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Photography Workshops by Christopher Dodds

 

Nature Photography Blog Journal Index

Entries in Workshop (105)

Wednesday
Sep042019

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.

KUDOS:

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


Wednesday
Sep042019

Semipalmated Plover with shrimp

Semipalmated Plover with a Shrimp (Charadrius semipalmatus, Pluvier semipalmé, SEPL) 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 4,000, f/8 @ 1/1,600s Manual exposure. Full Frame.

Here's a Semipalmated Plover with a shrip at the absolute minimum focusing distance from my recent PUFFINS GALORE DELUXE WORKSHOP. We had a great time with shorebirds on the seaweed covered rocks at low tide.


Tuesday
Sep032019

Herring Gull and Sea Urchin

Herring Gull with a Sea Urchin (Larus argentatus, Goéland argenté, HEGU) 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 1,600, f/8 @ 1/3,200s Manual exposure. Full Frame.

Here's a Herring Gull about to drop a Sea Urchin from my recent PUFFINS GALORE DELUXE WORKSHOP. There was an abundance of Sea Urchins and the Herring Gulls were taking full advantage.

While researching the 950 species of Sea Urchin to correctly identify the species I had photographed, I discovered an interesting Oceans and Fisheries Canada document about the Green Sea Urchin Fishery in Canada. You can find it HERE https://waves-vagues.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/Library/245512.pdf

Tuesday
Aug272019

Atlantic Puffin Portrait in the fog

Atlantic Puffin PORTRAIT in the fog (Fratercula arctica, Macareux moine, ATPU) 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 1,600, f/8 @ 1/400s Manual exposure. Full Frame.

Here's another Atlantic Puffin portrait from my recent PUFFINS GALORE DELUXE WORKSHOP. We woke to fog on several mornings and there were Puffins perched everywhere. We used the park information signs as blinds, and were able to spend hours making portraits at just about point blank range. After making the standard tight head shots, I always explore more interesting poses while working at minimum focusing distance with an extremely limited depth of field.

Friday
Aug232019

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.

KUDOS

"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

Friday
Jul122019

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.

 

KUDOS:

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.

Dennis

 

Thursday
May162019

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 www.chrisdoddsphoto.com 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.

 

 

Saturday
May042019

Red Fox of Bonaventure Island

Red Fox (Vulpes vulpus, Renard Roux) Parc national de l'Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé, Bonaventure Island, Quebec Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com All Rights Reserved. Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless camera & Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 G Master OSS Lens  with Sony FE 1.4X Teleconverter @560mm ISO 6,400, f/9 @ 1/5,000s Manual exposure.

We had a few really great encounters with the resident Red Fox during my Gannets Galore workshop last June. Traditional symbols of cunning and craftiness, foxes are, in fact, agile, intelligent, and above all, adaptable creatures. Bushy-tailed, long-snouted members of the dog family, they are quick and skilful hunters that eat a broad range of wild fare, including insects, rabbits, berries, and all sorts of rodents, birds and their eggs.

The predatory behaviour of red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) in relation to a large multi-species seabird community was studied on Baccalieu Island, Newfoundland, from 1983-1986. Fox diet was assessed by examining the faecal composition, avian prey remains and larder hoarded prey. Leach’s Storm-Petrels (Oceanodroma leucorhoa) made up of 75% of scat by wet weight, 89% of remains and 95% of prey items in and scattered about larders. Black-Legged Kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla), Atlantic Puffins (Fratercula arctica), Common Murres (Uria aalge) Northern Gannets (Sula bassanus) and Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus) formed 19% of scat by wet weight and 11% of remains.



"An excxellent professor of the art"


"Now in September, with the images of our Northern Gannet workshop processed and filed, I want to thank you for your outstanding planning and execution of the our adventure/trek/shoot on Bonaventure Island this summer. It was a pleasure to be your customer/client.
 Your execution provided an experience to make it one of the two best that I have been a part of in my many years of summer shoots. Given the uncertainties of rain, tides, winds, and clouds, you exploited so well every opportunity that came our way. On these trips the purpose is to get good looks at the birds. The some 3,100 exposures that I came home with were solid evidence that I got the looks at this magnificent gannet I was hoping for ---I netted many quality images. Good stuff now in the files. 
Our housing was just what we want: accessible, comfortable, clean and a good buy. The schedule was chock full, we did not have avoidable down minutes, and we squeezed all of the looks available to us out of the time and conditions available. The access to an ATV to tote our gear from the dock to the colony, for a guy of my age, was a real plus and that comes about only with your obvious advance work and solid relationships with the park folks.
 The trip on the water to the far side of the island was a highlight for me and shows best your foresight and planning to get us in not otherwise available, shooting positions. That was unique time, extraordinary. 
But most of all, Chris, your ever-present availability to be immediately responsive to our technical photographic and logistical questions makes this trip so exceptional. So many of the shoot producers put themselves above and before the client-photographer and are spending more time getting their own shots or just not being around when you need their advice. You stay available to provide professional guidance to the guys and gals paying for the experience. I observed that no question is too mundane; you patiently helped the rookies, just as you did the most advanced. Personally, I improved my techniques and banked a good range of knowledge, thanks to you. 
 

My summary: You are an excellent professor of the art, a solid expedition planner, a constant steward of the details, and a good guy with whom to spend days on a trek. 
I'm very interested in getting some Spring/nesting shots of that Atlantic Puffin. If you put together such a trip, please let me know. 
I look forward to another shoot with the unique Dodds' touch. 
Continued success to you, with all best wishes,

Andy Hays Chicago, Illinois, USA"

Andy will be joining me this August for my Deluxe Puffins Galore Workshop in Quebec. Learn more about my Puffin workshop HERE.

Thursday
May022019

Black-legged kittiwake Love Nest

Black-legged Kittiwake LOVE NEST (Rissa tridactyla,  Mouette tridactyle, BLKI) Parc national de l'Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé, Bonaventure Island, Quebec Image Copyright ©Christopher Dodds www.chrisdoddsphoto.com All Rights Reserved. Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless camera & Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 G Master OSS Lens  with Sony FE 1.4X Teleconverter @560mm ISO 6,400, f/8 @ 1/5,000s Manual exposure.

 

Here's a simple enough composition of a Black-legged Kittiwake in its nest on the cliffs of Bonaventure Island on the Gaspe Penninsula in Quebec. I photographed this from one of the Zodiac cruises during my Gannets Galore workshop last June. I love studying the rocks and looking for patterns and shapes - If you look long enough, you will see the heart shape in the upper right-hand corner :)

It's not too late to join me at one of my favourite places on earth! No one has spent as much time photographing on Bonaventure Island as I have. I have hosted many hundreds of photographers there of all levels of photographers from pros like Arthur Morris who wanted expert logistics and local knowledge to complete amateurs who want to learn the basics; many of whom have won photography competitions with the images made there with me. I know where to be in any given weather or light to get you the very best images possible.


Gannets Galore: A recent trip to the gannet colony on the Gaspe’s Ile Bonaventure with Chris Dodds proved to be all that I could have hoped for.  The colony is large, active and readily accessible, Chris’ familiarity with the birds and how they would react to the frequent changes in weather and wind direction gave us access to some pretty unique shooting opportunities, and his knowledge of the area and personal connections within the local community allowed us to get to the island when construction on the town’s only pier could easily have prevented us from getting there.  This, combined with Chris’ almost unique ability to teach the principles of photography at the simplest and most complex levels, making this a trip that should not be missed. 
 
Steve Goodman Denver, Colorado, USA

 

Tuesday
Mar192019

Bald Eagle Fishing a la Sony 400mm f/2.8

American Bald Eagle FISHING (Hailiaeetus leucocephalus, Pygarge a tete blanche, BAEA) from my BALD EAGLE WORKSHOP in Kachemak Bay (near Homer), Alaska ©Christopher Dodds All Rights Reserved. Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless camera & Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 G Master OSS Lens Full Frame image. ISO 640, f/2.8 @ 1/5,000s Manual mode.

Here's a Bald Eagle fishing in golden light from my recent sold-out back to back Bald Eagle photo tours on the beautiful Kachemak Bay near Homer, Alaska. This is a full frame image made with the new and much lusted after Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master prime lens. I worked wide open at f/2.8 for most of the trip and was blown away by the incredible speed at which the Sony a9 achieves accurate auto-focus while using this lens (Learn more about why it can focus so quickly with its linear movement HERE).

I continue to be blown away by the Sony a9 since switching from Canon in August 2017;  there is no better system for flying birds out there!