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Photography Workshops by Canon Northern Explorer of Light Christopher Dodds

 

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Monday
Aug102009

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 www.chrisdoddsphoto.com 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 www.chrisdoddsphoto.com 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 www.chrisdoddsphoto.com 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 www.mec.ca) 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.



Tuesday
Aug042009

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 www.chrisdoddsphoto.com 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 www.chrisdoddsphoto.com 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 www.chrisdoddsphoto.com 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 www.chrisdoddsphoto.com 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 www.chrisdoddsphoto.com 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

Click Here for more info. CALL FOR LATE REGISTRATION DISCOUNT

Kudos...

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

Friday
Jul312009

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

Coastal Brown Bear Cub CURIOUS CUTIE (Ursus arctos) Katmai National Park, AK ©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com 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 www.chrisdoddsphoto.com 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 www.chrisdoddsphoto.com 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 www.chrisdoddsphoto.com 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.

Monday
Jul272009

Coastal Brown Bears - A trip report part I

Coastal Brown Bear Sow (Ursus arctos) Katmai National Park, AK ©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com Canon EOS 5DMKII, 70-200mm F2.8 @145mm ISO 400, F8 1/200s Manual mode.

On the morning of Friday, July 17, 2009 I started what would become an almost epic journey to photograph Coastal Brown Bears in Katmai National Park in Alaska. Julie dropped me off at the airport in Montreal on her way to work (thanks, J!), and I caught a flight to Chicago without incident. After a four-hour layover in the windy city, I flew to Anchorage, Alaska; again without event. I had a hotel reservation in Anchorage, but by the time I managed to get my luggage and wait the nonsensical 55 minutes for the hotel shuttle, I only managed three hours sleep before I needed to get back to the airport. Saturday morning blended into afternoon and then evening while waiting for my ERA Airline flight to Kodiak. Heavy fog had prevented flights into Kodiak since Thursday night. Once the last flight to Kodiak that day had been cancelled, and I managed to track-down my luggage, it was hardly worth trying to find a hotel room, so I opted to sleep in the airport. I don’t need to go into details, but the ERA customer care that I received was well beyond the worst that this seasoned traveler had ever seen. While constantly trying to get information, I was blessed to meet some great people; a Police Chief from Colorado and a State Transportation Officer from Oregon; we stuck together and camped-out in the airport like homeless bag people. Since I had purchased an Alaskan Airlines ticket, I was able to get myself onto the Alaskan 737 flight on Sunday morning, and after a few hours fog delay, managed to get to Kodiak. Once in Kodiak, the fine folks at Sea Hawk Air came immediately to pick me up and Rolan Ruoss flew me to the Coastal Explorer in his de Havilland Beaver. Rolan has over 15,000 hours of Kodiak area flying.

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

Coastal Brown Bear Sow and Cub (Ursus arctos) Katmai National Park, AK ©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com Canon EOS 5DMKII, 70-200mm F2.8 @180mm ISO 400, F8 1/200s Manual mode.

Coastal Brown Bear? … is that a Grizzly Bear?

Brown Bear, Grizzly Bear or Kodiak Bear, they are all members of the brown bear family, Ursidae. Scientific names differ amongst groups of brown bears found in specific regions such as Coastal and Grizzly Bears, which have been given the name, Ursus arctos horribilis. Though there is a wide variety of brown bears found throughout the world, all having unique scientific names, they are still all members of the brown bear family, Ursidae. Middendorffi is the one exception and only scientifically recognized sub species of brown bear, due to the fact that they have the smallest gene pool of all brown bears and have a definite larger bone structure than other brown bears.

Brown bears found inland and in mountainous habitats are called "grizzlies" while brown bears living in coastal areas are called Coastal Brown Bears. The Kodiak brown bear is isolated to Kodiak Island in Alaska. Kodiak bears are not Grizzly Bears, the name “grizzly” comes from the silver tipped hairs these bears get, as they grow older. In comparison, the grizzly is considerably smaller than both the coastal brown bear and the Kodiak brown bear. This size difference is due to the abundance of food available in coastal areas and on Kodiak Island. The Kodiak bear has been isolated to Kodiak Island for some 12,000 years. The bone structure of the Kodiak is much larger than other Brown Bears, they have a more diverse social structure than other bears due to the close proximity in which they live and they have a gene pool that is much smaller than that of other bears.

The Kodiak brown bear is the world’s largest bear while the polar bear being a direct descendent of the brown bear is the world’s heaviest bear. Polar bears have been reclassified as marine mammals due to the amount of time these bears spend in the water.

The bear pictured is a Coastal Brown bear photographed at Hallo Bay in Katmai National Park in Alaska. This is a she bear or sow, (terms often used in reference to a female bear) with her cub. Male bears are called boars and female bears are called sows.

Brown bears gain an average of 3-6 pounds of fat per day during peak periods to obtain enough body weight to survive winter hibernation. Hibernation is a state of dormancy at which time bears are inactive, allowing them to adapt to short winter food supplies. During a bears hibernation, its body temperature is close to that of the surrounding air, its metabolic rate is comparatively high and it may awaken and move about outside the den. The length of a bears hibernation depends on climate, location, sex, age and reproductive status of the individual bear. Bears that have not obtained an adequate fat reserve may not hibernate at all.

Mating takes place during the spring months from late May through early July. Brown bears are serially monogamous and will remain with the same mate from several days to a couple of weeks. Female brown bears become sexually mature between 5 and 7 years of age, males usually will not mate until a few years later when they are able to compete successfully with other males for an available female.

Through a remarkable process known as delayed implantation, a fertilized egg will divide and float free within the uterus for six months. During hibernation, the embryo will attach itself to the uterine wall and the cubs will be born after an eight-week period while the mother sleeps (January or February). This process is important to the survival of the mother. Should she not gain enough weight to carry her through the winter, the embryo will not implant and be reabsorbed by the body.

The average number of cubs born is between one and four, with two being the average. There have been cases where a bear has been spotted with five cubs, though the mother has been suspected of adopting an orphan, which is not unusual. Age, geographic location and food supply influence the size of a bears litter. The number of cubs a female will have increases, as she gets older. At birth, the cubs are blind, toothless, hairless and very tiny weighing less than 1 pound. They feed on mother’s milk until spring, when she is ready to leave the den, sometime between April and May and as late as June depending on climate conditions. At this time they will have developed enough to follow her and begin to forage. The cubs will weigh from 15 to 20 pounds at this time.

Cubs will stay with their mother from two to four years. During this time, they will learn survival techniques crucial to their existence. They will learn which foods return the highest nutritional values, where to attain them, how to hunt, how to fish, how to defend themselves and where to den. The cubs learn by following and imitating their mother’s actions during the period they are with her.

Thursday
Jul162009

Moose Moment

Moose Cow & Calf MOOSE MOMENT (Alces, Elan, Orignal) Baxter State Park, Maine Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1DsMKII, 500mm F4 and 2XII tele-converter ISO 500, F8 1/250s Manual mode. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION.

With all of the rain and cool weather we've be experiencing around Montreal this summer, I've been thinking about fall. Here's an intimate portrait of a Moose Cow and her yearling from Baxter State Park in Maine. While hanging out for the Giant Bull Moose, we often watch and photograph the females and their young eating the rich, lake bottom, pond weed. Working with a 500mm Lens and doubler to get tight was the key here. Notice the adult's ears are down, while the youngster's are alert, and up. I held off knowing that the image would not be as intimate if the adult had her ears up and looked alarmed. The yearling will stay with it's mother a full year until she gives birth to a calf in the spring.

Check-it out: Moose and Fall colors of Maine Sept. 28 - Oct. 2, 2009 A Christopher Dodds Workshop

Tuesday
Jul142009

Blackburnian Warbler

Blackburnian Warbler, Dendroica fusca, Paruline à gorge orangée Point Pelee Provincial Park, Ontario ©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com Canon EOS 1DMKII, 500mm F4 and 2XII tele-converter ISO 400, F8 1/400s Manual

Certainly one of my favorite warblers, here's a favorite image from Point Pelee National Park a couple of years ago. There are times when placing the subject smack in the middle of a vertical image just works so well. Check out my Songbirds of Pelee Workshop May 8-12, 2010. 

The only North American Warbler with an orange throat, the Blackburnian Warbler, Dendroica fusca, was named after Anna Blackburne, an English Botanist. The male Blackburinan Warbler's orange throat appears to be glowing, giving it such previous names as "Firethroat" and "Tourchbird". Bent (1953) wrote, "Blackburnian seems to be a doubly appropriate name, for its upperparts are largely black and its throat burns like a brilliant orange flame amid the dark foliage of the hemlocks and spruces". Favoring Hemlocks, they feed and nest in the upper and outer portions of coniferous trees, perhaps to avoid competition with other closely-related species. Hidden in dense foliage or in Usnea lichen, and often as high as 85 feet, Blackburnian Warbler nests are an uncommon victim of Brown-Headed Cowbird parasitism.

Tuesday
Jul142009

Gannets Galore Workshop August 17-19, 2009 Bonaventure Island, Quebec. A Christopher Dodds Workshop

Still some space left...

Northern Gannets GANNETS GALORE, Morus Bassanus, Fou de Bassan Bonaventure Island, Quebec ©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com Canon EOS 1D MKII, 70-200mm F2.8 @ 70mm ISO 250, F9 1/1000s Manual with Canon 580 EX Flash @ -1-2/3

Join Christopher Dodds at the largest Northern Gannet colony in the world. Bonaventure Island, off the Gaspe Peninsula of Quebec, is home to more than 55,000 nesting pairs of Northern Gannets. You haven’t really seen a Gannet until you see the activity at a breeding colony. Bonaventure Island is perhaps one of the world’s best places to teach avian flight technique. Other photographic opportunities will include all aspects of breeding behavior; courtship display, bowing (territorial display), sky pointing, fencing (two mates clashing their bills together while pointing skyward), mutual preening and copulation. Most of the nests will be occupied and will contain babies at various stages of development. We’ll be feet away from adults feeding their young on their nests. The workshop is timed to coincide with the annual Mackerel run, so we'll have plenty of opportunities to photograph these magnificent birds diving; sometimes forming huge diving funnels containing thousands of birds. Other photographic possibilities include thousands of nesting Black-legged Kittiwakes, Common Murres, Black Guillemots, Rozorbills, Gulls, Grey Seals and various Whales. Highlights will include a daily four hour adventure on a 24 foot Zodiac Hurricane (weather permitting). We should have ample opportunities to photograph Gannets diving and feeding in large funnels.
Northern Gannets Nesting Material Exchange, Morus Bassanus, Fou de Bassan Bonaventure Island, Quebec ©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com Canon EOS 1DsMKII, 300mm F2.8 and 1.4XII Tele-converter  ISO 250, F8 1/800s Manual

"A trip of a lifetime. The workshop was amazing. The scenery was awesome and the people were fabulous. Chris Dodds' knowledge of our subjects was expansive. The instruction was top notch, We were given so many opportunities to explore and learn the aspects of shooting pictures under conditions that allowed us to work with light, speed and movement. There were so many aspects of photography I had never paid much attention too but Chris incorporated them in my experience effortlessly, patiently and with the understanding what is necessary to accomplish beautiful and professional photographs. Chris is thoroughly professional, knowledgeable and very personable." Marla Moore Arlington Heights, IL

Northern Gannets THE DIVE, Morus Bassanus, Fou de Bassan Bonaventure Island, Quebec ©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com Canon EOS 1DMKIII, 70-200mm F2.8 with 1.4XII Tele-converter @250mm Hand-held from Zodiac Hurricane 733 ISO 320, F8, 1/1600s Manual

Daily 4 hour Zodiac Adventure

Access to Bonaventure Island is tightly controlled, and it is impossible to land on the island before nine o’clock. The addition of the Zodiac voyage is the best way to maximize the morning light and photograph Gannets in a most unique way. This is your chance to spend four hours (weather permitting) onboard our 12 person (though our group of six will be the only passengers on board), 24 foot Zodiac on each of the three mornings of the workshop. Our Captain will be a huge asset to our expedition as he has lived in Perce all of his life and has spent the last twenty years building the largest (and best) passenger ferry service to the Island and whale watching tour company. Our Captain is an expert pilot who naturally positions his Zodiac in exactly the right place for photography. We will be his only passengers and he will be sure to maximize our time aboard. We will have many opportunities to photograph nesting Black-Legged Kittiwakes, Razorbills, Common Murres and Grey Seals: all at close range. We'll have many opportunities to photograph diving Gannets. After our Zodiac trip, we will land on the main wharf of Bonaventure Island at about nine o’clock and enjoy home-made sandwiches, juice and coffee before setting off on a 1.75 mile hike (mostly uphill with our gear) to the colony, where we’ll spend the remainder of the day.

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

“Thank you for a magnificent workshop. Your efforts on our behalf were nothing short of heroic. I don't know where you get your energy, from Sun up to long after it set, you were working to make this the best photographic event that any of us had ever experienced, and you succeeded. Bonaventure Island is a photographers paradise, I have never returned from a workshop with so many '"Portfolio shots". If all your endeavors as fruitful, can't wait to get my lens on those Snowy Owls this winter.............I had a heck of a good time doing what I love, thanks to you" Malcolm MacKenzie West Palm Beach, Florida

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

Who should attend:

This workshop is highly recommended for any level photographer. Whether you are completely new to bird photography, an experienced amateur, or a seasoned pro. There will be something to photograph all day long and I will have plenty of time to tailor your instruction to your abilities. The seasoned pro can take full advantage of my site knowledge and this is the only way to circumnavigate the island in a Zodiac before the island opens at 9AM.

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


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

Lens choice:

One of the great advantages of being only a few feet from our subjects is not needing to own or bring any super telephoto lenses. Great images can be made with focal lenghts from 15mm to 600mm during this workshop. I often use my 70-200mm F2.8, or my 300mm F2.8 for flight images; while my 500mm (with both the 1.4X and 2X teleconverters) are ideal for tight portraits. Many succesfull images are made with 400mm.

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

Getting there....

77km from Gaspe Airport (YGP)
776km from Quebec City Airport (YQB)
1029km from Montreal Pierre Elliot Trudeau Int’l Airport (YUL)

Northern Gannet landing with sea weed, Morus Bassanus, Fou de Bassan Bonaventure Island, Quebec ©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com Canon EOS 1D MKII, 500mm F4 Lens ISO 400, F6.3, 1/800s Manual, Canon 580EX Flash ETTL II - 1 and 2/3

What's included....

Four nights hotel accommodatin (single occupancy).
Three 4 hour excursions on a Zodiac boat (weather permitting), and return from Bonaventure Island to Perce on a larger, commercial ferry.
Three picnic breakfasts (sandwich, juice & coffee)
Three days admission to Bonaventure Island
Three full days photographic instruction and Introductory slideshow on the evening before the workshop

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

Group size....

Our group will be limited to six participants

Price....

CAD$2,395.00 per person. Non-refundable Deposit of CAD$1,000.00 is due with booking, balance of CAD$1,395.00 due 90 days prior to workshop. Please email me your contact information (chris@chrisdoddsphoto.com) and remit payment to:

Christopher Dodds
Box 112
Franklin Centre, QC
Canada
J0S 1E0

Bonaventure Island is THE best place in the world for Avian flight photography. Be prepared to be a little over-whelmed by the activity there. It is one of my favorite places on this earth, and I can't wait to share it with you.

Questions....

Feel free to email me at: chris@chrisdoddsphoto.com or call me at +1 (450) 827-1007

 

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

Friday
Jul102009

Snow Goose Reflection and kudos..

Snow Goose REFLECTION (Chen Caerulescens, Oie des neiges) Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, Socorro, New Mexico, USA. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1DsMKIII, 500mm F4 Lens with 2X II Teleconverter, tripod and Wimberley Head II. ISO 250, F16, 1/400s in Manual Mode - no flash. CLICK HERE TO ORDER A PRINT OR LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION.

I photographed Snow Geese in Quebec and New Mexico this past fall and am in the process of making a submission, so I thought I'd share one of my favorites. I was carefully moving around trying to isolate single birds on the calm water when I noticed this bird stretch it's wings. Although I missed the initial wing-strech, I was able to eventually isolate it and patiently wait for it to repeat it's behavior; as birds often do. I was extremely lucky, as just a few short seconds after this capture, another Goose moved in a blocked my view, as often happens.

Snow Goose LANDING with iron oxide stain (Chen Caerulescens, Oie des neiges) Reservoir Beaudette, Victoriaville, Quebec Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1DMKIII, 500mm F4 Lens with 2X II Teleconverter, tripod and Wimberley Head II. ISO 500, F8, 1/1000s in Manual Mode. CLICK HERE TO ORDER A PRINT OR LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION.

Snow Geese often have red stains on their heads from gathering food in mud containing iron oxides.

More Kudos...

...I am a reasonably good nature photographer, and have always been interested in macro photography (especially flowers). I enrolled in this workshop to learn bird photography because many of my previous attempts at bird photography have been less than satisfactory. I found Chris to be extremely knowledgeable about the area, the birds, and photography techniques but also enthusiastic about photography and about helping the workshop participants to improve their individual photographic skills. I needed help with using flash, and Chris was able to make suggestions which are helping me to use flash with much more confidence. He was always offering suggestions to help me with my photography. He knew what I needed, because he asked what I wanted to get from the workshop. After this workshop, I also have much greater confidence in using the histogram in the field to evaluate my exposures. This area of improvementin addition to the improvement with using flash will help my photography going forward.
I was amazed at the non-stop action of the birds flying all day and the endless possibilities of photographing birds flying, landing, and taking off. Chris recognized changes in the direction of the wind and he was able to have us move to a better vantage point for better photo possibilities. There were some vantage points on the ground where the nesting birds were no more than 10-12 feet from the board walk (and sometimes much closer). Because of this, there was ample opportunity to photograph the birds with moderate telephoto lenses.
Chris has been to this area many times and the people know him well. The people of the area like him and as members of his group, the people were very friendly to the workshop participants. Chris has arranged nice accommodations and was able to suggest good restaurants for our evening meals. The day started early but Chris was able to offer a variety of photo opportunities from daylight to sundown. I was very pleased with the images I was able to make on the second day when it was cloudy with a light rain for much of the day. I will have more confidence in the future about the possibility of photographing on rainy days.
Above all, I had fun at this workshop. I enjoyed talking to Chris about all sorts of his previous experiences, and he was interested in the experiences of the workshop participants. I would recommend Chris as a workshop leader and look forward to being a "student" in one or more of his future workshops. My workshop experience was better that I had anticipated (and I had expected it to be a great experience).

Dennis Stone
Columbus, Indiana

 

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).