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Photography Workshops by Christopher Dodds


Nature Photography Blog Journal Index

Entries in Spring (3)


2019 Point Pelee Migration Blackburnian Warbler

Blackburnian Warbler (Dendroica fusca, Paruline à gorge orangée, BLWA) on the beach at the tip of Point Pelee National Park of Canada during my Songbirds of Pelee Workshop. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless camera & Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 G Master OSS Lens  with Sony FE 2X Teleconverter @800mm ISO 2,500, f/7.1 @ 1/2,000s Manual exposure.


The spring migration during my Songbirds of Pelee workshop was off the charts! It was the best migration I have ever seen. All of the birds were low and slow, with day after day of warbler bliss for photographers.

May 9th started like most at The Tip, relatively quiet at first, then a slow trickle of warblers that seemed to appear out of the leaf litter started to build and become a mega reverse migration. There were 9 species of warblers on the sand on the beach alone, and 26 species of warblers at the tip! It was, without doubt, the biggest and best spring migration that I have witnessed at Point Pelee; warblers were dripping off the trees!

Bird photography during spring migration is usually quite challenging in a National Park without using water drips, food or bird song playback to attract the birds. It can be quite frustrating to get the high-quality images that we all dream of with nice poses, clean backgrounds and nice perches. The results are well earned and some of the most rewarding photography that I have in my collection.

Technology certainly has made it easier to keep track of rare bird sightings with Twitter and WhatsApp providing a constant stream of messages with bird reports. As a photographer, it is important to "qualify the lead" before charging past a dozen species of warblers posing down low in nice light while trying to track down a rare warbler seen with a scope at 80 feet. Always ask when it was seen, how close, how high and if it seems to hang around. Try to determine the pedigree of the person who reported it to ensure it is an accurate identification, and always be sure that you want to give up the photo opportunities in front of you before chasing "phantoms".

This Blackburnian Warbler was photographed while foraging for insects with my Sony a9, 400mm GM lens and Sony 2X extender which was the set-up I carried around for the whole trip. I stopped-down to f/7.1 to increase the very shallow depth of field while working so close.




All about Watermarks: Visible and Invisible

Great Grey Owl SPRING SHOWERS  (Strix nebulosa, Chouette Lapone, GGOW) Île Bizard, Montreal, Quebec ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1D Mark II, 100-400mm F4-5.6 L IS USM @ 360mm Hand Held ISO 1400, f/6.3 @ 1/800s Manual mode. Click HERE to order a print or license image for publication.

Here's an old favourite from 2005. I have re-processed the image using my current workflow after negotiating a generous licensing fee after the image was found by a legitimate buyer in a blog that had "re-posted" my image. This kind of thing happens almost every day to my images and I maintain a vigilant watch for them and quickly follow-up with invoices that are usually paid in full quite quickly.

I'm bringing this to your attention after reading several rants from a couple of "famous" photographers who regularly try to make you believe that you should be posting your images on-line without any watermarks; be they visible or not. This despite my not remembering many artists who didn't sign their work.

Here's my thoughts; those of a professional who does still post to the web, my blog, Facebook, Google Plus and 500px. It's fun and it's good for business.

All of my images are posted with a huge visible watermark and they all contain a digital watermark in the event that someone decides to remove the visible watermark before they share them without my permission. The visible watermark is there to build my brand and inform the viewer that it is my work; the invisible watermark to protect myself from image theft and the possibility of the work being rendered an orphan work.

An orphan work is a copyrighted work for which the copyright owner cannot be contacted. That's what happens after someone strips your image of the visible watermark …. or, if you never put one on the image in the first place.

Why is this all important? Once you post an image without a watermark, or, if someone re-posts your image without your watermark, then a legitimate buyer doesn't know who to buy the rights from. It could be the editor of a very prestigious magazine, or an advertising agency representing a very prestigious brand; there are still people out there right now who pay large sums of money to licence an image.

How to prevent this from happening to you? Simple, place a visible watermark somewhere on your image with your name or website address AND be sure to Watermark your image with an invisible, digital watermark by running it through the Digimarc for images filter  in Photoshop.

A digital watermark embedded in your image carries a unique ID and can link to contact information or a website for viewers interested in learning more about you or purchasing your artwork. The watermark stays with your image regardless of the path it travels across the Internet. No matter where your digital image ends up, others will be able to determine your copyright ownership and find you. If anyone finds your image on-line and wants to contact you, they need only read the Digimarc invisible watermark to either find your co-ordinates via the Digimarc site, or be directly connected to your website.

As an added bonus, Digimarc for images also offers premium services which searches for, and index all of the images it finds on-line with a Digimarc invisible watermark; it's a search engine for protected images - now you can see who has been stealing your work and pursue them.

Find out more about Digimarc for Images and Save 30% off your subscription to Digimarc for images by using the coupon code "naturephotography" at


The Northern Parula & Canon Professional Services (CPS) Revamped

 Northern Parula Male , Parula americana (Paruline à collier) Point Pelee National Park of Canada (Southwestern Ontario, Canada). Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS-1D MKIII, 500mm F4L IS USM and 2X II Tele-extender. ISO 400, 1/500s F9 Manual mode. Canon 580 EX II Flash in manual mode. Tripod and Wimberley Head II. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION.

Just going through some images from last year's Point Pelee bird photography workshop while preparing for this years. Photographing migrant Warblers is probably the most challenging type of bird photography; there is no food, bird calls or water drips to attract your subject. There's no choosing nice perches, and choosing great backgrounds is a result of your ability to move faster than your speedy subject. Migrant bird photography at a place like Pelee can be quite rewarding, though, many of the tree-top dwellers forage for fuel at near eye-level while migrating. The total number of bird species recorded at Point Pelee is 372, of which at least 340 of these species have been recorded during the spring migration period. The stream of birds in the spring is not a steady flow from the south. The birds usually arrive in intermittent waves, a pattern unique to eastern North America. In some years these are well marked but, in others the fluctuations in numbers and variety is so meagre that a wave in difficult to detect. A "wave" occurs as a result of a warm weather front advancing from the south or southeast meeting a cold weather front from the north or northwest. Two situations will cause the birds to descend. One is when the two fronts meet at ground level. The other is when a warm front in which migrating birds are flying overrides a cold front. The rising warm air becomes cooler with the increasing altitude until it is finally too cold for the birds and they descend.

If these nocturnal (night-time) migrants find themselves over Lake Erie near sunrise they must continue onwards or drown. After flying perhaps hundreds of kilometres in one night, it is this extra 30 to 40 kilometres across the lake that really demands their last strength. This explains why exhausted birds are sometimes found at the tip of the Point. A similar situation, but on a larger scale, occurs when migrants cross the 800 to 1000 kilometres of the Gulf of Mexico. If the weather is good they continue inland in one continuous flight without stopping, but with a north wind and rain they descend on the coast in great numbers, often in an exhausted state.

Do consider joining me at Point Pelee National Park this May 8-12, 2010 as I still have two spots available due to last minute cancellation. More information can be found HERE.

Canon Professional Service Revamped in Canada

Canon Canada has announced their revamped paid CPS program. Choose between Gold and platinum paid levels HERE. It seems to me that we are getting more for less, when compared the the Canon USA CPS program HERE while the Canon EUROPE CPS program is currently still offered FREE HERE.

There's a rumor circulating in Canada that the current discount on professional camera bodies and L Series lenses that Canadian CPS members currently enjoy will no longer be offered; this because there is no mention of it on the new CPS web site. Well my sources at Canon Canada tell me that CPS benefits never really did include a discount, it was offered to CPS members by the Canon Canada marketing people to offset the currency exchange rate that sent many pros across the border into the USA to shop. The good new is that the discount is still offered, and that there is no forseen end to it.

Nikon professional services, or NPS, in the USA is offered FREE HERE, in Canada, it's  FREE HERE and in Europe (Nikon Professional User) it's  FREE HERE