Atmospheres and Birds of the Ponds of La Dombes in the Department of Ain in France
La Dombes is a huge wetland located in the department of Ain in France. It is made of wood, of villages but especially by more than 1000 ponds which welcome nearly 280 species of migratory birds, wintering or summering birds.
For wildlife photographers such as us, La Dombes represents a unique area in the world where it is possible to create artistic photographs in accordance with our artistic vision.
Location and light before anything else
La Dombes offers us the two most essential elements and that we always seek in our wildlife photographs: the location and the light. In our photographic vision, these are always the two essential elements that we privilege.
We appreciate the sober, ethereal locations with very soft color gradients that allow us to create very dreamlike atmospheres. The reed beds and the vegetation of the ponds of the Dombes offer us these environments of quality.
We used to say that for us the setting is the box that will allow us to offer to the eyes of the audience the jewel which is an animal.
Of course, not all ponds are suitable for wildlife photography as we practice it. Before selecting pools, we do some very extensive research. This area with more than 1000 ponds is spoiled for choice.
Once we have chosen our location, we attach a significant importance to the choice of light. La Dombes is a huge wetland very wooded and very flat. The lights are often very soft and not aggressive even in the day. They still soften the rendering of our sets.
Once we have chosen the scenery and the light, we only have to wait for the arrival of a bird.
We act as if we are creating a scene for a movie or theater movie. We cannot set up a set because it is impossible to move a tree or a reed bed, we select the best possible scenery with the choice of the point of view.
The floating hide (floating blind): the essential accessory
To photograph the birds and show the atmospheres of La Dombes, the best accessory is certainly the floating hide (floating blind). Our floating hides are made by a specialized company. They consist of an inflatable ring on which we set a tent.
The floating blind makes it possible to photograph animals on the ponds at eye level. The rendering is very different from the effect rendered by a shot from a pond edge. This avoids the plunging effect that reduces the contrasts and make the volumes disappear.
A floating hide is very maneuverable and very light. It allows us to choose the best point of view on a scene. It allows us to choose the lights that will highlight the feathers and colors of the photographed birds.
The floating hide allows us to get closer to birds that are often very fearful and flee at the sight of a human. When we are in our tent, we can approach safely, observe the animals. Once they get used to our presence we can realize our shots.
Because the use of floating hides we have been able to photograph courtship displays, heron hunts, birds mating, birds feeding and birds fighting. Everything is possible if you know the habits of the animals and the environment.
Patience and perseverance: the two essential qualities for wildlife photography
We usually say that the first two qualities of a good wildlife photographer are patience and perseverance.
In European animal photography and especially using a hide, patience is essential especially in our photographic style. Once we have found the right scenery and the right light, we must wait for a bird to come to the right place. The luck factor is important in wildlife photography. We waited for hours without anything happening. Sometimes, after an hour or two the magic operates.
Nothing is ever won. But patience is not enough. Often, we must come back to the same place on a pond several times to finally realize the photograph that we expected so much. This is the case, for example, for Purple Heron. The hunts of this wader are extraordinary. He shows great patience and bites a fish when you least expect it. Sometimes he is left empty-handed and flies to another place. To photograph the ducks, the problem is identical. These are birds that are hunted and have become very fearful. To photograph the two common pochard of the photo gallery, we waited three days in the middle of the pond so that they get used to our presence.
We think that even with the best photo gear, the best floating hide, a good knowledge of the animals and the natural environment, if the photographer is not patient and not persevering, he will have little chance of creating a beautiful photo of an animal.
La Dombes: an area that deserves over time
La Dombes is a very difficult area for wildlife photography. Indeed, we must invest a lot in the search for good ponds. All are not good for birds. You must study the winds, the bottom of the ponds to see if there are any grass. For example, ducks are divers who feed on grasses. Herons like the edges of reedbeds a lot for walking and fishing.
We spent years trying to understand this very special biotope. All the years spent walking in ponds or trails are just the beginning.
La Dombes: a paradise for wildlife photographers
We are convinced that La Dombes is a real paradise for wildlife photographers who want to make creative and intimate photos. It takes a long time to know well and apprehend a wet natural environment because it is hostile to any photographic equipment. But every year, we return during the months of May and June to capture the expressions and attitudes of these wonderful birds that fascinate us so much.
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We continually update our website with new and exciting features! As professional photographers of wildlife, underwater scenes, and landscapes, this mainly pertains to information about our work, as well as adventures we embark upon. Our professional photography blog is particularly written for photographers who are interested in discovering innovative doors of creativity through the medium of nature photography.
We are fascinated and passionate about the beauties of nature. We love to see the landscapes and observe wild animals whether on land or underwater. We have chosen to become professional photographers to share the emotions we feel when we observe nature whether it be on land or underwater. Our goal is to create art with our photographs. We always try to transform the banal into a contemplative and artistic interpretation.
We are wildlife professional photographers, landscape professional photographers and underwater professional photographers. We also strive to document nature with a focus on conservation and education.
We make art prints from our artistic photographs. These art prints are available on our website. We make exhibitions to show all the beauties and the incredible richness of nature that surrounds us.
We also love to share our love for the beauties of nature with other photographers. To communicate our know-how and to exchange our techniques and our points of view, we organize wildlife photography workshops, underwater photography workshops and landscape photography workshops. We gather together people who have the same passion as us for the beautiful photographs taken in nature.