From The Gazette

Ste. Anne de Bellevue

Famed nature photographer shares his stories at John Abbott

  • Chris Dodds on location in Africa.
    Chris Dodds on location in Africa.
    Photo credit:

Christopher Dodds has made a career of capturing the glories of fauna in action.

Be it the snowy white owls of Ontario and Quebec, tufted puffins of Alaska or fruit bats of Zambia, Dodds will wait hours, days, weeks or months to capture the perfect moment.

“But ask me to do paperwork and I have zero patience,” Dodds said with a laugh during a recent telephone interview from the Ottawa region where he was on Week 7 of a nine-week series of photo safaris.

The nature photographer is giving a lecture and workshop at the Casgrain Building at John Abbott College on Saturday. All proceeds go to Le Nichoir, the Hudson-based wild-bird rehabilitation centre.

Dodds learned about Le Nichoir years ago after a tree on his property in Huntingdon was cut down, leaving a family of woodpeckers homeless. He took them to Le Nichoir and a bond was formed.

The two-hour workshop will mix talk about his crazy adventures, a look at his photographs and a generous dose of digital-photography tips and techniques.

“It’s for anyone who loves the craft of nature photography, but it’s also for nature lovers who are compassionate about wildlife, but maybe just own a point-and-shoot camera,” Dodds said.

And about those crazy adventures?

“Where do I begin? Sometimes I find myself hanging from a cliff at 5,000 feet in the pouring rain trying to shoot sea birds,” Dodds said. “I love sea birds, but their colonies are always found on cliffs, so that’s where I have to go.”

The life of a professional nature photographer is not only demanding in the field, it requires sacrifice on the homefront.

“Your life is not your own,” Dodds said. “You’re away a lot, which wreaks havoc on your social life.”

Dodds lives in Huntingdon with his wife Julie and dog T-bone. He supplements his income from selling images by leading workshops and photo safaris.

“In today’s world of digital photography, you can’t support yourself by the images alone,” Dodds said.

The advent of digital photography has forever changed the world of nature photography. To become a successful nature photographer back in the day, you needed the skills and experience required to process film and slides. That made for a rarefied field.

Today, all you need is a good eye and good digital equipment. As a result, the competition has exploded.

Dodds moved to Canada from England when he was 8 years old. He learned about Canada’s great outdoors after joining the Scouts and going on many camping trips, hiking expeditions and cross-country ski adventures.

By 14, he had fallen in love with nature photography.

“I think back on a series of magical moments I wish I could have captured and kept forever,” Dodds said. “I’m a perfectionist, driven and passionate about what I do.

“It takes a lifetime to be at the right place at the right time to capture that perfect moment. And you must work your field craft — the ability to be there with the subject without intruding on its life.”

Christopher Dodds speaks at John Abbott College, 21275 Lakeshore Rd, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue at 6:30 p.m., Saturday. Tickets cost $18 in advance and $20 at the door. To purchase a ticket in advance, call 450-458-2809, email info@lenichoir.org or visit www.lenichoir.org.

For information about Christopher Dodds, visit www.naturephotographyblog.com.

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