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Photography Workshops by Christopher Dodds

 

Nature Photography Blog Journal Index

Entries in photographic (3)

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

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