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Photography Workshops by Christopher Dodds


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Entries in katmai (8)


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.


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.


Caption me contest

Coastal Brown Bear Mother and Spring Cubs (Ursus arctos) Kukak Bay, Katmai National Park, Alaska. Image Copyright ©Christopher DoddsSony Alpha a9 Mirrorless Camera & Sony FE100-400 F4.5-5.6 G Master OSS with 2X Tele-extender @ 380mm. Full frame image. ISO 3,200, f/13 @ 1/640s Manual exposure mode.

Here's a fun image from my recent Katmai Bear Boat Workshop. Leave a comment with a caption or title and my favorite will win a free signed print of this image including postage to anywhere in the world.


Coastal Brown Bears of Katmai Alaska 

Coastal Brown Bear OVERLOOK  (Ursus arctos, Grizzly Bear) Hallo Bay, Katmai National Park, AK. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon 1D MK IV, 500mm F4 L IS, Jobu Jr. 3 gimbal head & tripod. ISO 800, f/4 @1/800s Manual mode. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION

Coastal Brown Bear FISH ON!  (Ursus arctos, Grizzly Bear) Hallo Bay, Katmai National Park, AK. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon 1D MK IV, 500mm F4 L IS, 1.4X Extender III, Jobu Jr. 3 gimbal head & tripod. ISO 800, f/5.6 @1/1,000s Manual mode. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION

Here's a couple of images from my recent Coastal Brown Bears of Katmai, Alaska photo safari. It is always quite remarkable to watch and see just how much patience a hungry bear has; they know that the salmon will eventually swim up the creek, all they have to do is wait for it. Seeing a 1,000 pounds, or more, of sleeping muscles pounce into action and catch a salmon at a close distance is an exhilarating experience!

There's quite a good lesson to be learned from the bears; wait along a salmon creek, and as sure as the Salmon will show, so will the bears ;) I have heard myself (more than once) explaining to workshop participants that being patient is far more productive than chasing around after every bear seen. We watched (more than once) as other groups chased off the very bears they wanted to photograph; against park rules and a somewhat foolish approach to photographing wild bears.

Be sure to check-out my new and improved Coastal Brown Bears of Katmai, Alaska photo safari July/August 2012. New and improved 100 foot boat for stability and a calmer ride, better, and more consistent cuisine (90% seafood with a gourmet chef interested in satisfying your special diet), all the snacks and drinks (non-alchoholic) you could want and lots of hot water for daily showers and lots of good, clean fun, clean quarters and a willing, happy crew there to help make this a trip of a lifetime!

Be sure to check out: Coastal Brown Bears of Katmai, Alaska Photo Safari Workshop July 27th to August 3rd, 2012


"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

There's still room for my Sept. 7-9, 2011 Gannets Galore photo safari workshop be sure to check it out HERE. This is, by far, the very best place in the world to learn bird photography flight technique. My years of experience there is the critical key to offering you the very best Bonaventure Island has to offer. This is such a magical place, it has drawn me back for more than 365 days (I stopped counting after reaching a year of days there).


Nature Photography Workshop Safari update

Coastal Brown Bear Big Boys Play in the Rain (Ursus arctos or Grizzly Bear) Kukak Bay, Katmai National Park, AK. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds Canon EOS 1DMKIV, 500mm F4 L IS, Tripod & Wimberley Head II. ISO 1000, F4 @1/320s Manual mode. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION. All Rights Reserved.

Workshop update

2011 workshops / safaris are filling fast! It only took three weeks to sell-out the entire winter Owl Prowls and now the July Bears Galore Coastal Brown Bears of Katmai and the July 5-7 Puffins Galore are sold out. Here's a list of what's still available:

May 9-13, 2011 Songbirds of Pelee An event not to be missed!

June 15-17, 2011 Gannets Galore Action packed daily Zodiac voyage under the colony! Guaranteed Gannets!

July 1-3, 2011 Puffins Galore Puffin Paradise!

September 26-30, 2011 Moose and fall colors of Maine Baxter State Park at it's finest!

Be sure to email me if you are interested in being the first to receive details for the 2012 Coastal Brown Bears of Katmai trip


Happy Thanksgiving 

Sea Otter PRAYER (Enhydra lutris) Katmai National Park, AK. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1DMKIV, 500mm F4 L IS, 2X II Tele-converter, Tripod & Wimberley Head II from open ramp of skiff. ISO 800, F10 @1/320s Manual mode. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION. Image presented with both a visible, and invisible digital watermark by Digimarc.

Here's a favourite from Alaska that was processed exclusively with Nik Software (they have quite a deal today - use coupon code CDODDS to save big). It was a thrill for everyone when we anchored the Coastal Explorer and took the skiff out to photograph a raft of hundreds of Sea Otters during my Alaskan Brown Bears of Katmai workshop/safari in July. Do consider joining me for the trip of a lifetime in July 2011 Bears, Wolves, Otters, Eagles and much, much more.

Happy American Thanksgiving

Thank you for following the blog and for your continued support and encouragement! Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Canadians and Americans celebrate Thanksgiving at different times, but it's always good to stop and take a look around at all we have to be thankful for. If your travelling; travel safe. If your shopping; good luck bargain hunting.


Canadian nature photographer Christopher Dodds sporting the much saught after and rare Canadian Professional Services Tuque. Image copyright and courtesy John Zimmerman.

A tuque is a knitted cap, originally of wool though now often of synthetic fibers, that is designed to provide warmth in winter. Most tuques are tapered; they sometimes have ear flaps, and may be topped with a pom-pom, this style of tuque is sometimes referred to as a boggan or sherpa. Tuques may have a folded brim, or none, and may be worn tightly fitting the head or loose on top although the latter is considered more standard. - Wikipedia
Tuques are indispensable in cold climates, and are worn worldwide in various forms. They have become the common headgear for stereotypical dockworkers and sailors in movies and television. Jacques Cousteau wore one and the most famous media characters to sport this kind of hat are the SCTV characters Bob and Doug McKenzie and U2 guitarist The Edge.

Does Canon have you covered? - FREE TUQUE GIVEAWAY

I got my hands on some super cool, and much saught after, Canon Canada CPS tuques and I want to hear from you. Post a comment on this blog and share your service stories since Canon Canada revamped their CPS program, and I will send a few of you a fancy new Canon Canada CPS Tuque (you must be a CPS member to get one). Did you pay to join? have you sent gear in for repair? was the repair done right and quickly? Have you taken advantage of the loaner equipment? More information about the Canadian CPS program can be found HERE.

Great FREE Gear Giveaway Continues

Sign-up for my newsletter before Dec. 15th, 2010 and you will automatically be entered to win some amazing prizes. Simply fill-in your name and email address in the form in the column to the right of this post and you are entered automatically (only sign-up once please). 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.

  • WH-200 Wimberley Head version II (retail value of US$595.00)
  • Think-Tank Photo Urban Disguise 50 (retail value US$169.00)
  • Nik Software Viveza 2 (retail value US$199.95)
  • Digimarc for Images Professional Edition 1 year subscription (US$99.00)
  • One of eight Canon Long Lens Rain Covers (US$125.00 each)


I'm hosting my first annual PHOTO GEEK CHRISTMAS PARTY at the ROCKBURN PUB 2461 Mtee Rockburn, Hinchinbrook, Quebec J0S 1E0 (450) 264-2239. All amateurs and hobbyists welcome! It's an à la carte menu and there is no fee (other than paying for your own food & drinks) - I will pass the hat for a soon to be announced charity; donations are optional but encouraged. Come on out and meet me, my friends and make new contacts while networking and showing off a few of your favorite images from 2010. Feel free to bring prints, iPads or laptops with your favorite images. RSVP required - email me at (please type PHOTO GEEK CHRISTMAS PARTY in the subject line) to reserve your spot. Space is limited, so be sure to reserve soon. I will be drawing some great prizes for the Great Gear Giveaway Contest and you get another name in the hat @ the party. Special thanks to Joann for opening the pub just for us!


ADRENALINE Coastal Brown Bear (Ursus arctos or grizzly bear) & The Hazards of Nature Photography.

Coastal Brown Bear Fishing ADRENALINE (Ursus arctos or Grizzly Bear) Hallo Bay, Katmai National Park, AK Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1DMKIV, 500mm F4 L IS, Tripod & Wimberley Head II. ISO 400, F5.6 @1/1600s Manual mode. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION.

The Hazards of Nature Photography: DEHYDRATION

I have been meaning to write a bit about the importance of hydration all summer and autumn is quickly approaching. No matter, hydration is just as important in the cold winter as it is in the hot summer months. Water makes up 75% of the body weight - about 50 liters (11 gallons) for the average man. Survival is unlikely if more than one fifth of this is lost. The first signs of dehydration are thirst, vague discomfort, lack of appetite, flushed skin, impatience, sleepiness and nausea. Once fluid loss reaches 6-10%, symptoms include dizziness, headache, labored breathing, no salivation, indistinct speech and you may loose your ability to walk. By the time fluid loss reached 11-20% symptoms now include delirium, swollen tongue, unable to swallow, dim vision, numb and shriveled skin. In it's latter stages: There is gross muscular weakness and mental capacity is impaired. You must make your survival plans at the start when you can think clearly and then stick to them. Best to remember to bring along some water and avoid the headache ;)


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

BE SURE TO CHECK-OUT STEVE'S KATMAI 2010 ALBUM HERE to see images he made during the workshop.

2011 Coastal Brown Bears of Katmai Workshop/Safari Announced

Join me, Christopher Dodds, and some of the more than 2,000 Coastal Brown Bears at the best place in the world to photograph Coastal Brown Bears. Claiming the world’s highest concentration of Coastal Brown Bears, Katmai National Park in Alaska also has to be the most beautiful setting on the planet to photograph them. Truly the adventure of a lifetime, we’ll have plenty of opportunities to see, study and photograph Coastal Brown Bears in their undisturbed, natural environment without the influence or pressure that large groups and camps often cause. I have secured the much coveted dates of July 24-30, 2011; timed to coincide with the annual Salmon run. With a limit of only six participants, there will be plenty of time for instruction and personal attention from Chris. MORE INFORMATION & REGISTRATION FORM HERE.


The author is not a physician. This article is for informational purposes only and it is not intended to identify, diagnose, or treat any medical condition.


Coastal Brown Bear (Ursus arctos or grizzly) wrestling. HYDROPHOBIA; the Ultimate Rain Cover & Trip Report Part III

Coastal Brown Bear males (boars) Wrestling in rain (Ursus arctos) Kukak Bay, Katmai National Park, AK Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1DMKIV, 500mm F4 L IS with 2X Teleconverter II, Tripod & Wimberley Head II. Think-Tank Photo Hydrophobia 300-600. ISO 1250, F8 @1/800s Manual mode. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION.

Bear Fight

Though struggles between two juvenile bears might seem mortal, it is in fact just playful combat, designed to hone the animals skills. In later life, however, in teritorial disputes between two males, real fights can result in serious injury to the combatants, or even have a fatal outcome. Brown bears also fight to establish hierarchy and rights to prime fishing spots.

Trip Report

We had a blast watching, and photographing, four males (boar) fighting and wrestling with each other for what seemed like hours during the second afternoon of the Coastal Brown Bears of Katmai workshop/Safari. We carefully added out 2X tele-extenders to our 500mm Lenses for maximum reach, to fill the frame and to keep a safe distance between us and the battling giants. It rained much of the day, and we all put our Think-Tank Photo Hydrophobia rain covers to good use.

Do consider joining me next year, for the ultimate Coastal Brown Bears of Katmai Nature Photography Workshop / Photo Safari from July 24 to 30, 2011. MORE INFORMATION AND REGISTRATION FORM HERE.

Think-Tank Photo HYDROPHOBIA Ultimate Camera Rain Cover

I promised a review of the Think Tank Photo Hydrophobia when I got back from Bonaventure Island in June; Turns out, there's no better way to get hot, sunny and dry weather, than bringing along the very best rain gear to protect your valuable camera gear. We had day, after day, of glorious and hot, sunny weather; In fact, I only recall breaking out the rain covers once. There are now tons of reviews out there that include all of the technical specifications and videos of people spraying garden hoses onto expensive cameras sporting these covers. What I wanted to do here is give you a short, sweet, real world review of these covers when used in the very toughest conditions.

Coastal Brown Bear males (boars) Fighting in rain (Ursus arctos) Kukak Bay, Katmai National Park, AK Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1DMKIV, 500mm F4 L IS with 2X Teleconverter II, Tripod & Wimberley Head II. Think-Tank Photo Hydrophobia 300-600. ISO 1250, F8 @1/800s Manual mode. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION.

Think-Tank Photo HYDROPHOBIA 300-600

Rain protection for everything between the 300 F2.8 and the 600 F4 (this even works perfectly with the Canon 800 F5.6, as I discovered). It's designed to be pre-mounted around the lens hood for easy deployment, has a pocket to store the eyepiece (Eyepieces sold separately) and includes an extension for use with the longer glass. Simply put; it's the very best option I've found out there - and I’ve tried dozens. I would love a lower profile pocket at the lens hood end, so my line of sight is not disrupted while photographing birds in flight with the rain cover in the "stored" position and having more material between ends (one piece) would mean I could actually remove the cover in it's stowed position with the lens hood for packing; something I found impossible with my 500mm F4 IS Canon lens, when installed with enough room for my 2X Tele-converter and the Canon off-camera shoe cord slid into the hot shoe. Other improvements that I quickly wished for were more clear window around the eyepiece and a flap over the eyepiece to protect it from filling with raindrops when I wasn't shooting - both of which have been incorporated into the design of the newer Hydrophobia 70-200 & Hydrophobia 70-200 Flash. I do hope there is a re-design of this model, with an option for a removable rain cover for a flash with the Better Beamer Flash Extender attached. I was able to use this cover with the Wimberley tripod head (Version I or II), and I figured out how to use my flash bracket, flash and Better Beamer, but I feel there is more than enough nature photographers out there to warrant a special "nature" edition. In the mean time, this is, without doubt, the very best option on the market now.

Think-Tank Photo Hydrophobia 70-200

Essentially the 70-200 Flash, without the clear flash pocket - do yourself a favor and spend the extra $6.00 to get the Flash version (below)

Think-Tank Photo Hydrophobia 70-200 Flash

Oh, la-la, this is the newest addition to the Hyrophobia line, and Think-Tank Photo's rapid product evolution really shines here. The clear window has been re-designed with more clear space, there's a cover over the eyepiece that flips up and out of the way when shooting, a removable front lens cover, an ingenious built-in camera strap that keeps your camera securely attached to the cover, and horizontal when slung under your shoulder - fantastic for the long days a nature photographer carries a second, shorter lens / camera. This one is evolutionary perfection and I can't think of a single thing to make it better. The clear flash pouch stows out of the way when not used, and there's even room for flash modifiers.


Real world shooting in the rain required me to frequently remove my hands from the cover, and I found that  my hands got wet and I transferred water inside the cover; this caused the clear windows to fog up. I simply wrapped a small towel around the barrel, where the lens meets the camera body, to dry my hands and absorb any excess moisture, preventing the condensation from forming.
Don’t just use it in the rain. I found the covers to be really useful to prevent saltwater from splashing my gear while photographing from a boat, they kept my gear free of sand while getting low on a beach and I even used them as sun protection for my hands during lengthy shoots in strong sunlight.
Maintenance: For a long life, be sure to rinse after use and hang to dry; I found it practical to leave my Hydrophobia covers hanging in my car to ensure they dried thoroughly before packing into the nylon mesh pouch for storage.


Coastal Brown Bear males (boars) BEAR HUG in rain (Ursus arctos) Kukak Bay, Katmai National Park, AK Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1DMKIV, 500mm F4 L IS with 2X Teleconverter II, Tripod & Wimberley Head II. Think-Tank Photo Hydrophobia 300-600. ISO 1250, F8 @1/800s Manual mode. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION.