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Photography Workshops by Christopher Dodds


Nature Photography Blog Journal Index

Entries in Island (14)


Chris Dodds is one of best teachers of photography and wildlife habits I have ever had the pleasure to be around

My very first birding workshop (Gannet Galore on Bonaventure Island) with a new lens AND camera was filled with much anxiety until the thorough briefing prior to our 1st shoot. After meeting Chris for the introduction to exposing to the right, the Sunny 16 rule and its variances, and the promise of capturing some bird images HE would be proud to call his own my mind was set to rest. I have only been in photography for 3 years and still struggle with exposure, composition, and sharp focusing(especially when bobbing in a Zodiac) but there I was actually able to come away with some great images of Razorbills on the fly! Chris is one of best teachers of photography and wildlife habits I have ever had the pleasure to be around, his knowledge of the Northern Gannets Colony and Bonaventure Island is exceptional. I have already signed on for my next workshop with him, his enthusiasm for wildlife is contagious!

Mel Geer Saint Simons Island, Georgia, USA


Without a doubt, Chris Dodds is one of the best out there

I recently had the pleasure to join Chris on one of his Gannets Galore workshops on Bonaventure Island, and it is very quickly obvious why this trip is a favourite among many photographers. Reading the many glowing testimonials really did not prepare me for how amazing the experience is - truly a spectacle of nature. The photo opportunities abound, and with over 20 years experience there, Chris knows where to be, and when. And should you need help or guidance with settings, etc. he is a patient and informed instructor.  Most important to me, his experience with the local businesses and park service is amazing, which help to make sure that your time spent there is a great on.  A perfect example of this relationship he has built arose when there was the potential that we might not be able to make it to the island one day to circumstances beyond his control (government closing the pier that anyone going to the island for construction work) and Chris was not only able to make alternate arrangements with the ferry service to bring the group out, but also was able to make arrangements for the park service to be on the island as well so that we wouldn't lose a day of shooting on the island. 
Without a doubt, Chris is one of the best out there, and I hope to be able to join him on another workshop soon.

Christopher Ciccone Woburn, Massachusetts, USA


You were an inspiration and very patient with me

I had a wonderful time on your Northern Gannet workshop on Bonaventure Island. I only wish I could go back now, knowing what I learned from you and using it to produce even better and memorable images. You were an inspiration and very patient with me. It has whet my appetite for more and I'm thinking of your Texas workshop next.
I especially like the way you showed respect for the gannets and the park in general. I haven't stopped talking about my experience and the not-so-difficult climb to the colony, about the zodiac on the sea, about the Kawasaki mule taking our gear up so we didn't have to, about the beauty of Perce, about our leader; a kind and expert photographer.

John L. Block Dollard des Ormeaux, QC, Canada


I also raised my birds in flight shooting skills to a new level thanks to your extensive professional guidance

Chris, Thank you for an amazing experience during your Gannets Galore Workshop on Bonaventure Island. We have spend 4 days shooting Northern Gannets on Bonaventure Island and not only I came out with some amazing results, but I also raised my birds in flight shooting skills to a new level thanks to your extensive professional guidance and nonstop shooting opportunities.

Uri First Ramat-Hasharon, Israel


This workshop was a 10+ without a doubt

In September, I attended Christopher Dodds’ “Gannets Galore” workshop in Perce, Quebec, Canada. I have attended many wildlife photo workshops over the years and this workshop was a 10+ without a doubt. The trip was exactly as he described on his web site; no overpromising and under delivering.

Chris provided access to a colony of 63,000 nesting pairs of Northern Gannets (and at least as many non-breeding birds) and his relationships with the local park staff allowed us to get to locations in the park that were closed to the public.  Throughout the trip he was cheerful, very well organized and took care of all  those details (and this was a complicated location) that can ruin an experience..  I was able to concentrate on what I came to do… 

As a professional photographer I know my field, but it is a major bonus to find someone who can provide instruction to me.  My flight shots improved dramatically!  Chris has an uncanny understanding of composition and light and presented me with many opportunities to test my skills.  He understands creativity in photography as well as being a technical master. This trip was perfect for a beginner or a professional and he gives as much instruction and guidance as you need without arrogance, attitude or making you feel too shy to ask.  I would encourage any photographer, no matter what level,  to sign up for Chris' workshops."

Terry Turrentine San Francisco, California USA


Everything about your day on this workshop is special

I recently went on the Gannets Galore workshop with Chris.... It has been 3 weeks now and I still can not come up the the words to describe this experience. The world Chris takes you to defies description. The colony is beyond words. Everything about your day on this workshop is special. This is a trip of a lifetime for anyone who loves birds. Chris runs his workshop so all you have to do is show up at the appointed time and shoot for 10 hours, every detail beyond that is taken care of. The Day is spent with no other care than to photograph beautiful gannets, whales, murres, razorbills, kittiwakes, seals, and he threw in 2 bald eagles for good measure. I had so many great shots when I returned home that I still can not believe it. My birds in flight technique improved 100 percent. Chris gives you as much or as little instruction as you want. He even let me shoot a couple of cards in his camera with his lens. All I can say is, if you love birds, and want to see gannets, I don't believe you can do any better than a Chris Dodds workshop.

Carole Wiley Torrington, Connecticut, USA


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


My workshop experience was better that I had anticipated (and I had expected it to be a great experience)

...I am a reasonably good nature photographer, and have always been interested in macro photography (especially flowers). I enrolled in this workshop to learn bird photography because many of my previous attempts at bird photography have been less than satisfactory. I found Chris to be extremely knowledgeable about the area, the birds, and photography techniques but also enthusiastic about photography and about helping the workshop participants to improve their individual photographic skills. I needed help with using flash, and Chris was able to make suggestions which are helping me to use flash with much more confidence. He was always offering suggestions to help me with my photography. He knew what I needed, because he asked what I wanted to get from the workshop. After this workshop, I also have much greater confidence in using the histogram in the field to evaluate my exposures. This area of improvement in addition to the improvement with using flash will help my photography going forward.
 I was amazed at the non-stop action of the birds flying all day and the endless possibilities of photographing birds flying, landing, and taking off. Chris recognized changes in the direction of the wind and he was able to have us move to a better vantage point for better photo possibilities. There were some vantage points on the ground where the nesting birds were no more than 10-12 feet from the board walk (and sometimes much closer). Because of this, there was ample opportunity to photograph the birds with moderate telephoto lenses. 
Chris has been to this area many times and the people know him well. The people of the area like him and as members of his group, the people were very friendly to the workshop participants. Chris has arranged nice accommodations and was able to suggest good restaurants for our evening meals. The day started early but Chris was able to offer a variety of photo opportunities from daylight to sundown. I was very pleased with the images I was able to make on the second day when it was cloudy with a light rain for much of the day. I will have more confidence in the future about the possibility of photographing on rainy days.
 Above all, I had fun at this workshop. I enjoyed talking to Chris about all sorts of his previous experiences, and he was interested in the experiences of the workshop participants. I would recommend Chris as a workshop leader and look forward to being a "student" in one or more of his future workshops. My workshop experience was better that I had anticipated (and I had expected it to be a great experience).

Dennis Stone Columbus, Indiana, USA


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


Chris Dodds is a terrific teacher

If you want a really fun adventure as well as a great learning opportunity, you must visit Bonaventure Island with Chris Dodds and sign-up for his Bonaventure Island Photographic Expedition. Perce, the island and its surroundings are beautiful; every day was a wonderful surprise. It’s amazing how different everything looks with the changes in the weather and that’s something that’s guaranteed; the weather will vary, sometimes from one minute to the next. Gannets are amazing birds to watch and photograph. They can go from looking really graceful to really goofy and everything in between. The time spent in the Zodiac was fabulous, a real challenge photographically speaking. Lastly, Chris Dodds is a terrific teacher. He was patient, informative and really concerned with the participants’ well being. He made sure everyone’s questions were answered and that we were all having a good time. He’s a true gentleman and lots of fun to be with. I learned a lot from him in a very short time by asking lots of questions and simply watching what he does. L’Isle de la Bon Aventure is just that, a truly magical place and seeing it with someone who is truly at home there was a plus. A word of warning: if you go make sure you schedule vacation time for after the vacation, Chris packs a lot of activity into a very short time-you’ll be exhausted, but it will be a happy exhausted.

Jacqueline Leader Miami Lake, Florida, USA


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


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


An experience I will never forget

In June, I decided to sign up for a photo workshop with Christopher Dodds, one of the best photographers according to a friend of mine who met Chris a few months earlier.
I'm a Software Engineer and photography is my passion. This is how I spend all of my spare time. Over the years, I have learned a lot about wildlife photography but I wanted to improve my techniques, especially with flying birds with different and changing backgrounds. Also, my skills were not growing at a fast enough pace.
This workshop held on beautiful Bonaventure Island in August 2007, was my first, and will remain an experience I will never forget. Chris was such a kind person, an amazing teacher with great photo skills. The other students were also amazingly friendly. This workshop offered me more than I expected. I learned how to shoot birds in flight with, or without, sunlight. I learned all about the camera settings to get the most out of my shooting and the techniques that will make my photos look better.
A highlight was learning all about using an incident light meter and shooting in manual mode to greatly increase my keeper rate. Chris is a superb teacher, who knows how to explain complex techniques to regular people. I realized how serious he was about photography and how much he wanted us to improve the quality of our photographs. He taught us about bird behaviour and how to use it to make the best photos possible. Overall, this workshop was a well-organized trip, and a successful photographic experience. Chris answered all my questions and I feel I have achieved a level of experience I had never expected in my life. What an awesome experience!

Gilles Archambault Québec City, Quebec, Canada


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