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Photography Workshops by Christopher Dodds

 

Nature Photography Blog Journal Index
Thursday
Aug152019

Semipalmated Sandpiper

Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla, Bécasseau semipalmé, SESA) Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve, Quebec, Canada. Image Copyright ©Christopher DoddsSony Alpha a9 Mirrorless camera & Sony FE 600mm f/4 G Master OSS Lens  with Sony FE 2X Teleconverter @1,200mm ISO 2,000, f/8 @ 1/3,200s Manual exposure. Full Frame.

Here is a Semipalmated Sandpiper landing on the seaweed covered rocks at low tide during my Puffins Galore (and so much more) workshop in Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve of Canada. I got down low and installed my 2X onto the new Sony 600mm f/4 which made for an incredible 1,200mm f/8 lens when paired with the Sony a9.

Stay tuned for a mini-review of the new lens soon!

 

Thursday
Jul252019

Brown Bear Cub Portrait

 

Coastal Brown Bear Spring Cub PORTRAIT (Ursus arctos) Hallo Bay, Katmai National Park, Alaska. Image Copyright ©Christopher DoddsSony Alpha a7R III Mirrorless camera & Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 G Master OSS Lens  with Sony FE 2X Teleconverter @800mm ISO 1,000, f/8 @ 1/400s Manual exposure.

Another spring cub from my recent Coastal Brown Bear boat trip in Katmai National Park, Alaska. Getting down low below eye level makes for a much more intimate portrait. Not always easy when the subject is in long grass, so having this cub stand on the edge of it's day bed looking directly at us for a fraction of a second was a gift - smile.

Saturday
Jul132019

Coastal Brown Bear Spring Cubs

Coastal Brown Bear Spring Cub Triplets (Ursus arctos) Hallo Bay, Katmai National Park, Alaska. Image Copyright ©Christopher DoddsSony Alpha a9 Mirrorless camera & Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 G Master OSS Lens  with Sony FE 2X Teleconverter @800mm ISO 400, f/5.6 @ 1/2,000s Manual exposure.

We had so many encounters with mothers and cubs during my bear boat trip, but this set of triplets stole the show. These are spring cubs that were born in the den sometime between December and March after a gestation period of 180-270 days; likely while the mother was still hibernating. They were toothless and only weighed about a pound when they were born.

Friday
Jul122019

Coastal Brown Bear Spring Cub 

 

Coastal Brown Bear Spring Cub Standing (Ursus arctos) Hallo Bay, Katmai National Park, Alaska. Image Copyright ©Christopher DoddsSony Alpha a9 Mirrorless camera & Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 G Master OSS Lens  with Sony FE 2X Teleconverter @800mm ISO 1,600, f/5.6 @ 1/2,000s Manual exposure.

 

KUDOS:

Last week I finished editing my photos from the Alaska Bear Boat Trip, and I have lots of photos that I consider good.  After what I have learned in your workshops, I am very conservative to call a photo “good” but can report that I have many more good photos from the trip than I expected to get.

The photo opportunities in Katmai National Park were numerous, the weather was cooperative, and trips to shore resulted in excellent light.  You work hard to make your trips productive, informational, and an opportunity to improve one’s photography, and this trip was no exception.

The other participants were courteous and positive individuals with whom it was fun to share travel and photographic experiences.  As you know I have been on more than a dozen trips with you and often there are other repeat customers/photographers on the trips.  My experience is that the photographers who make multiple trips with you are always individuals with whom it is a pleasure to spend 3-7 days.  Many of these people are as interested in my photography as they are in their own, and frequently it is possible to learn from one another. These folks are friends by the end of the trip, and I look forward to seeing them again in the future.  The crew of the boat is helpful, the cook is experienced, the bear guide is knowledgeable, and the food is elegant.  It was amazing to eat so much good food on the boat considering the limited facilities and space in which to prepare the meals.

This trip is not inexpensive but is the most memorial trip which you offer.  The success of my photography from this trip is a result of the specific organization of this trip but also from the invaluable photographic expertise that I have gotten from your trips in this past.  I have and do recommend your trips to other photographers as a fun way to spend time and improve their photography.  You have helped me become a better photographer and I am happy to call you “friend”.   Best wishes to you and your wife, Julie.

Dennis

 

Thursday
Jul042019

Coastal Brown Bear Cubs Jousting

Coastal Brown Bear Cubs JOUSTING (Ursus arctos) Hallo Bay, Katmai National Park, Alaska. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds. Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless camera & Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 G Master OSS Lens  with Sony FE 2X Teleconverter @800mm ISO 1,600, f/5.6 @ 1/2,000s Manual exposure.

I'm just home from my Coastal Brown Bear boat photo tour in Alaska. We had amazing weather, epic opportunities with mothers and cubs, and one fantastic group of repeat clients who have all become great friends over the years!

We spent about an hour with these two siblings jousting in the golden last light at about 10:30PM. Shooting at 20FPS when the action was hot and heavy left us with more images than some knew what to do with. To quickly cull the images down to a manageable portfolio, I always look for captivating expressions, at least one eye visible on each bear & preferably a catch-light in both visible eyes.

Thursday
May162019

2019 Point Pelee Migration Blackburnian Warbler

Blackburnian Warbler (Dendroica fusca, Paruline à gorge orangée, BLWA) on the beach at the tip of Point Pelee National Park of Canada during my Songbirds of Pelee Workshop. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com All Rights Reserved. Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless camera & Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 G Master OSS Lens  with Sony FE 2X Teleconverter @800mm ISO 2,500, f/7.1 @ 1/2,000s Manual exposure.

 

The spring migration during my Songbirds of Pelee workshop was off the charts! It was the best migration I have ever seen. All of the birds were low and slow, with day after day of warbler bliss for photographers.

May 9th started like most at The Tip, relatively quiet at first, then a slow trickle of warblers that seemed to appear out of the leaf litter started to build and become a mega reverse migration. There were 9 species of warblers on the sand on the beach alone, and 26 species of warblers at the tip! It was, without doubt, the biggest and best spring migration that I have witnessed at Point Pelee; warblers were dripping off the trees!

Bird photography during spring migration is usually quite challenging in a National Park without using water drips, food or bird song playback to attract the birds. It can be quite frustrating to get the high-quality images that we all dream of with nice poses, clean backgrounds and nice perches. The results are well earned and some of the most rewarding photography that I have in my collection.

Technology certainly has made it easier to keep track of rare bird sightings with Twitter and WhatsApp providing a constant stream of messages with bird reports. As a photographer, it is important to "qualify the lead" before charging past a dozen species of warblers posing down low in nice light while trying to track down a rare warbler seen with a scope at 80 feet. Always ask when it was seen, how close, how high and if it seems to hang around. Try to determine the pedigree of the person who reported it to ensure it is an accurate identification, and always be sure that you want to give up the photo opportunities in front of you before chasing "phantoms".

This Blackburnian Warbler was photographed while foraging for insects with my Sony a9, 400mm GM lens and Sony 2X extender which was the set-up I carried around for the whole trip. I stopped-down to f/7.1 to increase the very shallow depth of field while working so close.

 

 

Saturday
May042019

Red Fox of Bonaventure Island

Red Fox (Vulpes vulpus, Renard Roux) Parc national de l'Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé, Bonaventure Island, Quebec Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com All Rights Reserved. Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless camera & Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 G Master OSS Lens  with Sony FE 1.4X Teleconverter @560mm ISO 6,400, f/9 @ 1/5,000s Manual exposure.

We had a few really great encounters with the resident Red Fox during my Gannets Galore workshop last June. Traditional symbols of cunning and craftiness, foxes are, in fact, agile, intelligent, and above all, adaptable creatures. Bushy-tailed, long-snouted members of the dog family, they are quick and skilful hunters that eat a broad range of wild fare, including insects, rabbits, berries, and all sorts of rodents, birds and their eggs.

The predatory behaviour of red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) in relation to a large multi-species seabird community was studied on Baccalieu Island, Newfoundland, from 1983-1986. Fox diet was assessed by examining the faecal composition, avian prey remains and larder hoarded prey. Leach’s Storm-Petrels (Oceanodroma leucorhoa) made up of 75% of scat by wet weight, 89% of remains and 95% of prey items in and scattered about larders. Black-Legged Kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla), Atlantic Puffins (Fratercula arctica), Common Murres (Uria aalge) Northern Gannets (Sula bassanus) and Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus) formed 19% of scat by wet weight and 11% of remains.



"An excxellent professor of the art"


"Now in September, with the images of our Northern Gannet workshop 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, Illinois, USA"

Andy will be joining me this August for my Deluxe Puffins Galore Workshop in Quebec. Learn more about my Puffin workshop HERE.

Thursday
May022019

Black-legged kittiwake Love Nest

Black-legged Kittiwake LOVE NEST (Rissa tridactyla,  Mouette tridactyle, BLKI) Parc national de l'Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé, Bonaventure Island, Quebec Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com All Rights Reserved. Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless camera & Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 G Master OSS Lens  with Sony FE 1.4X Teleconverter @560mm ISO 6,400, f/8 @ 1/5,000s Manual exposure.

 

Here's a simple enough composition of a Black-legged Kittiwake in its nest on the cliffs of Bonaventure Island on the Gaspe Penninsula in Quebec. I photographed this from one of the Zodiac cruises during my Gannets Galore workshop last June. I love studying the rocks and looking for patterns and shapes - If you look long enough, you will see the heart shape in the upper right-hand corner :)

It's not too late to join me at one of my favourite places on earth! No one has spent as much time photographing on Bonaventure Island as I have. I have hosted many hundreds of photographers there of all levels of photographers from pros like Arthur Morris who wanted expert logistics and local knowledge to complete amateurs who want to learn the basics; many of whom have won photography competitions with the images made there with me. I know where to be in any given weather or light to get you the very best images possible.


Gannets Galore: A recent trip to the gannet colony on the Gaspe’s Ile Bonaventure with Chris Dodds proved to be all that I could have hoped for.  The colony is large, active and readily accessible, Chris’ familiarity with the birds and how they would react to the frequent changes in weather and wind direction gave us access to some pretty unique shooting opportunities, and his knowledge of the area and personal connections within the local community allowed us to get to the island when construction on the town’s only pier could easily have prevented us from getting there.  This, combined with Chris’ almost unique ability to teach the principles of photography at the simplest and most complex levels, making this a trip that should not be missed. 
 
Steve Goodman Denver, Colorado, USA

 

Tuesday
Apr302019

Glaucous-winged gull

Glaucous-winged gull (Laurus glaucescens, GWGU) from my BALD EAGLE WORKSHOP in Kachemak Bay (near Homer), Alaska ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless camera & Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 G Master OSS Lens  ISO 2,000, f/2.8 @ 1/5,000s Manual exposure.

Here's a Glaucous-winged Gull from my recent back-to-back Bald Eagle photo tours. Sony A9 Auto Focus performance continues to impress, with unimaginable gains with the newly released Firmware V5.0. Be sure to update your firmware HERE.

Wednesday
Mar202019

Bald Eagle Shadow Huntress

American Bald Eagle SHADOW HUNTRESS (Hailiaeetus leucocephalus, Pygarge a tete blanche, BAEA) from my BALD EAGLE WORKSHOP in Kachemak Bay (near Homer), Alaska ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless camera & Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 G Master OSS Lens  ISO 4,000, f/4 @ 1/5,000s Manual exposure.

On the third day of my first group of Bald Eagle photo tours the conditions were perfect for my friend and our captain Dave to navigate into one of my favorite back coves in Kachemak Bay. Thanks to Dave for being a loyal friend and a professional mariner who works tirelessly to keep us in the heart of the action while keeping us all safe!

It was dark and overcast with still water and the action was non-stop! I have tried this sort of "backlit in the shadow" fishing shot before, but the other camera brand I used always let me down. Now armed with the Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master prime lens with the Sony a9 I had so many razor sharp images that it was hard to choose what to keep! Learn more about why it can focus so quickly with its linear movement HERE.

Join me in Alaska Eagle Heaven next March for my annual Eagle extraviganza. Get more information and sign-up HERE.