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Photography Workshops by Canon Northern Explorer of Light Christopher Dodds

 

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Entries in atlantic (5)

Thursday
Aug242017

Sony a9 for birds in flight photography

Atlantic Puffin with Capelin (Fratercula arctica, Macareux moine, ATPU) Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve of Canada, Réserve de parc national du Canada de l'Archipel-de-Mingan, Quebec, Canada. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds. Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless Camera & Sony FE100-400 F4.5-5.6 G Master OSS @ 400mm. Full frame image. ISO 640, f/5.6 @ 1/5,000s Manual exposure mode. PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.

Sony a9 for birds in flight photography

Well, here it is; the first Puffin image I made with the Sony a9 and Sony FE100-400 F4.5-5.6 G Master Lens. After getting everyone in my first group for my Deluxe Puffin Workshop settled into their rooms in the lighthouse, and with a delicious lunch in our bellies on July 29, we headed down to the beach and started working on birds in flight. It was around four when I first lifted the new Sony rig to my eye for the first time. I didn’t take any pictures while tracking the first few Puffins, instead I tried to understand the autofocus system and what the autofocus settings were all about. I headed into this a little blind, as no one that I spoke to at Sony had much insight into where to start; using mirrorless cameras for birds-in-flight was uncharted territory (for the most part). I needed to quickly understand what choices I had to tweak the autofocus system to best track these little erratic bullets as quickly as possible.

I had seen a few blog posts with sample images from the a9 where the autofocus had failed; A Robin flying from its perch in a tree surrounded by a clutter of branches and a Turkey Vulture sticking its head out from long grass. Both sequences of images were out of focus, and the author left out some critical information about which AF settings he had used. Both sequences were out of focus because of user error (in my opinion); the AF point cluster that the photographer had likely chosen was set to large, so the camera didn’t have a chance, given the situation. I would have chosen single point to ensure the camera knew what to focus on. We need to know how our cameras work, what settings are available and when and how to choose them! BTW, those sample images I mentioned; neither one of them would have been sharp with any camera that had pretty-much all of their AF sensors active.

Before leaving for the trip, I downloaded the instruction manual and autofocus guide to iBooks, which made it available (and searchable) from my iPhone, iPad and MacBook; something I highly recommend everyone do this for every piece of equipment they own.

Download the a9 Instruction manual HERE

Download the Sony AF Guide HERE

Back to the Puffin image above; given the contrasty light and blue sky, this was a relatively easy image (for a practiced birds-in-flight photographer). I’ll be back shortly with more about my time with the Sony a9 soon, and will post more images of birds-in-flight and some high ISO images in the coming days. I will share my thoughts on adding, or switching to Sony, and more likes and dislikes. Stay tuned!

Kudos

My teenage son (an avid youth nature photographer) and I just came back from Chris' Puffin trip. We had a day of pouring rain, a day of cloud cover and a day of sunshine and Chris gave practical advice on how to get great images no matter what the weather. Chris is skilled at meeting each photographer where they are as he gives individual customized attention out in the field. Chris uses a variety of teaching strategies (including great metaphors!) to make complex information concrete and understandable. My son came back with incredible images - puffin portraits in beautiful golden light, puffins and razorbills with fish in flight, beautiful groupings, single puffins in grass, flowers and rocky cliffs. He also came back with a wealth of tips, tools and strategies. And amidst all of the superb photography instruction and individualized attention, there was also lots of camaraderie and great stories. Chris is not only an excellent teacher but an outstanding host. Can't wait for our next Chris Dodds adventure!

Deborah & Christopher Graham Ontario | Canada

Wednesday
Aug102016

Atlantic Puffin TROPHY

Atlantic Puffin TROPHY (Fratercula arctica, Macareux moine, ATPU) Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve of Canada, Réserve de parc national du Canada de l'Archipel-de-Mingan, Quebec, Canada. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds. Canon EOS 1DX mark II, 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS II USM @400mm. ISO 400, f/5.6 @ 1/4,000s Manual exposure. PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.

I'm just back from my annual back-to-back deluxe Atlantic Puffin workshops at the Mingan Archipelago National Park of Canada. The birds (puffins and Razorbills) and the folks in my groups were awesome! We had tons of laughs, epic photographic opportunities and some incredibly delicious food while staying in the lighthouse on the island for the four day (three night) trip.

Here's a favorite "grab shot" from the trip; I was putting my camera and lens together on an otherwise quiet morning while I noticed this Puffin circling. It was making it's way into it's burrow to feed it's Puffling (baby puffin) in some pretty sweet light. I called-out that it would continue to circle to those in the group who were near me. I quickly set the manual exposure and then pre-focused my camera at the distance I thought the Puffin would fly past me. This is the first of three frames captured. Call it a lucky shot, but years of photographing and watching seabirds, learning their behaviour and ensuring that my groups have the very best dates does ensure ample opportunities - smile.

Do be sure to book early for next year, as the trips are already starting to fill! Read more about my Deluxe Atlantic Puffin trip July 29 to August 1, 2017 HERE.

KUDOS

The four days and three nights on the I'ile aux Perroquets (Deluxe Puffins Galore Workshop) will go down in my mind as one of those life experiences that will stay with me forever.  That isle is a very special place. You did an incredible job.  I was thinking about you on the trip back.  What does it take to be a top notch photographer as well as a gentlemanly guide, teacher, chaperone, and friend?  You have a unique set of skills that somehow pull off the attributes necessary.  Each and every one of us that left that island felt as though we had made a personal connection with you.  That is no easy task.  Must be a Canadian thing!  Keep doing what you're doing.  A very sincere "thank you" to you.  This trip exceeded all expectations.

- Paul Treseler Massachusetts | USA

Tuesday
Sep152015

Upload Landscape and Portrait images to Instagram 

Well, it's finally happened! I have opened an Instagram account! I resisted for a very long time, because I felt working within the square was too restricive for my imagery. Now that Instagram lets you upload Landscape and Portrait images, this platform is much more appealing to me. If you would like to read how to post non-square images, go head and click on this link to the Instagram blog post announcing the change.

Do click on the link below and follow me and I'll follow you back:

https://instagram.com/chrisdoddsphoto/

 

Instagram

Wednesday
May072014

2014 Ultimate Puffins Galore Photo Tour Announced

Atlantic Puffin CLOWN OF THE SEA (Fratercula arctica, Macareux moine, ATPU) Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve of Canada, Réserve de parc national du Canada de l'Archipel-de-Mingan, Quebec, Canada. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds. Canon EOS Canon EOS 1DX, 600mm F4 L IS II, 2X Extender III, Canon 25mm Extension Tube II, Canon 12mm Extension Tube II, Canon 1.4X Extender III. Tripod & Jobu Jr. 3 ISO 3,200s, f/16 @ 1/200s Manual mode & manual focus. PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.

Atlantic Puffin & Razorbill Heaven

Puffins Galore

Photo Safari & Expedition

July 26-28, 2014 (3 Days/4 Nights)

SOLD OUT in less than 9 hours!

I am thrilled to finally announce my Puffins Galore Photo Tour at Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve of Canada.

I have been in search of the ultimate destination for an Atlantic Puffin workshop / safari for a very long time.  The mandate was simple; find a location that is within reach, safe and easy to get to without a dangerous boat landing on slippery rocks and a place where we can get close to these comical little seabirds without hauling our gear up, and over, huge distances or having to hang over towering cliffs; a place where anyone can comfortably reach, regardless of age or physical ability; a place with reliable , safe and easy boat landings. I have photographed Atlantic Puffins in Iceland, Maine, Newfoundland, New Brunswick and Quebec; All of these "known" places have their drawbacks., and I simply can't imagine subjecting my clients to the abuse.  Mission accomplished; I have found Puffin Paradise. This is the very best place in the world to photograph Atlantic Puffins and Razorbills fishing, with fish in their bills, in flight and in golden light.

Beyond the 50th parallel, along the North Shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, lies a remarkably beautiful scattering of some thirty limestone islands and more than 1000 granitic islets and reefs. The territory, the "Mingan Archipelago", became Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve of Canada 1984.
This necklace of land carved out of the limestone bedrock is the site of spectacular natural monuments which bear witness to the never-ending wear of the sea and of the centuries. And there is an abundance of life in this strange half-world: plants of variegated hues and shapes, seabirds gathered in colonies, seals, dolphins and whales, swarming the blue vastness in which the islands bathe.

Join me, Canadian Wildlife Photographer Christopher Dodds, for a Puffin photography workshop / safari. This trip will be limited to five participants and will surely be the trip of a lifetime for anyone seeking to get close and personal (safely) to Atlantic Puffins and Razorbills. We will spend a few hours photographing fishing Puffins each morning from a boat, before landing on an island where we spend the rest of the day until sunset for three full days. I have secured special access, so we will be the only people on the island during the first, and last, few hours each day.

Price is $2,995.00 (plus sales tax) including four nights single occupancy accommodation (with full kitchenette), three days private boat tour with highly experienced captain (weather permitting), three days park access fees and three days expert instruction. Other subjects might include Razorbill, Black Guillemot, Great Cormorants, Savannah Sparrow (there are many) Common Eider, Grey Seals and whales. Meals, beverages, transportation to Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan, Quebec and souvenirs are not included.

Getting there:

Our base of operations, accommodations and starting point are in the town of Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan.

Havre St. Pierre Airport or YGV (serviced by Labrador Air) is 46km or 28.5 miles

Sept-iles Airport or YZV (serviced by Air Canada) is 152km or 94.5 miles

Quebec City Jean Lesage Airport or TQB (Serviced by most carriers) is 831km or 516 miles

Montreal Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport or YUL (Derviced by most carriers) is 1,086km or 675 miles

Sign-up for my Ultimate Puffins Galore Photo Tour HERE

Tuesday
Jul162013

How to Stack Extenders for Mega Reach

Atlantic Puffin CLOWN OF THE SEA (Fratercula arctica, Macareux moine, ATPU) Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve of Canada, Réserve de parc national du Canada de l'Archipel-de-Mingan, Quebec, Canada. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds. Canon EOS Canon EOS 1DX, 600mm F4 L IS II, 2X Extender III, Canon 25mm Extension Tube II, Canon 12mm Extension Tube II, Canon 1.4X Extender III. Tripod & Jobu Jr. 3 ISO 3,200s, f/16 @ 1/200s Manual mode & manual focus. PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.

After spending so much time with Atlantic Puffins, I've come to realize that few portraits of them truly reflect their true character. I love getting close and making portraits that truly represent my subject, in this case these comical and animated seabirds or Clowns of the sea.What do you think, did I suceed?

How to stack extenders

The idea is to use my super-telephoto 600mm f/4 IS II with both the 1.4X and 2X (version III) Extenders (or tele-converters). In order to physically connect everything together, you need to add at least an extension tube between both extenders; I use both the Canon 25 and 12mm Extension tubes (version II) connected together because they reduce the minimum focusing distance of the lens and allow me to get even closer to my subject. As far as I can tell from the images, it does not matter which order I install the extenders.


There are a few technical considerations:

  • A sturdy tripod and tripod head are required
  • Working at these extreme focal lengths so close to your subject will severely limit the depth of field, so do remember to stop-down.
  • All of this stacked equipment does cost some light, so remember to add 1 & 1/3 stop if you are shooting in manual mode.
  • Although we have some pretty amazing cameras, the only way to focus this monster is fully manual.