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Photography Workshops by Canon Northern Explorer of Light Christopher Dodds


Christopher Dodds Nature Photographer | Promote Your Page Too

Entries in snow (17)


Snowy Winter Owl Safari Workshop Kudos

Snowy Owl LEAN (Nyctea scandiaca, Harfang des neiges, SNOW) Ontario, Canada. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds. Canon EOS 1DMKIV,  500mm F4 IS with Think-Tank Photo Hydrophobia 300-600 Tripod & Jobu Jr. 3. ISO 1,600, f/5.6 @ 1/1,600s Manual. PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.

Snowy Owl Irruption

A Snowy Owl (Nyctea scandiaca, Harfang des neiges, SNOW) takes flight from a snow covered farm field on an overcast day during the great Snowy Owl Irruption that occurred during the winter of 2011-2012. Abundant Lemmings and Voles at their nesting grounds high on the Arctic Tundra ensured large clutches of eggs and fledgling survival (The size of the clutch depends on prey availability; the more prey there is, the more eggs the female will lay). Once fledged, the now massive population of Snowy Owls ate all available food near their nests and started what has become the largest Southern Migration of Snowy Owls ever recorded.


"Hi Chris, Great trip, EH!!

Seriously, I want to thank you for a wonderful week. Great company, wonderful opportunities on the Snowy Owls and lots of fun.

I have been on quite a few photo workshops, and what sets yours apart (aside from the fun), is your knowledge of the natural history of the subjects, and your encyclopedic knowledge of nature photography and photography in general. You seemed to know what the Owls would do before they did, and thus we got great shots.

I profited as much from the down time between shots as from the shooting time.  What was so helpful to me was that I not only learned your recommendations for settings, but the why, in detail. You have a depth of knowledge such that when I challenged assumptions (which is natural for me as a physician), there was always a firm explanation leading back to a scientific or photographic principle. As a result I understand exactly why I am using that particular technique, and am completely comfortable with it. I learned a ton!!!

The focus was always on us getting the shots (after the welfare of the wildlife), on learning, and thirdly on fun.

I would go on another workshop with you in a minute, because no matter where it was I know I would learn something.

I really appreciate your scientific approach to photography, your having researched and tested your choices!

I feel fortunate to have had the experience of learning from one of THE BEST.  Thanks for a great week.

Until next outing,"

- Mike Gotthelf Fitchburg | MA | USA

2013 Winter Snowy Owl Safari Workshop announced

Be sure not to miss-out and register early for 2013 Winter Snowy Owl Safari/Workshop HERE 


Shooting birds in flight in snow and FirstPass New Version Released

 Great Grey Owl SNOWFLIGHT (Strix nebulosa, Chouette Lapone) Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1D Mark II, 100-400mm @ 250mm. ISO 640, f/9 @ 1/640s Manual Exposure and manual focus. Full Frame. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE AN IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION.

Tips for birds in-flight in the snow

  • Stop down, or close the aperture when shooting in snow to maximize the effect of the big snowflakes; use a larger depth-of-field to keep as many snowflakes as possible sharp. I find F/9 works well during heavy snowfalls with large snowflakes.
  • Place your subject against the dark background of coniferous trees  to help define the snowflakes.
  • Use manual focus for more precise results; Most Auto-focus systems focus on the nearest, large snowflakes.
  • Leave some breathing room for your subject - you have probably invested a lot of time to get out in that perfect storm; make sure you include it in the image and avoid shooting too tight.

FirstPass Image Editing Software Evolves

I first told you about FirstPass image editing software for the Mac back in November and wanted to pass on the news that a new version is available with tons of new features:

✔ New image information panel 
✔ Image information panel now shows image histograms 
✔ Image information panel can be activated from image browser using right click menu 
✔ Ratings can be applied to multiple files at the same time using right click context menu 
✔ Improved memory management and performance 
✔ Fix for an issue related to caching optimization

This software has evolved into a fast, feature rich, must-have image editing dream for Mac using photographers! Be sure to purchase your copy before the scheduled price increase on February 1, 2012; it's going up to only $18.99, but you can get your copy for only $9.99 now:

Check out FirstPass in the CANADIAN APPLE STORE HERE

Check out FirstPass in the US APPLE STORE HERE


Merry Christams and Happy Holidays

American Bald Eagle SNOWFLIGHT (Haliaeetus leucocephalus, Pygargue à tête blanche, BAEA) Kachemak Bay, Alaska ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS Canon EOS 1DsMKIII, 500mm F4 L IS  ISO 800, f/6.3 @ 1/1,600s Manual mode. Full Frame. Click HERE to order a print or license image for publication.



Merry Christams and Happy Holidays to all of my readers, followers, clients, friends, family and supporters. I wish you all a very Merry Holiday Season and a New Year filled with golden light, love, health and happiness.


Cold Weather Clothing Tips for Photographers

 Snowy Owl Stance (Bubo scandiacus, Harfang des neiges, SNOW) Ontario. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1DsMKIII, 500mm F4 IS, Tripod with Tripod & Jobu Jr. 3 with Think-Tank Photo Hydrophobia 300-600. ISO 400, F6.3 1/1,600s Manual mode. CLICK HERE TO ORDER A PRINT OR LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION.

Winter Owl Report

Just wanted to pass on my thoughts about the coming winter owl season. There's been good movements of our favorite winter owls so far and they have already started to establish their winter feeding grounds. All of the indications are pointing to a great winter owl season. I still have some limited space available on my Snowy Winter Owl Prowl Photo Safari / Workshops.

Cold Weather Clothing Tips for Photographers

Photography in the winter often entails staying warm while staying still in the freezing cold for long periods of time and foregoing any warmth from physical exertion. In the deep cold, when you are not exerting yourself, what you want is loft and insulation; remember that loose fitting clothing offers much more insulation and warmth than tight fitting layers that are so compressed that they actually loose the ability to keep you warm. Synthetics wick chilling moisture away from your skin, are light for travel and dry much quicker than any natural fabrics (Just remember: Cotton Kills!).

Tops: I start with a base layer Double Wicked Lite T Long Sleeve Shirt (remember that cotton traps moisture next to your skin, but synthetics wick moisture away from your skin), followed by a good mid weight fleece Zip Neck Sweater .

Bottoms: Full Length Base Layer with either Nylon zip-off pants or Microchill Fleece Pant if it’s really cold.

Outer wear: Expedition weight bib Gore-tex pants and Canada Goose Parka for the woods (extremely durable and branch resistant), or Expedition weight Down Parka (Really warm and light – perfect for travel).

Feet: As I’ve already mentioned, nature photographers spend a huge amount of time waiting for the image, so it’s extremely important to understand that boot manufacturers rate their boots with the assumption of moderate activity; there is a huge difference in just how warm a boot is when walking or standing for any length of time. I start with a good pair of Warm Socks and add a loose fitting Sorel Boot (I’ve tried so many winter boots, and there’s nothing like the durability and warmth of my Sorels). MICROspikes Pocket Traction System prevent accidental (and sometimes expensive and damaging) wipeouts.

Hands: Keeping your hands warm is quite a challenge; here’s my secret: I start with a loose fitting pair of Thin Liner Gloves which never come off my hands. I place Hand Warmers into the palm of the liner gloves, and when it’s really, really cold, I slip another into the wristband which warms the blood as it travels to my fingers. My choice for outer layer is the Black Diamond Mercury Mitts; be sure to buy a size, or two, larger than normal; this allows you to move your fingers around inside the gloves. The extra room, and fine leather palm of the Mercury Mitts allows me to use most of my camera’s buttons and dials – it takes a little practice, and seems clumsy, but better a little awkward than frozen.

Head: Remember that most heat loss occurs through your head and get a warm Beanie hat (or Touque as we say in Canada) . I often use a Balaclava when it’s really cold to protect my face from the the cold and windchill.

Camera: As for your camera gear, you should pack rain protection in case you are blessed with wet snow, or rain. I am thrilled with my Think-Tank Photo Hydrophobia 70-200 Flash and my Think-Tank Photo Hydrophobia 300-600 V2.0. Unlike the old days, little precaution is required before for your newer generation digital camera bodies are exposed to arctic conditions. Today’s pro camera bodies easily handle the cold weather and recent advances in battery technology easily allow a full day of photography on one charged battery. Consumer and prosumer cameras will also work well, but you should have an extra battery, or two, tucked away in an inside pocket keeping warm. Moving between extreme cold and warm temperatures when going indoors, or out, does cause some condensation; just leave your camera in it’s bag for a couple of hours while it comes to room temperature. Although I won’t remove a lens until my camera warms to room temperature, I don’t fuss much with my professional, sealed cameras; they’ve been from warm to cold and back again thousands of times. It’s good practice to remove the memory card when you are finished shooting and put it in a safe and zippered pocket; this prevents any warm moist air from entering your camera when you get home (or to your hotel), and keeps your images safe if your camera is stolen from you vehicle if you stop for coffee, hot chocolate or to warm-up at a restaurant.

Second Annual Photo Geek Christmas Party

I have just visited to Hudson Village Theater to do a pre show audio & video test and am thrilled to be presenting at such an awesome venue! There is still limited space available, be sure not to miss this show and support such a worthy cause!

Our sponsors have dug deep and collectivly offered thousands of dollars of prizes for this great event! Jobu Designs (makers of my favorite Gimbal Head - the Jobu Jr. 3), FirstPass Image downloader & Editor, Think-Tank Photo, Cotton Carrier, DigiMarc for Images and Tiffen have all jumped on-board and offered tons of prizes to show their suppoort for my Second Annual Photo Geek Christmas Party.

It's not too late to 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 ( 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


Knowledge: The Single Best Way to Improve Your Wildlife Photography

Timber Wolves Alpha Pair in Fog (Grey Wolves, Canis lupus, Loup Gris) Quebec (C) ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1DsMKII, 70-200mm F2.8 IS @ 200mm ISO 500, F5.6 1/200s Manual Mode. Hand Held. Full Frame. CLICK HERE TO BUY A PRINT OR LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION.

Hearing Timber Wolves (Grey Wolves, Canis lupus, Loup Gris) howl while photographing them on a foggy January mourning was a hair raising experience; their reputation as ferocious enemies of man owes more to fiction and folklore than reality, in fact, they go out of their way to avoid contact with humans. Grey Wolves vary in colour from white on the arctic tundra (Arctic Wolves) to grey (Timber Wolves) or black in the forested regions of Northern wilderness regions. They  travel in packs, working co-operatively to bring down their prey; big game like deer, caribou and moose. Most regard wolves as unbeatable hunters, but they often fail to catch their intended prey. 

If I had to name a single way for anyone to improve their skill at wildlife photography, it would be to know your subject inside and out. I love to read, and I love books, so I was recently thrilled to get my hands on two simply outstanding books. I've caught myself getting lost in the pages of these marvels of the wild world far too often. Essential for the library of any nature photographer (or nature lover), The Princeton Encyclopedia of Birds and The Princeton Encyclopedia of Mammals have become the go to resource when I'm researching a specific species; or simply sitting here daydreaming of my next big adventure to some far corner of the world. Of all the natural history books in my collection, these two stand out amongst the best! ... and they are a bargain!



The Princeton Encyclopedia of Mammals

 (David W. Macdonald ISBN13: 978-0-691-14069-8) is the most comprehensive and accessible reference book on mammals available. Unsurpassed in scope and stunningly illustrated, this book covers every known living species, from aardvarks to zorros. The informative and lively text is written by acclaimed researchers from around the world and features a concise general introduction to mammals followed by detailed accounts of species and groups that systematically describe form, distribution, behavior, status, conservation, and more. There are superb full-color photos and illustrations on virtually every page that show the animals in their natural settings and highlight their typical behaviors. And throughout the book, numerous "Factfile" panels with color distribution maps and scale drawings provide at-a-glance overviews of key data. The Princeton Encyclopedia of Mammals is the definitive one-volume resource--a must-have reference book for naturalists and a delight for general readers.

  • Covers every living mammal
  • Describes form, distribution, behavior, status, conservation, and more
  • Features spectacular full-color photos and illustrations on virtually every page
  • Includes "Factfile" panels with color distribution maps and scale drawings for at-a-glance reference
  • Written by an international team of experts

David W. Macdonald is director of the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit and a fellow of Lady Margaret Hall at the University of Oxford. He is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and the author of several books, including Mammals of Europe (Princeton).

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Birds

 (Christopher Perrins ISBN13: 978-0-691-14070-4) is a comprehensive and lavishly illustrated reference to the world's birds. Accessibly written by renowned biologists and conservationists, and illustrated in color throughout, the book provides authoritative and systematic accounts of every bird family, covering form and function, distribution, diet, social behavior, breeding biology, and conservation and status. More than 1,000 superb color photos reveal the enormous diversity of birds in their natural habitats, from arctic tundra to tropical rain forest, and a wealth of beautifully detailed color and line illustrations depict representative species from each family and highlight characteristic behaviors. The main articles are complemented by detailed coverage of special topics, such as how ibises and spoonbills feed by touch, how pigeons find their way home, and how crows store food. And throughout the book, numerous "Factfile" panels with color distribution maps and scale drawings provide at-a-glance overviews of key data. The Princeton Encyclopedia of Birds is the definitive one-volume reference--an essential guide for amateur bird enthusiasts and professional ornithologists alike.

  • Covers all the bird families of the world
  • Describes form and function, distribution, diet, social behavior, breeding biology, and conservation and status
  • Features more than 1,000 spectacular color photos and illustrations
  • Includes "Factfile" panels with color distribution maps and scale drawings for at-a-glance reference
  • Explores special topics in depth
  • Written by leading biologists and conservationists

Christopher Perrins is a distinguished ornithologist, the author of many popular and scholarly books on birds, and a fellow of the Royal Society. A former professor of ornithology at the University of Oxford and former director of the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology, he is currently a fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford.

Comments welcome & appreciated.


Social Media Sites Strip Embedded metadata; Another Reason for Bold Watermarks!

 Great Grey Owl Blizzard in White (Strix nebulosa Chouette Lapone) January 2005 Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1D Mark II, 100-400mm @ 100mm. ISO 400, F6.3 1/800s Manual Exposure. Full Frame. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE AN IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION.

Technology & Art; get it out of the middle

Modern digital cameras are tools jam packed with not-so-often used features; remember to use focus selection points other than the centre - it makes for much more pleasing photographs. As amazing as it was for photography, the Great Grey Owl invasion during the winter of 2004-2005 was an amazing time for friendships. I had a great time in Bracebridge, Ontario with a great friend who continues to inspire me today.

The American Society of Media Photographers has released a report called "Best Practice Recommendations for Social Networking Sites" by Christopher J. Reese, Esq. Well written, this is must read for anyone posting images to the internet (amateur or professional): READ HERE

Great Grey Owl WIngs Wide Open (Strix nebulosa Chouette Lapone) December 2004 L'Île-Bizard, Quebec, Canada ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1D Mark II, 100-400mm @ 300mm. ISO 400, F6.3 1/640s Manual Exposure. Full Frame.

Recent infringements:

I am actively monitoring my image use, abuse and copyright infringements in an effort to keep you up-to date with infringements and resolutions. Here's an image of mine, stripped of it's metadata, and the copyright watermark was removed. While I'm flattered that they used my image, they should have asked & given credit! While the communications officer had agreed to replace the image with one that I provided with metadata and copyright watermark, they decided to remove the content instead.  From his last email to me: "I did some further digging to determine who looked after the site, and to put them in contact with you for other photos. That particular page and  site were run by a museum housed on campus but that museum is no longer at the university. We've removed the content, so your photo will no longer be on the BU website. I was unable to find a contact for the current curator of the museum, so I'm unable to pass along your information. Once again, sorry for the obtrusion."

I'm not against my images being used in high profile educational environments, but come on: It's about time that Universities and the Minister of Education audits image use on University websites! For crying out loud, these are the very institutions that educate our next generation of lawyers & scholars and they should set the example! I'm curious about Brandon University's view on plagiarism.

If anyone does know how to get in touch with the museum, please send me an email.

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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