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Photography Workshops by Canon Northern Explorer of Light Christopher Dodds


Christopher Dodds Nature Photographer | Promote Your Page Too

Entries in alaska (38)


Blue Fox and Stealth Gear Photography Clothing

Blue Fox Kit Wildflower Slumber (Vulpes lagopus pribilofensis, Arctic Fox, Renard polaire) Saint Paul Island, The Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea, Alaska. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon 1D MK IV, 500mm F4 L IS. Tripod & Jobu Jr. 3 Full Frame. ISO 800 f/11 @ 1/400s Manual Mode. PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.

Here's a Blue Fox from my recent trip out in the Bering Sea to Saint Paul Island in Alaska. It was a thrill to find this Kit sleeping in a field of wildflowers. I am currently setting-up a trip there next June 16-23, 2012, so be sure to email me to get on the short list for the trip. Many more images to follow..

Stealth Gear

Canadian Nature Photographer Christopher Dodds wearing Stealth Gear Extreme Urban Photographers Jacket/Vest. Saint Paul Island, The Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea, Alaska. Image Copyright and courtesy of Alfred Forns - thanks, Al.

I have been testing the Stealth Gear Extreme Urban Photographers Jacket/Vest since June. So far, the jacket has been to Bonaventure Island for my Gannets Galore workshops in June and again in September, it was perfect for my Puffins Galore workshops in July and it's traveled to Alaska with me for my Brown Bears Galore workshop, and again to Saint Paul Island in the Bering Sea. Overall, it's seen about 75 days of intense, dawn to dusk, field work. There is a little room for improvement, but as I examine the newest version of their Extreme Urban Photographers Trousers 2N, I can see how hard they are working to make them perfect. I'll write a full review when I get back from Maine where I hope to put the trousers to the test. I can say that I know of no better photographers jacket out there; it's particularly suited to the coastal climate in Alaska and that of the East coast in Canada. SAVE 15% OFF your purchase at the STEALTH GEAR store and support this site just by using the coupon code "NATURE" at the STEALTH GEAR website store checkout HERE.



Is it sharp enough - LensAlign MKII

Kodiak Red Fox Kit Vulpes, vulpes, Renard Kodiak Island, Alaska, USA. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds Canon EOS 1DMKIV, 500mm F4 L IS, Tripod & Wimberley Head II.  ISO 1600, F4 @ 1/250s Manual Mode. Full Frame. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION.

Is it sharp enough?

I've got to say it; an image is either sharp or soft, there is no in-between, no compromise and no faking it. If you know it's not razor sharp, you are only kidding yourself by trying to fake it. While it is true that an "almost sharp" image can be tweaked in Photoshop to look good at web size, the truth is always revealed when someone wants a big print. There may be more to it than simply good technique; have you calibrated your camera?

LensAlign MKII

I first told you about the LensAlign focus calibration tool in Nature Photography Blog back in August, 2010. Michael Tapes is at it again, he recently sent me the LensAlign MKII. The new and improved knock-down design, lower price and proven consistency from the True Parallel Alignment Sighting System™ are well worth the upgrade, but the most compelling reason for my excitement is the new ruler patterns; it is now much easier to decide where the sharpest part of the ruler is. Truly a must have for any serious photographer, The LensAlign MKII is the key to making consistently sharp images.

Help support this site and PURCHASE HERE


Nature Photography Workshop Safari update

Coastal Brown Bear Big Boys Play in the Rain (Ursus arctos or Grizzly Bear) Kukak Bay, Katmai National Park, AK. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds Canon EOS 1DMKIV, 500mm F4 L IS, Tripod & Wimberley Head II. ISO 1000, F4 @1/320s Manual mode. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION. All Rights Reserved.

Workshop update

2011 workshops / safaris are filling fast! It only took three weeks to sell-out the entire winter Owl Prowls and now the July Bears Galore Coastal Brown Bears of Katmai and the July 5-7 Puffins Galore are sold out. Here's a list of what's still available:

May 9-13, 2011 Songbirds of Pelee An event not to be missed!

June 15-17, 2011 Gannets Galore Action packed daily Zodiac voyage under the colony! Guaranteed Gannets!

July 1-3, 2011 Puffins Galore Puffin Paradise!

September 26-30, 2011 Moose and fall colors of Maine Baxter State Park at it's finest!

Be sure to email me if you are interested in being the first to receive details for the 2012 Coastal Brown Bears of Katmai trip


September 11 Tribute

American Bald Eagle MOURNING SONG , Haliaeetus leucocephalus (Pygargue à tête blanche) Homer, AK ©Christopher Dodds Canon EOS 1D MKII, 500mm F4IS ISO 400, F4 1/250s Manual mode. Gitzo 1325 tripod and Wimberley Head. Click HERE to order a print or license image for publication.

The world changed nine years ago on September 11, 2001. This image is my tribute to that tragic day.



Adobe PHOTOSHOP CS5; A New Life for Old Images & Bald Eagle Reflection

Bald Eagle REFLECTION (Haliaeetus leucocephalus, Pygarge à tête blanche) Kachemak Bay, Homer, Alaska, USA. ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1D Mark II, 100-400mm F4-F5.6 @ 260mm . ISO 400, F7.1 1/260s Manual Exposure. Full Frame. Click HERE to order a print or license image for publication.

Bald Eagle REFLECTION was captured when I saw this Eagle in the fog drinking from a thin layer of water covering an ice-covered parking lot just after a somewhat mild and rainy morning in February, 2005. Rather than take the chance and spook the Eagle, I used my rental SUV to, ever so slowly, approach. Rather than drive directly toward it, I instead circled around, slowly reducing the circumference until I was close enough to get the image I had in mind. I positioned the SUV close enough to fill the frame, but more importantly, close enough to get a steep enough angle to include the reflection and eliminate some distracting buildings, stones and dark asphalt patches in the background.

I've just completed a submission which included some old favourites from 2005. Not all that long ago, really, but seems like a lifetime ago in terms of my post capture workflow and software. Photoshop CS5, with it's newly tweaked noise reduction algorithms, has certainly brought a new life to some old favourites. If you think the noise reduction works wonders on the files from recent cameras; go back through your archives and re-work some of your favourites from the past. It's not only the noise reduction that's new; there's a plethora of new tools and algorithms in Adobe's latest offering, not to mention what you have learned, and how you have grown as an artist, along the way. I always say that every image in my collection has a story; so it's been fun looking through the memories - give it a try.


I have known Chris for a few years and in July 2010 I attended Chris’s workshop for Coastal Brown Bears. The trip will always hold very special memories for me as I can honestly say it was the most enjoyable and productive trip I have ever made, and the most exhausting :o))   As a professional photographer I tend to try and put together my own trips but when I heard Chris was organizing this trip I had no hesitating in contacting Chris and booking. I would advise anyone else to do the same.

From the moment I landed at Kodiak airport we were out shooting literally within a few hours. Everyday we made the most of early morning and late evening light. Photographing some days till 11pm.  The amount of subjects we captured was unbelievable: Fox Cubs, Song Birds, Eagles, Seals, Sea Otters, Wolves and…  BEARS! 

After spending three days on Kodiak Island we headed for the Katmai coast by float plane and stayed on the Coastal Explorer, which was our home for a week.  Almost everyday we had a different location to go to and made the most of the weather. At times it rained non-stop and at others I was walking around in just a t-shirt.  Getting up close and personal with the bears was the ultimate thrill and having an enormous boar run, at what seemed directly at me whilst chasing salmon, was a heart thumping moment I will never forget; Though our safety was Chris' primary concern.

Life on the Coastal explorer was fun and we were all well looked after with meals ready for us at all times.  Downtime was relaxed and we watched movies and even spent one afternoon fishing where I caught Halibut and a silver salmon. Plus I landed the biggest Halibut, don’t let Chris tell you otherwise :o))   As you can tell even when we were not photographing we were having fun.

If you are considering such a trip or one of Chris’s other workshops my advice is not to hesitate and to book straight away.  You will be guaranteed a good time and have plenty of photos and memories to take home with you after the trip.

Thanks for a great time Chris and I look forward to the next one!!

Best Wishes- Darren Holloway (FMPA FBIPP QEP) Smallfield | Surrey | UK


American Bald Eagles Tumbling - Breaking the rules - Save 25% off Point Pelee Annual Pass

 Bald Eagle Tumble Abstract (Haliaeetus leucocephalus Pygarge à tête blanche) Kachemak Bay, Homer Alaska, USA. ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1D Mark III, 500mm F4 IS, 1.4X II Tele-converter, Gitzo tripod and Wimberley Head II. ISO 400, F5.6 1/1600s Manual Exposure. Full Frame. Cropped from left and right to 4x5 Aspect Ratio for visual impact. BUY A PRINT OR LICENCE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.

Bald Eagle Tumble Abstract  (Haliaeetus leucocephalus Pygarge à tête blanche) Kachemak Bay, Homer Alaska, USA. ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1D Mark III, 500mm F4 IS, 1.4X II Tele-converter, Gitzo tripod and Wimberley Head II. ISO 400, F5.6 1/1600s Manual Exposure. Full Frame. Here is the original, un-cropped image. BUY A PRINT OR LICENCE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.

Breaking the rules...

I strive to always challenge myself to break the standard rules of art, composition and photography; especially when mother nature works against me. In the case of the image above, I was simply making the most of a bad situation; the wind was blowing against the afternoon sunlight and all of the other photographers had opted to take the afternoon off to rest or edit their images. I watched and saw that I might have a chance at something artsy, or abstract, to salvage the afternoon. As I typically challenge myself to compose my images in-camera and shoot full-frame, without cropping, I thought I would include the original, un-cropped version for you to see how cropping, or changing the images aspect ratio, changes the visual impact of the image. While it's generally a good idea to include your subject's face, or eyes(preferably with good eye contact); once in a very great while you can create something nice without including either.

The broken rules:

  • Always photograph birds-in-flight with the wind and sun at your back.
  • Always include your subject's face
  • Always ensure at least one eye is critically sharp & in-focus
  • Always ensure strong eye contact between viewer and subject
  • always follow the rules


"I wanted to thank you for a wonderful owling trip last week.  It was great to be in the field with you and I learned a great deal about the birds, environment and my camera.  Thanks so much for being such a great naturalist, photographer and trip leader.  I will go on another trip with you in the future."                                                                                                                                                         - Lynda Goff Santa Cruz, CA (Professor Emeritus Ecology & Evolutionary Biology UC Santa Cruz)

Save 25% on your Season pass to Point Pelee National Park of Canada

Buy or renew your annual pass to Point Pelee National Park of Canada and save 25%. From February 1, until March 31, 2010, take advantage of this great offer to start your preparations for this year's spring migration. Simply call (519) 322-2365, extension 200 from Monday to Friday from 8:30 am until 4:30 pm. I always recommend the Family (or group) pass, as this let's you enter through the automated gate and skip the sometimes lengthy line-ups each morning.


Emperor Goose

Emperor Goose (Chen canagica, Oie empereur) Homer Spit, Homer, Alaska, USA. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1D Mark II, 500mm F4 IS, Gitzo tripod and Wimberley Head. ISO 400, 1/100s F11 Manual Exposure. Full Frame.
Emperor Goose Close-up detail (Chen canagica, Oie empereur) Homer Spit, Homer, Alaska, USA. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1D Mark II, 500mm F4 IS, 2X II Tele-converter, Gitzo tripod and Wimberley Head. ISO 400, 1/30s F20 Manual Exposure. Canon 550EX II flash in manual mode. Full Frame.

Perhaps the most striking goose in North America, this small goose is seldom seen because of it's high-arctic haunts, where it is never far from coastal tundra. The Emperor Goose, Chen canagica, breeds on the coast of northwestern Siberia, St. Lawrence Island, and around the Bering sea, mostly in coastal northwestern Alaska. Winters mainly in the Aleutian Islands but wanders also down the North American western coast as far as California. Due to its low population size, and restricted range, the Emperor Goose is especially vulnerable to local catastrophic events, such as oil spills. In winter, the majority of the global population of this species can be found in the Aleutian Islands. Eskimos once rounded up thousands in "goose drives" during post-breeding, the flightless molt period, then drove them into traps to be killed for food. The Emperor Goose population is thought to be on the rise in Alaska after an unexplained decline from an estimated 139,000 in 1964 to only 42,000 in 1986.

Inner Game of Outdoor Photography

(Galen Rowell ISBN13: 978-0-691-14069-8) After posting the book reviews in my last entry, I received numerous requests for more; mostly from people looking for the perfect Holiday or Christmas present for photographers. If I could make a single suggestion for anyone interested in outdoor photography, It would be Galen Rowell's Inner Game of Outdoor Photography. Rowell, his wife Barbara Cushman Rowell, pilot Tom Reid, and Reid's friend Carol McAffee, were killed in a plane crash near the Inyo County Airport in Bishop, California on the 11th of August, 2002. They were returning from a photography workshop in Alaska.

“Galen Rowell was a man who went into the mountains, into the desert, to the edge of the sea, to the last great wild places in the world to be absorbed by their grace and grandeur. That is what he did for himself. For the rest of us, he shared his vision with—click—the release of a shutter, creating photographs as timeless, as stunning, and as powerful as nature itself.” –Tom Brokaw, from the foreword of Galen Rowell: A Retrospective

In sixty-six essays based on his popular Outdoor Photographer monthly column and with more than 160 color photographs, Galen illustrates how he transforms what he sees into vivid, memorable works of art. He clearly explains why “pre-visualizing” a photograph before exposing any film is one key to making an arresting image rather than a mere replica of what we see through the viewfinder. Includes advice on practical, technical matters, packing for travel, pushing film to extremes, and when to use fill flash and smart flash. Galen was instrumental in my early development as a nature photographer. I remember reading, and re-reading, every word he wrote for Outdoor Photographer; and that was long before I had access to the internet. This book should be a "must have" for any outdoor photographer.

Comments welcome & appreciated.


The Screaming Eagle & when not to use flash

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus Pygarge à tête blanche) Homer Alaska, USA. ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III, 500mm F4 IS, 2X II Tele-converter,1.4X II Tele-converter, Gitzo tripod and Wimberley Head II. ISO 640, F20 1/80s Manual Exposure and Manual Focus. Full Frame. Click HERE to order a print or license image for publication.

I have been to Alaska to photograph Bald Eagles many times, and always wish for golden light during the first, and last, hour of light. It's often cloudy when I'm there, and my flash is always mounted and ready to go. Typically I would use some light fill flash on heavily overcast days; even when this bird looked to the side I used fill flash. The thing is, I was looking for a perfectly framed, tight portrait of a screaming eagle; and I wanted to see straight down it's throat without any shadows. The single best time to get this shot was during a snowstorm when the clouds and snow diffuse the natural light and bounce it around creating a virtually shadowless world.  It was hovering around freezing and the snow was changing to rain (as we'd endured for a couple of days). I saw this eagle singing and decided to dedicate some time to this shot. So, why no flash? Simple, It would have created a shadow from the front part of it's beak that is hooked downward.

Comments welcome & appreciated.


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