Search Nature Photography Blog

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Email Format
SPONSORS

 

 - 

Photography Workshops by Christopher Dodds

 

Nature Photography Blog Journal Index

Entries in Safair (2)

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

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