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Photography Workshops by Canon Northern Explorer of Light Christopher Dodds

 

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Entries in Saint Paul (6)

Tuesday
Aug052014

Shoot Vertical

Parakeet Auklet DORSAL VIEW (Fratercula cirrhata, Macareux huppé, TUPU) Saint Paul Island, The Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea, Alaska. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds. Canon 1DX, 600mm F4 L IS II USM Handheld. Full Frame. ISO 800 f/4.5 @ 1/4,000s Manual Mode. PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.

Here's another image from my Saint Paul Island Expedition; A Parakeet Auklet against the pastel Bering Sea. Shooting small birds in flight while holding the camera vertically is quite a challenge; shooting over the top of a cliff while pointing down and looking at the Bering Sea below adds a whole new dimension and is not for the faint of heart. As always, practice is the key to success and best done in excess well before your departure to any exotic location.

Thursday
Jul242014

Northern Fur Seal Pups of Saint Paul Island

Northern Fur Seals NEW FRIENDS (Callorhinus ursinus, L’otarie à fourrure du Nord) Saint Paul Island, The Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea, Alaska. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds. Canon 1DX, 600mm F4 L IS II , 2X Teleconverter III, Jobu Designs Algonquin Tripod & Jobu Jr. 3 ISO 4,000 f/8 @ 1/1,6000s Manual Mode.  PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.

Here's a couple of Northern Fur Seal pups from my Saint Paul Island workshop. Seals only have one baby at a time, so these two are neighbors meeting for the first time. They are fascinating to watch, and their calls sound very much like a barn full of baby sheep. I shot this image with my Canon 600mm f/4 IS II and 2X Teleconverter wide open at f/8 to isolate the subjects from the volcanic rocks, and used a shutter speed of 1/1,600 of a second to be sure to freeze the rapidly vibrating mouth and teeth while they were calling.

Wednesday
Jun262013

Lesser White-fronted Goose from Saint Paul Island Workshop

Lesser White-fronted Goose (Anser erythropus, Oie naine, LWFG) Saint Paul Island, The Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea, Alaska. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds. Canon EOS Canon EOS 1DX, 600mm F4 L IS II, 2X Extender III, Tripod & Jobu Jr. 3 ISO 3,200s, f/8 @ 1/500s Manual mode. PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.Lesser White-fronted Goose (Anser erythropus, Oie naine, LWFG) Saint Paul Island, The Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea, Alaska. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds. Canon EOS Canon EOS 1DX, 600mm F4 L IS II, 2X Extender III, Tripod & Jobu Jr. 3 ISO 3,200s, f/8 @ 1/500s Manual mode. PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.

Lesser White-fronted Goose (Anser erythropus, Oie naine, LWFG) Saint Paul Island, The Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea, Alaska. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds. Canon EOS Canon EOS 1DX, 600mm F4 L IS II, 2X Extender III, Tripod & Jobu Jr. 3 ISO 3,200s, f/8 @ 1/500s Manual mode. PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.

A SUPER RARE Treat for my Saint Paul Island Workshop Participants

After spending some incredible time photographing a gorgeous male Snowy Owl (see my next post) during my Saint Paul Island Workshop, everyone in my group were thrilled to spend a few hours getting some awesome images of this rare Goose. The Lesser White-fronted goose was only ever reported once before in North America on Attu in June of 1994 (an Island in the bering Sea which is part of the near islands group of the Aleutian Islands). On June 22, 2013, Laura Lestenkof gave me the heads-up that she had called Scott Schutte and told him about the unusual Goose. Scott later confirmed it was, indeed, a Lesser White-fronted Goose. We quickly headed out to the pond in the rain and had an awesome time getting our feet wet while wading around and photographing this rare beauty. The Lesser White-fronted Goose (Anser erythropus, Oie naine, LWFG) is listed as "Vulnerable" on the ICN RED LIST and it's global population is currently thought to be decreasing and currently at about 28 to 30 thousand individuals. This was only the 2nd North American record of this species - what a thrill!

More testimonials

I recently had the pleasure to join Chris on one of his Gannets Galore workshops on Bonaventure Island, and it is very quickly obvious why this trip is a favourite among many photographers. Reading the many glowing testimonials really did not prepare me for how amazing the experience is - truly a spectacle of nature. The photo opportunities abound, and with over 20 years experience there, Chris knows where to be, and when. And should you need help or guidance with settings, etc. he is a patient and informed instructor.  Most important to me, his experience with the local businesses and park service is amazing, which help to make sure that your time spent there is a great on.  A perfect example of this relationship he has built arose when there was the potential that we might not be able to make it to the island one day to circumstances beyond his control (government closing the pier that anyone going to the island for construction work) and Chris was not only able to make alternate arrangements with the ferry service to bring the group out, but also was able to make arrangements for the park service to be on the island as well so that we wouldn't lose a day of shooting on the island. 
Without a doubt, Chris is one of the best out there, and I hope to be able to join him on another workshop soon.

Christopher Ciccone Woburn, Massachusetts, USA


Bonaventure Island GANNETS GALORE with Christopher Dodds (June 2013).  This location and subject matter was challenging, photographically superb, and an outstanding learning opportunity.  I’ve been on several tours similar to this format — a well-known photographer, great location, and variable learning opportunities.  

Christopher is by far the best at teaching the fundamentals of photography such as achieving correct exposure using manual settings, introducing the best locations for photography, and giving honest feedback in a non threatening manner.   He was willing to repeat technical instructions and show me how to use the techniques he discussed.  Furthermore he took the additional step of being ‘present’ when needed for information and facilitated my getting the most out of this wonderful location.  I recommend Christopher Dodds without reservation - the very best.

Dwight Tomes Grimes, Iowa, USA

Even More Testimonials

Be sure to take the time to read many more TESTIMONIALS HERE

Tuesday
Aug142012

Jobu Jr. 3 Deluxe Swing-arm Upgrade Announced

Red-faced Cormorant PORTRAIT (Red-faced Shag or Violet Shag, Phalacrocorax urile, Cormoran à face rouge, RFCO) Saint Paul Island, The Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea, Alaska. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds. Canon 1D MK IV, 500mm F4 L IS , 1.4X Teleconverter III, 12 & 25mm Cabnon Extension Tubes Tripod & Jobu Jr. 3 (with Deluxe Swing-arm upgrade) ISO 400 f/5.6 @ 1/125s Manual Mode. PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.

Junior 3 Deluxe Swing-arm

I first introduced you to my Jobu Jr. 3 Lightweight gimbal head last April HERE and have tried several new and improved prototypes along the way. Ian at Jobu Designs has been actively listening to users and refining the design and has just released a major upgrade making it even better.  They have integrated the quick-release clamp into the swing-arm (something I've asked for since last April), making the entire gimbal lighter, increasing the swing-capacity (max lens collar foot size can be taller & lowers the centre of gravity on big glass) and integrating a premium, custom designed fluted knob for better grip.

I can wholeheartedly attest to this being the very best gimbal for the traveling nature photographer available today.
It is, and has been the only gimbal head I use. If you have any concerns, whatsoever about image sharpness from the new design, simply have a glance at the image of the Red-faced Cormorant above (@ 1/125s), or any of the extremem close-ups made with this tripod head with the new swing-arm in the last few posts here.

Be sure to check out the one piece flash bracket while you are shopping.

SAVE 15% OFF your purchase at the JOBU store and support this site just by using the coupon code "NATURE" at the Jobu website store checkout HERE.

Wednesday
Aug012012

Tufted Puffin Safari Workshop Update

 

Tufted Puffin PORTRAIT (Fratercula cirrhata, Macareux huppé, TUPU) Saint Paul Island, The Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea, Alaska. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds. Canon 1D MK IV, 500mm F4 L IS , 1.4X Teleconverter III & 25mm Extension Tube, Tripod & Jobu Jr. 3 ISO 400 f/9 @ 1/400s Manual Mode. Fill flash Canon Speedlite 580EX II with Better Beamer in manual mode. PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.

 

Upcoming workshops:  http://bit.ly/X7GaVv

Wednesday
Nov022011

How to photograph birds in flight in low light

Tufted Puffin In Flight #1 (Fratercula cirrhata, Macareux huppé, TUPU) Saint Paul Island, The Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea, Alaska. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds. Canon EOS 1DMKIV, 70-300mm f/4-5.6 L IS USM @300mm. ISO 1,600, f/5.6 @ 1/3,200s Manual Mode Full Frame. PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.

Photographing birds in flight in low light is quite challenging; it's not easy. I love photographing seabirds, and that often means shooting small, and often erratically moving targets; fast and unpredictable little fliers from the top of coastal cliffs in bad weather. The biggest problem to overcome is our need to always grab our longest lens and our reluctance to shoot wide open at high ISO (for Canon users, anyway). I recently had a discussion with a photographer who told me he didn't need a camera capable of shooting 10 fps (frames per second); he timed the wingbeats and only took one frame at a time. Well, let's just say that was one photographer who had a couple of good birds in flight images in his portfolio, but Florida Great Blue Herons are tame, huge, fly slowly and do have predictable wingbeats. What I want to share today is how I succeed (more, or less) at shooting bullets that move at 55 MPH with 100-400 wing beats per minute; I'm talking, of course, about photographing Puffins in flight. I was fortunate to photograph all three North American species of Puffins this summer, on both the East, and west coast. In June I hosted my annual Puffins Galore (and so much more) workshop for the Atlantic Puffin, and then I photographed the Horned and Tufted Puffins of Saint Paul Island (more images to come soon).
Tufted Puffin In Flight #2 (Fratercula cirrhata, Macareux huppé, TUPU) Saint Paul Island, The Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea, Alaska. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds. Canon EOS 1DMKIV, 70-300mm f/4-5.6 L IS USM @300mm. ISO 1,600, f/5.6 @ 1/3,200s Manual Mode Full Frame. PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.

First of all, get over your phobia of shooting wide open and using a high ISO. You are going to need a shutter speed of at least 1/2,500 of a second, but I prefer 1/3,200 of a second to freeze the fast action; this usually means using an ISO of at least 1,600 and an aperture of at least f/5.6 (always in manual mode). I try to get as close as possible in low light and low contrast conditions; I try to use the shortest lens possible, while trying to fill the frame. Using only the centre auto-focus point only usually helps the autofocus system lock onto your subject, but it's going to take more than relying on your camera to acquire focus. I generally try to pick-up repetitive flight patterns; I try to predict where the bird I am trying to shoot will fly and pre-focus on something near there so the auto-focus system doesn't have to spin the lens much to acquire sharp focus. Once locked-on to my subject, it's all up to me to keep the focus point on the subject and hit the stutter button at 10 fps; the best way to be able to do that is practice; over, and over again.
Tufted Puffin In Flight #3 (Fratercula cirrhata, Macareux huppé, TUPU) Saint Paul Island, The Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea, Alaska. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds. Canon EOS 1DMKIV, 70-300mm f/4-5.6 L IS USM @300mm. ISO 1,600, f/5.6 @ 1/3,200s Manual Mode Full Frame. PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.

I decided to post three sequential, full frame images of Tufted Puffins from a recent trip to Saint Paul Island (The Pribilof Islands), Alaska to demonstrate that it is possible to pull off what seems like the impossible. I left my tried, tested and true Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM Telephoto Lens at home, instead opting for my favorite new 70-300mm f/4-5.6 L IS USM and threw it on my Canon EOS 1DMKIV. I set-up my exposure in manual mode and checked the histogram to make sure the blacks from the wet rocks below the cliffs I was standing on weren't blocked-up against the left edge to minimize noise, and carefully made sure I had no over-exposed whites on the right edge to ensure the most detail in the whites. Once sure of my exposure, I watched for the Puffins flight path and pre-focused on a rock where I thought the bird would fill the frame. Now pre-focused on the rock, I saw the bird fly in and followed it until it started to fill the frame, partially depressed the shutter button to activate the auto-focus system and hit the trigger at its maximum capture rate of 10 fps. Truth be told; I waited a fraction of a second too long for this sequence, and ran the risk of clipping the Puffin's wing-tips, but it worked-out fine with three action shots that I liked enough to keep (No, I won't teach you how to reconstruct the wingtips if you clip them, but I will teach you how to capture the image right, in the camera - smile).

Which of the three images here is your favorite & why? Leave a comment and you could win a free copy of the new Mac editing software FirstPass.

Second Annual Photo Geek Christmas Party

Great news! Jobu Designs (makers of my favorite Gimbal Head - the Jobu Jr. 3), Think-Tank Photo, Cotton Carrier, have all jumped on-board and offered tons of prizes to show their suppoort for my Second Annual Photo Geek Christmas Party. I expect other sponsors to make offerings and encourage contributions - email me if you would like to donate and promote your product chris(at)chrisdoddsphoto(dot)com

Join me, Canadian nature photographer Christopher Dodds, on November 30, 2011 at 7:30 PM at the Hudson Village Theatre (28 Wharf Road, Hudson, QC   J0P 1H0) for an hour and a half long slideshow presentation to benefit this great cause which is so close to my heart. The show is designed to be entertaining and informative to all; nature lovers and photographers alike. Stories of adventure, natural history facts and information are all on the menu and this show is designed to offer helpful tips & techniques sure to improve your photography efforts with everything from a camera phone, point & shoot camera or professional SLR camera system. Over one hundred of my images will be projected, many unseen.  Everyone is welcome!
Hurry! Only 148 seats. Tickets are only $15.00 each and are available for advance purchase only - every penny is collected by, and goes to Le Nichoir. Please call or email Le Nichoir (communication@lenichoir.org 450-458-2809) to secure your tickets, or make a donation if you can't make it (be sure to tell them it's on behalf of Chris' Photo Geek Christmas Party) Major credit cards and cheques accepted. Finger food and hors d'oeuvres are included and there will be a cash bar (please drink responsibly).
There will be ample time to mingle, meet my friends and contacts and share some of your images with others, so feel free to bring prints, iPads or laptops with your favourite images to share. I hope to see you there and PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD!

Read more about it HERE