Search Nature Photography Blog

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Email Format



Photography Workshops by Christopher Dodds


Nature Photography Blog Journal Index

Entries in flash (4)


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



Getting the most from your flash batteries & Think-Tank Photo Urban Disguise 50 Give Away

American Bald Eagle HOLD TIGHT (Haliaeetus leucocephalus, Pygargue à tête blanche) Homer, AK Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III, 500mm F4 IS, flash, tripod and Wimberley Head II. ISO 800, F4 1/1000s Manual Exposure. Full Frame. Click HERE to order a print or license image for publication.

Getting the most from your flash batteries

Weather your choice is flash as fill light, or flash as main light, you most likely don't pay a lot of attention to your flash batteries and charger. With today's cameras capable of a 10 frame per second capture rate; you should.

I boost the battery capacity and recycle rate with Canon CP-E4 Compact Battery pack. The CP-E4 is powered by 8 AA batteries and attaches to the flash with an integrated cable. You still need a separate set of batteries in the flash unit itself, and I use Custom Function 12-1(for the Speedlite, not the camera) to set the 580EX II to draw recycle power from the battery pack only, as opposed to the default setting of drawing power from both the flash batteries and those in the CP-E4. That way I still have a fully-charged set of internal batteries available if the pack runs low on power after a big day of shooting action.

What kind of batteries? I use rechargeable Ultra high capacity PowerEx 2700mAh NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydrate). They cost more than alkaline batteries, but save money in the long run because they can be used hundreds of times (often more than 1,000 times). NiMH batteries preform well in cold weather, but they gradually loose power when they are not in use. I always carry a full set of spares and because they have no memory, I can charge them any time without affecting their capacity.

What kind of charger? Maximizing battery life is not only about buying the highest-capacity batteries, it's got a lot to do with the charger you choose. Buying the wrong charger can result in under, or overcharging your precious batteries; resulting in lower capacity and a shorter life. I use the PowerEx MH-C801D battery charger which holds eight AA or AAA batteries and provides a dedicated circuit to charge each cell. It can also independently condition each cell through a charge - discharge - recharge cycle (which is recommended every 10th charge). Known as a smart charger, the MH-C801D initially charges with a hight rate once the batteries are inserted, then slowly reduces the current to a trickle charge once peak current is reached. Be sure to install the batteries in sequence from left, to right, without leaving an empty bay.

Think-Tank Photo Urban Disguise 50 Give Away!

We've teamed-up with Think-Tank Photo to give away an awesome camera bag. Sign-up for my free newsletter before December 15th and be automatically entered for a chance to win! It's easy; simply fill-in the sign-up form in the column to the right of this post. Tweet, Like or Share this blog entry on Facebook or Twitter, or leave a meaningful comment here for additional chances to win. Don't forget to tell your friends or fellow camera club members about the prizes.


The Screaming Eagle & when not to use flash

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus Pygarge à tête blanche) Homer Alaska, USA. ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III, 500mm F4 IS, 2X II Tele-converter,1.4X II Tele-converter, Gitzo tripod and Wimberley Head II. ISO 640, F20 1/80s Manual Exposure and Manual Focus. Full Frame. Click HERE to order a print or license image for publication.

I have been to Alaska to photograph Bald Eagles many times, and always wish for golden light during the first, and last, hour of light. It's often cloudy when I'm there, and my flash is always mounted and ready to go. Typically I would use some light fill flash on heavily overcast days; even when this bird looked to the side I used fill flash. The thing is, I was looking for a perfectly framed, tight portrait of a screaming eagle; and I wanted to see straight down it's throat without any shadows. The single best time to get this shot was during a snowstorm when the clouds and snow diffuse the natural light and bounce it around creating a virtually shadowless world.  It was hovering around freezing and the snow was changing to rain (as we'd endured for a couple of days). I saw this eagle singing and decided to dedicate some time to this shot. So, why no flash? Simple, It would have created a shadow from the front part of it's beak that is hooked downward.

Comments welcome & appreciated.