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Photography Workshops by Christopher Dodds


Nature Photography Blog Journal Index

Entries in Testimonial (27)


White-rumped Sandpiper

White-rumped Sandpiper (Calidris fuscicollis, Bécasseau à croupion blanc, WRSA) 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 2X Teleconverter @1,200mm ISO 2,500, f/8 @ 1/1,600s Manual exposure. Full Frame.

A White-rumped Sandpiper photographed foraging in the seaweed with my Sony a9, Sony 600mm f/4 and 2X Teleconverter from my recent PUFFINS GALORE DELUXE WORKSHOP.


My wife and I have taken two trips with Chris Dodds, Eagles in Homer, Alaska (EAGLES GALORE), and Puffins in Quebec (PUFFINS GALORE DELUXE EDITION), and both trips have produced a portfolio of epic photos.

The first trip to photograph Eagles was well-organized: transportation was outlined, a meeting place was established, and we received  suggestions as to equipment, clothing, weather, and what to expect well in advance. Chris had arranged our lodging, and upon arrival, we have a short briefing on what to expect during the course of the workshop. Transportation to the site was supplied, and to say the location and the subject was excellent is an understatement.
At times, we had forty-plus eagles overhead. Chris provided suggestions as to camera settings and provided whatever guidance was required during the shoot. Chris is very helpful and a fountain of knowledge of photography, but he doesn’t push it on you. And his head was never in the viewfinder of our cameras; he photographed, but never gave the feeling that he was on a shoot and his clients were just along for the ride.

The second trip was to Quebec to photograph Puffins. Again, the workshop was well-organized as outlined above: transportation to the site was suggested along with places to spend the previous night as we were to meet in a remote area with meager places to spend the night and dine. Boat transportation to the site was provided, and at times the puffins seemed to swarm. Chris gave us pointers on shooting small, fast-flying birds as well as the equipment necessary for closeup portrait of shy little subjects.

My wife and I have travelled all over the world, and Chris stands out among the many professional photographers we have been with. He is low key, has a good sense of humour (humour, in Canada) has a great knowledge of photography which he will share with any photographer in his groups, regardless of their experience level. We will certainly travel with Chris again.

Carl (and Cheryl) Shneider


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.





American Bald Eagle HANGNAIL (Hailiaeetus leucocephalus, Pygarge a tete blanche, BAEA) Kachemak Bay (near Homer), Alaska ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless camera & Sony FE100-400mm F4.5-5.6 G Master OSS Lens @ 333mm Full Frame image. ISO2,500, f/5.6 @ 1/4,000s Manual mode.

More Eagles Galore

Here's another favorite from the last day of my Eagles Galore Photo Tour earlier this month. We had some great fun in the snow with the Eagles. I love the variations in their plumage. Learn more about my March 5-9, 2019 Eagles Galore Photo Tour HERE

Ospreys Galore Last Chance

I only have two spots left for my April 5-7, 2018 Ospreys Galore Photo Tour, and the April 8-10 trip sold out months ago. Please visit my Ospreys Galore Page HERE to learn more and sign-up.

Special Thanks

I recently joined Chris on his Osprey Galore tour in southern Florida.  Not having been on this type of photo tour before, I did not know quite what to expect.  I can honestly say it was well worth the time and money and one of the best photographic experiences I’ve ever enjoyed.  Chris runs a very organized photo experience to say the least, but keeps the pace and daily routine very relaxed and informal, making everyone feel comfortable and able to get the most out of their photographic experience.    His body of work and experience in the field,  has made him not only a world class photographer, but an extremely knowledgeable outdoorsman, greatly adding to the entire experience.  I particularly enjoyed how instruction, tips, and techniques were tailored to the experience level of each photographer individually.  There was no pressure to compare images, nor did Chris spend a great deal of time taking his own shots.  Instead he devoted his efforts to not only putting us in the very best position to achieve a meaningful shot, but continually answered any and all questions throughout the day, reminding us of small details that were very helpful, regardless of anyone’s level of expertise.  It is rare to find this level of photographic expertise coupled with such a comprehensive knowledge of the natural surroundings, all shared in a very friendly and engaging manner.  I learned a lot, enjoyed my time thoroughly, and came home with some incredible images I would never have achieved on my own.  You can’t ask for much more than that.  I will be joining Chris again in the near future for another photo tour.  Five stars!!
Brian Shul Gallery One


Sony a9 and Sony G Master 100-400mm lens ready for bird photography

Atlantic Puffin PORTRAIT OF A CLOWN (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. Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless Camera & Sony FE100-400 F4.5-5.6 G Master OSS @ 400mm @ minimum focusing distance. Full frame image (top to bottom; left and right cropped to square aspect ratio). ISO 2,500, f/6.3 @ 1/1,600s Manual exposure mode. PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.


Sony a9 and Sony FE100-400 F4.5-5.6 G Master Lens: Ready for Bird Photography?


Canadian Nature and Wildlife Photographer Christopher Dodds with Sony FE 100-400 F4.5-5.6 G Master Lens

My friends over at Sony Canada sent over a Sony a9 and Sony FE100-400 F4.5-5.6 G Master Lens for me to test while leading my four consecutive Deluxe Atlantic Puffins Galore Workshops in Puffin Paradise. The workshops were a huge success, with crew after crew of wonderful participants and awesome photographers who all made boatloads of Atlantic Puffin and Razorbill images, while enjoying life on a tiny island and the ambiance of a lighthouse with gourmet meals - it was fabulous! Learn more & sign-up for my 2018 Deluxe Puffins Galore trip HERE.

The Sony a9 is the first mirrorless camera I have tested that is capable of replacing my current Canon 1DX mark II camera bodies. So, why did I consider adding, or moving away from my current Canon set-up in the first place? Like all of my workshop clients and friends who travel and constantly worry about getting camera gear in the cabin of the airplane as carry-on (or who may be tired of lugging all of the “big and better” stuff around), I am always on the lookout for smaller, lighter, better and more manageable cameras; In this case, the a9 offers some incredible specs. to the birds-in-flight photographer, as seen on the Sony website HERE.

The camera arrived moments before we left for the long drive, and because it uses Contrast and Phase detection autofocus points built into the sensor, I didn’t have to worry about delaying my departure, and taking the time to micro-calibrate the camera and lens before leaving; My Canon SLR cameras have a separate auto-focus sensor, which require micro-calibration (or, to be more specific; require me to go through the process of micro-calibration to make sure the camera and lens combination are producing sharp images, even if no calibration is required). Having undertaken the time consuming task of the micro-calibration of all of my Canon cameras and lenses, and any combination possible with tele-converters countless times …… this is huge!

The Sony a9 and G Master 100-400 feel great in the hand, and seem perfectly balanced and easy to hold; a whopping two and a half pounds lighter than my Canon 1DX with Canon 100-400!

I quickly set-up the camera for birds-in flight action photography and immediately found the autofocus to be almost a magical dream of perfection. The AF points cover 93% of the surface of the sensor; this seems to be a huge advantage for keeping really fast and erratically moving subjects in the viewfinder. Initial autofocus acquisition seems so fast with this camera, that I had absolutely no hesitation hammering away the moment I had the target in the viewfinder. The results are remarkable! I spent every moment (unfairly) trying to make the Sony a9 fail with circumstances that I know none of the other brands can keep-up with; I was on a beach at low tide in low contrast light, aiming at Puffins flying low over seaweed covered rocks. All of the Canon cameras that I own, and Nikons I have owned and used would focus on the seaweed covered rocks. I could point the camera at the Puffin while it was tiny in the frame (well before I would normally try to acquire autofocus), and the camera would pick-up, and focus on the Puffin nearly every time. It seemed like there was an algorithm in the firmware that was looking for something moving in the frame to target. It would lock-on and stay with the Puffin all the way along its flight path towards me. Autofocus systems are challenged by objects moving towards the camera at a constant rate of speed; as an object approaches a camera at a constant rate of speed, we must move the focusing ring faster to keep the object in focus (or the camera’s autofocus mechanism must accelerate its adjustment). This often proves challenging to even the best autofocus systems; the Sony a9 kept-up every time! I was blown away.

I quickly realized that there was a lag between the live view on the back of the camera, and it’s automatic switch to the EVF (electronic viewfinder) when the camera is brought up to the eye. This felt awkward and interfered with my “target acquisition”,  so I switched to EVF display only, and was surprised that there was no menu choice to use the EVF for shooting, and the rear LCD to display the menu; In other words, when the camera is set to use the EVF display, you have to use the EVF for live-view (perfect), and menu adjustments (not-so-perfect). I quickly set-up a custom menu, with it’s first option to switch back the display to the rear LCD screen for when I want to make menu changes. The EVF was remarkably good and didn’t take long to get used to. Not having to drive the rear LCD increased battery life immensely, and I regularly filled a 128GB card with 2,200 RAW images on a single charge with battery life to spare.

I installed a Black Rapid Sport strap to sling the camera (and lens) over my shoulder at my waist; I quickly adapted to partially depressing the shutter button as I lifted the camera to my eye to “wake” the sensor and EVF. Since SLR cameras don’t need to keep the sensor energized to project an image in an EVF, this is not a problem when using a traditional SLR with optical viewfinder. This seemed a pain at first, but it really didn’t take long to develop muscle memory, and it became reflex very quickly.

I set the camera to silent mode, which seemed really strange @ 20 frames per second, but I quickly grew to love the silence, and think this to be a huge bonus while photographing flighty subjects like warblers that take-off at the sound of a camera shutter.

The image files are fantastic! At first, I thought there may be a huge gain in dynamic range, but after spending time with the files, I feel it is fair to say there is about 1/3 to 1/2 stop gain in dynamic range at higher ISO, but files at lower ISO seem to compare with those from the Canon 1DX mark II. I haven’t gone to great lengths to scientifically test them, as I will leave that to others and all I am really interested in is getting the better image. Files seemed richer, sharper and more saturated than those from the Canon 1DX mark II. Although I applied the same workflow to the images from the Sony a9 as I do to images from my Canon 1DX mark II, I only needed to apply about half as much of everything to produce some extremely awesome results.

In conclusion, I fell in love with the Sony a9 and Sony FE100-400 F4.5-5.6 G Master Lens! It’s a super light and manageable combination @4.5 pounds that can be hand-held all day long. The autofocus system is second to none (that I have used), it’s silent 20 frames per second with a huge buffer will keep even the most trigger happy birds-in-flight shooters happy, and the files this camera produces are stunning. This is the perfect combination for those who don’t choose the weight or reach of a super telephoto lens (as there are none currently offered by Sony….but they would be wise to jump on a native Sony e-mount 500 or 600mm f/4 lens soon!). Paired with a second body and wider zoom, it would be the perfect kit for an African Safari!

I haven’t yet tried any of the adapters which allow you to use Canon and Nikon lenses at 10 frames per second, mostly because I don’t see an adapted lens as a long term or reliable solution. Please do take the time to make comments here if you can offer any insight from your experience with any of the adapters available; We would love to hear your thoughts.

I’ll be back shortly with more about my time with the Sony a9 soon, and will post images of birds-in-flight and some high ISO images in the coming days. I will share some of things I learned about using the camera and offer some suggestions for menu choices. I will share my thoughts on adding, or switching to Sony, and more likes and dislikes. Stay tuned!


I’m an experienced wildlife photographer and I’ve had puffins on my bucket list for several years. Around my Colorado home, I scout my own sites and work my network of photography buddies, so I know what it takes to find good sites, get in and then have the wildlife cooperate, to get good pictures. I’ve even been a scout for a leading professional photographer, looking for superior deer and turkey subjects and locations.
Regarding puffins, I’d considered renting hide times, but most involved day-trips on boats. Most importantly, time in the hide is limited and you won’t necessarily be able to shoot when they’re feeding, nor will you likely shoot in ideal light. Angle of view is often not ideal from a hide.
I don’t know how, but I ran across Chris’ Deluxe Puffins Galore Workshop at the Mingan Archipelago National Park of Canada. It sounded too good to be true. You can shoot ALL DAY and have gourmet meals morning, noon and night. Hang on.
The “galore” part of the title is entirely true. I took over 13,000-shots in my three-days. It required merciless culling to get down to under 200 for sharing. I have many worthy of framing and the culls contain many shots that I might have been happy with, had I not had so many superior shots.
There are rules, to protect the birds, about where you can go on the islet, but that in no way excludes you from puffin activity. For example, every evening, we sat in chairs as puffin filled our frames landing, taking off, kibitzing, posing, all in ideal light. By the end of the first day, I didn’t know how I’d possibly improve my shots, but I did, indeed, add to my archive.
Importantly, Chris is an affable and professional guy, but he pays close attention to safety, respect of our subjects and comfort of his guests. Everyone in my group was experienced, with good equipment. In fact, I was the only newbie. All had shot with Chris before. Guess what, I’ve signed up for his Snowy Owl Adventure, next January. I suspect that won’t be my last.
Chris delivers a premium product, in every way. Planning information was thorough and detailed, making it crystal clear what you needed to get there, to wear, etc.. The only thing left was to take the pix.
This is a premium product and a photographer’s dream. This is THE way to shoot Atlantic puffin.

Dave Stephens Colorado | USA

Visit Dave's Portfolio from the trip HERE.







American Bald Eagle LIGHT DANCER from my Bald Eagle Photographic Expedition (Hailiaeetus leucocephalus, Pygarge a tete blanche, BAEA) Kachemak Bay (near Homer), Alaska ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1DX, EF 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 IS II USM @220mm ISO 1,000 f/5.6 @ 1/4,000s shot vertical in manual mode. Click HERE to order a print or license image for publication.

 Here's another Bald Eagle form my recent workshops in Alaska. Do consider joining me next  Eagles Galore Photo Tour from March 5-9, 2018. This is one of the most exciting workshops I offer. Based in Homer, Alaska, we will focus on making an epic portfolio of Bald Eagle images! Be sure to learn more about my March 5-9, 2018 Eagles Galore Photo Workshop HERE and be sure to read my testimonials found HERE.

  • I have more experience with the Eagles in Homer than anyone else.
  • We have unprecedented access to the Eagles.
  • We spend more time out with the Eagles than anyone else.
  • We get off the boat to photograph; no sea sickness and much better low angles of view.
  • Smaller groups (maximum 5 participants per trip).
  • I work very hard to ensure you return with an epic portfolio of Eagle images and learn a ton!


I recently returned from Chris’s Eagle Workshop in Homer Alaska. Over the years, I have traveled extensively and can say without hesitating that this was the best trip I’ve ever been on. Chris is a very cordial but no nonsense guy. Everything about the trip was organized to the max. I’ve been photographing wildlife for 35 years and thought I had a pretty good idea about how to do it so I wasn’t expecting to learn a whole lot that was new. Wrong! Over the years, other “professionals” had encouraged me to shoot in aperture priority or auto ISO. When Chris told us he was going to teach us to set our camera exposures manually, I thought that sounded like a lot of unnecessary effort. That notion turned out to be false. If you attend this workshop and don’t already shoot in manual mode, your life will be changed. The exposures of the photos I took are spot on and better than any I have ever achieved. 
In addition to the new material I learned, the “eagle shooting” was beyond anything one could ever imagine. It was both action packed and challenging. Our group was only five people and Chris bent over backward to make sure that each of us got the best photos of our lives. Even though I had substantial problems with my equipment, I now have more killer eagle photos than I could have ever hoped for. If you want an informative and fun packed trip, I encourage you to sign up for this or any of Chris’s workshops. I have signed up again for next year’s Eagle Workshop, in spite of my truck load of eagle photos, which I believe tells the whole story.

Ron Brown Colorado USA



Northern Pintail

Northern Pintail (Anas acuta, Canard Pilet, NOPI) Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico, USA ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1DX, 600mm f/4 L IS II USM & 2X III Tele-converter. ISO 640, F8 1/2,500s Manual Mode. Full Frame. Click HERE to order a print or license image for publication.

Here's a Northern Pintail from my Better than Bosque workshop last December. I'm about to lead my sold-out workshop there and have added the dates for next year to my workshop page HERE.


Your Better than Bosque trip was a real eye-opener for me. I thought I had a handle on my photographic techniques, and thought I was at the top of my game. Wow, was I wrong! I had no idea how much I would learn from you when I decided to sign-up; I thought you would show us your secret spots and that would justify the tuition for me. I made a great friend, learned more than I could have imagined and got the best images I have ever made (thousands of them). Thank you for an EPIC trip. I will be back for another of your amazing workshops soon.

Chris Smith England



Great Gray Owl WINTERWINGS (Strix Nebulosa, Chouette Lapone, GGOW) Quebec, Canada. Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1DX, 500mm F4 L IS USM. ISO 2,500, F5.5 @ 1/2,500s Manual mode. CLICK HERE TO ORDER A PRINT OR LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION.


My criteria for signing up for a photo workshop are:  the opportunity to get some very strong images, to learn new things related to capture, post processing, & animal behavior and to have an enjoyable experience.
Your recent owl workshop met these criteria in spades thanks to your expertise, knowledge, & leadership. You did everything humanly possible to make the workshop as successful as possible for your clients.

I have been on many photo workshops.  Yours are now on my short "A" list which means i shall be a repeat client beyond the puffin photo workshop this July. Thank you again for the outstanding owl workshop.

Carl Zanoni Connecticut, USA

Learn more about my Snowy Winter Owl Workshops HERE.



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.



Great Gray Owl THE HUNTRESS (Strix nebulosa, Chouette Lapone, GGOW) Ontario, Canada ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1DX, 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM. ISO 640, f/2.8 @ 1/3,200s Manual mode. Click HERE to order a print or license image for publication.


I wanted to thank you for a wonderful winter owling workshop last week.  It was great to be in the field with you and I learned a great deal about the birds, environment and my camera.  Thanks so much for being such a great naturalist, photographer and trip leader.  I will go on another trip with you in the future.

Lynda Goff
(Professor Emeritus Ecology & Evolutionary Biology UC Santa Cruz) Santa Cruz, California, USA

Learn more about my Snowy Winter Owl Workshops HERE.



Snowy Owl BANKING ON PASTEL SKY  (Bubo scandiacus, Harfang des neiges, SNOW) Ontario, Canada ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Canon EOS 1DX, 600mm f/4 L IS II USM. ISO 3,200, f/5.6 @ 1/1,250s Manual. PURCHASE A PRINT or LICENSE IMAGE FOR PUBLICATION HERE.

In my last blog post, I shared an image called Morning Glory. As the the sun continued to rise that morning, the colors in the sky against the retreating fog continued their spectacular show. For more information about my Winter Owl Workshops, CLICK HERE.


Deep knowledge of animal behaviour and their habitats combined with photographic talent, knowledge and years of experience are the ingredients of trips/workshops guided by Chris Dodds! I had the privilege to join Chris on various trips and experienced unique tailor made experiences, enabling creative and artistic photography. I enjoyed every minute and highly recommend this to colleague nature photographers that like to explore and enjoy the best Nature can offer.

Jan van der Greef The Netherlands