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Photography Workshops by Christopher Dodds


Nature Photography Blog Journal Index

Entries in Puffin Workshop (6)


Atlantic Puffin a la Sony 600mm f/4 and 1.4X

Atlantic Puffin Landing in golden light (Fratercula arctica, Macareux moineATPU) Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve, Quebec, Canada. Image Copyright ©Christopher DoddsSony Alpha a9 Mirrorless camera & Sony FE 600mm f/4 G Master OSS Lens  with Sony FE 1.4X Teleconverter @840mm ISO 2,000, f/5.6 @ 1/5,000s Manual exposure. Full Frame.


"Puffins Galore" is a very apt name for this photography workshop with Christopher Dodds on L'Ile Aux Perroquets in the St. Lawrence Seaway. Puffins, Razorbills, Guillemots, and many shorebirds use this little island in the Mingan Archipelago as their nesting home during the breeding season and the place is alive with activity with many opportunities for images of birds in flight and birds around their burrows. Chris Dodds is acquainted with every aspect of puffin behaviour and is very generous with time and advice; he helped me improve my skills capturing images of fast-moving birds. Everyone in the group came away with images that they were thrilled with. The guest house on the island is a converted lighthouse keeper's residence and provides a very comfortable experience. The meals alone would be worth the trip. Puffins Galore and much, much more.

-Paul Ludden


Atlantic puffin SILHOUETTE

Atlantic Puffin SILHOUETTE (Fratercula arctica, Macareux moine, ATPU). From my DELUXE PUFFIN WORKSHOP in Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve of Canada, Réserve de parc national du Canada de l'Archipel-de-Mingan, Quebec, Canada. Image Copyright ©Christopher DoddsSony Alpha a9 Mirrorless Camera & Sony FE100-400 F4.5-5.6 G Master OSS with 1.4X Tele-extender @ 560mm. Full frame image. ISO 1,600, f/8 @ 1/4,000s Manual exposure mode.


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


How to Stack Extenders for Mega Reach

Atlantic Puffin CLOWN OF THE SEA (Fratercula arctica, Macareux moine, ATPU) Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve of Canada, Réserve de parc national du Canada de l'Archipel-de-Mingan, Quebec, Canada. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds. Canon EOS Canon EOS 1DX, 600mm F4 L IS II, 2X Extender III, Canon 25mm Extension Tube II, Canon 12mm Extension Tube II, Canon 1.4X Extender III. Tripod & Jobu Jr. 3 ISO 3,200s, f/16 @ 1/200s Manual mode & manual focus. PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.

After spending so much time with Atlantic Puffins, I've come to realize that few portraits of them truly reflect their true character. I love getting close and making portraits that truly represent my subject, in this case these comical and animated seabirds or Clowns of the sea.What do you think, did I suceed?

How to stack extenders

The idea is to use my super-telephoto 600mm f/4 IS II with both the 1.4X and 2X (version III) Extenders (or tele-converters). In order to physically connect everything together, you need to add at least an extension tube between both extenders; I use both the Canon 25 and 12mm Extension tubes (version II) connected together because they reduce the minimum focusing distance of the lens and allow me to get even closer to my subject. As far as I can tell from the images, it does not matter which order I install the extenders.

There are a few technical considerations:

  • A sturdy tripod and tripod head are required
  • Working at these extreme focal lengths so close to your subject will severely limit the depth of field, so do remember to stop-down.
  • All of this stacked equipment does cost some light, so remember to add 1 & 1/3 stop if you are shooting in manual mode.
  • Although we have some pretty amazing cameras, the only way to focus this monster is fully manual.

LensCoat RainCoat Pro2 mini-review & Black Guillemot with meal

Black Guillemot with dinner (Cepphus grille, Guillemot à miroir, BLGU) Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve of Canada, Réserve de parc national du Canada de l'Archipel-de-Mingan, Quebec, Canada. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds. Canon EOS Canon EOS 1DX, 600mm F4 L IS II, 2X Extender III, Tripod & Jobu Jr. 3 ISO 3,200s, f/9 @ 1/2,000s Manual mode. PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.

Getting close enough for head shots of Black Guillemots was a ton of fun each morning during my Atlantic Puffins & more workshop. We had a few hick-ups with wind and waves which forced us to evacuate the island early on the first two days, but we all came away with some great images. I would be eternally grateful if anyone can help identify this fish or eel.

LensCoat® RainCoat 2 Pro

Canadian Nature Photographer Christopher Dodds using LensCoat RainCoat Pro 2 in South Texas. Image Copyright & courtesy Jory Griesman (thanks, Jory!) Canon S-95 in Program mode.

Mini Review: I have been using my new LensCoat RainCoat Pro 2 since I first started to test it in April. I was using a very complex raincoat that required a dedicated eyepiece for each camera body and became quite a nuance to use; it was bulky and the clear window often fogged-up after placing my wet hand inside the cover. Changing tele-converters or adding extension tubes was nearly impossible with the rain cover physically attached to the camera via the dedicated eyepiece. It did the job and was the best I used until discovering the LensCoat RainCoat Pro2.

Installation of the
LensCoat RainCoat Pro2 is a breeze and being able to quickly flip the cover out of the way when adding, or changing, extension tubes or tele-converters (Extenders) is a huge selling point. The whole deal takes just about 10 seconds for me to install, folds into a small pouch and makes the whole process much simpler and appealing to use - even when I would skip the complex set-up of my old cover during light drizzle. I must admit that I am also thrilled with the design with the added foldaway left sleeve which makes it easier to keep your left hand on the lens and focus manually; both "sleeves" are long enough to slide over your rain jacket's arms to keep water out of your elbow when standing in the rain all day.

Finally a rain cover for my camera that is easy to use, keeps my gear dry and doesn't interfere with camera function or operator dexterity!

Description from the LensCoat site: LensCoat® RainCoat 2 provides protection for your camera and lens from the elements like rain, snow, salt spray, dirt, sand and dust while allowing you easy access to the camera and lens controls. It has all same great features as the original RainCoat but adds an additional integrated pocket with foldaway arm sleeve on the left side for easier access to zoom and focus. The RainCoat 2 comes in two sizes Pro (for DSLRs with lenses from 200-400/300mm 2.8 - 800mm) and Standard (for DSLRs with small lenses up to 100-400/400mm f5.6). The RainCoat 2 is constructed from a lightweight waterproof, breathable poly tricot material. Available in Black, Green, Navy, Realtree® Max4, Realtree AP Snow, Digital Camo, and Forest Green camouflage pattern. The seams are tape sealed for maximum protection. NO dedicated eyepiece required. The RainCoat 2 goes on quickly and easily. Its versatility through the use of the cinch straps allows you to adjust the length of the cover and to keep it snug around your lens. It has 2 fold out arm sleeves from its integrated pockets for access to the camera and lens controls. You can also access the camera through the rear opening and the lens through the hook & loop bottom closure.

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Happy New Year

Snowy Owl Last Stand (Bubo scandiacus, Harfang des neiges) Quebec. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1DsMKIII, 500mm F4 IS, 1.4X Teleconverter, Tripod with Wimberley Head II. ISO 400, F6.3 1/400s Manual mode. CLICK HERE TO ORDER A PRINT OR LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION.

I would like to wish each of you a very Happy New Year! I loved meeting so many new people through my photography in 2010 and am greatly looking forward to another awesome year! Special thanks to all of my loyal clients and my followers here at Nature Photography  Blog. I love looking back through my blog, my images and my memories of the past year to remember the people, the places and the moments; and there were many great ones!

There's no time better than the New Year to take inventory of what you have accomplished and what your future goals are. It's a great time to make plans for travel, workshops, new gear or trying new styles or genres.

2011 promises to be a busy year for me with lots of travel and workshops ahead. It all starts with a pretty-much sold out winter owl prowl season with just a single opening for my Snowy Owl (and more) workshop Jan. 17-21, 2011. March and April will bring new workshop offerings, so stay tuned for more. Point Pelee in May is always a fun and social workshop, and my annual June Bonaventure Island Gannets Galore trips are simply the very best avian workshops available today. There's a few spots open for the July 1-3 Puffins Galore, but the July 5-7 trip was sold-out when it was announced. My annual Coastal Brown Bears of Katmai is an adventure not to be missed, and this year I secured the very best week for bears and wolves during the Salmon run. Be sure to stay tuned for more and sign-up for my newsletter at the top of the column to the right of this post (subscribers are automatically signed-up when I give great stuff away).

May the light always be golden, and the wind always from your back.