software was bought by Google and is currently offered as a free download HERE.


Just when I thought I had mastered Photoshop, Nik Software comes along and changes everything. I've been oohing and awing over the latest offerings from Nik Software since I received my review copy of their Complete Collection late last week. I've never really worked with anything other than Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture in the past, so it's been quite an eye-opener for me. Consisting of Dfine 2.0, Viveza 2, HDR Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro 3.0, Silver Efex Pro and Sharpener Pro 3.0, this is one sweet suite of plug-ins! Shock and awe hardly describes how I feel after re-working several older images. I'll probably never get to a full review of each of these amazing plug-ins, but it's certainly not the last you've heard about them here. Be sure to check out Nik Software's latest offerings HERE and save 15% by using the coupon code cdodds at the check-out. I like Viveza 2 so much, we're giving one away on Dec. 15th (thank-you Nik Software) - simply sign-up for my newsletter in the column to the right of this post. Be sure to check-out the details of the other great prizes below.


I had a blast teaching a mini-workshop for the Montreal Camera Club this past week-end with 100,000 Snow Geese, and many of them came very close. Special thanks to Canon Canada Professional Services for loaning a Mark IV and 800mm F5.6 lens for everyone to try.

"Chris, I can't thank you enough for this most inspiring weekend photographing wild snow geese. I thoroughly enjoyed your expertise and advise on how to take breathtaking photos. After quickly reviewing 2,000 photos I'm proud to say that close to 200 will be keepers. At least 3 or 4 of the really interesting ones actually had their beaks open. Also I'd like to thank you for the use of the 800mm lens and Mark IV; by day 2 I got the hang of using it and some of the close-ups are outstanding."  

- George Liberman Montreal | Quebec | Canada

"Thank you for the wonderful day I spent with you on Saturday photographing the snow geese. Thanks to your help and individual attention I was able to figure out some issues that would have taken me a long time to solve  on my own. Your tips on memory cards and how to keep the dust out of my lens when in Africa were things I’d never thought of. I look forward to doing another workshop with you and wish you all the best. Once again, thank you for a great day."

- Wendy Altona Montreal | Quebec | Canada

Cotton Carrier Review

I have been meaning to check out the innovative camera carrying system from Cotton Carrier since first seeing one last winter. It’s a vest type harness made of ballistic nylon with a polycarbonate breast-plate receiver that allows you to keep your camera in a comfortable, ready to use intuitive position. Simply screw an adapter (camera hub) to your camera, and it slides right into the receiver - twist to release. If carrying one camera is not enough, then install the second receiver (or side holster) on the side cinch strap (or any belt) and you are ready to go with two easy to access and use cameras. Right after I published the Spider Holster review HERE, Cotton Carrier sent one over for review. I was thrilled to discover the Cotton Carrier is invented and designed in Western Canada.
The very first thing I noticed when I opened the plastic UPS shipping bag was the whole deal is in a nylon mesh bag and there was no box - unusual today, but a great sign of respect towards the environment. No box not only saves trees, it reduces the greenhouse gas emissions required to ship the smaller volume package.

The Cotton Carrier is well engineered, designed to fit comfortably and made of some pretty durable materials; ballistic nylon, polycarbonate and aluminum. There’s no doubt that the right choice for the impending winter season is the Cotton Carrier ; it’s versatile design will allow me to adjust it to fit over my bulky Canada Goose winter parka while trying to keep warm in the coldest conditions. The Cotton Carrier holds my camera much higher than the Spider Holster, so it is also the best option to keep my camera with my 70-200mm or 100-400mm lens from getting full of snow as I navigate waist deep snow drifts that I often have to traverse while photographing during my winter owl prowls. Be sure to use the included camera tethers as insurance against dropping any gear if you miss the receiver or have freezing cold hands. There is a wide Velcro horizontal strap to ensure your cameras safety while doing physically demanding photography like mountain-biking, motor-biking, skiing, rock climbing, hiking or dog-sledding. It's important to properly adjust and fit the Cotton Carrier, so I strongly recommend watching this "stellar" video by Andy Cotton ;)

If you are already familiar with the Cotton Carrier , then there are a few new items you should be aware of; I skipped the regular adapters and installed their brand new Arca-Swiss compatible adapter plate. The Cotton Carry-Lite is the newest addition to the Cotton line-up; it is designed to hold one camera at waist level and has a unique built-in shoulder strap. Also new is the Cotton Lens Bag System. Be sure to check them out at

Great FREE Gear Giveaway Continues

Sign-up for my newsletter before Dec. 15th, 2010 and you will automatically be entered to win some amazing prizes. Simply fill-in your name and email address in the form in the column to the right of this post and you are entered automatically (only sign-up once please). Tweet, Like or Share this blog entry on Facebook or Twitter, or leave a meaningful comment here for additional chances to win. Don't forget to tell your friends or fellow camera club members about the prizes.

  • WH-200 Wimberley Head version II (retail value of US$595.00)
  • Think-Tank Photo Urban Disguise 50 (retail value US$169.00)
  • Nik Software Viveza 2 (retail value US$199.95)
  • Digimarc for Images Professional Edition 1 year subscription (US$99.00)
  • One of eight Canon Long Lens Rain Covers (US$125.00 each)
  • More to come


I'm hosting my first annual PHOTO GEEK CHRISTMAS PARTY at the ROCKBURN PUB (2461 Mtee Rockburn, Hinchinbrook, Quebec J0S 1E0 (450) 264-2239). All amateurs and hobbyists welcome! It's an à la carte menu and there is no fee (other than paying for your own food & drinks) - I will pass the hat for a soon to be announced charity; donations are optional but encouraged. Come on out and meet me, my friends and make new contacts while networking and showing off a few of your favorite images from 2010. Feel free to bring prints, iPads or laptops with your favorite images. RSVP required - email me at (please type PHOTO GEEK CHRISTMAS PARTY in the subject line) to reserve your spot. Space is limited, so be sure to reserve soon. I will be drawing some great prizes for the Great Gear Giveaway Contest and you get another name in the hat @ the party. Special thanks to Joann for opening the pub just for us!

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Reader Comments (1)

Great post as always Chris. I have been looking at the Cotton Carrier system for a while, but held off because it was not compatible with the Arca-Swiss plate on my cams. Now that Andy has adopted it, I will definitely look at this system instead of always slinging the second cam on my shoulder.

It was good to meet you and your girlfriend at Baie de Febvre during the snow geese shoot in April. Hopefully I'll make it to your Christmas Party on Dec 15th... sounds like fun!

Frederic in Montréal

November 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFrederic Hore

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