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Photography Workshops by Christopher Dodds

 

Nature Photography Blog Journal Index

Entries in expedition (14)

Monday
May272013

I have joined Chris on several trips and look forward to future adventures with him

I recently joined Chris on his Ospreys Galore Photo Safari and Expedition. This was actually the second year in a row that I have joined Chris for this photo safari. Including myself, there were three repeat clients for this experience. All three repeat clients are from Florida. I have a chance to photograph ospreys year round but I have found this to be THE BEST EXPERIENCE to photograph ospreys in their natural environment. I agree with Chris that Lake Blue Cypress is one of the most beautiful places in Florida. The lake is surrounded by land that is designated as  conservation land. That means no development and pristine environment around the lake. Cypress trees ring the lake and I have never seen as many ospreys in one place.

One of the things I particularly like about being with Chris is his genuine concern for the safety and well being of his clients. On this last trip we had some weather passing through the area. Chris delayed going out in the pontoon boat until the stronger weather had passed. He also talked about the possibility of rain showers and made sure everyone was prepared even though it did not rain on us while we were out.

 Chris’ knowledge and expertise was evident in getting us close to the ospreys. Most of my images taken during the three days were taken at less than 300mm. I was able to get in-flight and very close up images hand holding a 500mm lens, but most of my images were taken with a 70-200mm lens with a 2X extender. I didn’t need the big lens to get very good images.

 While we were all shooting Chris would be keeping an eye out for all of us. He tailored his field instruction for each individual. His insight into the latest thinking on shutter speeds with DSLRs was especially invaluable to getting crisp images. Chris even shared his camera equipment with people to give them some experience with the latest equipment.

 I have joined Chris on several trips and look forward to future adventures with him.

Jim Boland Titusville, Florida, USA

Monday
May272013

Chris Dodds is a patient & skilled teacher

Being a female on my first photo safari, I had some apprehensions before joining Chris on his acclaimed Winter Snowy Owl Safari.  I worried about safety, that I wasn't a good enough photographer for someone with Chris's acclaim, and that I wouldn't be able to keep up with the group on treks. My fears subsided on Day One, and I knew this would be a week I would never forget.  With the small group size, Chris was able to give each member the level of instruction they needed.  Beyond having great opportunities for owl pictures, I learned helpful things about owl behaviour, owl spotting techniques, operating the camera, processing images,  best clothing and gear for winter, and things like the "Dodds duffel toss" that help prevent injuries while putting my camera backpack on.
Chris has an extensive knowledge of exposure theory. He is a patient teacher, skilled in helping his participants gain a deep understanding of this critical element of photography. He demonstrated why it is important to capture as much detail as possible for the best possible print, then showed us how to accomplish it. During the week of ever changing light, he kept checking our work to make sure we were getting the best possible results.
I usually learn from books and enjoy photography as a solitary pursuit, but I enjoyed the camaraderie of this group experience and received many tips on world travel. The photo safari gave me time to immerse myself in photography and nature.  I'm already planning my next safari with Chris.

Karen Miller Pennsylvania, USA

Monday
May272013

Chris Dodds Workshops now on my "A" list!

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

Monday
May272013

Your low key approach and readily available technical knowledge really helped me to focus on what it was I wanted

My thanks Chris for introducing me to the tremendous experience (both visual and olfactory) offered by not only the Gannet colony on Bonaventure Island but also by the Gaspe peninsula during your amazing Bonaventure Island workshopYour low key approach and readily available technical knowledge really helped me to focus on what it was I wanted to do and maximize my chance of getting the pictures that I wanted.  Standing in a zodiac on the rolling ocean watching you photograph flying seabirds using a hand held 800mm lens pushed me to believe I could actually do the same using a 420mm lens......and the resulting photos show that it can be done!  My 6 and 3 year old children cannot thank you enough for the endless slide shows I now make them endure.

Ron Kellner  Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Monday
May272013

We have been on many photo tours and yours was one of the best!

Pat and I had a great time on your recent Gannets Galore photo tourWe have been on many photo tours and yours was one of the best.  We have never seen so many excellent photo opportunities.  Even the 5 AM Zodiac trip around the island offered great opportunities.  The small size of the group, 6 photographers, added to our enjoyment since you were able to spend considerable time with each of us.  Your tips on using manual camera settings were excellent.  I now use manual settings for virtually every photograph, flight or static. Thanks again for a truly outstanding photographic experience.   

Stokes Fishburne  Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA

Monday
May272013

Your instruction is the best I've experience in taking these kinds of trips

Chris, Thanks for another great photo adventure to Alaska during your Eagles of Alaska photograpic Expedition!!!!!!
This is the third trip with you and they keep getting better. Always challenging. Always easy-going. Always taking my photography forward. (Take a look at my site for a few new pictures from Alaska.) Your instruction is the best I've experience in taking these kinds of trips. You always seem to know where to put us in the absolute best place. Top Notch!!!! Can't wait till the next one.....wherever that might be. Thanks again!!!!!!!  

Jeff Moore Arlington Heights, Illinois, USA

Monday
May272013

We had a phenomenal time

Thank you so much for wonderful time we had in Homer, AK during your Eagles of Homer Workshop. Both Rick and I are so excited about learning "M" (manual). We have attended several other photo workshops lead by others but did not learn as much as we did in the 6 days under your guidance in Homer. We came home with some outstanding photos, so many more than we thought possible. We had a phenomenal time and hope to do another workshop with you in the near future.

Melody & Rick Curtis Flower Mound, Texas, USA

Monday
May272013

The instruction was top notch

Chris Dodds' Nothern Gannet Workshop on Bonaventure Island was a trip of a lifetime. The workshop was amazing. The scenery was awesome and the people were fabulous. Chris Dodds knowledge of our subjects was expansive. The instruction was top notch, We were given so many opportunities to explore and learn the aspects of shooting pictures under conditions that allowed us to work with light, speed and movement.
 There were so many aspects of photography I had never paid much attention too but Chris incorporated them in my experience effortlessly, patiently and with the understanding what is necessary to accomplish beautiful and professional photographs. Chris is thoroughly professional, knowledgeable and very personable.

Marla Moore Arlington Heights, Illinois, USA

Monday
May272013

Chris Dodds is everything I could ask for in a workshop leader

Chris is everything I could ask for in a workshop leader. He is patient, accommodating, and knowledgeable, both about photography and birds. I learned a lot and took hundreds of great pictures that would not have been possible without Chris' instruction and experience. Aside from being a great teacher and leader, Chris is an all-around great guy and a pleasure to spend time with.
 Bonaventure Island itself is spectacular, and the Zodiac trips around the island in the morning are incredible experiences, both photographically and visually, in part because this is the only way to see and photograph gannets in morning light, since the island is inaccessible until 9AM. Chris knows the place backwards and forwards, and always knew where the best photography experiences would be under a variety of conditions - an important resource to have on an island containing several large colonies. 
In short, if you're on the fence about going, do it! Chris' Gannets Galore Workshop truly is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Matthew Barr Chevy Chase, Maryland, USA

Monday
May272013

You are an excellent 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

Monday
May272013

I found the workshop very educational

I want to thank you for the photography workshop you led to Ile Bonaventure, an area of Canada I probably would have never visited and for the opportunity to meet and enjoy the company of the other photographers that attended. I found the workshop very educational. It catered to all levels of photographers. You managed to spend quality time with everyone helping us learn from your experiences as a bird photographer. I learned how to properly use my handheld light meter, how to improve my flash photography and that you can shoot in rain and fog with excellent results. Once we got inside you had a very interesting guest speaker and on the other nights during the Photoshop tutorials, you changed me from a lazy user to a more skilled user without taking up much more time on the computer. The accommodations you arranged and your dining suggestions were wonderful. Overall I would say that I would be happy to attend your workshops whenever I get a chance to do so.
Keep up the good work. 


John Zimmerman (President Montreal Camera Club) Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Monday
May272013

Chris Dodds photographic knowledge was immense and his instruction was never intimidating

My wife Marla and I attended Chris Dodds' Gannets Galore photo workshop on Bonaventure Island, Quebec in August. We both found it a tremendous advancement for our photographic skills and vision. We felt Chris’ knowledge of both the wildlife and the area was supreme, always looking for the perfect spot and technique to make better images. His photographic knowledge was immense and his instruction was never intimidating.
 Always cheerful, Chris kept a constant vigil to satisfy the group as well as providing personal attention along the way. I don’t believe anyone felt shorted either way. He put us in front of so many unique situations. As a result, my wife (even with an awkward arm cast) and I shot the most remarkable nature photos of our lives.
 The workshop was intense but the atmosphere was always kind, low-key and generous. At the end of the last day, we felt we had witnessed one of the great places on earth, accomplished something remarkable photographically and gained a friend in the process. Well done, Chris.

Jeff Moore Arlington Heights, Illinois , USA

Monday
May272013

The best photographic event that any of us had ever experienced

Thank you for a magnificent workshop on Bonaventure Island. Your efforts on our behalf were nothing short of heroic. I don't know where you get your energy, from Sun up to long after it set, you were working to make this the best photographic event that any of us had ever experienced, and you succeeded. Bonaventure Island is a photographers paradise, I have never returned from a workshop with so many 'Portfolio shots. If all your endeavors as fruitful, can't wait to get my lens on those Snowy Owls this winter.............

I had a heck of a good time doing what I love, thanks to you.

Malcolm MacKenzie West Palm Beach, Florida, USA

Monday
May272013

Extremely good teacher extremely patient and an outstanding photographer

Since I do bird photography, I was always fascinated with pictures of birds in flight! I looked at the Internet very often for tips and tricks on how to perform this and have good decent results. I visited lots of different web sites to inquire about this and tried to practice it in the field. Obviously the results were not in my range of satisfaction, as I’m very picky about the pictures that I take and show to other people; I then talk to Chris about a workshop that he would do in Quebec at Bonaventure Island, the paradise of Northern Gannets; Gannets Galore Photo Workshop on Bonaventure Island. In fact, the colony there is the second biggest colony of Northern Gannet on the planet! So, lots of opportunity to learn about birds in flight! So, after some discussion with Chris, I did register for the workshop! In the meantime, I personally continued to try to shoot all kind of birds in flight (Gulls, Ducks) without ANY success! Pictures were out of focus and it was very easy to cut wings, half of the bird and so on.

As close as we were to the workshop date, I was getting excited that I would FINALLY learn HOW TO PERFORM BIRDS IN FLIGHT pictures! Then the date arrived! We did travel the whole day my partner and me to get there; what a magnificent place it is! On the first evening, Chris introduced all of us and showed us which type of pictures we could take on site. Of course, I looked at those thrilled that I would be able, only after 3 days, to get out of there with such a work!

Then, we met the first morning at 4:45am for a 4 hours tour on a Zodiac boat! We were 7 photographers plus Chris and the Captain! Full of space on the boat! The first lesson was one that I already knew but stopped practicing when I switched to digital: manual reading of the incident light with a manual light meter! I was a little bit confused as I thought that digital would do it well for me! I was obviously wrong because, since then, I’m only shooting in manual mode; come back to my old slide film days and my pictures gained in light quality and colors! Manual light meter measurement is THE KEY for details in the shadows and clean and not peaked whites!

The first day was a FREE FOR ALL SHOOTING! Chris told us to shoot whatever we saw flying in front and above us! The boat tour was scheduled every morning of the workshop so I didn’t really stress with this, as I’m not a shooter that will trigger the shutter for nothing. I’m patient and I waited for opportunities in sight. I really enjoyed this boat trip and it was better day after day for my shooting!

When we got on the island, we then climbed the 2.8km trail with our heavy load! I was so excited to get there that I was one of the first on site all morning! Didn’t want to miss ANY opportunities! I started to shoot the Gannets with my 70-200 and my D200 and was getting poor results as expected. So Chris took us all together and started to explain the theory of shooting birds in flight. Not only this, he also teaches us the behavior of that particular bird, as it was probably his 100th visit there! So, Chris knows very well the Gannet’s behavior. And, after listening his speech and looking at the birds in my camera, it started to make more sense and I was taking picture in a complete different way now! Knowing and predicting what the bird will do is the KEY for birds in flight!

I then started to get decent results on my sensor and some keepers were registered on the memory card the first day! In the evening, it was time to show our results after a nice dinner all together, discussing again photography! We also had some Photoshop tips and a critique of our work! It was a full day, from 4:00am to 10:30pm! How tired we were? Extremely tired but so happy about what we’ve just learned!

The other 2 days were much more productive for keepers as I was gaining experience with predicting the bird’s flying direction and better also following those in the camera! Practice and practice, that’s the goal of bird in flight photography. I did follow Chris’ advices about following the birds without taking any picture at all. That’s the SECRET! You can’t succeed without knowing how the bird flies, how the bird make a sharp turn and when, how the bird looks in the sky before take off, when is searching for his mate and so on.

Flash photography was also one of the topics well covered in the workshop. Chris spent time with each and every one of us teaching his knowledge about outside flash photography. He was patient, always expressed his needs to know if we were satisfied about what was covered, if we did miss something, if there was another topic that we’d like to talk about. That was the MOST marvelous and productive 3 days of shooting that I’ve ever had in my 30 years of experience in photography! Since the workshop, I did try Gulls in flight on the St-Lawrence River in Quebec and I got SUPERB results that I’m proud of! I would recommend Chris’ workshop to ANYBODY that is involved with bird photography; He’s an extremely good teacher, extremely patient and an outstanding photographer! Thanks Chris and see you soon!


Marc Martineau Rock Forest, Quebec, Canada