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Photography Workshops by Canon Northern Explorer of Light Christopher Dodds


Christopher Dodds Nature Photographer | Promote Your Page Too


Cover all of the angles & Calendar Template

American Bald Eagle Underside Dive , Haliaeetus leucocephalus (Pygargue à tête blanche) Homer, AK ©Christopher Dodds Canon EOS 1D MKII, 100-400mm @260mm ISO 400, F5.6 1/1250s Manual mode. Always a good thing to shoot some frames with your camera turned to vertical.

Here's a couple of images that I've come across while making submissions this week-end. Proof positive that the 100-400mm Canon zoom does produce tack sharp images (well, at least the copy I have does). The 100-400mm has it's place in any nature photographers camera bag. It's an ideal lens to carry while hiking or canoeing looking for larger mammals like Moose or Deer. It is also great to have on your passenger seat while doing wildlife viewing from your car.

It's always a good idea to stand back and think a little while photographing anything. Try to cover all of the angles and diversify your portfolio; there's more to your subject than just the frontal view.

American Bald Eagle Topside Dive , Haliaeetus leucocephalus (Pygargue à tête blanche) Homer, AK ©Christopher Dodds Canon EOS 1D MKII, 100-400mm @260mm ISO 250, F5.6 1/2000s Manual mode. 

Calendar Template

I had the pleasure of meeting fellow nature photographer Michael Milicia in Maine last fall.  Mike attended my spring Songbirds of Pelee workshop, joined me to photograph Snowy Owls last winter & came to Bonaventure Island for my August Gannets Galore workshop. He showed me a couple of fine art style calendars that he had just produced featuring his bird photographs and I was immediately impressed not only by the beautiful images but also by the unique presentation and the overall graphic design and layout of the calendar.  The format is a bit hard to describe but you can see an example of Mike's 11" x 14" calendar for 2010 HERE

One of my first thoughts was "I'd love to make a calendar like this with my own images", so  I suggested to Mike that he should consider putting together a set of Photoshop templates that he could sell to other photographers and artists wishing to make this style of calendar.  Well, almost a year has passed but that is exactly what he has just done!

Mike was kind enough to give me an advance copy of the template package which is now available on his web site and is distributed via DOWNLOAD

I have to say that he has taken my suggestion and ran with it!  The template package supports two sizes of calendars (5" x 7" and 11" x 14") in 5 different well-chosen fonts, includes a template for a "back page" index, and the entire thing is easily customizable to make a calendar for any year to come!

Given the amount of time and aggravation saved by not having to deal with the text layout and design of the calendar pages, the one-time cost of $20.00 has to be one of the biggest bargains around.  I am about halfway through putting together my own calendar and the templates have performed flawlessly.  The included instructions are clear and concise and also provide many useful production tips.

So, for those of you with a hard drive full of images just waiting to be seen and appreciated by friends, family, and potential customers, I highly recommend that you check out the template package.  The "make a calendar"  item on your "to do" list can finally become a reality!


Pronghorns of Yellowstone

Pronghorn SUNSET SNACK (Antilocapra americana) Yellowstone National Park, Monotana ©Christopher Dodds Canon EOS 1DsMKII, 500mm F4 and 2XII tele-converter Gitzo 1325 tripod & Wimberley Head II. ISO 250, F9 1/500s Manual.

I've been busy making submissions and came across a folder from my last trip to Yellowstone. I love looking through folders of images from past trips and remembering (visually) the great times had. Photography, for me, is about the time in the field with your subject, but I am fortunate to also spend a lot of time with great friends. The day before this image was captured, I was with a great friend photographing Bison (Buffalo, as they are sometimes called).  We had left our car and walked about half a mile (or more) to our subjects, when the biggest bull bison in the herd decided to charge us. What do you do when a 900-pound, horned mass charges you? Seriously! (Insert laughter here) My friend lifted his tripod and shouldered the rig, only to realize, too late, that the lens plate had not properly mated with the clamp on his tripod head. To make a long story short; that was the second time my friend had to have emergency surgery on a long lens (that I know about - smile). Always double check your equipment, fasteners, clamps and straps before you venture out into the field.

Pronghorn SUNSET SNACK II (Antilocapra americana) Yellowstone National Park, Monotana ©Christopher Dodds Canon EOS 1DsMKII, 500mm F4 and 2XII tele-converter Gitzo 1325 tripod & Wimberley Head II. ISO 250, F9 1/500s Manual.

Battling Pronghorns (Antilocapra americana) Yellowstone National Park, Monotana ©Christopher Dodds Canon EOS 1DsMKII, 500mm F4 and 2XII tele-converter Gitzo 1325 tripod & Wimberley Head II. ISO 250, F8 1/1000s Manual.

North America's swiftest mammal - the graceful and agile Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) - can leap 20 feet in a single bound and is able to sprint over prairies and sagebrush flats at speeds of 60 miles per hour. Sometimes called the American antelope, the pronghorn is unique; it has no close relatives and is virtually unchanged from ancestors that roamed the earth some 2 million years ago.
Mainly brown, with two white stripes across the chest, a large white rump patch with hairs that are raised in warning when danger looms, and two-pronged horns, the creature is easily recognized. Males are strongly territorial and compete with each other for harems during the autumn rut. The fawns, often twins, are born the following spring. True to their heritage, they can run faster than humans within days of their birth. Pronghorns feed in the morning and evening, grazing on grasses and weeds and occasionally on shrubs.

Many familiar farm animals, and their wild relatives as well, are ungulates - mammals with hooves. Made of a tough hornlike substance, hooves are, in effect, heavy -duty fingernails that cover and protect the toes. Wild horses have only one hoofed toe per foot, cattle have two, and pigs have four. Moose in the north woods, pronghorns on the prairie, and sheep and goats in the barnyard are other well-known examples of animals with hooves.

upcoming photo safaris / workshops:


More on fog

Northern Gannet , Morus bassanus, Fou de Bassan Bonaventure Island, Quebec ©Christopher Dodds Canon EOS 1DMKIII, 70-200mm F2.8 Lens @ 125mm ISO 500, F3.2, 1/2000s Manual, Canon 580EXII Flash full power in manual mode.

The single hardest thing to do at Bonaventure Island is stop photographing the action and work on static portraits. Action is non-stop; since they can't easily take flight without wind, action at the colony increases proportional to the wind velocity; on a really wet and windy day, it’s almost incredible!

I've been up at the colony in the fog many times, and am amazed at the amount of times I've seen photographers (amateur and professional alike) either sitting, waiting for the weather to improve, or simply just leave. After photographing for an hour and seeing the almost white images on the LCD screen on the back of his camera, a professional photographer declared that it is impossible to make any decent images and that I must be nuts (well, he wasn't far from the truth calling me "nuts" - smile). Always trust the histogram and use the actual image preview for checking sharpness and composition (not exposure; that's what the histogram is for). Here's the secret: Fog is like a huge diffuser; it's like a huge light source. The larger the light source, the lower the contrast. Properly exposed images captured in the fog have a histogram that is all bunched-up against (but not touching) the right side of the histogram, and we need to spread that data out during post capture processing. In Photoshop, just slide the left slider during your Levels adjustment; sliding it towards the middle darkens the blacks that are missing in the raw data: the more you move towards the middle, the more you remove the foggy appearance of your image. Be careful not to go too far.

Northern Gannet landing in the pouring rain, Morus bassanus, Fou de Bassan Bonaventure Island, Quebec ©Christopher Dodds Canon EOS 1DMKIII, 70-200mm F2.8 Lens @ 125mm ISO 500, F2.8, 1/2000s Manual, Canon 580EXII Flash full power in manual mode.

We spend a lot of money for fast lenses, so don't be afraid to use them. Even a large subject like a Northern Gannet stays sharp from wingtip to wingtip when it is flying towards you. Here, I used an aperture of F2.8 to help make the vegetation in the background out of focus and to make the heavy rain almost invisible.


Horseman VCC Pro announced


Horseman VCC Pro for DSLRs Provides Full Bellows And Advanced Technical Movement Capabilities
Turns DSLR Into Large Format Type View Camera

CONCORD, CA, AUGUST 27, 2009 -- Direct Source Marketing (DSM), the sole U.S. distributor of Horseman photo products for professionals and high-end consumers, today announced the Horseman VCC Pro, a hand-held view camera that offers full bellows function, a variety of technical movements, and gives a DSLR large format view camera functions.

The VCC Pro is a breakthrough because it does the only thing DSLR's can't do -- technical movements. This allows professional photographers to handle technical movements ranging from tabletop shooting to landscape photography.

"Technical movements are important in a digital SLR since bellows functions are one of the major attractions of large format photography," stated Richard Dischler, President of DSM.

Compact and lightweight, the new Horseman camera converter comes in models for Nikon and Canon Digital SLR's. Both VCC models accept a wide variety of lenses and control depth of field and perspective, as well as utilize digital image stitching.

Since the VCC is on revolving mount, you can easily switch between horizontal and vertical positions with a single turn of a knob. It can also be held or mounted on a tripod.

The VCC Pro gives the end user control of both the front and rear standard and allows them to use tilt, swing, shift, fall, rise and any combination to increase or reduce depth of field and to correct perspective distortions -- even at the widest aperture -- from architectural, table top, food and commercial work to photography in restricted spaces. The rear standard is used for stitching images together and allows 30mm vertical and 40mm horizontal movements by the use of an ultra precise spindle drive.

The VCC also provides four-frame stitching with a full size CCD or FX imager. This provides extremely high resolution image quality equivalent to that achieved by professional high end digital backs. Inaccuracies between successive pictures are held to an absolute minimum, making post-editing an easy task.

Getting the image "right and tight" on capture allows far more creativity for the photographer. All additional software applications now can work far more effortlessly and creatively providing a true workflow solution. The VCC truly extends the function and creativity of the DSLR platforms.

Horseman products are manufactured in Japan by Komamura Corporation.

The Horseman VCC Pro will be available at the professional photo dealers at a suggested list price of $1999.00.


Back from Bonaventure; Fog, Environment & Kudos

Northern Gannet Painted Landing, Morus bassanus, Fou de Bassan Bonaventure Island, Quebec ©Christopher Dodds Canon EOS 1DsMKIII, 300mm F2.8 Lens ISO 400, F5, 1/2000s Manual, Canon 580EXII Flash full power in manual mode.I love the painterly effect fog adds to images like this. Bonaventure Island is the only place in the world that I know of to photograph Northern Gannets against out of focus forest backgrounds.

Northern Gannet Landing in fog, Morus bassanus, Fou de Bassan Bonaventure Island, Quebec ©Christopher Dodds Canon EOS 5DMKII, 300mm F2.8 Lens ISO 400, F3.5, 1/2000s Manual, Canon 580EXII Flash full power in manual mode. Adding the out of focus colony to the bottom of this landing Gannet gives it a sense of place and shows the viewer where the subject lives.

Northern Gannet Landing over colony with seaweed, Morus bassanus, Fou de Bassan Bonaventure Island, Quebec ©Christopher Dodds Canon EOS 5DMKII, 300mm F2.8 Lens ISO 500, F5.6, 1/2000s Manual, Canon 580EXII Flash full power in manual mode. Again, this image moves away from the idea of isolating the subject against a uniform background; giving the viewer an idea of where it lives, and the vastness of the colony (or Gannetry).

On Saturday August 15 I was awake well before the birds and left home at 03:00 to make the 1,077 kilometer drive back to Perce, QC to complete the last round of Bonaventure Island workshops for the year. Among the participants were Mike Milicia (who attended my spring Point Pelee workshop), Dennis Stone (who loved the trip so much in June, that he had to come back for babies in August) and John Dupps; all great people, passionate photographers and a pleasure to spend time with. We had a perfect mix of weather; from bright, sunny conditions, to fog, cloud and rain. Overall a huge success and a great way to end the 2009 season.

Ganetts Galore Morus bassanus, Fou de Bassan Ever wonder what keeps pulling me back to Bonaventure Island? Canon 5DMKII & 24-70mm F2.8 @ 24mm. Manual exposure. Video Copyright Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved.


"Thanks for a truly remarkable photographic experience on both land and water! The Zodiac rides were a wonderful way to spend the early mornings. 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 Bedford, MA


Foul Weather Nature Photography - Part II; Bone chilin' cold and crunchy snow

Snowy Owl Last Flight Bubo scandiacus (Harfang des neiges) Quebec @ minus 38 Celcius Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1DsMKII, 300mm F2.8 ISO 400, F5.6 1/850s Manual mode. CLICK HERE TO ORDER A PRINT OR LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION.

Since moving to Canada and discovering snow, I’ve been hooked on winter. I remember playing outside after school and weekends until my mother would have to drag me inside. I was an avid Boy Scout and used to love camping in the winter when there weren’t any mosquitoes or black flies. I remember it being so cold during one trip that I awoke to it snowing inside my tent; the moisture from my breath was freezing and falling gently onto my face; just like snow. Oh, the joy of putting frozen boots onto your feet in the morning and having to walk across the crunchy snow to pump-up the frozen Coleman stove to get some coffee, or hot chocolate.
As an adult, one of my favorite winter activities is finding, studying and photographing owls. From the open farm field where Snowy Owls rein supreme and Great Gray Owls line the forests edge, to the Boreal forest where Boreal and Saw-Whet owls spend their days motionless perched in Spruce and pine trees, I’ll be out there on the coldest of days.

Northern Hawk Owl The Grab Surnia ulula, (Chouette épervière) Northern Ontario ©Christopher Dodds Canon EOS 1DMKII, 100-400mm @250mm ISO 400, F5.6 1/2000s Manual mode.

Unlike the old days, little precaution is required for your newer generation digital camera bodies. Today’s pro camera bodies easily handle the cold weather and recent advances in battery technology easily allow a full day of photography on one charged battery. Consumer and prosumer cameras will also work well, but you should have an extra battery, or two, tucked away in an inside pocket keeping warm. Moving between extreme cold and warm temperatures when going indoors, or out, does cause some condensation; just leave your camera in it’s bag for a couple of hours while it comes to room temperature. Although I won’t remove a lens until my camera warms to room temperature, I don’t fuss much with my professional, sealed cameras; they’ve been from warm to cold and back again thousands of times.

American Bald Eagle Strike, Haliaeetus leucocephalus (Pygargue à tête blanche) Homer, AK ©Christopher Dodds Canon EOS 1D MKII, 100-400mm @210mm ISO 400, F8 1/250s Manual mode. It's much colder that it appears in this image, that's frozen salt water ice in the background.

Dress for success

Wintertime can be a fun and rewarding time to travel out into the field, but dressing properly is crucial to your health and comfort. As I mentioned in my recent Blog entry: It’s Raining Again – Foul Weather Nature Photography: Part I Rain, dress in layers and be sure to allow for the worst – Even if you won’t be traveling far from your car, you should dress as though you have to survive a night out alone – be prepared in the event that you wander off the beaten path and lock your keys in your car or get lost. Just imagine driving around in sub-zero weather and getting out for a quick shot of something and slipping on ice and breaking something while hardly dressed, with no coat, hat or boots.

The keys to keeping warm and dry in cold weather are synthetic fibers that wick moisture away from your body and staying far away from cotton. Start with heavy synthetic socks and long underwear as a base layer. I wear Matterhorn Convertible Pant - Men's Regular Length by Mountain Hardwear (legs zip-off, with lots of pockets) and Marmot Cargo Pant - Men's (snowboarder pants have cargo pockets and tend to be narrower than ski pants at the boot). A good fleece sweater (Marmot Radiator Fleece Jacket - Men's ) with a Canada Goose Expedition Parka usually keep me toasty warm on top. Because photographing birds in arctic conditions involves lots of time standing or laying down motionless, keeping your feet warm is essential. Many manufacturers rate their winter boots and it’s important to understand that the rating is based on a moderate amount of activity. A boot rated to minus thirty will hardly keep your toes warm if they aren’t moving at that temperature. After years of being out there in the cold, I find Sorel Men's Intrepid Explorer -100 Winter Boot makes sturdy, well-priced and very warm winter boots (they are also the footwear of choice for most arctic explorers and the Canadian Military). Keeping a grip while carrying around your expensive and heavy camera gear is crucial in icy conditions; I always have a pair of  Kahtoola MICROspikes Traction System - In Your Choice of Sizes to keep me and my gear safe (Yaktrax Pro Traction Cleats for Snow and Ice work well too). Keeping your fingers warm against frozen camera bodies is another challenge; I wear a thin pair of Fox gloves, into which I slip one, or two, Grabber Warmers 7+ Hour Hand Warmer (40 Pair Box) 40 pr . I wear Black Diamond Mercury Mitten - Men's (buy a size larger than normal) over the Fox gloves, and can press the shutter button with the mitts on. If I need to change a memory card or an adjustment to a small switch or button, then I remove the Mitt, keeping the gloves on at all times. If you remember that most heat loss occurs from the head and wear a good hat and your hood can help keep you out of the wind, then you'll be warm, comfortable and ready for the arctic!

As for your camera gear, you should pack rain protection in case you are blessed with wet snow, or rain. I am thrilled with my Think-Tank Photo Hydrophobia 70-200 Flash and my Think-Tank Photo Hydrophobia 300-600 V2.0.

Not quite ready for Vail Photographer Christopher Dodds out in the Canadian cold. That's me: I LOVE my Goose!


Coastal Brown Bears of Katmai, AK July 12-18, 2010 (7 days) A Christopher Dodds Workshop Announcement

Join Christopher Dodds and some of the more than 2,000 Coastal Brown Bears at the best place in the world to photograph Coastal Brown Bears. Claiming the world’s highest concentration of Coastal Brown Bears, Katmai National Park in Alaska also has to be the most beautiful setting on the planet to photograph them. Truly the adventure of a lifetime, we’ll have plenty of opportunities to see, study and photograph Coastal Brown Bears in their undisturbed, natural environment without the influence or pressure that large groups and camps often cause. With a limit of only six participants, there will be plenty of time for instruction and personal attention from Chris. Other possible species may include Bald Eagles, Tufted and Horned Puffins, Seals, Shore Birds and Sea Lions to name just a few.

The adventure begins around noon on July 12 (you should avoid weather headaches by arriving in Kodiak on the 11th) with a short 45 minute flight on a de Havilland Beaver from Kodiak to the 70 foot Coastal Explorer we will call home for the balance of the trip. After stowing our gear and a light lunch, we’ll head out and start photographing bears immediately. From the 13th, to the 17th, we’ll be spending at least a morning and an evening session with the bears. On our last day, July 18th, we’ll be photographing the bears in the morning, before our floatplane returns for us around noon. Schedule is, of course, subject to change due to adverse weather conditions. Spare time aboard the Coastal Explorer can be fun and entertaining, with the activities of choice being fishing, editing and resting. The cuisine is "fit a ship's Captain" and features fresh seafood, of course (alternate diets are accommodated).

Read my 2009 trip reports here:

Coastal Brown Bears - A Trip Report Part I

Coastal Brown Bears; Cute & Cuddly Trip Report - Part II

Coastal Brown Bears - and Eagles Too Trip Report - Part III

Be sure to read Testimonials from clients (many repeats).

Included in the price are six nights accommodation (double) on the 70 foot Coastal Explorer, seven days expert bear guide services (from the best in the business: Chuck Keim), seven days photographic instruction and meals while on board. Not included is your transportation to Kodiak, AK, your floatplane from Kodiak to Katmai (approx. US$475.00 per person), alcoholic beverages or snacks, etc.

Register Here

Register Here


It's Raining Again - Foul Weather Nature Photography: Part I Rain

Merlin, Falco columbarius, Faucon emerillon Wet Wing Stretch Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick ©Christopher Dodds Canon EOS 1DMKII, 500mm F4 and 2XII tele-converter ISO 500, F10 1/250s Manual Mode with Canon 550EX Flash in manual mode. Captured during a rather wet ten day stay on Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy.

It's raining again

As I write this Blog entry, it's raining cats & dogs outside (to borrow a term from my Mum - where the heck did that one originate?). July in Quebec and Ontario has been wet, very wet. Montreal recorded 117mm (4.606 inches) of rain, while Ottawa took the top spot with an amazing 243mm(9.567 inches) for the month. In Montreal measurable precipitation was recorded on 26 days this month including the first 8 days. 26 out of 31 days with at least a trace of precipitation, and cloud cover as well. It seems the rain followed me wherever I've travelled, I think it rained on six out of seven days while I was at Katmai National Park in Alaska.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. In fact, if you travel outside with your camera gear while it's raining, you can make gorgeous images all day long without the worry of harsh light spoiling your images. Digital does exceedingly well in the cloudy / overcast conditions that accompany rain. While I do strive to capture images in the golden first, or last, rays of sunlight, I'll take cloud, rain and fog any day.
Great Gray Owl, Strix nebulosa, Chouette Lapone SPRING SHOWERS L'ile Bizard (near Montreal), Quebec . Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1DMKII, 100-400mm IS @360mm ISO 400, F5.6 1/800s Manual Mode. There was no shortage of images from the great "invasion" of Great Gray Owls during the winter of 2005; not many in adverse weather conditions though. This was the winter I coined the term "snow as fill" - see how the underside is lit-up by light reflected off the snow on the ground. CLICK HERE TO BUY A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION.

Rain Covers: The Naked Truth

I seem to find it impossible to work with any one of the camera rain covers that I've tried; opting instead to rely on the manufacturers "weather sealed" professional bodies. I find I miss too many images because the cover has shifted and obscured my view through the viewfinder, or got in between my hands and my camera body when I need to press a button , or turn a dial. I can't say that photographing in harsh conditions has been problem free, in fact it is the source of each and every problem that I've had with my equipment in the past (aside from my dropping a Canon 1Ds Mark II into three feet of water - but that's another story, for another time). I've even seen people selling a fancy clamp to attach an umbrella to your tripod - watch out for wind gusts that could see your expensive camera lying shattered on the ground. I do have to recommend that you use some sort of cover to protect your expensive digital investment; even if it's a plastic bag held into place with electrical tape.

American Bald Eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus (Pygargue à tête blanche) Stuck out in the rain Homer, AK Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1DsMKII, 500mm F4 IS ISO 800, F4 1/500s Manual mode. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION.

Dress for success

Dress in layers and be sure to allow for the worst – I hope for the worst, as the most unique (and best) images in my collection were captured in heavy rain, heavy fog or with dramatic storm clouds in the background. Even if you won’t be traveling far from your car, you should dress as though you have to survive a night out alone – be prepared in the event that you wander off the beaten path and lock your keys in your car or get lost.

In the rain I wear nylon convertible pants (legs zip-off, with lots of pockets) and Gore-Tex breathable rain pants, a long-sleeved safari style shirt (SPF60) and a Gore-Tex MEC (Mountain Equipment CO-OP jacket. Good socks and hiking boots are critical; you can’t stay dry and warm if your feet are cold and wet. If I’m out in the open, like on a Zodiac in the Gulf of the St-Lawrence, then you will probably find me with wool hat and light gloves as well; it can get pretty cold and damp when your standing in the rain waiting for that perfect moment all day. Be sure to bring along a medium sized towel, they are great wrapped around your neck (inside your coat) as a scarf, or simply to dry off any wet camera gear. When I was actively participating in outdoor survival orienteering camps & adventures, we had a very simple mantra; cotton kills. Once wet, cotton sucks heat away from your body and takes forever to dry. Stick with synthetic, fast drying clothing.


Coastal Brown Bears - and Eagles too Trip report part III & Kudos

Coastal Brown Bear Sleeping .. almost (Ursus arctos) Hallo Bay Katmai National Park, AK ©Christopher Dodds Canon EOS Ids Mark III, 500mm F4, 1.4X II Tele-converter ISO 400, F8 1/320s Manual mode.

Coastal Brown Bear in Coastal Grass (Ursus arctos) Hallo Bay, Katmai National Park, AK ©Christopher Dodds Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III, 500mm F4, 2X II Tele-converter ISO 400, F8 1/320s Manual mode.

Coastal Brown Bear Sow and Cubs Follow Me (Ursus arctos) Geographic Harbor, Katmai National Park, AK ©Christopher Dodds Canon EOS 1D Mark III, 500mm F4, 1.4X II Tele-converter ISO 400, F5.6 1/250s Manual mode.

Coastal Brown Bear Sow and Cub Learning to Clam (Ursus arctos) Katmai National Park, AK ©Christopher Dodds Canon EOS 5DMKII, 70-200mm F2.8 @70mm ISO 400, F8 1/320s Manual mode.

More than just bears..

American Bald Eagle Cliffside launch, Haliaeetus leucocephalus (Pygargue à tête blanche) Geograhic Harbor, Katmai National Park, AK ©Christopher Dodds Canon EOS 1D MKIII, 500mm F4 IS ISO 400, F4 1/800s Manual mode.

Coastal Brown Bears of Katmai July 12-18 A Christopher Dodds Workshop

We had a few good chances to photograph Bald Eagles from the comfort of the Coastal Explorer II. Having your camera in manual mode and set to the correct exposure is key to being successful at these "grab" shots.

Gannets Galore Aug. 17-19, 2009



Chris,Thanks for another great photo adventure to Alaska!!!!!!
This is the third trip with you and they keep getting better. Always challenging. Always easy-going. Always taking my photography forward. (Take a look at my site for a few new pictures from Alaska.) Your instruction is the best I've experience in taking these kinds of trips. You always seem to know where to put us in the absolute best place. Top Notch!!!! Can't wait till the next one.....wherever that might be. Thanks again!!!!!!!

Jeff Moore Arlington Heights, IL (Jeff attended my Eagles of Homer, AK workshop twice and a Gannets Galore workshop - thanks, Jeff!)

Fishing fun

We had a blast fishing for Halibut while not photographing. What a great way to spend down time. The Coastal Explorer is equipped with fishing poles for everyone, and Matt (the deck-hand) was always ready to help with bait & tackle. Once caught, Mat prepared the filets for the kitchen (or anyone to take home). Speaking of the kitchen, the food was out of this world - amazing! Here I am with a fresh Starry Flounder that I released after this picture was taken (with my Canon G10)

Photographer Christopher Dodds & Starry Flounder onboard the Coatal Explorer II, Geographic Harbor, AK


Coastal Brown Bears; Cute & Cuddly Trip Report - Part II

Coastal Brown Bear Cub CURIOUS CUTIE (Ursus arctos) Katmai National Park, AK ©Christopher Dodds Canon EOS 5DMKII, 70-200mm F2.8 @125mm ISO 400, F8 1/320s Manual mode.

Coastal Brown Bear Cub WALKING(Ursus arctos) Katmai National Park, AK ©Christopher Dodds Canon EOS 1D MKIII, 500mm F4 IS ISO 500, F5.6 1/640s Manual mode.

Work wide, work tight, work vertical, work horizontal. Notice the different perspective that different lens choice offer. I love working wide and close; the dimension added to the first image is what I am looking for. Funny, when I'm photographing birds I love to have a sterile background like in the second image, with the longer focal length.


Coastal Brown Bears of Katmai July 12-18, 2010 A Christopher Dodds Workshop

No, I'm not a purist, and I don't condemn those who choose to create their images post capture (forgeries) with the help of Photoshop. I just prefer to be out there in the wild making images in my camera; it's what drives me, what makes me go out into the field. Besides, I could have an office job if I wanted to spend all of that time in front of my computer. Many would be tempted to clone away the white, heart-shaped glacier out of the first image - not me. No, I love how that heart helps create the mood of the image. My heart was racing as I created this one, not out of fear, but because I wanted to make sure that I had time to get a horizontal image too.

Coastal Brown Bear Cub WALKING IN THE RAIN (Ursus arctos) Katmai National Park, AK ©Christopher Dodds Canon EOS 1D MKIII, 500mm F4 IS ISO 500, F5.6 1/640s Manual mode.

Although I did miss the first time that I saw a cub stand, I knew it would repeat it's behavior - I just had to have enough patience and not be distracted by the many other bears around. They are just so darn cute when they stand-up to have a look around. Pouring rain often keeps photographers inside; that's when you are more likely to find me out & about with my cameras. Todays digital camera bodies offer incredible detail and color saturation, all with little or no noise in the image.

Coastal Brown Bear Cub Kung Foo Fighting (Ursus arctos) Katmai National Park, AK ©Christopher Dodds Canon EOS 1D MKIII, 500mm F4 with 1.4II tele-converter ISO 500, F5.6 1/640s Manual mode.

After my almost epic trip to get there (see prior post), I finally made it to the Coastal Explorer (anchored in Hallo Bay) and met bear legend Chuck Keim, who would be our host, guide and protector. After the first morning photographing around Hallo Bay, and hearing the weather forecaster predict a big storm, we decided to haul out the anchor and make the four hour trip to Geographic Harbor. It was a wise choice, as the forecast storm stayed with us until the very end. Seems that it’s been a very wet & rainy summer everywhere (everywhere that I have been, that is).
The scenery and history that surrounded us for the duration of the trip was amazing. There are an estimated 2,000 Coastal Brown Bears in Katmai National Park, and many of them were along the waters edge in Geographic Harbor. What an amazing experience.