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Photography Workshops by Christopher Dodds


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Entries in pond (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.


How to photograph bats

Pallid Bat REFLECTION (Antrozous pallidus Chauvre-souris blonde) Amado, Arizona, USA. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds. Canon EOS 1DX mark II, 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS II USM @300mm. Jobu Designs Algonquin TripodJobu Jr. 3 Photo Trap and four flash set-up. ISO 500, f/18 @ 10 second exposure in Manual mode. PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.


I'm just back from my Arizona bat workshop, and thought I would share one of the techniques we use to photograph bats and their reflections when they fly over a pond to drink water. It really is simpler than you might think; first, we set-up four flashes to light the bat from the front, then we set-up the phototrap to trigger the flashes every time a bat flys through an infrared beam. This set-up is not connected to our cameras at all; the cameras are set-up on tripods and focused at the exact same place as the infrared beam which triggers the flahes. Exposure was set manually to ISO 500, f/18 and 10 seconds. A remote trigger release is locked on, and the camera is set to make continuous ten second exposures, one after another. The images are mostly black frames, with images of bats captured every time they fly trough the beam and trigger the flash.

So, why not trigger the camera and flashes together? Because there are several different species of bats that frequent the pond and each of them flies at different speeds. Triggering the flash is the best way to ensure anything flying through the infrared beam is frozen at exactly that point; resulting in a perfectly sharp image.

If you would like to learn more, and perfect your phototrap set-ups, 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 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. Learn more Here.


How to photograph bats with the PhotoTrap

Big Brown Bat Drinking from a pond (Eptesicus fuscus, Grande Chauvre-souris brune) Amado, Arizona, USA. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds. Canon EOS Canon EOS 1DX, 600mm F4 L IS II 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.

I'm back from hosting a five day private workshop to Amado, Arizona where we set-up to photograph bats drinking from The Pond at Elephant Head with Phototrap inventor Bill Forbes.

Among our projects, we set-up the photo trap's infra-red beam to trigger a four flash array to illuminate the bats as they skimmed the pond to drink at night. We arranged our cameras for the best angle of view, the four flashes to properly light the subjects and adjusted our manual exposure to f/16, ISO 400 at 10 seconds. Once set-up, we installed our intravalometers which engaged the shutter release to continually take ten-second exposures; one after another. The flashes would fire every time a bat broke the beam; relying on the flash duration to freeze the action was the key to successfully producing well exposed and sharp images.

Be sure to learn More about the High-speed Bat Photography Workshop HERE