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Photography Workshops by Christopher Dodds


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Entries in Snowy Owl Workshop (5)


They are back Snowy Owl a la Sony a9

Snowy Owl GEAR DOWN (Bubo scandiacus, Harfang des neiges, SNOW) Southwestern Quebec, Canada. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds. Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless Camera & Sony FE100-400 F4.5-5.6 G Master OSS and Sony 1.4X 560mm. Almost full frame image. ISO 1,000 f/8 @ 1/2,500s Manual exposure mode. PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.

They are back!

There have been numerous reports of Snowy Owls arriving over the past week. I was out running errands with my wife, Julie, on Monday and we saw three without trying. I went out with my New Sony gear this morning and quickly found one perched on a stop sign. I think we are headed into a great owl season this winter!

There are still a few spots available for my Winter Owl Workshops. CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE about my WINTER OWL WORKSHOPS.

The Sony a9 and Sony 100-400 G Master lens continue to impress! I grabbed this image out the passenger window of my truck as it took off when I approached (I removed the top of the Stop sign from the image). The autofocus immediately locked-on, and every frame in the sequence of 12 images I took was razor sharp; Gone are the days of quickly eliminating 30-35% of images captured in a burst because they were not razor sharp!



Snowy Owl GOLDEN TOTEM Bubo scandiacus (Harfang des neiges) Quebec. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1DX, 600mm F4 L IS II USM. ISO 1,250, F5 @ 1/3,200s Manual mode. CLICK HERE TO ORDER A PRINT OR LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION.


I recently attended the snowy owls workshop with Christopher Dodds and had an amazing experience.  Not only was I extremely impressed with Chris' knowledge and expertise in photography but also how he really cared about the shots we got.  He made sure that everyone in the groups had the shots they wanted and that we all experienced success. His knowledge of cameras and photography is phenomenal.  I have never met anyone who is a knowledgeable in photography as he is.  He was able to answer any and every question and always explained the reasons behind his recommendations to make sure we learned as much as possible.  The instruction didn't stop after shooting in the field.  I learned so much in the Photoshop and Nik Software post-processing session that took my photography to a whole other level.  The small group atmosphere was great as we were able to blend in with nature ensuring that the owls and other wildlife were not disturbed resulting in great shots every time.  Chris made sure each of us were able to develop our skills at our own pace.  The experience and the results were more that I could have asked for.  I would definitely recommend Christopher Dodds workshops to anyone who is looking to improve their photography skills and learn from a real pro.

Fred Lemire Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada

Learn more about my Snowy Winter Owl Workshops HERE.


How to make razor sharp images


American Bald Eagle ATTITUDE (Hailiaeetus leucocephalus, Pygarge a tete blanche, BAEA) Kachemak Bay (near Homer), Alaska ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1DX, 300mm F2.8 L IS USM with Jobu L-Bracket  Hand Held ISO 2,000, f/2.8 @ 1/3,200s Manual mode. Click HERE to order a print or license image for publication.

After spending the first day of this week's Snowy Winter Owl Workshops with numerous Snowy Owls in rather balmy weather conditions, I wanted to re-cap one of the important topics that we discussed: How to make razor sharp images. I often get comments about how sharp my images are, and folks often feel there is a secret to making consistently sharp images. While good field craft and techniques do play a major role in making sharp images, you need to start with a solid foundation. Yes, I do use a tripod whenever possible, I ensure I have enough shutter speed to freeze my subject and have the correct parameters set-up in the user menu of my Canon 1DX. I have invested the time to practice, and can consistently acquire fast moving little birds when I bring my eye to the viewfinder; but my answer trumps all of my years of experience and the best technique.

Each and every time that I get a new camera, I meticulously micro-calibrate each, and every, lens, extender and possible combination or both with my LensAlign MKII. This is time consuming, boring and I hate the whole process, but it tightens the manufacture tolerance and ensures that my images will be sharp if I use proper technique. It's like building a house on a solid foundation.

Read more about the LensAlign MKII HERE


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.


Lens Align Pro; the real secret to sharp images & Winter Owl Workshops / Safaris Announced. 

Great Grey Owl Blizzard in White (Strix nebulosa, Chouette Lapone, GGOW) Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds. All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1D Mark II, 100-400mm @ 105mm. ISO 800, F8 1/640s Manual Exposure. Full Frame. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE AN IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION.

Private Winter Owl Safari / Workshops Announced

Join Canadian Wildlife photographer Christopher Dodds for the ultimate private, or semi-private, winter owl photography trip. Our target subjects include (but are not limited to) The Snowy Owl, Boreal Owl, Great Grey Owl, Northern Hawk Owl, Barred Owl, Long-eared Owl, Short-eared Owl and the Saw-Whet Owl. Our base of operations will be near Montreal Pierre-Elliot Trudeau Airoprt (YUL) and Ottawa International Airport (YOW). Our travels could include Southern Ontario and Quebec.

Book a single day or a whole week to maximize your experience, capture multiple species in different settings and in different weather conditions (always hoping for snow). I can customize your itinerary to include the  owls of Ontario and Quebec that you most want to photograph. Avoid the headache and impact of large group tours; wintering owls are often found on private property and land owners (many of them I know personally) are much more receptive to allowing just two, or three, photographers on their property, than a large workshop group. Gain access to the places I've been photographing these Northern beauties for years.



I fell in love with Northern Gannets when I saw them fishing off the north coast of Florida many years ago during migration.  What beautiful birds!
 Researching where to see them best included Bonaventure Island in Quebec, Canada.  When I saw Chris Dodds' photos I was smitten.  The workshop experience was far better.  Chris is a terrific person, and a great teacher.  Eastern Quebec is charming and Chris knows all the folks and all the ropes to get the photographer to the best sites for shooting both on the island and on the waters surrounding the island.  The birds and their behavior are unquestionably amazing to observe and record.  Chris shared his strategies and shooting techniques freely.  He is laid back and we who attended his photo-op had the very best time. I was pleased to have learned more about flight photography with this experience.  If you have the opportunity and are interested in bird(flight) photography, this is a best experience.

Paul Herd Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Lens Align Pro; the real secret to sharp images

My life is full of moments; some lasting longer than others. I work tirelessly at honing my craft to capture the essence of those moments; some static and some explosive, some lasting hours, others only a fraction of a second. There is no real secret to learning how to capture action; it is an acquired skill, one that can be learned, one that requires practice. Weather your subject is a static bird sitting on a pretty perch, or a Great Grey Owl flying silently through a gorgeous blanket of softly falling snow; all the practice in the world, great technique and the very best tripod and head can’t help you make sharp images if your camera’s autofocus system is not adjusted, or tuned,  properly. I recently received a LensAlign Pro from Michael Tapes and was blown away when I discovered that all of my lenses needed adjustment.

There are many ways of calibrating your camera’s autofocus system available on-line; some as simple as a test chart you can print and glue to a stiff piece of card-stock, others involve moire patterns on your computer's screen. Most methods are far from scientific, and you could’t duplicate the same results twice; due mostly to the lack of a good target that is aligned parallel to the camera’s sensor, and another that can accurately allow you to see exactly where the focal plain lies and measure it’s distance from the intended target.

The LensAlign Pro is a brilliant device and the only affordable tool capable of calibrating your cameras autofocus system to the level needed to consistently and repeatably create sharp images. By first aligning the LensAlign Pro to your camera, and it’s sensor,  then micro-adjusting for each lens and teleconverter in your kit, Lens Align Pro will improve your picture-taking skills and bring them to the next level of really sharp images.

PRO TIP: Be sure to remember that Canon recommends micro-adjustment calibration in the same light that you will be shooting in; that’s easy for a studio photographer, but a bit more complicated for wildlife photographers. I went through the process several times, each in different light, and noticed quite a difference between bright overcast and bright sunny conditions. I made a small business card sized printout with the different calibration settings given the light conditions and  keep it in my compact flash card wallet; there was only a few differences, so it doesn't take much effort to re-configure for different light conditions.

Cameras that can be user calibrated include:
Canon 1D Mark IV, 1Ds Mark III, 1D MArk III, 5D Mark II, 7D and 50D
Nikon D3, D3X, D3S, D300, D300s, D700
Sony A900 and A850
Olympus E-30 and E-620
Pentax K20D and K7D