Wildlife Photography Workshop in Floating Blinds in Dombes the 9th Of June, 2018

For this first wildlife photography workshop in the Dombes during the year of 2018 we rented 16 ponds. We have put in place 10 floating blinds. The weather was a bit capricious put the water leave within the ponds was exceptional. As a result, the available lights and lighting were magic. This workshop has been placed under the sign of creativity. The interns realized extraordinary photos and have gone above and beyond simple naturalist photography.

The participants of this wildlife photography workshop with floating blinds in La Dombes in June 9th, 2018: Nathalie, Daniel, Jean-Francois, Luc, Philippe J., Gerard, Robert et Philippe H.
The participants of this wildlife photography workshop with floating blinds in La Dombes in June 9th, 2018: Nathalie, Daniel, Jean-Francois, Luc, Philippe J., Gerard, Robert et Philippe H.

The Dombes: A Paradise for Wetland Birds

The region of the Dombes hosts numerous species of birds. Near 130 species nest and reproduce there regularly. 30,000 Birds migrate there regularly throughout the winter months.

The region of the Dombes is peppered by more than 1,000 ponds. These ponds are of human origin and not natural. Their uniqueness is due to their slightly sloped bottoms that permit their waters to slowly and regularly trickle down towards the tributaries. These fish filled waters attract numerous species of birds. It is an important international zone for those migrating wetland birds.

During the months of May, June and July, it is possible to observe several emblematic species of the region: Great crested grebes, little grebes or dabchicks, black-necked grebes or eared grebes, red-crested pochards, whiskered terns, black-crowned night herons, purple herons, grey herons, squacco herons, little egrets, great egrets, cattle egrets, cormorants, Eurasian coots, Eurasian reed warblers, Sedge Warbler, common kingfishers, warblers, western marsh harriers, red kites.

The Dombes does not solely attract birds. The muskrats and coypus or nutrias are also mammals that we often come across on the ponds.

Dragonflies, green frogs or common water frogs and grass snakes or ringed snakes are also part of the animal landscape.

The lights which flood the Dombes are exceptional. In the spring and beginning of summer, the early mornings are often bathed by warm and felted lights. What joy to observe the ducks or grebes moving themselves along the ponds in this magical setting.

The Floating Blind: An Unforgettable Experience for An Animal Photographer

The use of a floating blind always leaves an indelible trace in the memory of an animal photographer. It's a unique way to observe and photograph the animal world. This is the only way to photograph birds at the water's razor edge without disturbing them. The approach is an incredible way to go a few meters from a bird. We can spend hours in front of a grey heron to observe.

The floating blind scares many photographers who are afraid of dropping the camera into the water. Many people are afraid of taking water in the waders or not knowing how to get back to the starting point. During our courses, we give all the explanations to ensure maximum security. If the advice is scrupulously followed, no problems can concur. It is a safe photographic activity that allows you to live closer to aquatic animals without ever disturbing them. It allows you to realize exceptional creative photos that would be impossible to create otherwise.

The floating blind is certainly the best way to capture an image of animal behavior frozen in time that is impossible to achieve from the mainland. The choice of point of view is certainly the most essential element in this technique.

Our Workshops in Floating Blind In The Dombes Always Obey To The Same Ritual

On the first day, after going around the various ponds and explaining how to launch into the waters, taking care of the photo equipment, each photographer leaves for a first session of 3 hours in search of the first ponds, Eurasian coots or common coots and others great crested grebes. Returning at dusk, the satisfaction of the first shots successful sets the tempo of the atmosphere of the week that follows.

Acquiring A Solid Technical Expertise & Developing Creativity

Throughout our workshops, we have either those experienced photographers with a very advanced photographic level or we have those amateur photographers whom are not well versed in wildlife photography, let alone the techniques involved in the usage of floating blinds. We always prepare a learning curve adapted to the group. We always give due to photography’s creative nature whilst all the while retracing our steps on the fundamentals without lingering to long upon the basics. The act of unveiling the numbers secrets which render our photographs successful is a real boon in the eyes of our interns.

A Workshop Placed Under the Sign of Artistic Creativity

This year we choose the development of artistic creativity for our wildlife photography workshops. We opted to make use of the Lightroom and Photoshop programs. They are two reliable and very practical computer editing tools for photographers who want to get creative.

During our technical exposes, we have chosen to develop tricks and techniques which we use in our daily work to create interesting photos.

It is certain that one week is a bit short to put into practice all of the tricks we unveil yet we are certain that the participants will make use of them once they get back home. Our principal objective is to demystify these programs which seem complex to most people.

A Friendly & Relaxed Ambiance For 7 Days

For us, a photography workshop is composed of three elements: technical learning, discovering the region ’s hidden treasures, good humor and conviviality.

The recipe still works. We rent two large holiday homes with comfortable rooms. All of our meals are done within these buildings. Therefore, we do not lose any time by waiting to be served at a restaurant. All of the dishes which we prepare are large, flavorful and varied.

Each participant brings a regional specialty. In general, the week is not enough to each everything. Yet this assures a fine ambiance. Breaking the ice is always done very quickly Finally, our wildlife photography workshops in floating blinds are beautiful weeks whom occur in a friendly and relaxed ambiance.

Dombes Wildlife Photography Workshop Testimonies - June 9th, 2018

Daniel Daniel.

I’m used to your workshops. I came to the Dombes as I hadn’t yet realized images of birds based upon a them. I learned about a world different from those of fish or terrestrial mammals.

The floating blind is a tool completely different from those that I knew. At the begging it’s a pit perturbing. We have to look out from some little windows with veils. But after, we no longer pay attention. We forget.

We learn to approach the birds little by little. It’s not that obvious the first time. For example, today, I went really close to the waders and ducks. You have to learn patience.

The Dombes is a region with a particular set of ambiances whether it be the morning fog, the lights. In addition, the reflections were something of a new thing for me. The act of being at just above the water level is also something quite surprising. The points of view are different. From an artistic point of view, it’s interesting.

The ponds you choose are very beautiful with beautiful reed-beds. The blurring is magnificent.

The ambiance throughout the week was nice. We’re all united with the same passion. Everything can only go well.

The organization was perfect. The food was excellent. The cook was very good.

If I had to conserve a good memory it would be the proximity with the birds. They are indifferent to our presence. It’s a different world to those of mammals.

Gérard Gérard.

It’s my third workshop with you. I didn’t know the technique involving floating blinds. I was tempted by experience. I appreciated the differing angles and snapshots which were completely different. It’s another way of envisioning wetland birds.

The photographers were really nice. I enjoyed the Dombes. I really liked the morning ambiance waking up alongside the birds and fog.

I’m interested in nature in general, but I wanted to do some photography just above the water level.

I didn’t know the Dombes. For wetland birds it’s perfect.

The floating blinds permit us to approach the birds at their closest without bothering them. We’re part of the decor.

The ambiance was great. There was a lot of exchange concerning technique and the sensations. It’s really inspiring to communicate with other photographers.

The organization was good. Wakeup call is in the morning. We discuss a lot. The holiday home is nice with view on the pheasants and roe deer.

I really appreciated the technical exposes. I wasn’t really at ease with the post-editing. After this week, I feel better when preparing to develop my photos. I learned techniques which permit me to improve my photos. The techniques surrounding image captures were also interesting. It’s another way to go about whilst on the field.

If I had to conserve a nice memory from this week it would be that of yesterday’s noon. Upon the pond there was a heron’s nest, I had fun by sharing a nice moment with them. The lighting was beautiful. It was magnificent.

Jean-François Jean-François.

It’s my first workshop with you. My impressions are very good. I had a pleasurable experience.

I came along as I’ve had a passion for ornithology for a long time. I’ve been involved in photography for far less than that. I was lacking some technical skills. During this workshop, I received the answers to a great many of my questions.

To begin with, I wanted to learn how exactly to use my camera. Then, throughout this photography workshop I discovered the complete realm that is post-editing and treatment that I had no clue existed before at all. Finally I also discovered the dimension that is artistic photography. Now I believe that I will pass from a naturalist approach to a more developed artistic one.

I think that following this workshop, I’ve acquired all the fundamental that will permit me to go above and beyond the basics of photography. Now I will be more creative.

The floating blind is a magic tool as we can approach the birds extremely closely without scaring them off. Our impact upon the surrounding environment is virtually null. We make no noise. We are very discrete. The birds see nothing. Face to face, they engage in their natural and normal behavior. We can easily photograph and observe them.

I knew the Dombes but from the shore. Seen from the interiors of the ponds, it’s completely different. The perspective is different whether it be for watching the animals, the flowers or the countryside.

The Dombes is a very wealthy region when concerned with nature. She is very diversified. It’s magnificent.

The ambiance was excellent during the week. I thank you as it’s kind of thanks to you. It’s very positive. All of the photographers are passionate. It’s better to stay together within the holiday home. It’s friendlier and we exchange a lot.

The act of being solely among photographs is a real plus for me as each has their own creativity. Since we share a lot, we progress easily. We can therefore skim ideas. Some of the participants had a very high level of experience with photography. Their advice was interesting to me.

It’s positive across the board.

If I had to conserve a nice memory, it would be difficult as there were many. Yet I believe that my encounter with the little grebes or dabchicks was the greatest surprise. I had never seen them so close to me. I saw them arrive without having expected them. The lighting was beautiful. It was a magical moment.

Luc Luc.

It’s my first photography workshop with you. I am surprised and fine. With the floating blinds we are part of nature’s realm. I am Swiss. As we say back home “I am disappointed and well”.

I came on your workshop as I have friends who’d already practiced using floating blinds. They recommended that I try it. I did an internet research and found your workshops.

What I was expecting was more getting lost in a swamp. Usually when we realize images of wetland birds, we’re on the coast. We’re not immersed in the middle. I wanted to know the sensation when we’re at the center.

I knew a little of the Dombes after having done some light tourism. But I’ve gone farther. It’s a magnificent region. Back home in Switzerland we feel a bit oppressed. Here it’s savage. As all of the ponds are private, we’re alone. The birds are numerous.

The ambiance was excellent as there’s a lot of sharing going on. All of the photographers are animated by the same passion. We exchange a lot of techniques. It’s very welcoming.

The organization was very good. You put us at ease. At the beginning of the workshop, we ask ourselves a lot of questions as it’s a bit special going out onto the water with the gear. You accommodate us well.v With your technical exposes and photo reviews, I will see animal photography in a completely different manner. I was never all that comfortable with computer software. With the workshop, I understood many things. I think I’ll go further now. I’ll will take my time and practice from home. I can only progress.

In one week, I progressed further than in 5 years of practice.

Up until now I did everything that fit my style. This workshop permitted me to acknowledge other more efficient techniques. Doing a workshop opens doors.

If I had to preserve a memory from this workshop, it would be being nearest to the wildlife. It was a rush. I had the impression of being part of their family. It’s incredible.

Nathalie Nathalie.

This wildlife photography workshop in the Dombes was super interesting. I learned an enormous amount whether it be in technical photography, image development with Lightroom. I have only one desired now, that is to continue.

I came on this workshop to live the experience of photography from floating blinds. During an exposition, I’d seen pictures taken from just above the water’s surface level. I asked how they’d been taken and learned that it was from floating blinds. I wanted to try from same bodies of water and with quality material. I did not want to go in a rive where the quantity of water is much more important.

After a week, I took great pleasure. I now watch the birds as an ornithologist or as an animal photographer in a different but competent manner. With floating blinds, we can play nonstop with the lighting. We can easily select our point of views. Everything is different.

In addition, we can approach the birds much more closely. We can enter within their intimate space.

I did not know the Dombes as I came along to do some ornithology. But we quickly came across the ponds. This year I took my time and specifically stayed indoors.

The ambiance throughout the week was cool.

The organization with the 16 ponds and 10 floating blinds was perfect. I think it’s better to live together in a large holiday home. We can live at our own rhythm and we are not vassals to the hours of restaurants.

Your technical exposes were a real plus, but they are dense and complete. It’s hard to remember everything.

Phlippe H. Philippe H.

It’s my first photography workshop in your presence. During this photography workshop in the Dombes, I learned how to observe birds. I’ve also perfected my artistic approach. During this week I learned to develop my creativity. It’s something very important which I appreciate. I also learned how to better use those skills which I already knew. You showed some tricks that I knew absolutely nothing about. It’s very positive.

I met you at Melun during a conference. You approach towards photography peaked my interest. It’s one of the reasons that pushed me towards participating in this photography workshop within the Dombes with floating blinds. Another reason is that I really like birds. The occasion was a dream come true. Finally, I have a friend that you know who convinced me to come along by telling me that I’d learn a lot about photography.

I would never have guessed that I’d learn so much. My objectives were met and then some.

I wasn’t aquatinted with this region of the Dombes. For me, it now represents calm, nature, stillness. You can isolate yourself, watch the birds, the scenes of life. It’s very interesting. We’re at our closest to the animals. The lights are magnificent. The ponds are beautiful. The reed-beds are in perfect shape.

The ambiance throughout the week was very good. We learn about one another rapidly.

For this week, you’d placed at our disposition 16 ponds and 10 floating blinds. My petty regret is that for each photo session, we changed pond. I would have like for the first session to be for a sort of scouting and the second outing be dedicated to actual photography. But oh well you’ve got to learn to adapt to all kinds of circumstances. The beds were a bit small for someone like me. The floating blinds were very practical and very lightweight.

Your technical exposes are interesting and especially your image reviews. We can learn a great deal by looking at what other photographers are doing. It’s very positive and very enlightening.

If I had to hold onto a memory from this week, it would be the Dombes itself. I’ve discovered a kind of incredible background landscape. This kind of nature is truly spectacular.

Phlippe J. Philippe J.

I’ve accompanied you on multiple workshops: the rut of the deer, Ethiopia. It’s my first photography workshop with you in the Dombes. My general impressions are excellent. I went along without question. I had absolutely no knowledge about the Dombes or floating blinds. I was left breathless by the experience and the procured emotions caused by this technique and image captures. I was surprised by the birds I was able to see. It’s very exceptional.

Up until now, I was attracted to large terrestrial mammals. I came along on this workshop as I wasn’t aware of the floating blind. Even if birds aren’t my subject of photography by predilection, that is not to say that they have many qualities, that they are beautiful and gracious. I wanted this avian universe and wanted to meet other interns of photography. It’s this ensemble of considerations that pushed me to come on this workshop.

Here I discovered the quality of lighting. There’s always something interesting going on. I discovered some incredible scenes. I observed some combats between different species. I wasn’t expecting that at all. The floating blind permits for the realization of photos at the water’s level. We get the impression of being at the heart of an ecosystem with many living elements such as the insects, the birds or the mammals. Everyone orbits around us. It’s extraordinary at the sensory level. The floating blind permits entrance into the intimacies of birds’ lives.

We would not be able to experience these sensations otherwise. The images are incredible as we are level with the animals’ eyes.

Everything you teach us from a general fashion is extraordinary. I know only of you whom revels his secrets as a photographer. It’s rich and we can advance far more quickly within our creative research. At each stage we are still learning. I wanted to thank you for your work.

The ambiance throughout the week was very relaxed. I always have the impression that we’re a big family whose just had a week of vacation. Yet that doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s serious as it’s a photography workshop. Your workshops are very familial.

The organization with the 16 ponds, the 10 floating blinds was very good. The idea of rotting between different ponds at each photo session is exceptional. We therefore avoid routine. Each pond is different. You have to adapt every time. The sensations and motions are different at each occasion. This obliges us to put back into play our creativity every time. It’s great.

If I had preserved a nice moment that would be difficult. Yet the main schticks for me is the ambiance we can feel on a pond. It’s unexplainable. You’ve got to live.

Robert Robert

It’s my second wildlife photography workshop whilst in your company. I’d come along to the Dombes last year.

This year was very different. It rained a lot. There were fewer waders but more ducks. Last year I’d been able to photograph many purple herons and grey herons. This year, they were a rarity. This year, I did not see any spoonbills.

This year, I had a great time with the grand diversity of ducks that we didn’t have last year. They are really interesting animals to photograph as we’re always in the movement, in the action. I spent some nice moments with them.

This year, I took great advantage of the great crested grebes with good attitude and beautiful body language that I hadn’t been able to do last year.

This year, since I was better informed about the ponds, I put some extra work into my images with more researched compositions and better framing. I accentuated my choice of lighting.

This year, I finished the series of photos that I’d started last year.

The ambiance was cool throughout the week along with photographers rising from different horizons.v The organization was excellent. Since we didn’t go to a restaurant at noon, we were able to spend more time as a group. We were able to further share and discuss technique.

If i had to hold onto a single point of this wildlife photography workshop in the Dombes it would include my photographic approach which became more qualitative and less quantitative. I’ve also taken further steps to remedy my compositions, my lightings. I enjoy working movement and action. Yet this year, I had my scenes take a more static approach. I have some interesting photos.

Some pictures taken by the students

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