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Photography Workshops by Christopher Dodds

 

Nature Photography Blog Journal Index

Entries in Wings (5)

Tuesday
Nov272018

Great Grey Owl a la Sony a9 Eye AF 400mm f/2.8 G Master

Great Grey Owl (Strix nebulosa, Chouette Lapone, GGOW) ©Christopher Dodds  Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless Camera & Sony FE 400 f/2.8 GM OSS ISO 3,200, F5.6 @ 1/3,200s Manual Exposure mode and Sony's eye AF. Join me for my winter owl workshops this January/February to learn More CLICK HERE.

Sony is very careful to note that Eye AF is designed to work with human subjects; they make no claims about it's ability with birds or mammals..BUT, with every firmware update, it seems to work better with non-human subjects. Make no mistake, it is not flawless, but when it works, it really nails the shots ;) The rumours are that Sony is continuing their efforts to improve this feature, and hope to announce it officially sometime in the future.

Do note the intentional movement in the wing-tips, even with a high shutter speed of 1/3,200 of a second. When I want to freeze the motion, and zoom into every detail, then I am working with a minimum shutter speed of 1/5,000 of a second.

In case you missed it, I wrote a mini-review of the new Sony FE 400 f/2.8 GM OSS in a recent blog post HERE

Join me for my winter owl workshops this January/February to learn More CLICK HERE.

Wednesday
Nov212018

Sony 400mm f/2.8 GM Mini Review

Great Grey Owl (Strix nebulosa, Chouette Lapone, GGOW) ©Christopher Dodds  Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless Camera & Sony FE 400 f/2.8 GM OSS  ISO 1,250, F2.8 @ 1/5,000s Manual Exposure mode. Join me for my winter owl workshops this January/February to learn More CLICK HERE.

Sony FE 400 f/2.8 GM OSS Mini Review

I am just back from a cross Canada road trip that took just over six weeks and covered more than 17,500km. I was honoured to stop and present at various camera stores across the country, then ended the trip with presentations at ProFusion (Canada's largest camera show); all sponsored by Sony of Canada. Thank you Sony. I got to meet so many great photographers along the way; it was a blast!

I have received a lot of email asking about my thoughts on the new Sony FE 400 f/2.8 GM OSS lens; if I had one, and if I thought it was worth the price tag. Yes, I do own one and YES, it is worth the price! When paired with the Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless Camera, the Sony FE 400 f/2.8 GM OSS is the fastest, most reactive with the most accurate auto focus lens that I have ever used. It is light and very well balanced (there was a lot of engineering involved to carefully design the lens with most of it's optics toward the back to make it really easy to hand-hold; a real win for birds-in-flight photographers). Add the Sony 2X Tele-extender, and you end up with a prime killing 800mm f/5.6 that is sharper and more capable than the Canon or Nikon prime lenses that I have used.

Sony took a huge step when thy developed the hybrid AF system that the Sony a9 uses; they have leapt forward with the XD Linear focus. There is no camera and lens that can focus as fast!

From the Sony website: "The XD Linear Motors have been newly developed to deliver higher thrust and efficiency than conventional types in order to make the most of the rapidly evolving speed performance of current and future camera bodies. Linear motor design and component layout have been thoroughly revised to achieve significantly higher thrust. Two of these new motors are used in the SEL400F28GM, achieving up to a 5x improvement* in moving-subject tracking performance. This means that the full speed performance of advanced camera bodies can be applied to capturing perfect images of the most dynamic sports or wildlife subjects. The XD Linear motors are further supported by new algorithms developed specifically for them, notably improving the motors’ response to control signals and minimizing lag and instability that can occur when driving a large aperture focus lens group for quiet, low-vibration operation. "

In summary, XD Linear focus is so much faster than the conventional rotational focus because it quickly and efficiently "thrusts" forward and backward to achieve tack sharp focus. Since conventional lens elements rotate like a nut on a bolt, they have to travel about five times further (think how little a nut moves in relation to how many times it must be turned). There is a limit as to how fast a lens (or lens group) can safely move in a rotational manner. 

Monday
Nov122018

Bald Eagle Photography Workshop

American Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus, Pygargue à tête blanche, BAEA) from my Bald Eagle Workshop in Kachemak Bay, Alaska ©Christopher Dodds  Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless Camera & Sony FE100-400 F4.5-5.6 G Master OSS @ 271mm ISO 2,500, F5.6 1/5,000s Manual mode.

Here's another one from my Bald Eagle Photo Tour in Alaska last March. Both workshops in March 2019 were sold out, but I have just had a couple cancel, leaving two spots open. Learn more about my March 10-14 Bald Eagle Photo Tour HERE.

Friday
Mar302018

Bald Eagle FLY FISHING a la Sony a9

American Bald Eagle FLY FISHING (Hailiaeetus leucocephalus, Pygarge a tete blanche, BAEA) Kachemak Bay (near Homer), Alaska ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless camera & Sony FE100-400mm F4.5-5.6 G Master OSS Lens @ 400mm Full Frame image. ISO 1,250, f/5.6 @ 1/5,000s Manual mode.

No matter what your level of experience you can learn from Chris!

I have been a registered NPS Nikon Pro for years and am now a registered Canon CPS pro photographer.  I have had the privilege of photographing wildlife and landscape for years.  When I found Chris’ web site I was super impressed with the quality of images so I signed up for his Homer Alaska eagle trip for early March 2017.

Chris has a wonderful warm personality whom cares about his fellow photographers on his trips.  I learned additional trips and traps from him and he assisted my conversion knowledge from Nikon to Canon gear.  His help was thoughtful, accurate and delivered in a manner that assists one getting the very best of images.  His approach to using manual exposure is brilliant and one that any bird photographer should embrace for improved outcomes.  He also very focused on the important light directions which can make or break your image outcomes.  If you travel the London England underground tube system you cannot get the safety message “mind the gap” off your mind – when you travel with Chris you will now have the message in your mind “mind the shadow direction”.  The techniques and tools Chris instills will serve you well in all your photographic moments.      

I came home from this trip with stunning images that are impressive!  Chris makes his duty that you obtain the type of images you hoped to achieve.  Wildlife is unpredictable but Chris will assist you going home with more than you thought possible.  His knowledge of the photo industry is very deep.  You will find you will enjoy the fireside chats, learn from every moment, and enjoy his company.  

Chris also spends considerable time on scene to ensure that his location he determines for his photo workshop choices provide the photo opportunities you want.   His pre-trip information is one of the best I have experienced for assisting your planning to the very smallest detail.  I have already booked my next trip with Chris which confirms he is truly a person that you should meet and create wonderful images together.

Wynne Powell - British Columbia, Canada

Sunday
Dec172017

Snowy Owl Photo Tour Last Minute Openings

Snowy Owl MORNING GLORY  (Bubo scandiacus, Harfang des neiges, SNOW) Ontario, Canada ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved.  300mm ISO 3,200, f/2.8 @ 1/2,000s Manual. PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.

Snowy Owl Photo Tour Last Minute Openings

There are two last minute openings for my January 29 to February 2, 2018 Snowy Owl Workshop. Don't miss out on what is looking like an epic season ahead. Read more about the workshop and sign-up for my Jan. 29 - Feb. 2, 2018 winter Snowy Owl Workshop HERE.

Chris Dodds knows how to do a workshop!


I had the pleasure of attending Chris' Snowy Owl Workshop this past January. To be honest, I did not know much about Chris before the trip. All I knew was the quality of his images on his website and that I wanted Snowy owl pictures. Needless to say, Chris met and exceeded my expectationsHe goes over and above to get you in the right place at the right time to capture the best images possible. Having been on numerous workshops around the world with various leaders, I can say Chris worked harder than most..... He also made sure that we were in position to get a variety of images and not just 1000 photos of the same animal behavior. Chris knows his birds and what they are going to do next(as much as humanly possible). He teaches in a way that things make sense. I was getting frustrated with my photography before this trip. I was able to get great shots before the workshop but felt that the percentage of great shots to missed shots needed to be better. Chris explained ways to change a few of my bad habits in a way that no one else ever did. I have tried manual exposure in the past but never got comfortable with it but after a day or two with Chris it clicked in my mind and my images improved and percentage of keepers went up. 
If you get a chance to go on a workshop with Chris I would highly recommend it. I know I will again. 


Rick Susi  Orlando, FL, USA