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Photography Workshops by Canon Northern Explorer of Light Christopher Dodds

 

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Entries in Workshop (74)

Sunday
Jan282018

Northern Gannet a la Sony a9

Northern Gannet BOUQUET (Morus Bassanus, Fou de Bassan, NOGA) Parc national de l'Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé, Bonaventure Island, Quebec, Canada. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds. Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless Camera & Sony FE100-400 F4.5-5.6 G Master OSS  @176mm. ISO 640 f/5.6 @ 1/4,000s Manual exposure mode. PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.

Here's a Northern Gannet from a rare opportunity to photograph alone on Bonaventure Island while I was testing the new Sony a9 mirroless camera with the new Sony FE100-400 F4.5-5.6 G Master OSS lens. I was blessed with a cloudy bright day, which is my absolute favorite lighting for my all-time favorite bird photography place where I have spent more than a year of my life since falling in love with the Gannets there! (If you were to add up all of the days spent teaching workshops there over the years).

I still have a couple of spots available for my June 5-7, 2018 Gannets Galore workshop there. Read more about the workshop I host there every year HERE.

Saturday
Jan272018

Bald Eagle a la Sony a9

Bald Eagle JUVINILE Landing on Lake Ontario Ice (Hailiaeetus leucocephalus, Pygarge a tete blanche, BAEA) Lake Ontario, Canada. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds. Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless Camera & Sony FE100-400 F4.5-5.6 G Master OSS  @371mm. ISO 2,500 f/5.6 @ 1/3,200s Manual exposure mode. PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.

Here's a Juvinile Bald Eagle that we photographed while waiting for a ferry during last week's Winter Owl Workshop. We were trying for Mergansers in flight as they would congregate in the chanel that the ferry had carved through the ice. It looked like the Eagle would land on the dock beside us, but ended-up landing below the dock on a dead duck that it must have been snaking on before being scared away from by the previous ferry.

Bald Eagle Workshop update

It's not too late to join me for my Bald Eagle Workshop. I have just had another cancellation for the March 5-9, 2018 slot in Homer, Alaska due to illness. Find out more about my Eagles Galore Workshop HERE.

Thursday
Jan252018

Wood Duck Drake

Wood Duck Drake (Aix sponsa, Canard Bronchu, WODU) Tingley Ponds Albuquerque, NM, USA. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds. Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless Camera & Sony FE100-400 F4.5-5.6 G Master OSS and Sony 1.4X @560mm. Full frame image. ISO 1,600 f/8 @ 1/1,600s Manual exposure mode. PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.

Here's a Drake (Male) Wood Duck from my recent Better Than Bosque Workshop last December. Aside from the usual suspects (Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese), the variety and number of ducks were a huge hit with everyone on the trip. I spent a lot of time with the Sony a9 and the 1.4X and 2X on the 100-400mm G Master lens and love the results with incredible detail.

Q&A:

Hi Chris-  I am also a friend of Rob P living in Colorado.  Switching to Sony from Canon. Had most canon lenses from 16-35 to 500mm.  Shot with 1dMk4 and 7d2 for wildlife. Just getting used to settings on the Sony. Today was shooting with the a7riii, 100-400 sony with 1.4 converter. Photographing a soaring red tail hawk in manual settings,  auto iso, 25oo sec., 6.3 in zone focus mode.  I use back button focus and locked on to Hawk but all of the images were not sharp.  With my canon 7d2 and 100-400 II every image would have been sharp.  What am I doing wrong?  Can't believe some images were sharp and some soft in a continuous burst.  Rob said you may be able to help.  I have a couple photo trips coming up in January and February and am leery on the sony setup.  Have not sold my canon gear yet...Thanks, Bob K
Hey Bob,
A careful read of your question leads me to suspect a few reasons for your soft images:
1. Crop vs. Full Frame: You were using crop sensor cameras, but have switched to a full-frame camera with the 1.4X extender. Instead of the in camera crop with the shorter focal length, you are now hand-holding a longer lens on a full-frame camera to acheive the same "reach". This requires much more care.
2.  Shutter Speed: While I don't doubt that you got a lot of keepers with your crop sensor camera and 1/2,500s, I strive to work at 1/5,000s for flight photography. In the past, most would agree that 1/focal length to be sufficient shutter speed for sharp images (1/500s when using 500mm). In my experience, the resolving power of modern lenses and sensors requires around ten times that to ensure razor sharp images.
3. Focus Mode: I seem to be using Centre Spot Lock-on most of the time for birds in flight with my Sony Cameras.
4. Back Button Focus: There are some ergonomic differences between your old and new cameras; perhaps button size, placement and the amount of pressure it needs to be kept pressed continuously. I have never been a fan of Back Button Focus, because it is simply too easy to make a mistake and release a little pressure from your thumb. Back Button Focus is also near impossible in sub-zero temperatures. Consider assigning focus back to the old fashioned shutter button.
Hope this helps!
Chris

 

Monday
Jan082018

Bald Eagle Workshop Update and Used Canon Equipment

Bald Eagle GRAVITY from my Bald Eagle Photographic Expedition (Hailiaeetus leucocephalus, Pygarge a tete blanche, BAEA) Kachemak Bay (near Homer), Alaska ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. 400mm ISO 4,000 f/5.6 @ 1/2,500s Full Frame, shot vertical in manual mode. Click HERE to order a print or license image for publication.

March 5-9 & 10-14, 2018 Eagles Galore Workshop Space available

Join me, Christopher Dodds, for an Epic Eagle adventure in Alaska. This five day Eagle photography workshop is designed for all levels of photographer to come home with an awesome portfolio of Eagle images and a deep understanding of the fundamentals of bird photography. Don't delay! Space is limited. Learn more HERE.

 

There are a lot of photographers to choose from when deciding to take a workshop.  I had come across Christopher Dodds Photography on Facebook and really like his photographs.  I read about Chris’s workshops.  They all sounded well organized and he has years of experience going to various places.

I love Alaska and had been dreaming of taking an Eagle photography workshop and decided to sign up with Chris.  I am so glad I chose Chris for a lot of reasons.  The workshop was very well organized.  Chris provides the attendees with a list of suggested clothing to be sure you are comfortable in the Alaskan winter weather.  He provided us with a list of suggested equipment so that we knew exactly what was needed to get the kind of photos posted on his workshop page.  The group was limited to 5 attendees, so we each had ample opportunity to get feedback and suggestions from Chris. Chris is extremely knowledgable about Kachemak Bay and knows where to go to get the best shots depending on the wind and the weather, and whether there is sun or snow.  Chris uses the same boat and captain for this workshop, so the captain knows exactly what Chris wants to do and how to get us into those best areas…. Chris believes in safety above all else, but snow, sleet and rain did not keep us from going out.  In fact, it made for some great photos depicting the Alaskan winter eagle environment.  It was an amazing trip and I got a lot of great photos.  I would definitely choose Chris for another birding workshop as he is dedicated to doing everything he can to make sure you come home with lots of amazing photographs!   Thanks, Chris, for a fantastic workshop and wonderful adventure!


 Jessica Duke Eagle Nest, NM, USA

USED CANON GEAR FOR SALE

It is really quite amazing to be part of what seems like a revolution! It seems like friends and clients are switching to Sony on a daily basis. Here is an updated list of my gear for sale, followed by some offered by friends. Shoot me an email chris@chrisdoddsphoto.com if you are interested in buying or making an offer on anything.

  • Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Lens with Internal 1.4x US$8,000.00 or CAD$10,000.00 OBO
  • Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 L II USM Telephoto Lens US$1,500.00 or CAD$1,875.00 OBO
  • Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM Zoom Lens (Version I) US$1,000.00 or CAD$1,250.00 OBO
  • Canon EF 70-300mm f4-5.6L IS USM Lens 1,000.00 or CAD$1,250.00 OBO
  • Canon Speedlight 580EX II Flash US$210.00 or CAD$250.00 OBO
  • Canon 1.4X Teleconverter III SOLD
  • Canon 2X Teleconverter III SOLD
Michael L:
  • Canon 1DXI US$2,500 Shutter: 85k. (2 batt.) 7/10 condition (some wear, CF door sticks)
  • Canon 1DXII SOLD
  • 600mmII SOLD
  • Canon 100-400II SOLD 
  • Canon 70-200II 2.8 US$1,500
  • Canon 24-70II 2.8 US$1,250
  • Canon 1.4 III US$300 real tree lens coat
  • Canon 2.0III US$300 real tree lens coat
Dennis S:
  • Canon 1DX US$2,500.00 Shutter 100K
  • Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Lens with Internal 1.4x US$8,000.00
  • Canon 180mm Macro US$600.00
  • Canon 8-15mm US$700.00

 

Monday
Dec252017

Thank You Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays


Great Grey Owl SOLITUDE (Strix nebulosa, Chouette Lapone, GGOW) Gatineau, Quebec ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. 244mm ISO 3,200s, f/5.6 @ 1/2,500s Manual mode. Click HERE to order a print or license image for publication.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Peace, Joy & Love

To everyone who visited this blog or my Facebook page, attended a workshop, safari, seminar or lecture, purchased a print or licensed an image: Thank you for making 2017 my best year yet. I am so very lucky and grateful!

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

Thursday
Oct262017

Atlantic Puffin CATCH OF THE DAY

Atlantic Puffin CATCH OF THE DAY (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 800 f/5.6 @ 1/5,000s Manual exposure mode. PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.

Getting back to the immense number of Puffin images produced with the Sony a9 & Sony 100-400 G Master during my Deluxe Puffins Galore workshop in July/August. Here is another Puffin with Capelin image; full frame at 400mm. I have said it before, and I will say it again: The new auto-focus is unstoppable! The number of Puffins returning to their burrows with Capelin was similar to other years, but the number of tack sharp images @ 20fps was tough to edit thanks to the Sony a9.

Sony RX-10 mark IV Mini-review

I am in the midst of preparing for a bunch of presentations, but want to share that I  received my Sony RX-10 Mark IV a couple of weeks  ago, and the first results are remarkable. Although it won't fit in a pocket (I didn't expect it to, and my phone is already there and ready for those shots), the idea is to always have a camera with me that has fast auto-focus (.03 second focus acquisition), 24 frames per second and a built-in zoom that covers from 24 to 600mm at f/4. This is for those times when you see a something and wish you had brought your full camera rig. Of course, like all things in the photography world, there are trade-offs, so you shouldn't expect it to produce files like the a9 at higher ISO. Overall, the Sony RX-10 Mark IV has impressed and delivers everything promised. It is a great introduction to the Sony world for those photographers fully invested in other brands, and a great camera choice for all naturalists, birders or sports fans and parents!

Canon Lenses for Sale

Email me an offer! chris@chrisdoddsphoto.com

  • Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Lens with Internal 1.4x US$9,000.00 or CAD$11,000.00 OBO
  • Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 L II USM Telephoto Lens US$1,600.00 or CAD$1,900.00 OBO
  • Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM Zoom Lens (Version I) US$1,100.00 or CAD$1,300.00 OBO
  • Canon EF 70-300mm f4-5.6L IS USM Lens 1,100.00 or CAD$1,300.00 OBO
  • Canon Speedlight 580EX II Flash US$210.00 or CAD$250.00 OBO
Friday
Sep152017

Atlantic Puffin with Capelin Bouquet

Atlantic Puffin with Capelin bouquet (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 3,200 f/5.6 @ 1/3,200s Manual exposure mode. PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.

Here’s another image from my Deluxe Puffins Galore Workshop in Quebec. The photographic opportunities with the Puffins and Razorbills were endless! The Sony Alpha a9 auto-focus was simply unbeatable; it locked onto the small and fast Puffins and Razorbills time and time again! So far, at least eight of the fine folks who joined my four back-to-back trips have ordered a a9 with the Sony 100-400 after they tried my loaner.

As I continue to write my short & detailed auto-focus set-up guide, I continue to test my Sony equipment and am simply blown away by the image quality, the auto-focus performance and just love how light and manageable it is. I am going off to spend a few days with the Metabones adapter which will allow me to use my Canon 600mm f/4 II with the Sony Alpha a9, then my great friends Al & Fabs @ CasaForns have gifted me a Sigma adapter which will be here next week for me to test; thanks AL & Fabs. Stay tuned, but everything I am hearing is that they should work-out just fine

Wednesday
Aug302017

Sony Alpha a9 High ISO Birds in Flight Performance

Atlantic Puffin RAINFLIGHT (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 8,000 f/5.6 @ 1/2,500s Manual exposure mode. PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.

Atlantic Puffin THE RETURN (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 20,000, f/5.6 @ 1/2,500s Manual exposure mode. PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.

Razorbill (Alca troda, petit pingouin, RAZO) 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 20,000, f/5.6 @ 1/2,500s Manual exposure mode. PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.

Sony Alpha a9 High ISO Birds in Flight Performance

Here are a few more images from my recent Deluxe Puffins Galore Workshop. As I am sure you can tell from the camera settings, we had a day of really foul weather. It was the perfect occasion to get the Sony a9 wet and see what it is made of! Although I did use a LensCoat rain cover, the rain was so hard and constant that I did manage to fog the viewfinder by the end of the day; I put the camera body with its body cap off into a zip-lock bag full of white rice to clear it out overnight.

Yet again, the camera amazed me; not only was it locking onto everything I pointed it at in low contrast and heavy rain, it excelled at high ISO! The details in the files are exceptional; Do take the time to read the setting I used under each image. The images above are all full-frame and lightly processed with some mild noise reduction applied. I don't post raw images, because I don't use Raw images for anything other than a starting point. It wasn't that long ago when 800 ISO was noisy, and here I was using 8,000 and 20,000 ISO!

The Sony Raw images require much less processing than my Canon 1DX Mark II, or files I have from other digital cameras that I have used. Although there is noise at 20,000 ISO as expected, the details in the darks are exceptional!

TIP: In order to get the most out of an image, but particularly at extreme ISO, remember that it is critical to expose the image correctly and try not to crop much! All cameras see light like us, they haven't yet figured out how to record darkness. If you brighten an image while processing it, then you are introducing noise.

Stay tuned for more about my time with the Sony a9

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