Please do stop-by and have a look at my workshops; I work tirelessly to ensure my SMALL GROUPS (Maximum 6 participants) have the best photographic learning and photographic opportunities in the industry. Forget the large groups of 10,12 or more photographers & the missed opportunities they offer by just their very group size. No egos and I'm not happy unless you are producing images that I would love to have in my portfolio.
I had the pleasure of meeting Chris Dodds a few weeks ago in Florida when I signed up for his Osprey workshop. The sign up process and pre workshop communication was excellent and concise. I must admit that as I drove over from Tampa to the hotel I was a bit uneasy after looking at Chris's images wondering if he was approachable, patient, and a good teacher with someone like me who didn't have a lot of experience shooting wildlife before. We met in the hotel lobby , chatted for 30 minutes or so and thankfully Chris put my concerns to rest. I went to bed that night knowing that the next few days would be an adventure.
I can honestly say that Chris Dodd's workshop for Ospreys far exceeded my expectations. Chris is a great guy, very happy to answer your questions and the best thing of all, fun to shoot with. I learned a lot, met a new friend and best of all was blown away at the quality of my images because of Chris's help/techniques. I cannot wait to meet Chris somewhere else in the wild and experience another awesome outdoor shooting experience. Thank you Chris, I hope to see you again soon!
Mark Weaver - Tampa, Florida, USA
I recently joined Chris on his Ospreys Galore Photo Safari and Expedition. This was actually the second year in a row that I have joined Chris for this photo safari. Including myself, there were three repeat clients for this experience. All three repeat clients are from Florida. I have a chance to photograph ospreys year round but I have found this to be THE BEST EXPERIENCE to photograph ospreys in their natural environment. I agree with Chris that Lake Blue Cypress is one of the most beautiful places in Florida. The lake is surrounded by land that is designated as conservation land. That means no development and pristine environment around the lake. Cypress trees ring the lake and I have never seen as many ospreys in one place.
One of the things I particularly like about being with Chris is his genuine concern for the safety and well being of his clients. On this last trip we had some weather passing through the area. Chris delayed going out in the pontoon boat until the stronger weather had passed. He also talked about the possibility of rain showers and made sure everyone was prepared even though it did not rain on us while we were out.
Chris’ knowledge and expertise was evident in getting us close to the ospreys. Most of my images taken during the three days were taken at less than 300mm. I was able to get in-flight and very close up images hand holding a 500mm lens, but most of my images were taken with a 70-200mm lens with a 2X extender. I didn’t need the big lens to get very good images.
While we were all shooting Chris would be keeping an eye out for all of us. He tailored his field instruction for each individual. His insight into the latest thinking on shutter speeds with DSLRs was especially invaluable to getting crisp images. Chris even shared his camera equipment with people to give them some experience with the latest equipment.
I have joined Chris on several trips and look forward to future adventures with him.
Jim Boland - Titusville, Florida, USA
I recently attended the snowy owls workshop with Christopher Dodds and had an amazing experience. Not only was I extremely impressed with Chris' knowledge and expertise in photography but also how he really cared about the shots we got. He made sure that everyone in the groups had the shots they wanted and that we all experienced success. His knowledge of cameras and photography is phenomenal. I have never met anyone who is a knowledgeable in photography as he is. He was able to answer any and every question and always explained the reasons behind his recommendations to make sure we learned as much as possible. The instruction didn't stop after shooting in the field. I learned so much in the Photoshop and Nik Software post-processing session that took my photography to a whole other level. The small group atmosphere was great as we were able to blend in with nature ensuring that the owls and other wildlife were not disturbed resulting in great shots every time. Chris made sure each of us were able to develop our skills at our own pace. The experience and the results were more that I could have asked for. I would definitely recommend Christopher Dodds workshops to anyone who is looking to improve their photography skills and learn from a real pro.
Fred Lemire - Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada
Abbott College Casgrain Theatre
“A benefit ‘performance’ in support of Le Nichoir”
If you were not at the Casgrain Theatre of Cegep John Abbott College on Saturday, March 9th, 2013 then you missed a unique opportunity to spend an evening with Mr. Christopher Dodds. He is an inaugural member of the Canon Northern Explorer of Light and elite X-Rite Coloratti initiatives. He is a full-time freelance nature and wildlife photographer, nature photography workshop & safari leader/instructor, photography educator, blogger and lecturer.
Chris generously dedicated his time and shared his “Canon” of knowledge in support of Le Nichoir, the renowned wild bird rehabilitation centre based in Hudson, Québec. Every year Le Nichoir rehabilitates up to as many as 1700 North American birds and relies heavily upon monetary donations and an avid army of volunteers.
This benefit evening, hosted by the Theatre Department and John Abbott College was the second such benefit evening donated by Chris Dodds, but was the first with John Abbott’s contribution. The 200 or so audience members who attended were privy to a 3-hour spectacular soiree. Chris animated an evening which included countless examples of his diverse wildlife photography; polar bears at James Bay, grizzlies in Alaska, lions in Africa, great grey owls in Gatineau, blue herons, ospreys, hawks, clown faced puffins, geese, terns and gulls to name but a few.
Exquisite examples of mammals and birds were beautifully shot in a myriad of diverse landscapes in weather ranging from blinding blizzards to searing desert dust storms. Chris spoke about the challenges of his work with very amusing anecdotal tales of some of the difficulties of being a professional wildlife photographer. He explained his photographic techniques, sharing his knowledge of cameras, lenses, f-Stops, film speeds, shutter speeds, exposure, depth of field, sharp and soft focus, white balance and histograms.
He had impromptu camera fact quizzes, rewarding people who had answered correctly by hurling wool tuques at them. In addition to the tuques, Chris had generously gifted photography accessories to the benefit raffle and hosted the draw mid-way through the evening’s activities.
Was the evening a workshop? A seminar? A lecture? A show and tell? Or a fascinating combination of all? It’s hard to say, but what is not hard to say that it was excellent and that Chris is a world class wildlife photographer, an avid wildlife enthusiast and that he is profoundly committed to his art and craft. Above all he is exceptionally generous of spirit and time and Le Nichoir’s meagre revenues have benefitted greatly because of his benevolence.
Thank you to the Theatre Department and John Abbott College, and thank you to the tireless efforts of Le Nichoir, but most of all thank you Christopher Dodds for your exceptional accomplishments and boundless generosity.
Department of Theatre and Music
John Abbott College
I was one of the attendants at last Saturdays (Mar. 9/13) Le Nichoir Fundraising event. Your presentation was all I expected and much much more. As a nature photographer myself and a long time Lakeshore Camera Club member, I witnessed suburb photography by you. The accompanying anecdotes and photo technical comments added a very personal note to it all. Your photographs of the presented subjects are outstanding, technically and visually superb. My Granddaughter had asked me if she could come along and so she did. She said to me, that this was a wonderful evening. For a 20 year old (who could spend a Saturday evening otherwise) it is definitely quite a compliment.
I am looking forward in perusing your website and reading your blogs.
Thank you very much and good luck.
Hans J. Kandert
Chris has an extensive knowledge of exposure theory. He is a patient teacher, skilled in helping his participants gain a deep understanding of this critical element of photography. He demonstrated why it is important to capture as much detail as possible for the best possible print, then showed us how to accomplish it. During the week of ever changing light, he kept checking our work to make sure we were getting the best possible results.
I usually learn from books and enjoy photography as a solitary pursuit, but I enjoyed the camaraderie of this group experience and received many tips on world travel. The photo safari gave me time to immerse myself in photography and nature. I'm already planning my next safari with Chris."
"Osprey safari: An incredible opportunity.
I recently attended the Osprey safari offered by Chris Dodds, and I was positively thrilled with the excursion. The people in our small group were fantastic. The environment was magical. The photographic opportunities were amazing and abundant. Every part of the physical expedition was most impressive, but what I was really taken with was the panoply of knowledge Chris demonstrated throughout the trip. Whether identifying various birds dozens of yards away simply by call, or exuding masterful control over the camera, Chris was able to display his expertise and offer assistance when needed. Chris is very amiable and approachable. No matter what skill level a photographer has, Chris always made one feel important with his one on one attention and did so without any air of condescension. It was very much like shooting with great friends with your own personal tutor to turn to if needed. I can honestly say that both my skill level and knowledge base increased from my trip with Chris. Thanks again Chris."
"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,"
"I recently participated in the Moose and Fall Colors of Maine workshop/safari led by Chris Dodds. The photo safari was in Baxter State Park, Maine. Throughout my time with Chris during the workshop I came to appreciate several things.
Chris has been doing this workshop for years. He has developed a rapport with local business owners. This rapport makes the stay for participants much easier. Whether it was topping off the ice in our coolers at night just before closing, making sandwiches for the next day’s lunch, or allowing for a late checkout, the people at our hotel were very helpful and accommodating.
The second thing that struck me was how much Chris new about the area. Baxter State Park is a 200,000 acre wilderness area. Chris has come to know the area like a local guide or woodsman would. He takes people to different locations to provide them with the very best photo opportunities.
Another thing I appreciated about the workshop was Chris’ instructional ability. I have taken workshops from different people over the last few years and I found Chris to be very approachable and easy to talk with. He has an ability to explain complex subjects in an easy and understandable way. He also is sincerely interested that people understand his instruction and feel comfortable implementing the newfound knowledge in the field.
I look forward to my next photo workshop/safari with Chris."
"Your talk yesterday evening in Hudson was amazing! I belong to the MCC and I often do photography for le Nichoir and volunteer my time and artwork for the wild birds whenever I can. I was truly, greatly inspired and motivated by your images. (As were others judging by all the ooooohs and ahhhhs!) I have been to many photography conferences and workshops and I have never seen a crowd so awed and moved! It was beautiful to see.... You have a great handle on the technical aspects as well as offering creative and unique ways of looking at animals. Some of my favorite shots yesterday were ones of the more common birds and animals posed in unique ways that we are not used to seeing them: like the v shaped wings goose shot, or even the Gannet looking straight up (very different.) These are why a talk like that is great. I recognized two shots from National Geographic: one of the snowy owl and one of the puffin shots, but seeing some of your more abstract framing and images was really a treat. The ultra sharp close up of the Gannet eye was also incredibly striking."
"In September 2011, I attended Christopher Dodds’ “Gannets Galore” workshop in Perce, Quebec, Canada. I have attended many wildlife photo workshops over the years and this workshop was a 10+ without a doubt. The trip was exactly as he described on his web site; no overpromising and under delivering.
Chris provided access to a colony of 63,000 nesting pairs of Northern Gannets (and at least as many non-breeding birds) and his relationships with the local park staff allowed us to get to locations in the park that were closed to the public. Throughout the trip he was cheerful, very well organized and took care of all those details (and this was a complicated location) that can ruin an experience.. I was able to concentrate on what I came to do…..photography.
As a professional photographer I know my field, but it is a major bonus to find someone who can provide instruction to me. My flight shots improved dramatically! Chris has an uncanny understanding of composition and light and presented me with many opportunities to test my skills. He understands creativity in photography as well as being a technical master. This trip was perfect for a beginner or a professional and he gives as much instruction and guidance as you need without arrogance, attitude or making you feel too shy to ask. I would encourage any photographer, no matter what level, to sign up for Chris' workshops."
"I want to thank you for a great "Gannets Galore" workshop. The Gannets and Bonaventure Island were an incredible experience for me. The workshop was enhanced by your knowledge of the birds behavior and great relationship with the officials on the Island gained over more than 25 years. It's incredible that you are able to recognize individual birds, remember their nesting sites, and predict their behavior so well. I felt that I had made a wise decision when I decided to experience Bonaventure with you.
"I recently went on the Gannets Galore workshop with Chris.... It has been 3 weeks now and I still can not come up the the words to describe this experience. The world Chris takes you to defies description. The colony is beyond words. Everything about your day on this workshop is special. This is a trip of a lifetime for anyone who loves birds. Chris runs his workshop so all you have to do is show up at the appointed time and shoot for 10 hours, every detail beyond that is taken care of. The Day is spent with no other care than to photograph beautiful gannets, whales, murres, razorbills, kittiwakes, seals, and he threw in 2 bald eagles for good measure. I had so many great shots when I returned home that I still can not believe it. My birds in flight technique improved 100 percent. Chris gives you as much or as little instruction as you want. He even let me shoot a couple of cards in his camera with his lens. All I can say is, if you love birds, and want to see gannets, I don't believe you can do any better than a Chris Dodds workshop."
- Carole Wiley Torrington | CT | USA
"Thank you for the wonderful day I spent with you on Saturday photographing the snow geese. Thanks to your help and individual attention I was able to figure out some issues that would have taken me a long time to solve on my own. Your tips on memory cards and how to keep the dust out of my lens when in Africa were things I’d never thought of. I look forward to doing another workshop with you and wish you all the best. Once again, thank you for a great day."
- Wendy Altona Montreal | Quebec | Canada
Chris, I can't thank you enough for this most inspiring weekend photographing wild snow geese. I thoroughly enjoyed your expertise and advise on how to take breathtaking photos. After quickly reviewing 2,000 photos I'm proud to say that close to 200 will be keepers. At least 3 or 4 of the really interesting ones actually had their beaks open. Also I'd like to thank you for the use of the 800mm lens and Mark IV; by day 2 I got the hang of using it and some of the close-ups are outstanding."
- George Liberman Montreal | Quebec | Canada
Hi Chris. The September 2010 Moose and Fall Colors Photo Workshop has been a fantastic experience for me in many aspects. I want to thank you warmly for everything you have done for me, not only with respect to photography but in every respect, such as wildlife and nature, the English language, travel tips, etc. You never hesitated to share your knowledge with the group in general and with me in particular. You amazed me more than one time with your wide array of knowledge. Furthermore, you have been a very pleasant companion all along. I would not hesitate to book another workshop with you, which I intend to do later, depending on my budget and schedule possibilities. I already told you that you are a real gentleman, and I just want to tell you again.
- Serge Gagné L’Île-Bizard | Quebec | Canada
The trip with Chris on the Coastal Explorer along the Katmai coast was fantastic. Without a doubt it was one of the top photo trips I have taken over the last several years due to the amazing variety and density of wildlife in such completely unspoiled and uninhabited wilderness. Unlike land based lodges, with the Coastal Explorer you have the opportunity to photograph in several of Katmai's secluded bays versus being limited to an area adjacent to a land-based lodge. What helped make the trip so successful was Chris's work ethic where he is always ready to shoot in any weather conditions and will stay in the field as long as there is any possibility for high quality photography. This is essential in a place like coastal Alaska where it can go from direct sunny conditions to heavy overcast to rain in the blink of an eye and where the sun doesn't set until the late evening. If the best time to photograph Brown Bears chasing down salmon was after 10:00PM, you bet we'd be on the river bank waiting on the massive Brown Bear boars to make their spectacular runs--photography is top priority after safety of course. The daily great fresh seafood didn't exactly hurt the trip either.
As I write this I've only a little over two weeks removed from returning from Katmai and I'm still having serious withdrawals--right now I really want to be on the Coastal Explorer's skiff heading to shore to photograph more bears, eagles, and wolves.
- Steve Metildi Southern California | USA
I fell in love with Northern Gannets when I saw them fishing off the north coast of Florida many years ago during migration. What beautiful birds!
Researching where to see them best included Bonaventure Island in Quebec, Canada. When I saw Chris Dodds' photos I was smitten. The experience was far better. Chris is a terrific person, and a great teacher. Eastern Quebec is charming and Chris knows all the folks and all the ropes to get the photographer to the best sites for shooting both on the island and on the waters surrounding the island. The birds and their behavior are unquestionably amazing to observe and record. Chris shared his strategies and shooting techniques freely. He is laid back and we who attended his photo-op had the very best time. I was pleased to have learned more about flight photography with this experience. If you have the opportunity and are interested in bird(flight) photography, this is a best experience.
- Paul Herd Atlanta | Georgia | USA
Many thanks to Chris for a wonderful and exciting photography experience. Your professionalism, talent, patience and knowledge helped to make the Gannets Galore photo trip an experience of a life time. The hundreds of thousands of Northern Gannets on Bonaventure Island were unbelievable. I took thousands of photographs of Northern Gannets in their everyday activities. They were elegant, comical, clumsy, arguing, fishing, sleeping, working, copulating, preening and fencing. It was nonstop and exhilarating. Now, I get to my favourite part - the Zodiac tour around Bonaventure Island. It’s 5:00am and we start the 4 hour trip to see dozens of species of birds and seals as well as couple of Minke whales. The 4 hours seemed to pass like minutes. The Harlequin ducks and Black Guillemots were among my favourites and a real treat to observe and photograph.
- Gordie Kadonoff Hampstead | Quebec | Canada
My thanks Chris for introducing me to the tremendous experience (both visual and olfactory) offered by not only the Gannet colony on Bonaventure Island but also by the Gaspe peninsula. Your low key approach and readily available technical knowledge really helped me to focus on what it was I wanted to do and maximize my chance of getting the pictures that I wanted. Standing in a zodiac on the rolling ocean watching you photograph flying seabirds using a hand held 800mm lens pushed me to believe I could actually do the same using a 420mm lens......and the resulting photos show that it can be done! My 6 and 3 year old children cannot thank you enough for the endless slide shows I now make them endure.
- Ron Kellner Toronto | Ontario | Canada
Pat and I had a great time on your recent Gannets Galore photo tour. We have been on many photo tours and yours was one of the best. We have never seen so many excellent photo opportunities. Even the 5 AM Zodiac trip around the island offered great opportunities. The small size of the group, 6 photographers, added to our enjoyment since you were able to spend considerable time with each of us. Your tips on using manual camera settings were excellent. I now use manual settings for virtually every photograph, flight or static. Thanks again for a truly outstanding photographic experience.
- Stokes Fishburne Chapel Hill | North Carolina | USA
Thanks for a great weekend. I got some great shots, learned some new things and met some terrific people. You and Julie were perfect hosts. I really appreciated your patient, attentive instruction........
- Amanda Reed Cape Cod | Massachusetts | USA
Since I first met Chris he has been telling me I should go with him and photograph the Northern Gannets on Bonaventure Island. He knows I love to capture behavior and there, you are surrounded by the many behaviors of the gannets as they go about their daily lives.
Chris is super organized and extremely well prepared! He knows what lenses and flash combinations are needed to maximize your opportunities. He genuinely wants his participants to go home with the best and most varied images possible. His early morning zodiac trips aren’t available through anyone else.
Lots of people, me included, dislike bad weather but Chris relishes it! The more dramatic the better for photography! Gannets in rain, fog, drizzle and sun, too. Eagles at Homer in the rain! Snowy Owls in white snowy haze! Hey, there’s going to be a big snowstorm! Why don’t you leave now and meet us for some great photo ops! He is ever enthusiastic and helpful.
He inspires everyone to do their best and he knows the greatest places to eat, too!
- Eleanor Kee Wellman Balla | Ontario | Canada (www.eleanorkeewellman.com)
"I just returned from attending my first workshop, my first time in “the Gaspé” and my first experience with shooting birds in flight and I thought I’d share a bit about the experience…
The workshop was given by Christopher Dodds who is often referred to as one of the very best nature photographers in Canada. We were going to spend three days shooting Gannets on L’Ile Bonaventure, Québec (about 30 minutes off the Percé harbour and close to the famous Percé Rock). The Island is a protected habitat for Gannets and access to the Island is only allowed when the Parks Canada staff are there from about 9am to 5pm.
It’s a long uphill climb from the wharf to the top where the birds are, and Park staff say most people take about 45 minutes to an hour. Chris and I made it in about 30 minutes the first day (and got it down to about 25 minutes the following days but if he wanted to, I’m sure Chris could do it in 15!). We could hear the Gannets long before we got to the top and the first view of them – literally thousands and thousands of them – was breathtaking. The unofficial current estimate is at over 500,000 Gannets, now making this the largest colony in the world!
I can't speak highly enough about the experience of shooting with Chris Dodds. Chris is absolutely amazing. He's got tremendous experience and a great eye. The whole experience was way better than my expectations. He’s a far better photographer and workshop leader than I expected. Not only does he produce incredible work, he has the technical knowledge and experience to make this a really worthwhile learning experience. And he gives what is truly a “workshop”, in that he gives constant tips and coaching to make sure all participants are learning (no matter what their experience is or how stubborn and set in their ways they might be – like myself). He doesn’t just lead you to a subject (as many other workshops do), but he gives all the technical support and training you could wish for; he makes sure you are learning the photo techniques needed to improve. Chris and I knocked heads quite a bit those first days (he was right – I was wrong) as he stuck with trying to get me to improve and get out of my comfortable rut.
I liked those three days (and the one pre-workshop day) so much that I decided to stay for a second three-day workshop and luckily Chris still had a spot available. Not only that, but I’m certainly going to return to shoot those Gannets again, hopefully with Chris. In fact I’d love to take any workshop Chris was leading.
We were shooting ALL day... from the time we got to the top until we had to leave. There was absolutely no shortage of birds or birds in flight and that's unlike any other avian photography venue in the world from what everyone was saying. Elsewhere you only have a few hours to shoot and then the birds are gone. We were always the first ones on the Island (with the Park staff) and the last ones to leave (again with the staff).
Chris is so well known there (and so highly regarded) that he and his group were certainly given privileges and access that someone on their own wouldn't get. If (I should say when) I do this again, I'm going to do it with Chris on one of his workshops.
And with Chris, everything was organized for us including lunches; access and transportation to the island, accommodations and of course the great training. I wouldn't do it any other way.
Believe me, if you took such a workshop with Chris you wouldn't regret it! And his repeat clients (of which there were many in both the 3-day workshops I attended) had nothing but raves for him.
An absolutely fabulous time!"
- Eldor Gemst Montreal | QC | Canada
"I wanted to thank you for a wonderful owling trip last week. It was great to be in the field with you and I learned a great deal about the birds, environment and my camera. Thanks so much for being such a great naturalist, photographer and trip leader. I will go on another trip with you in the future."
- Lynda Goff Santa Cruz | CA | USA (Professor Emeritus Ecology & Evolutionary Biology UC Santa Cruz)
"Thanks for a truly remarkable photographic experience on both land and water! The Zodiac rides were a wonderful way to spend the early mornings. I was amazed at how close we were able to get to the birds and the seals. The nonstop action at the Gannet colony provided countless photo opportunities every second. Now I can see how you can still find it interesting and challenging even after visiting the island over 350 times. Your extensive experience photographing at the colony meant that we always knew where the best opportunities were at any given time as the wind and weather constantly changed throughout the day. And your excellent tips on exposure, technique, composition, and use of flash allowed us to take advantage of those opportunities and capture some wonderful images.
On a logistical note, your fluency in French also proved invaluable at many points during the trip when you came to the rescue of us dumbfounded English speakers.
Hope to see you again soon, maybe even on a June trip back to Bonaventure!"
- Mike Milicia Boston | MA | USA (http://www.miliciaphoto.com)
Chris, Thanks for another great photo adventure to Alaska!!!!!!
This is the third trip with you and they keep getting better. Always challenging. Always easy-going. Always taking my photography forward. (Take a look at my site for a few new pictures from Alaska.) Your instruction is the best I've experience in taking these kinds of trips. You always seem to know where to put us in the absolute best place. Top Notch!!!! Can't wait till the next one.....wherever that might be. Thanks again!!!!!!!
- Jeff Moore Arlington Heights | IL | USA
Thank you for the wonderful time we had at your “Gannet Galore” Workshop! As always, we came away with some “awesome” pictures and expanded our knowledge not only about photography but the birds as well. We were fortunate to have a variation of the weather (fog, rain, sun, & cloudy), which presented us with a new learning experience daily also challenged us to think about what we had learned and apply it accordingly. The differences in the photos were a testimony to your ability to teach us how to use variation in shutter speed, exposure and composition. Even though we tried your patience on occasion, we swear we learned to "keep it to the right" and trust the histogram. Those “crazy birds on the rock” were so much fun to watch, it was easy to forget to take pictures. Your enthusiasm and joy of photography is contagious, making the workshop extremely fun.
We look forward to spending time with you again at another workshop in the near future. Thanks for the great experience; it is one we will remember for a long time.
- The Texas Zoomers (aka Rick and Melody Curtis) Flower Mound | TX | USA
Thank you for a great experience on your Gannets Galore Workshop. Even though I have been photographing birds and mammals seriously for the last 6 years and have had many photos published in national and regional magazines and calendars, I still picked up some valuable skills by photographing with you. You gave me confidence to explore new photography methods, which I have already put to use. As a result, I am able to get photos now that I would not have tried before.
Bonaventure Island is a truly remarkable location for bird photography and observation. I thoroughly enjoyed the Gannets and other pelagic species. All three days were full of non-stop action, giving me plenty of opportunity to practice my skills; new and old.
I also want to thank you for your hospitality. I had a great time in the Perce’ area and credit that to you. I admire the respect you give to the park service employees. As a result, they treated all of us very kindly.
A trip to Bonaventure Island alone would not have yielded near the number of quality images that I was able to take while participating in your workshop. Thank you for your leadership, advice, tips, and hospitality.
Best wishes and please stay in touch.
- Stan Buman Carroll | IA | USA
Thank you for all of your assistance prior to, during and after the workshop. I can safely say that both Nick and I enjoyed it, learned a great deal and continued to use the lessons in our photographic journeys (most recently to Grand Manan Island where we meet up with Roger Burrows, author of several books on birding). Our next trip is to Newfoundland where we hope to use the lessons to improve our bird photography. After that we may have to take it easy for a while but with us, it is pretty spontaneous and Bonaventure may or may not happen this year.
Again, thank you for introducing us to the wonderful world of photographing warblers
- Tuma Young & Nicolaas Honig Halifax | NS | Canada
...I am a reasonably good nature photographer, and have always been interested in macro photography (especially flowers). I enrolled in this workshop to learn bird photography because many of my previous attempts at bird photography have been less than satisfactory. I found Chris to be extremely knowledgeable about the area, the birds, and photography techniques but also enthusiastic about photography and about helping the workshop participants to improve their individual photographic skills. I needed help with using flash, and Chris was able to make suggestions which are helping me to use flash with much more confidence. He was always offering suggestions to help me with my photography. He knew what I needed, because he asked what I wanted to get from the workshop. After this workshop, I also have much greater confidence in using the histogram in the field to evaluate my exposures. This area of improvementin addition to the improvement with using flash will help my photography going forward.
I was amazed at the non-stop action of the birds flying all day and the endless possibilities of photographing birds flying, landing, and taking off. Chris recognized changes in the direction of the wind and he was able to have us move to a better vantage point for better photo possibilities. There were some vantage points on the ground where the nesting birds were no more than 10-12 feet from the board walk (and sometimes much closer). Because of this, there was ample opportunity to photograph the birds with moderate telephoto lenses.
Chris has been to this area many times and the people know him well. The people of the area like him and as members of his group, the people were very friendly to the workshop participants. Chris has arranged nice accommodations and was able to suggest good restaurants for our evening meals. The day started early but Chris was able to offer a variety of photo opportunities from daylight to sundown. I was very pleased with the images I was able to make on the second day when it was cloudy with a light rain for much of the day. I will have more confidence in the future about the possibility of photographing on rainy days.
Above all, I had fun at this workshop. I enjoyed talking to Chris about all sorts of his previous experiences, and he was interested in the experiences of the workshop participants. I would recommend Chris as a workshop leader and look forward to being a "student" in one or more of his future workshops. My workshop experience was better that I had anticipated (and I had expected it to be a great experience).
- Dennis Stone Columbus, Indiana
I joined Chris for the 2009 Gannets Galore Workshop on June 19 -21. It was a great learning experience and a wonderful three days. Here are the top ten reasons why I would recommend attending a workshop with Chris.
1. Chris knows the workshop locations and subjects. He has been to the Northern Gannet colony over 375 times, giving him intimate knowledge of the island and bird behavior. All professional wildlife photographers will tell you that knowledge of the subject is crucial for obtaining quality images.
2. With this knowledge, he works hard to put you in the right place by constantly monitoring weather conditions (such as wind direction) and bird activity.
3. Chris is respectful of, and well respected by, the Park Service employees. He treats them well and they treat him well.
4. The Gannets Galore Workshop is more than just photographing on the island. Photography from the Zodiac boat adds a whole new dimension to the diversity of images and bird species.
5. While birds are his primary focus, he is willing to photograph other subjects; Gray Seals come to mind.
6. He is a good birder. It isn’t just all about Gannets.
7. Being a top-notch photographer, Chris knows what it takes to get great images. He is willing to share his knowledge with his participants.
8. I am a better bird photographer because of Chris. Leading by example, he challenged me to work harder on my skills and work outside my comfort zone.9. For those of you who live to eat, Chris will make sure you are well fed (quality and quantity). I eat to live but think I gained weight on this trip.10. His ability to speak French comes in handy for us ignorant Americans who never learned to speak anything but English.
- Stan Buman Carroll, IA
"On the morning of June 14, my 62nd birthday, we took the ferry to Bonaventure Island and made the 1.8 mile walk up the big hill. I had been a bit worried about making that walk up and down for five straight days, but Chris was right: “Take it slow and it is an easy walk.” When we arrived at the gannetry, I was totally blown away. So so many birds at arms length. Dozens, even hundreds of gannets in the air at all times, many carrying huge loads of nesting material, many landing just yards away. That day, the photographic action was nonstop, but it was not a birthday present, for the succeeding four days were equally exciting. And as each day came and went, I visualized and created many new and different images. I felt like a painter locked in a huge warehouse with hundreds of blank canvases and an unlimited supply of paints. I was in bird photographer’s heaven.
That evening Chris and I met the five remaining members of the group. Weather permitting, we planned to spend four hours in a large Zodiac photographing the gannetry and the cliffs from the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Though it was rough on the two mornings that we went out very early, we had some great flight and scenic opportunities. Then Danny, the skipper of the Zodiac, would drop us of on the island and we would make the climb to the birds. Danny brought along coolers full of sandwiches and fruit, enough to feed an army. Once he learned that I was diabetic he had his chefs prepare me egg salad and fruit salad every day. We would load our vests with food and head up the hill.I have been to Antarctica. I have been to Kenya. I have been to Tanzania. And I have been going to Bosque for the past 13 years. All of those places offer great photographic opportunities. But no place that I have been has ever offered as consistent and spectacular action as Bonaventure."
- Arthur Morris Indian Lake Estates | FL | USA
I was impressed on how much Chris cared about making sure everyone was learning, engaged, and getting the most out of the trip. I look forward to my next workshop with Chris!
- Michael Lyncheski Gladstone, NJ
At our April monthly meeting we invited Christopher Dodds to gave a presentation on bird photography. There were about 60 people in attendance including numerous of our membership interested in bird photography.
It was evident very quickly that Chris has a complete command of his profession. He is clearly a gifted photographer, with an artistic eye, and considerable knowledge and interest in birds. He used his superb photography, detailed discussion of his photographic technques in obtaining his shots, and his engaging presentation style to gain the attention of all the audience, photographer and non-photographer alike. The crowd that gathered around him to ask questions after his presentation is testament as to how well it was received. I even had two people email me after about how much they liked his presentation, which is an unusual occurance.
I heartily recommend Chris to other organizations looking for a speaker on photography or nature photography.
- Jeff Harrison (Vice-President, Bird Protection Quebec) Montreal | QC | Canada
Thank you so much for wonderful time we had in Homer, AK during your Eagles of Homer Workshop. Both Rick and I are so excited about learning "M" (manual). We have attended several other photo workshops lead by others but did not learn as much as we did in the 6 days under your guidance in Homer. We came home with some outstanding photos, so many more than we thought possible. We had a phenomenal time and hope to do another workshop with you in the near future.
-Melody & Rick Curtis Flower Mound | Texas | USA
A trip of a lifetime. The workshop was amazing. The scenery was awesome and the people were fabulous. Chris Dodds knowledge of our subjects was expansive. The instruction was top notch, We were given so many opportunities to explore and learn the aspects of shooting pictures under conditions that allowed us to work with light, speed and movement.
There were so many aspects of photography I had never paid much attention too but Chris incorporated them in my experience effortlessly, patiently and with the understanding what is necessary to accomplish beautiful and professional photographs. Chris is thoroughly professional, knowledgeable and very personable.
- Marla Moore Arlington Heights | IL | USA
Chris is everything I could ask for in a workshop leader. He is patient, accommodating, and knowledgeable, both about photography and birds. I learned a lot and took hundreds of great pictures that would not have been possible without Chris' instruction and experience. Aside from being a great teacher and leader, Chris is an all-around great guy and a pleasure to spend time with.
Bonaventure Island itself is spectacular, and the Zodiac trips around the island in the morning are incredible experiences, both photographically and visually, in part because this is the only way to see and photograph gannets in morning light, since the island is inaccessible until 9AM. Chris knows the place backwards and forwards, and always knew where the best photography experiences would be under a variety of conditions - an important resource to have on an island containing several large colonies.
In short, if you're on the fence about going, do it! Chris' Gannets Galore Workshop truly is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
- Matthew Barr Chevy Chase | Maryland | USA
Now in September, with the images of our Northern Gannet trip processed and filed, I want to thank you for your outstanding planning and execution of the our adventure/trek/shoot on Bonaventure Island this summer. It was a pleasure to be your customer/client.
Your execution provided an experience to make it one of the two best that I have been a part of in my many years of summer shoots. Given the uncertainties of rain, tides, winds, and clouds, you exploited so well every opportunity that came our way. On these trips the purpose is to get good looks at the birds. The some 3,100 exposures that I came home with were solid evidence that I got the looks at this magnificent gannet I was hoping for ---I netted many quality images. Good stuff now in the files.
Our housing was just what we want: accessible, comfortable, clean and a good buy. The schedule was chock full, we did not have avoidable down minutes, and we squeezed all of the looks available to us out of the time and conditions available. The access to an ATV to tote our gear from the dock to the colony, for a guy of my age, was a real plus and that comes about only with your obvious advance work and solid relationships with the park folks.
The trip on the water to the far side of the island was a highlight for me and shows best your foresight and planning to get us in not otherwise available, shooting positions. That was unique time, extraordinary.
But most of all, Chris, your ever-present availability to be immediately responsive to our technical photographic and logistical questions makes this trip so exceptional. So many of the shoot producers put themselves above and before the client-photographer and are spending more time getting their own shots or just not being around when you need their advice. You stay available to provide professional guidance to the guys and gals paying for the experience. I observed that no question is too mundane; you patiently helped the rookies, just as you did the most advanced. Personally, I improved my techniques and banked a good range of knowledge, thanks to you.
My summary: You are an excellent professor of the art, a solid expedition planner, a constant steward of the details, and a good guy with whom to spend days on a trek.
I'm very interested in getting some Spring/nesting shots of that Atlantic Puffin. If you put together such a trip, please let me know.
I look forward to another shoot with the unique Dodds' touch.
Continued success to you, with all best wishes,
- Andy Hays Chicago | IL | USA
I really enjoyed the Bonaventure trip for Gannets. You always had us in the best spots regardless of the weather. Your tips on flash for high key shots and postprocessing of the shots were really helpful. The Zodiac trips before going onto the island were very interesting and fun. Diving Gannets are definately a challenge to capture! .......... I look forward to doing more trips with you to further improve my skills and add to my portfolio.
-John Dupps Middletown | OH | USA
If you want a really fun adventure as well as a great learning opportunity, you must visit Bonaventure Island with Chris Dodds. Perce, the island and its surroundings are beautiful; every day was a wonderful surprise. It’s amazing how different everything looks with the changes in the weather and that’s something that’s guaranteed; the weather will vary, sometimes from one minute to the next. Gannets are amazing birds to watch and photograph. They can go from looking really graceful to really goofy and everything in between. The time spent in the Zodiac was fabulous, a real challenge photographically speaking. Lastly, Chris is a terrific teacher. He was patient, informative and really concerned with the participants’ well being. He made sure everyone’s questions were answered and that we were all having a good time. He’s a true gentleman and lots of fun to be with. I learned a lot from him in a very short time by asking lots of questions and simply watching what he does. L’Isle de la Bon Aventure is just that, a truly magical place and seeing it with someone who is truly at home there was a plus. A word of warning: if you go make sure you schedule vacation time for after the vacation, Chris packs a lot of activity into a very short time-you’ll be exhausted, but it will be a happy exhausted.
-Jacqueline Leader Miami Lake | FL | USA
I want to thank you for the photography workshop you led to Ile Bonaventure, an area of Canada I probably would have never visited and for the opportunity to meet and enjoy the company of the other photographers that attended. I found the workshop very educational. It catered to all levels of photographers. You managed to spend quality time with everyone helping us learn from your experiences as a bird photographer. I learned how to properly use my handheld light meter, how to improve my flash photography and that you can shoot in rain and fog with excellent results. Once we got inside you had a very interesting guest speaker and on the other nights during the Photoshop tutorials, you changed me from a lazy user to a more skilled user without taking up much more time on the computer. The accommodations you arranged and your dining suggestions were wonderful. Overall I would say that I would be happy to attend your workshops whenever I get a chance to do so.
Keep up the good work.
-John Zimmerman (President Montreal Camera Club) Montreal | QC | Canada
My wife Marla and I attended Chris Dodds' Gannets Galore photo workshop on Bonaventure Island, Quebec in August 2007. We both found it a tremendous advancement for our photographic skills and vision. We felt Chris’ knowledge of both the wildlife and the area was supreme, always looking for the perfect spot and technique to make better images. His photographic knowledge was immense and his instruction was never intimidating.
Always cheerful, Chris kept a constant vigil to satisfy the group as well as providing personal attention along the way. I don’t believe anyone felt shorted either way. He put us in front of so many unique situations. As a result, my wife (even with an awkward arm cast) and I shot the most remarkable nature photos of our lives.
The workshop was intense but the atmosphere was always kind, low-key and generous. At the end of the last day, we felt we had witnessed one of the great places on earth, accomplished something remarkable photographically and gained a friend in the process. Well done, Chris.
-Jeff Moore Arlington Heights | IL | USA
Thank you for a magnificent workshop. Your efforts on our behalf were nothing short of heroic. I don't know where you get your energy, from Sun up to long after it set, you were working to make this the best photographic event that any of us had ever experienced, and you succeeded. Bonaventure Island is a photographers paradise, I have never returned from a workshop with so many 'Portfolio shots. If all your endeavors as fruitful, can't wait to get my lens on those Snowy Owls this winter.............
I had a heck of a good time doing what I love, thanks to you.
Malcolm MacKenzie West Palm Beach | FL | USA
In June, I decided to sign up for a photo workshop with Christopher Dodds, one of the best photographers according to a friend of mine who met Chris a few months earlier.
I'm a Software Engineer and photography is my passion. This is how I spend all of my spare time. Over the years, I have learned a lot about wildlife photography but I wanted to improve my techniques, especially with flying birds with different and changing backgrounds. Also, my skills were not growing at a fast enough pace.
This workshop held on beautiful Bonaventure Island in August 2007, was my first, and will remain an experience I will never forget. Chris was such a kind person, an amazing teacher with great photo skills. The other students were also amazingly friendly. This workshop offered me more than I expected. I learned how to shoot birds in flight with, or without, sunlight. I learned all about the camera settings to get the most out of my shooting and the techniques that will make my photos look better.
A highlight was learning all about using an incident light meter and shooting in manual mode to greatly increase my keeper rate. Chris is a superb teacher, who knows how to explain complex techniques to regular people. I realized how serious he was about photography and how much he wanted us to improve the quality of our photographs. He taught us about bird behavior and how to use it to make the best photos possible. Overall, this workshop was a well-organized trip, and a successful photographic experience. Chris answered all my questions and I feel I have achieved a level of experience I had never expected in my life. What an awesome experience!
Gilles Archambault Québec City, Quebec, Canada
Dear Chris, Just a few words to warmly thank you again for a great presentation last night. Your images are simply the best bird photography around these days and we thank you for sharing them. You are really taking bird action photography to another level. Yes, digital technology has helped us photographers shoot better action imagery but your images are simply exceptional.
I spend a lot of time myself trying and I was blown away by the quality of your material. I was particularly impressed by the breadth and depth of your collection but also by the luminosity of your images which always look bright but also always perfectly exposed, even in bad weather....
While I have just recently met you, I can also commend you for being a very good teacher and for being a real gentleman. I am sure that you are very successful with your workshops because you seem to bring the right skills: no arrogance, engaging personality, solid knowledge and an emphasis on hard work. On behalf of the Lakeshore Camera Club, Looking forward to meet you again, in the field or at the Guggenheim!
Vincent Lamoureux, Montreal, QC, Canada
Since I do bird photography, I was always fascinated with pictures of birds in flight! I looked at the Internet very often for tips and tricks on how to perform this and have good decent results. I visited lots of different web sites to inquire about this and tried to practice it in the field. Obviously the results were not in my range of satisfaction, as I’m very picky about the pictures that I take and show to other people; I then talk to Chris about a workshop that he would do in Quebec at Bonaventure Island, the paradise of Northern Gannets. In fact, the colony there is the second biggest colony of Northern Gannet on the planet! So, lots of opportunity to learn about birds in flight! So, after some discussion with Chris, I did register for the workshop! In the meantime, I personally continued to try to shoot all kind of birds in flight (Gulls, Ducks) without ANY success! Pictures were out of focus and it was very easy to cut wings, half of the bird and so on.
As close as we were to the workshop date, I was getting excited that I would FNALLY learn HOW TO PERFORM BIRDS IN FLIGHT pictures! Then the date arrived! We did travel the whole day my partner and me to get there; what a magnificent place it is! On the first evening, Chris introduced all of us and showed us which type of pictures we could take on site. Of course, I looked at those thrilled that I would be able, only after 3 days, to get out of there with such a work!
Then, we met the first morning at 4:45am for a 4 hours tour on a Zodiac boat! We were 7 photographers plus Chris and the Captain! Full of space on the boat! The first lesson was one that I already knew but stopped practicing when I switched to digital: manual reading of the incident light with a manual light meter! I was a little bit confused as I thought that digital would do it well for me! I was obviously wrong because, since then, I’m only shooting in manual mode; come back to my old slide film days and my pictures gained in light quality and colors! Manual light meter measurement is THE KEY for details in the shadows and clean and not peaked whites!
The first day was a FREE FOR ALL SHOOTING! Chris told us to shoot whatever we saw flying in front and above us! The boat tour was scheduled every morning of the workshop so I didn’t really stress with this, as I’m not a shooter that will trigger the shutter for nothing. I’m patient and I waited for opportunities in sight. I really enjoyed this boat trip and it was better day after day for my shooting!
When we got on the island, we then climbed the 2.8km trail with our heavy load! I was so excited to get there that I was one of the first on site all morning! Didn’t want to miss ANY opportunities! I started to shoot the Gannets with my 70-200 and my D200 and was getting poor results as expected. So Chris took us all together and started to explain the theory of shooting birds in flight. Not only this, he also teaches us the behavior of that particular bird, as it was probably his 100th visit there! So, Chris knows very well the Gannet’s behavior. And, after listening his speech and looking at the birds in my camera, it started to make more sense and I was taking picture in a complete different way now! Knowing and predicting what the bird will do is the KEY for birds in flight!
I then started to get decent results on my sensor and some keepers were registered on the memory card the first day! In the evening, it was time to show our results after a nice dinner all together, discussing again photography! We also had some Photoshop tips and a critique of our work! It was a full day, from 4:00am to 10:30pm! How tired we were? Extremely tired but so happy about what we’ve just learned!
The other 2 days were much more productive for keepers as I was gaining experience with predicting the bird’s flying direction and better also following those in the camera! Practice and practice, that’s the goal of bird in flight photography. I did follow Chris’ advices about following the birds without taking any picture at all. That’s the SECRET! You can’t succeed without knowing how the bird flies, how the bird make a sharp turn and when, how the bird looks in the sky before take off, when is searching for his mate and so on.
Flash photography was also one of the topics well covered in the workshop. Chris spent time with each and every one of us teaching his knowledge about outside flash photography. He was patient, always expressed his needs to know if we were satisfied about what was covered, if we did miss something, if there was another topic that we’d like to talk about. That was the MOST marvelous and productive 3 days of shooting that I’ve ever had in my 30 years of experience in photography! Since the workshop, I did try Gulls in flight on the St-Lawrence River in Quebec and I got SUPERB results that I’m proud of! I would recommend Chris’ workshop to ANYBODY that is involved with bird photography; He’s an extremely good teacher, extremely patient and an outstanding photographer! Thanks Chris and see you soon!
Marc Martineau, Rock Forest, Quebec, Canada