Search Nature Photography Blog

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Email Format
SPONSORS

 

 - 

Photography Workshops by Canon Northern Explorer of Light Christopher Dodds

 

Christopher Dodds Nature Photographer | Promote Your Page Too

Saturday
Jul042009

The Common Murres of Bonaventure Island

Common Murre, Uria aalge, Guillemot marmette Bonaventure Island, Quebec

©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com

Canon EOS 1D MKIII, 500mm F4 Lens Hand-held from Zodiac Hurricane 733

ISO 400, F6.3, 1/2000s Manual Mode

Common Murre, Uria aalge, Guillemot marmette Bonaventure Island, Quebec

©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com

Canon EOS 1D MKIII, 500mm F4 Lens Hand-held from Zodiac Hurricane 733

ISO 400, F6.3, 1/2000s Manual Mode

Bridled Common Murre, Uria aalge, Guillemot marmette Bonaventure Island, Quebec

©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com

Canon EOS 1D MKIII, 500mm F4 Lens Hand-held from Zodiac Hurricane 733

ISO 400, F6.3, 1/2000s Manual Mode

Bridled Common Murre, Uria aalge, Guillemot marmette Bonaventure Island, Quebec

©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com

Canon EOS 1D MKIII, 500mm F4 Lens Hand-held from Zodiac Hurricane 733

ISO 400, F6.3, 1/2000s Manual Mode

If you were to listen to the critics, consistently obtaining critically sharp images of dark, freakishly fast birds against dark backgrounds is impossible with the latest offerings from Canon. The internet was, and continues to be on fire with the number of posts claiming the all new EOS 1D mark III series autofocus system was / is flawed. well, I was late to the game, or got a gem, but I see no problems with the one I'm using. In fact, I would not have done as well with a Mark II in these conditions. If you would like to make critically sharp images from a moving Zodiac (and it was moving a lot), make sure you select a shutter speed of at least 1/2000 of a second, acquire focus on the bird while it is approaching and follow through until, during, and after your pressing the shutter button. Imagine that it is like a good golf swing; followthrough is key. Practice photographing birds in flight every chance you get, practice "bobbing" around in a boat and take lots of images while continuously checking the histogram.

August 17-19, 2009 Gannets Galore Workshop


I still have room available for the August 17-19, 2009Gannets Galore workshop. Click here for more information.

TOP TEN REASONS TO JOIN ME ON BONAVENTURE ISLAND:


I received this in an email from Stan Buman from Carroll, IA:

I joined Chris for the 2009 Gannets Galore Workshop on June 19 -21. It was a great learning experience and a wonderful three days. Here are the top ten reasons why I would recommend attending a workshop with Chris.
1. Chris knows the workshop locations and subjects. He has been to the Northern Gannet colony over 375 times, giving him intimate knowledge of the island and bird behavior. All professional wildlife photographers will tell you that knowledge of the subject is crucial for obtaining quality images.
2. With this knowledge, he works hard to put you in the right place by constantly monitoring weather conditions (such as wind direction) and bird activity.
3. Chris is respectful of, and well respected by, the Park Service employees. He treats them well and they treat him well.
4. The Gannets Galore Workshop is more than just photographing on the island. Photography from the Zodiac boat adds a whole new dimension to the diversity of images and bird species.
5. While birds are his primary focus, he is willing to photograph other subjects; Gray Seals come to mind.
6. He is a good birder. It isn’t just all about Gannets.
7. Being a top-notch photographer, Chris knows what it takes to get great images. He is willing to share his knowledge with his participants.
8. I am a better bird photographer because of Chris. Leading by example, he challenged me to work harder on my skills and work outside my comfort zone.
9. For those of you who live to eat, Chris will make sure you are well fed (quality and quantity). I eat to live but think I gained weight on this trip.
10. His ability to speak French comes in handy for us ignorant Americans who never learned to speak anything but English.

The Common Murre

The Common Murre is found in the seas of the Northern Hemisphere, but unlike the Thick-billed Murre, it prefers ice-free waters. On some islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, it nests in dense colonies on narrow cliff ledges, in semi-enclosed rock cavities and in deep fissures, occasionally sharing its quarters with the Razorbill. The Common Murre can fly up-to 200 kilometers from the nest to find food for their chicks, and, like the Northern Gannet, they can dive as deep as 100 meters, and depths of 180meters have been recorded. Courtship displays include bowing, billing and preening. The male points its head vertically and makes croaking and growling noises to attract a female. The eggs vary in color and pattern to help the parents recognize them, each egg is unique. They make no nest and their single egg is incubated on bare rock. Average fledging age is about 21 days, during which the male and female feed the chick with Capelin and sand lance, carrying them one at a time. Both male and female Common Murres moult after breeding and become flightless for 1-2 months. After the breeding season, the Gulf populations move toward the Atlantic and winter off the coasts of Newfoundland. In southern populations they occasionally return to the nest site throughout the winter. Northern populations spend the winter farther from their colonies. A group of murres are collectively known as a "bazaar" and a "fragrance" of murres (and you should get a whiff of the fragrance under the colony on Bonaventure Island).

In Québec, the Common Murre breeds only in the Gulf of St Lawrence. It is especially abundant on Bonaventure Island, with over 27 000 pairs, and on the Sainte-Marie Islands, where nearly 20 000 pairs nest alongside several other alcid species, including Razorbills and Atlantic Puffins. The Common Murre populations in the Gulf have recovered a great deal during the 70s and 80s but currently, the numbers on the Lower North Shore are still distinctly smaller than those reported by 19th century naturalists. According to their accounts, an estimated 350 000 pairs of Common Murres bred there at the turn of the century, whereas today there are a mere 20 000. Poaching and human disturbance are the main causes of this decline.

More KUDOS...

The reviews keep pouring in...this time from Rick & Melody Curtis from Flower Mound, TX. Rick & Melody were with me in Alaska for my Eagle workshop in March, and they are a ton of fun;

Chris,
Thank you for the wonderful time we had at your “Gannet Galore” Workshop! As always, we came away with some “awesome” pictures and expanded our knowledge not only about photography but the birds as well. We were fortunate to have a variation of the weather (fog, rain, sun, & cloudy), which presented us with a new learning experience daily also challenged us to think about what we had learned and apply it accordingly. The differences in the photos were a testimony to your ability to teach us how to use variation in shutter speed, exposure and composition. Even though we tried your patience on occasion, we swear we learned to "keep it to the right" and trust the histogram. Those “crazy birds on the rock” were so much fun to watch, it was easy to forget to take pictures. Your enthusiasm and joy of photography is contagious, making the workshop extremely fun.

We look forward to spending time with you again at another workshop in the near future. Thanks for the great experience; it is one we will remember for a long time.

Thanks again!!
The Texas Zoomers (aka Rick and Melody Curtis)

Tuesday
Jun302009

Gray Seals of Bonaventure Island

Gray Seal, Halichoerus Grypus, Bonaventure Island, Quebec

©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com

Canon EOS 1D MKIII, 500mm F4 Lens Hand-held from Zodiac Hurricane 733

ISO 400, F4.5, 1/2000s Manual Mode

Here's a few Grey Seal images captured from the Zodiac during my recent Gannets Galore workshops. Being in the Zodiac allowed us to get low and close; very close. An easy way to ensure sharp images while hand-holding large lenses from a rolling boat is to use a high shutter speed; notice that I've chosen 1/2000 of a second. There is quite a sizable Grey Seal population around Bonaventure Island in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence. How do I get so close? Holding my camera in the "shooting" position before making my approach is the secret; the best way to scare off a seal is to wave a huge white lens at it ;) (and I've seen it countless times).

Gray Seal, Halichoerus Grypus, Bonaventure Island, Quebec

©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com

Canon EOS 1DsMKIII, 500mm F4 Lens Hand-held from Zodiac Hurricane 733

ISO 400, F5, 1/2000s Manual Mode

Gray Seal, Halichoerus Grypus, Bonaventure Island, Quebec

©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com

Canon EOS 1D MKIII, 500mm F4 Lens Hand-held from Zodiac Hurricane 733

ISO 400, F4.5, 1/2000s Manual Mode

Gray Seal, Halichoerus Grypus, Bonaventure Island, Quebec

©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com

Canon EOS 1D MKIII, 500mm F4 Lens Hand-held from Zodiac Hurricane 733

ISO 400, F4.5, 1/2000s Manual

The Gray Seal is large-bodied and robust, rotund at the torso and slender toward the hind end. The head is conspicuously long, broad, and flat with no obvious forehead. The flippers are short and rather thick. The foreflippers are blunt at the end, with digits all roughly the same lenght and with long slender claws. Adult males are up to three times larger than adult females, with a proportionally larger head and a longer, fleshier snout. Mature males develop a robust neck and chest with prominent folds or wrinkles. The chest may become heavily scarred from fighting with other males. There are nine to ten pairs of teeth in the upper jaw and eight pairs in the lower jaw.

The spotting pattern of Gray Seals seems to be individually unique, like a human's fingerprint. The scientific name, Halichoerus Grypus, translates to "hook-nosed sea pig" and is derived from the Greek words halios ("of the sea"), khoiros ("pig"), and grupos ("hook-nosed"). In Eastern Canada, the Gray Seal is also known as "horsehead", in reference to the distinctive shape of the male's head.

Adult  males are generally a uniform dark gray, brown, or black with scattered light spots and blotches over most of the body. Adult females and juveniles are mostly light silver or gray with dark brown, olive, or black blotches. The ventral coloration, especially of females and juveniles, may be lighter. Pups are born with a long thick lanugo coat that they shed at about two to four weeks to attain a muted adult pelage.

Gray Seals live to be 35-40 years of age and the males can reach 770 pounds (350Kg).

Wednesday
Jun102009

Bonaventure ROCKS!

Northern Gannets Fencing, Morus Bassanus, Fou de Bassan Bonaventure Island, Quebec ©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com Canon EOS 1DsMKIII, 500mm F4 Lens Wimberley Head and Gitzo Tripod ISO 250, F14, 1/200s Manual, Canon 580EXII Flash in manual; full power with LumiQuest SoftboxIII

I first started to use the LumiQuest softbox III during winter owl excursions, and just like in the studio, using a softbox enlarges and softens the light source producing lovely, evenly lit images. It's important to note that this softbox cuts the light output of your flash by 3 stops, so you have to be quite close to your subject.

Northern Gannet BIRD OF A FEATHER, Morus Bassanus, Fou de Bassan Bonaventure Island, Quebec ©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com Canon EOS 1DMKIII, 70-200mm F2.8 Lens @ 200mm ISO 400, F4.5, 1/2000s Manual, Canon 580EXII Flash full power manual.

Using manual exposure ensures success while photographing birds in flight against changing backgrounds.

Northern Gannet VICTORY LANDING, Morus Bassanus, Fou de Bassan Bonaventure Island, Quebec

©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com

Canon EOS 1DMKIII, 70-200mm F2.8 Lens @ 200mm

ISO 400, F4.5, 1/2000s Manual, Canon 580EXII Flash full power manual.

Northern Gannet Landing with Seaweed, Morus Bassanus, Fou de Bassan Bonaventure Island, Quebec

©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com

Canon EOS 1DMKIII, 300mm F2.8 Lens

ISO 250, F4, 1/1600s Manual, Canon 580EXII Flash full power manual with Better Beamer.

The first three June workshops were a huge success, thanks to a great attendees and cloudy bright conditions for most of our days. We've had cold, rainy days, but that hasn't stopped us from having a great time making some amazing images. I know the workshops are going well when I see attendees making images that I would love to have in my collection. The colony is in fine shape, and there has been another noticeable population increase. There are many more birds populating the "Gannet Crossing" and the staff continues to do amazing work. I've been here more times than I can remember and still had some of the most productive photography ever. The images in this post were created (with many other keepers) during a two hour window on Monday, June 8, 2009. The last two outings in the Zodiac were a dream; flat water, golden light and many Gray Seals, Razorbills, Common Murres, Black-Legged Kittiwakes to photograph - Did I mention the Gannets? (smile).

I've enjoyed a day off and got caught-up with emails, this blog and phone calls today, and just gave the introductory slide show to the last group. The forecast is mixed sun and cloud in the morning, followed by rain and cloud on Saturday and Sunday, so I'm looking forward to another productive workshop.

Thursday
Jun042009

Bonaventure Bound... 

Northern Gannet 7 weeks old, Morus Bassanus, Fou de Bassan Bonaventure Island, Quebec

©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com

Canon EOS 1DsMKII, 500mm F4 Lens with 1.4X II and 2X II Tele-converters

ISO 400, F16, 1/100s Manual, Canon 580EXII Flash ETTL II 1/16 power manual

Northern Gannet Fingers Crossed, Morus Bassanus, Fou de Bassan Bonaventure Island, Quebec

©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com

Canon EOS 1DsMKII, 500mm F4 Lens

ISO 320, F6.3, 1/1600s Manual

My fingers are crossed that we get a fair mix of weather. At Bonaventure Island, there are just so many birds landing all day long. Shown above against the Gulf of the St-Lawrence on an overcast day.

Northern Gannet DIVE, Morus Bassanus, Fou de Bassan Bonaventure Island, Quebec

©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com

Canon EOS 1DMKII, 70-200mm F2.8 Lens with @ 160mm

ISO 250, F7.1, 1/1600s Manual

I just love parking the Zodiac under the Gannet Colony with the chocolate brown cliffs reflecting in the water.

Northern Gannet DIVING, Morus Bassanus, Fou de Bassan Bonaventure Island, Quebec

©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com

Canon EOS 1DMKII, 70-200mm F2.8 Lens @200mm from Zodiak

ISO 250, F6.3, 1/1600s Manual

At 02:00, only a few short hours from now, I'll be making the twelve hour drive to one of my favorite places on earth for bird photography. The action is non-stop from the moment we board the Zodiak at 04:45, until the very end of the day. Bonaventure Island is a bird photographers heaven - even better with the hundreds of Gannets we have swirling around our Zodiac each morning. There are still a couple of spots available on my last June trip, and on the August trip. The two spots on the June 19-21 trip are at a huge discount (see my last post).

Manual mode is so scary to many photographers that it blows me away. When your subject is in constant light (2 hours after sunrise, until 2 hours before it sets on a bright, blue sky day), setting your camera to manual mode ensures an almost perfect exposure while following moving subjects against changing backgrounds. Lock & load, but don't forget to check your camera's histogram often.

 

Wednesday
Jun032009

Gannets Galore Workshop Huge Discount

Northern Gannet SKYPOINTER, Morus Bassanus, Fou de Bassan Bonaventure Island, Quebec

©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com

Canon EOS 1DsMKII, 500mm F4 Lens with 1.4X II Tele-converter

ISO 400, F11, 1/800s Manual, Canon 580EXII Flash ETTL II 1/16 power manual

Northern Gannet Portrait, Morus Bassanus, Fou de Bassan Bonaventure Island, Quebec

©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com

Canon EOS 1DsMKII, 500mm F4 Lens with 1.4X II Tele-converter

ISO 400, F11, 1/800s Manual, Canon 580EXII Flash ETTL II 1/16 power manual

Due to last minute cancellations, I have two spots available for the June 19-21, 2009 Gannets Galore Photography Workshop at a HUGE discount. The price of the workshop is CAD$2,395.00 per person, but the folks who have cancelled have told me they would be happy to get CAD$1,395.00 - that's a $1,000.00 savings!

The trip includes 4 nights lodging, three 4 hour Zodiac trips under the Gannet colony (weather permitting), three breakfasts, three days photographic instruction. Please give me a call @ (450) 827-1007 to secure your discounted spot now. Visa and MasterCard accepted.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE

Here's how great friend Artur Morris described his experience during my June workshop last year:
"On the morning of June 14, my 62nd birthday, we took the ferry to Bonaventure Island and made the 1.8 mile walk up the big hill. I had been a bit worried about making that walk up and down for five straight days, but Chris was right: “Take it slow and it is an easy walk.” When we arrived at the gannetry, I was totally blown away. So so many birds at arms length. Dozens, even hundreds of gannets in the air at all times, many carrying huge loads of nesting material, many landing just yards away. That day, the photographic action was nonstop, but it was not a birthday present, for the succeeding four days were equally exciting. And as each day came and went, I visualized and created many new and different images. I felt like a painter locked in a huge warehouse with hundreds of blank canvases and an unlimited supply of paints. I was in bird photographer’s heaven.
That evening Chris and I met the five remaining members of the group. Weather permitting, we planned to spend four hours in a large Zodiac photographing the gannetry and the cliffs from the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Though it was rough on the two mornings that we went out very early, we had some great flight and scenic opportunities. Then Danny, the skipper of the Zodiac, would drop us of on the island and we would make the climb to the birds. Danny brought along coolers full of sandwiches and fruit, enough to feed an army. Once he learned that I was diabetic he had his chefs prepare me egg salad and fruit salad every day. We would load our vests with food and head up the hill.
I have been to Antarctica. I have been to Kenya. I have been to Tanzania. And I have been going to Bosque for the past 13 years. All of those places offer great photographic opportunities. But no place that I have been has ever offered as consistent and spectacular action as Bonaventure."

A group of Gannets has many collective nouns, including a "company", "gannetry", "newspaper syndicate", and "plunging" of Gannets. Served as a local delicacy in the town of Isle of Lewis, Inhabitants are allowed to kill up to 2,00 Northern Gannets annually. Though the Bass Rock colony in the U.K. was the largest in the world; there is no room for further expansion, making Bonaventure Island in Quebec, Canada the largest Northern Gannet colony in the world.

Canon 5D Mark II firmware update is now available HERE

The new firmware allows Canon EOS 5D Mark II owners to achieve even more stunning video results with the camera, the firmware update will include the following manual controls when shooting video:
• Full aperture selection
• ISO speed: Auto, 100 – 6400 and H1
• Shutter speed: 1/30th – 1/4000th second

Friday
May292009

Cerulean Dreams

Cerulean Warbler Vertical, Dendroica Cerulea, Paruline Azurée Kingston, Ontario Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1DsMKIII, 500mm F4 Lens with 2X II Tele-converter, Tripod & Wimberley Head II. ISO 800, F8, 1/125s Aperture priority (evaluative +2/3), Canon 580EXII Flash ETTL II -3. PURCHASE A PRINT OR LICENSE AN IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE

Cerulean Warbler horizontal, Dendroica Cerulea, Paruline Azurée Kingston, Ontario. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1DsMKIII, 500mm F4 Lens with 2X II Tele-converter, tripod & Wimberley Head II. ISO 800, F8, 1/320s Aperture priority (evaluative +2/3), Canon 580EXII Flash ETTL II -3 PURCHASE A PRINT OR LICENSE AN IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.

Environment Canada forecast heavy rain all day yesterday, with little chance of bright overcast conditions that would have been conducive to great warbler photography all day long. I decided to venture to the Kingston area of Ontario to give it a try anyway. Worst that could happen is a good birding day without images; sure beats being in the office.
My parents are visiting from Calgary, so I got them up early, loaded into the car and delivered to their friends home in Kingston before most are out of bed (did I mention it was a three hour drive?). From Kingston, I made my way to the Chaffey’s Lock area and spent a few hours in just about perfect photographic conditions. While there weren’t many birds, there certainly were great quality birds. The rain that did fall was light and misty, while it was mostly just dark and overcast. Considered a photographic nemesis bird by many, I had a blast photographing this gorgeous male Cerulean Warbler. I've photographed Cerulean Warblers many times there before, but Queen's University conducts research and most are banded - it was a dream come true to get a nearly perfect male without bands in Ontario. While using the Canon 1DsIII, I strive to keep the ISO under 400; however, there are times when I simply have to use a higher ISO. Properly exposing the image in the camera is the single best way to minimize noise.

The Cerulean Warbler (Dendroica cerulea, Paruline Azurée) gets its name from the vivid blue coloration of the male warbler's back and cheeks that makes this a difficult bird to find in the tree tops, where it lives and nests. Cerulean Warblers are forest-interior birds that require large, relatively undisturbed tracts of mature, semi-open deciduous forest. In Ontario, they are restricted to such habitats in the Carolinian Forest zone and the southern part of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Forest zone. These birds begin their long migration to wintering grounds in northeastern South America in late summer. A species of special concern both Provincially and Nationally here in Canada, and in the United States, it is considered a species at risk by many. Recent studies suggest its population is only 30% of what it was only 20 short years ago; dropping faster than any other North American Warbler. On the North American breeding grounds, the chief threat to this warbler is habitat loss resulting from forest fragmentation and degradation. On the South American wintering grounds, forested tracts in mountainous regions are preferred, and these areas are considered to be under a high degree of threat from logging. Nest parasitism by the Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) may become an increasing problem as cowbird populations increase in degraded forest habitats. The Cerulean Warbler is protected in a Schedule under the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act.

MORE KUDOS:

Point Pelee photography workshop participant, Michael Lyncheski (from Gladstone, NJ) emailed me this testimonial (thanks, Michael):

“I was impressed on how much Chris cared about making sure everyone was learning, engaged, and getting the most out of the trip. I look forward to my next workshop with Chris!”

Wednesday
May272009

Reflections of Pelee

Yellow Warbler Reflection Vertical, Dendroica Petechia (Paruline jaune) Point Pelee National Park, Essex County, Leamington, Ontario, Canada. Image Copyright©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1DMKIII, 500mm F4 Lens with 2X II and 1.4II Tele-converters. Tripod and Wimberley Head II. ISO 400, F8, 1/80s Aperture priority (evaluative +2/3), Canon 580EXII Flash ETTL II -2+2/3. CLICK HERE TO BUY A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION.

It often takes only one bird to have a great photography day. I had a blast with this Yellow Warbler bathing in a puddle on the road that joins the two parking lots of the Sanctuary trail at the North end of Point Pelee National Park in Leamington, Ontario. I had ventured off along the seasonal trail on my own to try to find warblers for the group, when I realized that Tuma (pronounced Duma), Nick and Gill had discovered a Nashville Warbler bathing in this puddle. I missed the Nashville, but am thrilled with this Yellow. After working the bird with the 500mm and 2X tele-converter for a few frames, I added the 1.4X and the resulting images from the stacked converters were the money shots for me. Good technique is the key to getting sharp images when stacking converters. I lock both knobs on my Wimberley Head and plant my face into the viewfinder, all the while using my left hand to compress the lens, both converters and the camera body into my face. I find this technique eliminates any play between the camera body, converters and lens; resulting in a much higher percentage of sharp, usable images. A solid tripod and head are also vital to success. While auto focus will work very slowly with pro camera bodies from Canon, it is much faster to focus manually.

Carolus Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist, physician and zoologist first described the Yellow Warbler (Dendroica Petechia) in 1766. Often parasitized by the Brown-Headed Cowbird, Yellow Warbler nests can sometimes have up to six tiers; the result of them re-building their nest on top of the parasitized one. DNA based studies indicate that the Chestnut-Sided Warbler is their closest relative. Both sing similarly phrased songs. A group of Yellow Warblers are collectively known as a “stream”, “sweetness”, and “trepidation” of warblers.

Wednesday
May272009

Canon Enables Manual Exposure in Video on EOS 5D Mark II 

This is HUGE news from Canon. I am going to predict that within 18 months, there will be no digital SLR still cameras available without HD video. Way to go Canon!

Media Alert
***EMBARGOED UNTIL 27th May 2009 03:00 CET***

Canon Enables Manual Exposure in Video on
EOS 5D Mark II


LONDON, UK, 27th May 2009: Canon announced today it will release a firmware
update for the EOS 5D Mark II allowing users to manually control exposure when
shooting video. The new firmware will be available for download from 2 June 2009 on
Canon Europe’s support web site.
Following the launch of the EOS 5D Mark II in September 2008, Canon’s Research and
Development team has listened closely to customer feedback to develop additions to
the camera’s movie recording functionality.

Allowing EOS 5D Mark II owners to achieve even more stunning video results with the
camera, the firmware update will include the following manual controls when shooting
video:
• Full aperture selection
• ISO speed: Auto, 100 – 6400 and H1
• Shutter speed: 1/30th – 1/4000th second

The EOS 5D Mark II integrates full HD movie capability into a high-end 21.1 Megapixel
camera; opening a multitude of new possibilities for photo-journalists and news
photographers. Since its launch the camera has proved its appeal to professionals
working in diverse fields, from studio and wedding to nature and travel. Now,
following customer feedback, Canon has improved functionality for professional video
users, further unleashing the potential of the EOS 5D Mark II for cinematographers and
photographers alike.

- ENDS -

Friday
May222009

Indigo Buntings - Dauphin Island, AL

Indigo Bunting Vertical, Passerina Cyanea, Dauphin Island, AL

©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com

Canon EOS 1DMKIII, 500mm F4 Lens with 2X II Tele-converter

ISO 400, F8, 1/500s Aperture priority (evaluative +1/3), Canon 580EXII Flash ETTL II -2+2/3

I love photographing birds perched in the shade against a sunlit background using flash.

Indigo Bunting Horizontal, Passerina Cyanea, Dauphin Island, AL

©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com

Canon EOS 1DMKIII, 500mm F4 Lens with 2X II Tele-converter

ISO 400, F8, 1/80s Aperture priority (evaluative +2/3), Canon 580EXII Flash ETTL II -2+2/3

Male Indigo Buntings are actually black; it is the diffraction of light through their feathers that make them appear many shades from turquoise to black. Using the pattern of stars nearest the North Star to guide them, Indigo Buntings migrate at night. In captivity, they will become disoriented if they can’t see the night stars in April/May and September/October.

Thinking back to Daulphin Island, Alabama, the southern hospitality shown by everyone we met was beyond kind. We met Mike Rogers on our first day there and he kindly showed us around Dauphin Island’s birding hot-spots, then took us to his gorgeous ocean-side resort home and cooked us an amazing crawfish, shrimp and crab dinner. Mike also introduced us to Terry Hartley and together they introduced us to Chris and Michele Steber who let us takeover their bird feeders and setup perches for Indigo Buntings, Blue Grosbeaks and a few other great birds. Thank you Chris & Michele, Mike and Terry. After our first morning, Mike and Terry took us to the home of John & Jennie Stowers who were hosting a marvelous lunch for the Alabama Ornithological Society – what a great way to meet many wonderful birding folks!. I had my first (and definitely not my last) bowl of Gumbo, WOW!

I would like to say that photographing these birds at feeders was easy, but it did require quite a bit of patience. I wasn’t until our third session (and after an amazing smoked turkey beast dinner that Chris and Michele had made) that we were able to produce useable, full-frame images. Leaving the blankets that we had been using as a blind blowing in the wind overnight proved to be the key to acclimatizing the birds to our close proximity. I love the effect of flash on a bird in the shade, against a sunlit background. In fact, while photographing migrant warblers, I’ll take the birds in the shade over harsh, or dappled, sunlight any day.

Thursday
May212009

Rondeau Provincial Park Feeder Set-ups

Red-Bellied Woodpecker, Rondeau Provincial Park, Morpeth, Ontario Canada ©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com Canon EOS 1DsMKIII, 500mm F4 Lens with 2X II Tele-converter ISO 400, F8, 1/800s Aperture priority (evaluative +1), Canon 580EXII Flash ETTL II -2+2/3

A member of the Picidae family, the Red-Bellied Woodpecker, Melanerpes carolinus, is a medium-sized woodpecker that breeds in sothern Canada and the northeastern United States of America. The adult males have a red cap that extends from the bill to the nape; females have a red patch on the nape and another above the bill.

While leading my recent Point Pelee Workshop, we made several hour-long journeys to Rondeau Provincial Park in Morpeth, Ontario. There are trailer campsites at Rondeau where many campers park RVs for weeks at a time. The campers have had bird feeders up for years, so the migrating birds are easy to “bait” to new feeder set-ups for photography. I had placed this perch on top of a picnic table (with carefully placed, out of sight peanut butter on it’s rear) with the hopes of attracting Red-Headed Woodpeckers. The Red-Headed Woodpeckers never showed, so this was a nice back-up subject. It does help to have good relations with the campers, I asked many to remove their feeders so the birds had fewer options.

Most who know me have noticed that I’ve been using Aperture Priority lately. I’m a huge advocate of Manual Mode while photographing in constant light. Knowing when and where to use the different tools available to us as photographers is crucial to making consistently well-exposed images. I was plagued with changing light levels and photographing from a set-up with a constant background – there was no better choice than aperture priority.