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Photography Workshops by Christopher Dodds


Nature Photography Blog Journal Index

Entries in bat (3)


High-speed Bat Photography

Long-eared Myotis Drinking from a pond  in the desert Amado, Arizona, USA. Image Copyright ©Christopher DoddsSony Alpha a9 Mirrorless camera & Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS Lens  @600mm ISO 800, f/16 @ 20s Manual exposure. Full Frame.

I'm just back from my bat photography workshop in Arizona. The monsoon season had an early start which dispersed the local bat population to the many available water sources, but we still had fun and got some remarkable images.

In it's simplest form, we set-up our cameras on tripods at the edge of a pond and focused on the plane of the infra-red beam which triggered the flash when it was broken. The ultra-short duration of the flash illuminated our subjects and froze them in flight. The cameras were set to make continuous 20-second exposures at f/16 ISO 800. At the end of the night, there were a ton of black frames with no bats, but when a bat flew through and broke the beam, the flash fired and we were rewarded with some pretty remarkable images.

Do consider joining me in Arizona next September for my annual High-speed bat photography workshop. CLICK HERE to learn more.


Bat Photography Workshop Announced


Pallid Bat THIRST (Antrozous pallidus Chauvre-souris blonde) Amado, Arizona, USA. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds. Canon EOS Canon EOS 1DX, 600mm F4 L IS II, Canon 2X Extender III, Tripod & Jobu Jr. 3 Photo Trap and four flash set-up. ISO 400, f/16 @ 10 second exposure in Manual mode. PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.

Here's a Pallid bat from my recent trip to Arizona. Pallid bats have the some of the largest eyes of the North American bats and their large ears help them hear the footsteps of the insects they hunt for food. Be sure to check-out my last post, HOW TO PHOTOGRAPH BATS WITH THE PHOTOTRAP to learn how I set-up exposure for this image.

2014 High-speed Bat Photography Workshop

September 9-11, 2014 (3 full Days)

September 12-14, 2014 (3 full Days)

Join me, Christopher Dodds, at "The Pond at Elephant Head" for an incredible high-speed bat photography workshop. Bats are some of the most misunderstood creatures on earth and there aren't many photographers out there photographing them. I've designed this workshop with only three participants and have enlisted the help of Phototrap inventor, Bill Forbes, to ensure you get the images I would be proud to call my own. Learn how to use the Phototrap and high-speed flash photography to create stunning action images on your own.

This workshop includes the use of all of the required high-speed flashes and Phototraps, and you don't need the latest or greatest super duper telephotos to make stunning jaw-dropping images! Amazing images can be made with every focal length from 100 to 1,200mm! Having two camera bodies will be useful to work two set-ups at the same time, but lenses like 70-200, 70-300, 100-400, 200-400, 50-500, 300, 400, 500 or 600mm all work well here. You will need a tripod and a remote release which can be set, or locked, in the on position so the camera will continue to fire when set to continuous mode.

This workshop is highly recommended for any level photographer. Whether you are completely new to nature photography, an experienced amateur, or a seasoned pro. There will be something to photograph and we will have plenty of time to tailor your instruction to your abilities. The seasoned pro can take full advantage of the logistics, my site and subject knowledge. Even if you have no desire to learn the technical side of this type of shoot, and simply want to come home with some fabulous images, then we can take care of your set-up for you!

Learn More about the High-speed Bat Photography Workshop HERE



Zambian Dawn

Straw-coloured Fruit Bat ZAMBIAN DAWN (Eidolon helvum) Kasanka National Park, Zambia. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds. Canon 1DX, 500mm F4 L IS, Tripod & Jobu Jr. 3 (with Deluxe Swing-arm upgrade) ISO 400 f/5 @ 1/2,000s Manual Mode. PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.


I suppose I should call this post Zambian Dreams....

Seeing 7 million Straw Colored Fruit Bats return to their roost in Zambia was something I have wanted to do since I was about 8 or 9 years old after reading about it in one of the first National Geographic Magazines that I ever saw in the elementary school library. It was when I first imagined what it would be like to see the world as a nature photographer! Said to be the largest mamal migration on earth, this was the single most impressive natural history sight I have ever seen.

This is pretty much the image I have had in my head all those years; I always try to pre-visualize the images that I would most like to capture; sometimes they work, other times mother nature throws a curve-ball and they don't. I knew the money shot would be a wide shot with the treeline and the sunrise, but I didn't know I would use my 500mm lens to get it. It's always a good idea to bring a selection of equipment, even when you don't expect to use it.

Now back to the dreams; they can come true - wink.


About the Straw-coloured Fruit Bat

During November and December each year five to seven million straw-coloured fruit bats take up residence in one hectare of Kasanka National Park’s mushitu swamp forest.  Enticed by the abundance of such delicacies as musuku, mufinsa and the other wild fruits in the area, colonies of bats start arriving in late October. Straw-coloured fruit bats are identifiable by their pale, tawny fur and bright orange neck.  As with all fruit bats (alias flying foxes) they have dog-like facial features with small ears, large eyes and a long snout.  The wingspan of a straw-coloured fruit bat reaches 85-95cm making them the largest bat in Southern Africa. By day the bat colony roosts in the trees of the mushitu forest, packing themselves around branches and trunks which often break under the sheer weight of bats!  Daily life is not easy for the bats as many predators including raptors turn to a diet of bats for the two months that the colony is in residence. Fish eagles, martial eagles, vultures and numerous other raptors have been seen to take the bats in flight and from the roost.