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Photography Workshops by Christopher Dodds


Nature Photography Blog Journal Index

Entries in Katmai National Park (7)


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.


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.



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.




Brown Bear Cub

Coastal Brown Bear Spring Cub (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 @ 800mm. Full frame vertical image cropped to square. ISO 2,000, f/13 @ 1/640s Manual exposure mode.


I am writing to express my gratitude for the great help with my photography that I have received participating in Chris Dodds’ photographic workshops, which are enjoyable and in interesting places. Most of the workshops are places to which Chris has been going for many years so he is intimately familiar with the details and best opportunities of each location.  He goes out of his way in an attempt for participants to get images that are the best they can possibly get to take home with them. His knowledge of photographic technique translates into suggestions that are tailored to each participant’s needs.  He encourages attendees to ask any question and is patient in answering to try to make sure the questioner understands the answer thoroughly.  His knowledge of the technical aspect of photographic equipment and the computer equipment and programs needed in post-processing has always amazed me, and he is eager and willing to share this knowledge with all of the participants. In the first workshop I learned that the manual setting was preferable for photographing nature and as I have mastered this technique, I am forever grateful.  Chris is excellent at teaching the best light angle and reminding the participants to watch the light angle when they are repositioning themselves for a better composition.

The biggest benefit to me personally of Chris’ photographic experience was the purchase of my own Sony A9 camera after he made the switch form Canon to Sony in August 2017. This new camera and lens combination enables me to hand-hold 400mm, 560 mm, and 800 mm, and the camera focuses with both teleconverters. Because I no longer need such heavy photo equipment, I can use a smaller camera bag that fits in any airline overhead bin and allows quicker and more comfortable travel through the airport.  The Sony has improved my photography and made it easier and more enjoyable.

I would encourage you to consider one of Chris’ workshops, because they are fun and in such diverse locations.  I have never failed to come home with better images than I had imagined prior to the experience.  I have found the other participants to be interesting and nice people, and because the workshops are so excellent, there are a lot of repeat customers who have been in previous workshops.  Each workshop is a highlight of my year. Chris is a positive person who makes the experience as enjoyable as possible even with early morning and late afternoon hours to take advantage of the best light of the day.  Thanks Chris for helping me become a better photographer.

Dennis Stone Indiana, USA



Aguchik Island Bald Eagle Nest

Bald Eagle Juvenile on nest with Fireweed (Hailiaeetus leucocephalus, Pygarge a tete blanche, BAEA) Aguchik Island, Kukak Bay, Katmai National Park, Alaska ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1DX Mark II, 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS II USM @400mm. ISO 800, f/18 @ 1/250s Manual. PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.

Here's a Juvenile Bald Eagle on it's nest on Aguchik Island in Kukak Bay, Katmai National Park from this summer. I've seen loads of Bald Eagle nests, but none were quite this beautiful.

Compared to most other raptors which mostly nest in April or May, bald eagles are early breeders: nest building or reinforcing is often by mid-February, egg laying is often late February (sometimes during deep snow in the North), and incubation is usually mid-March and early May. Eggs hatch from mid April to early May, and the young fledge late June to early July. The nest is the largest of any bird in North America; it is used repeatedly over many years and with new material added each year may eventually be as large as 4 m (13 ft) deep, 2.5 m (8.2 ft) across and weigh 1 metric ton; one nest in Florida was found to be 6.1 m (20 ft) deep, 2.9 meters (9.5 ft) across, and to weigh 2.7 metric tons). This nest is on record as the largest tree nest ever recorded for any animal. Usually nests are used for under five years or so, as they either collapse in storms or break the branches supporting them by their sheer weight. However, one nest in the Midwest was occupied continuously for at least 34 years. The nest is built out of branches, usually in large trees found near water. When breeding where there are no trees, the bald eagle will nest on the ground, as has been recorded largely in areas largely isolated from terrestrial predators, such as Amchitka Island in Alaska. - Wikipedia


The Puffins Galore Workshop on I'ile aux Perroquets exceeded my expectations. Chris is an exceptional photographer, teacher, and all around good guy.  He was quick to point out the best photographic opportunities for the group, taking into account the constantly changing weather, light and tides.  He was always available to answer questions and give tips, catering to all levels of experience in the group.  The accommodations were excellent and the food was first rate. Our chefs/housekeepers/hostesses, Louise and Johanne, were amazing. The photographic opportunities were endless with an unbelievable number of puffins as well as razorbills, guillemots, gulls, whales and seals.  This was my first photography workshop and I am looking forward to my next adventure with Chris.

Mark Adkins Rochester| MN


Happy New Year

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. ISO 800, F10 @1/320s Manual mode. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION.


All my best for a wonderful new year ahead filled with love, joy, peace, health, happiness, golden light and awesome photo opportunities!


Please do book your tickets soon to avoid disappointment.

Join me, Canadian nature photographer Christopher Dodds, on March 9, 2013 at 6:30 PM at the Casgrain Theatre (CEGEP John Abbot College 21275 Lakeshore Road, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Québec H9X 3L9, Canada) for an hour and a half long slideshow presentation to benefit Le Nichoire. The show is designed to be entertaining and informative to all; nature lovers and photographers alike. Stories of adventure, natural history facts and information are all on the menu and this show is designed to offer helpful tips & techniques sure to improve your photography efforts with everything from a camera phone, point & shoot camera or professional SLR camera system. Over one hundred of his images will be projected, many unseen.  Everyone is welcome!
Hurry! Only 280 seats. Tickets are only $18.00 each and are available for advance purchase only - every penny is collected by, and goes to Le Nichoir. Please call or email Le Nichoir ( 450-458-2809) to secure your tickets, or make a donation if you can't make it (be sure to tell them it's on behalf of Chris' Photo Geek Christmas Party) Major credit cards and cheques accepted. There will be ample time to mingle, meet my friends and contacts and share some of your images with others, so feel free to bring prints, iPads or laptops with your favourite images to share. I hope to see you there and PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD!

The door prizes were over the top last year, and thanks to my good friends and sponsors, we have secured an even better stash for this year.

If you would like to contribute door prizes for, or sponsor, this worthy cause, please email me ( to discuss. It's a great way to have your product or brand mentioned in every blog post until the main event while helping an awesome cause!

Last year we raised over $2,500.00 and I am asking for your help to at least double that!


Coastal Brown Bears of Katmai Workshop / Photo Safari July 24-30, 2011 Announced

Coastal Brown Bear Female (Sow) Fishing in Last Light Vertical (Ursus arctos) Hallo Bay, Katmai National Park, AK Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1DMKIV, 500mm F4 L IS with 1.4 Teleconverter II, Tripod & Wimberley Head II. ISO 1600, F5.6 @1/2000s Manual mode. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION.

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.


Register for the 2011 Coastal Brown Bears of Katmai Nature Photography Workshop/Safari early and you save $380.00 per person AND receive a limited edition (rare) Canon rain cover for your camera. Choose between the large (400/2.8, 500/f,600/4 or 800/5.6) or medium (200/2, 300/2.8 or 400/4) versions. Supplies are limited; offer valid only while supplies last. Special thanks to Canon Canada Professional Services for the rain covers. REGISTER HERE.

N-Rain Cover E2-M (medium) or E2-L (Large): Keeps your professional camera clean and dry when shooting in a wet environment. Compatible with current profesional Canon EOS Cameras. Transparent window enables clear visibility of the top and rear LCD panels and LC monitor. Front fastener enables easy attachment and removal of all lenses. Displays a large printed "Canon" logo and includes a soft case for compact packing.

CANON EOS 7D and CANON EOS-1D Mark IV firmware updates
Find out more about the latest firmware updates for the EOS 7D (Version 1.2.2) and EOS-1D Mark IV (Version 1.0.8) DSLRs that include a fix to ensure set apertures stay in place when shooting EOS Movies in manual.

Updates available for download HERE


Coastal Brown Bears Trip Report Part I

Coastal Brown Bear Female (Sow) Fishing in Last Light (Ursus arctos) Hallo Bay, Katmai National Park, AK ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1DMKIV, 500mm F4 L IS with 1.4 Teleconverter II, Tripod & Wimberley Head II. ISO 1600, F5.6 @1/1250s Manual mode. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION.

I'm just in the door from one of the very best photographic trips of my lifetime. I left home on July 8th and arrived at Kodiak airport later that day without event. I had planned a few extra days before the workshop started to allow for the fog that delayed me last year, and forced me to sleep in ANC airport. Steve Metildi and Darren Charles Holloway arrived early for the workshop and we had an absolute blast photographing Red Fox, Golden-Crowned Sparrow, Orange-Crowned Warbler, Hermit Thrush, Bald Eagle, Wilson's Warbler and more around Kodiak Island. On July 12, Rolan Ruoss of Sea Hawk Air flew us out to Kukak Bay for our rendezvous with Chuck Keim on the Coastal Explorer for what became the trip of a lifetime for all.

We had been on the look-out for this female (sow) that had been reported to have two spring cubs, but were saddened to learn that she had lost them. Cubs remain with their mother from two to four years, during which time they learn survival techniques, such as which foods have the highest nutritional values and where to obtain them; how to hunt, fish, and defend themselves; and where to den. The cubs learn by following and imitating their mother's actions during the period they are with her. Brown bears practice infanticide. An adult male bear may kill the cubs of another bear either to make the female sexually receptive or simply for consumption. A close look at her right paw reveals an open wound, just above her claws, that most probably occured while she desperatly tried to defend her cubs.

I returned to a staggering amount of emails, and brought back a ton of images to edit, so stay tuned for more in the coming days.


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

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