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Photography Workshops by Canon Northern Explorer of Light Christopher Dodds


Christopher Dodds Nature Photographer | Promote Your Page Too

Entries in reflection (3)


How to photograph bats

Pallid Bat REFLECTION (Antrozous pallidus Chauvre-souris blonde) Amado, Arizona, USA. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds. Canon EOS 1DX mark II, 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS II USM @300mm. Jobu Designs Algonquin TripodJobu Jr. 3 Photo Trap and four flash set-up. ISO 500, f/18 @ 10 second exposure in Manual mode. PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.


I'm just back from my Arizona bat workshop, and thought I would share one of the techniques we use to photograph bats and their reflections when they fly over a pond to drink water. It really is simpler than you might think; first, we set-up four flashes to light the bat from the front, then we set-up the phototrap to trigger the flashes every time a bat flys through an infrared beam. This set-up is not connected to our cameras at all; the cameras are set-up on tripods and focused at the exact same place as the infrared beam which triggers the flahes. Exposure was set manually to ISO 500, f/18 and 10 seconds. A remote trigger release is locked on, and the camera is set to make continuous ten second exposures, one after another. The images are mostly black frames, with images of bats captured every time they fly trough the beam and trigger the flash.

So, why not trigger the camera and flashes together? Because there are several different species of bats that frequent the pond and each of them flies at different speeds. Triggering the flash is the best way to ensure anything flying through the infrared beam is frozen at exactly that point; resulting in a perfectly sharp image.

If you would like to learn more, and perfect your phototrap set-ups, join me, Christopher Dodds, at "The Pond at Elephant Head" for an incredible high-speed bat photography workshop. Bats are some of the most misunderstood creatures on earth and there aren't many photographers out there photographing them. I've designed this workshop with only three participants and enlisted the help of Phototrap inventor, Bill Forbes, to ensure you get the images I would be proud to call my own. Learn how to use the Phototrap and high-speed flash photography to create stunning action images on your own. Learn more Here.


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


Photographing the Pied-billed Grebe: light illuminates - shadows define

Pied-billed Grebe Reflection (Podilymbus podiceps, Grèbe à bec bigarré) Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico, USA ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III, 500mm F4 IS, 2X II Tele-converter, Gitzo tripod and Wimberley Head II from VW Westfalia (thanks  Ethan). ISO 250, F16 1/320s Manual Mode. Full Frame. Click HERE to purchase a print or license image for publication.

Light Illuminates - Shadows Define

Though many try to take the credit for saying it, it was Howard Pyle who said, "Light illuminates texture and color - shadows define form" - though he was referring to painting, the same holds true for photography. Light is an incredibly important part of photography. Out in the field, or in the studio; it's quality, quantity and direction are all very important components in your final image. Many nature photographers advocate pointing your shadow directly at your subject, resulting in a direct, flat, frontal light source (the sun). While that is a good starting point, I strive to get my light source (the sun in this case) off to one side. As you can see in this image of a Pied-billed Grebe, the sun is off to my far right. The resulting image is full of light and shadow, creating a dramatic, detail rich image; every wet feather on the back of its neck is accentuated by both light and shadow. This method works incredibly well for white birds like Snowy Owls, that have a hollow feather structure.

The Bigger Pictures:

As promised when I started this Nature Photography Blog, I have been messing around with image sizes and page format. I do hope you like the new, bigger pictures and will try to get all of the older posts updatesd soon. Leave a comment to let me know how you like the new format.

Pied-billed Grebe facts:

Nicknamed dabchick, devil-diver, hell-diver and water witch, the Pied-billed Grebe, Podilymbus podiceps, feeds on fish (carp catfish & eels), insects (dragonflies, ants & beetles) and amphibians (frogs & tadpoles).
The most widespread of the North American Grebes, it is often found on remote ponds and marshes of Canada, parts of the United States and temperate South America. Preferring to escape danger by diving, this Grebe rarely flies.
Instead of having webbed feet like ducks, Pied-billed Grebes have lobes extending out the sides of it's toes to provide extra surface area for paddling.

Comments welcome & appreciated.