Wildlife Photography Workshop By Floating Blind In The Dombes - June 17th, 2017

For this new workshop season focused upon the use of floating blinds in the Dombes, we have acquired new floating blinds, found new holiday homes and selected new ponds. This first workshop was a complete success despite the somewhat capricious and unfavorable weather.

The participants of this wildlife photography workshop with floating blinds in La Dombes in June 17th, 2017: : Amar, Josiane, Annik, Grégory, Jean-Jacques, Patricia, James et Daniel.
The participants of this wildlife photography workshop with floating blinds in La Dombes in June 17th, 2017: Amar, Josiane, Annik, Grégory, Jean-Jacques, Patricia, James et Daniel.

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. 30000 Birds migrate there regularly throughout the winter months. The region of the Dombes is peppered by more than 1000 ponds. These ponds are of human origin. 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 Grebe, Little Grebe, Black – Necked Grebe, Red Crested Pochard, Whiskered Tern, Black – Crowned Night Heron, Purple Heron, Grey Heron, Squacco Heron, Little Egret, Great Egret, Cattle Egret, Comoran, Eurasian Coot, Eurasian Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Common Kingfisher, Warbler, Western Marsh Harrier, Red Kite.

The Dombes does not solely attract birds. The Muskrats and the Nutrias are also mammals that we often come across on the ponds. Dragonflies, green frogs and grass 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

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 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 heron ash to observe.

Our courses in floating blinds in the Dombes always obey the same ritual. On the first day, after going around the various ponds and explaining how to launch the boat, taking care of the photo equipment, each photographer leaves for a first session of 3 hours in search of the first ponds, coots and others Great Crested Grebe. Returning at dusk, the satisfaction of the first shots successful gives the tempo of the atmosphere of the week that follows.

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 problem can happen. It is a safe photographic activity that allows you to live closer to aquatic animals without ever disturbing them. It allows you to create exceptional creative photos that would be impossible to create otherwise.

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

Acquiring A Solid Technical Expertise & Developing Creativity

Throughout our workshops, we either have those photographers confirmed to possess an advanced degree of photographic skill or we have amateurs who are just beginning, or have never done photography directed at wildlife, and it why we therefore make sure to early and repeatedly focus upon the correct movements and techniques involved with the usage of floating blinds. We always prepare in advance for in-depth progression and learning specifically tailored and adapted to the group. We always reserved a portion of these lessons so as to devote them to the creative nature of photography all the whilst making sure to go back, rehearse and reinforce the basics and fundamentals. The act of presenting and unveiling various tips, tricks, hints and secrets of our success to our photographs makes for a real win in the yes of our studious photographers.

A Relaxed & Friendly Ambiance For 7 Days

From our perspective, a photography workshop is made up of three elements: Technical apprenticeship, the discovery of new and exciting treasures throughout the region and, finally, a combination of both good humor and acceptance.

This recipe continues to pay off. We rent two large holiday homes so that each and every participant may have access to their own personal rooms and commodities. The afternoon, we all gather up and go eat at one of the more typical restaurants as scattered around the area. Just about every town and village within the regions of the Dombes has at least one local restaurant. We have the unrestricted opportunity to savor and taste at least one regional speciality every single day, with each member brining back one of these said delicacies of their choice. In general, the following week does not contain enough time for us to get through it all and whatever leftovers remain, yet this only adds to the amazing ambiance we get to experience together. It never takes long to break the ice.

Finally, our animal photography workshops by floating blinds are really made to be experienced and remembered as a time of great ambiance that if both welcoming, open and friendly.

Dombes Animal Photography Workshop Testimonies - June 17th, 2017

Annik Annik.

It’s my second workshop using floating blinds with you in Dombes. Following the first, I signed myself back up for another round as soon as possible. Before the workshop, I was asking myself what new thing I’d be doing. As incredible as it might appear everything was completely different. The conditions totally changed. The birds were different due to the water levels within the ponds and as a result of the heat. This week was a real pleasure. I’ve improved in comparison to last year. I’am a better photographer. I have greater imagination as to how I should take my pictures. I’ve finally come to understand many of the concepts you’d taught me. I also have a better handling of my camera. This year, I spotted many night and squacco herons. These are species that I’d not had the previous occasion to often photograph. I was surprised by the sheer number of eurasian spoonbills that I was able to see at Teich though it was from afar. It was also my first time seeing northern lapwings from so up close and especially the chicks. What a discovery!

The onset of this workshop was notably difficult throughout the duration of the first session of using the blinds as the water elevation was quite low. It left me a bit chilly. Yet all throughout the week I got better. I progressed a lot. Now I’m more imaginative. With your advice, I improved on my application of focus and blur. This year, I appreciated your techniques in regards to irisation, sparkling bokeh and counter-daylight photography. From now on, I’ve abandon naturalistic photography. I will be more creative. I will attempt to give my images meaning.

Through my viewfinder I see things differently. I try to create more. The image reviews that you organize during the afternoon are very interesting and enriching, it’s inspiring. Your comments additionally bring a lot to the table. When I make a snapshot, I think back on your words. The workshop’s organization was excellent. The week just flew me by. The ambiance was excellent even if some of us like Daniel were quite larger than life, though they did remain humble. We’re all here to progress and have some fun. It’s really a great atmosphere.

If I had to hold onto a nice moment from this week it would be without question all of those night herons I saw one morning on a lake with some beautiful lighting. I didn’t dare leaving the water by fear of accidentally disturbing them. It was extraordinary.

Daniel Daniel.

It’s my second workshop in the Dombes whilst in your company. As usual my general impressions are both positive and excellent. The birds were at the rendez-vous. We had plenty of sunshine. The only thing that I could choose to regret was the overall shallow natures of the waters within the ponds. This year, it’s a bit physical as moving around can get quite difficult. Yet satisfaction awaits by the trail’s end. As it turns out, when reaching the end of a day’s work on your knees and coming up less than 10 meters away from a bird, you end up rather glad that you did. It’s worth the effort. I was able to realize some extraordinary images.

If I’ve come along yet again, it’s because I adore your workshops’ atmospheres. Plus I really wanted to continue my series on herons. I feel as if it is a poor animal decried and made fun of by Jean de la Fontaine. I wanted to produce a genuine series solely focused upon and about this beautiful bird. This year, I also caught on camera numerous examples of eurasian spoonbills. I’d never seen any before in my life in person. I was a frankly amazing discovery.

All of these elements came together in order to create a superb week of photography and exploration. The ambiance amongst the group was marvelous. Living with the group was a real pleasure. The interactions are constant and in an environment of great amicability. It’s really fantastic.

Within your workshops, however, remains one key downside. We eat to well. I’d lost 10 kilos ( ~ 22 pounds) before coming along. I think that I’ve gained 5 ( ~ 11) back. Your new floating blinds are really user friendly. It was fortunate that you had them given the overall low water levels this time around. Without them, we’d never have been able to get around amongst the ponds this year. The inflatable floats allow for a stealthy approach towards the birds.

The new holiday homes that you’d chosen are fabulous. The rooms, the terrace and the surrounding landscapes are amazingly beautiful. The dining room where we work was a real plus as we could all come together and work. The eating area and kitchen were very comfortable. The organization was very well handled. Committing to memory a feel good moment about this workshop is difficult as there are simply to many to choose from. I experience nothing but fun times. You’ve uncovered a fabulous equilibrium.

Patricia Patricia.

It’s my second workshop in the Dombes with you. It’s marvelous as always. This year despite the number workshops done along with yourself, I’ve once more learned new things. I believe myself to have yet again reached a new level. I think that I’ve got a good grasp of the artistic understanding in relation to animal photography. This year, I worked my subjects with simplicity rather than making things unnecessarily difficult through unnecessary complexity. For example, I worked on their attitudes and postures. Sometimes I’d wait for the birds to fly off yet nothing would happen. I adapted to this by figuring out new ways in which to approach my particular brand of photography. I elevated the background to a rank of greater value than during the previous workshop.

This year there was a lot less water than during the preceding workshop. There were therefore fewer flowers as the area was, generally overall, much drier. I further worked over the textures of the feathers for exampled. This year, I was indirectly forced to get more creative. As the days went by I gradually adapted and for each photo session, everything would turn out to be different. I never got tired. In addition to this, this year, I was purposefully biased towards as different species of bird each instance and time. I was able to see things differently and return with more interesting images in the end.

The lodgings you choose this year were honestly extraordinary. The holiday homes were authentic. It’s very calm and we’ve got lots of space. It’s awesome. It’s like a real vacation. Your workshops’ organizations are always excellent.

Your new floating blinds are completely different from their predecessors. Lightweight and easily manageable, especially given the lack of water. Honestly, they’re great.

The ambiance throughout the week was excellent. I know practically everyone. We got along well. There was lots of respect. We interacted a lot. If I had to hold onto a good moment from this workshop it would be whilst within the pond that day, when there weren’t that many birds. With a little bit of patience and a keen sense of observation, I was able to discover a purple heron hidden amongst the branches. I spent the entire morning with him. He accepted me within his comfort zone.

We shared some magic moments. I even had the impressing that, when he caught a frog, he presented it to me as if it were some kind of trophy. He was staring right at me with the frog still in his beak. That shared moment created some powerful emotions. Those 4 hours of sharing are unforgettable.

Josiane Josiane.

It’s my second workshop with yourself and floating blinds. This year’s proved more difficult due to the relatively low water levels amongst the ponds. I was often on my knees and it could get rather hot, not to mention humid. This year, I learned a lot of new things in terms of photography. My photos are completely different. This year, I took a lot more time getting my framing and perspectives right whilst also getting closer to the birds. Before I had a tendency to photograph everything that came within my line of sight. In the aftermath of this workshop, I’ve become more selective. The act of concentrating on one subject and one alone has enabled me to better realize my photos as their’s less fiddling with my camera settings. I’ve come to understand that, by choosing and focusing solely upon a lone subject, and by additional concentrating on it, the images came out as much more interesting. Now, every time I see a bird, I wait for his attitude and posture to be interesting before I take the shot. I’ve become patient.

This year, you were finally able to convince me to carry out a greater amount of postproduction to my images, especially in terms of grayscale. I’m not yet comfortable with these techniques but I’m trying, experimenting, testing. I’m become more creative. I’m still trying to find myself but I’m on the right track.

Tis year, your floating blinds were far better than their predecessors. They are light, easily handled and user friendly. Along with the lack of water this year, they were very practical. The holiday homes this year were magnificent. The dinning room is practical for everyone to meet. The rooms are comfortable. The surrounding area is great as we’re alone and right smack-dab in the middle of some beautiful nature. It’s really great. The workshop’s organization is impeccable as you’ve adapted it to each and every one of us.

You select the frequented ponds as if they were individually tailored to our wants, desires and needs so that he or she is free to do whatever they want. It’s perfect.

The group ambiance was frankly amazing throughout the week. I knew everyone personally. It’s easy to talk to everyone and conversations flowed by naturally. It’s really quite familiar. If I had to hold onto something from this workshop, it would be without question that you don’t have to image things from every conceivable angle in order to realize beautiful snapshots. I wasn’t aware of this last year. Now I understand that you’ve got to pick a spot and wait for the birds to come to you.

This year, I learned to understand how to properly used my camera in all conditions. I’m at ease with it. I’m also aware of how to, from here on out, use all of its different modes in terms of lighting and other related functions in order to place greater photographic emphasis upon the value of my subjects’ feathers and plumage. This was mostly a situational kind of thing before. Now my camera has become an extension of myself, or at least almost, more like an important and useful tool which remains always at hand.

Jean-Jacques Jean-Jacques.

It’s my second workshop using floating blinds with you. It’s still just as fun. I continue to progress little by little. I feel like I’m chugging along quite well whether it be on the artistic track of technical route. I feel like I’m getting better and better. Although this year, since there was a lot less water than during the last workshop, I sweat a lot.

This year, our approach towards photography was totally different. I spent more time discovering the artistic side of photography. Now I know how to handle my camera with a greater degree of skill. Another thing of which I pay closer attention to are the environments and surrounding in which the birds find themselves. During this workshop, I payed a lot close attention to my choice of lighting. I’ve also come to better select my points of view to give the birds a sense of value. Now I know why I should pick one spot over another.

It’s funny how I always feel motivated by your workshops despite the years starting to weigh on me. The workshop’s organization was excellent. My old friends and Patricia are here. The ambiance is great. Plus you’re here. The food we prepare in the holiday home is fabulous. During your workshops, I feel like I’m right at home. It was a good week’s worth of vacation. I cleared my head. No television, no electronics. It’s great.

I think that I’ll come back here yet again as the Dombes region is honestly quite the sight to see. I know many of France’s regions yet this one stands out thanks to it’s environments and lighting. If I had to hold onto one good moment about this workshop it would be the region’s beauty and the manners in which I carry of my photography nowadays. I’ve progressed. I’ve changed. I’ve got new ideas. I continue to learn and that’s the essential.

Grégory Gregory.

My thoughts about this workshop on floating blinds in the Dombes are very positive. It had been quite some time since I’d wanted to use floating blinds to realize some photos. I wanted to do it with you as you’re well aware of the techniques involved. You’re also keenly familiar with the region.

The usage of floating blinds enables one to have an amazing proximity with the birds. I had an enormous amount of freedom of movement. I’ve always been able to get close to birds whilst emerged within their natural habitats. It’s a beautiful experience.

I was surprised by the large scale of bird presence within the Dombes. I observed many species that I’d naught photographer whilst in Belgium. The surrounding backgrounds and decors were also very beautiful. I enjoy those environments that are welcoming towards birds, whence the contrasts are at their greatest to place said birds at greater value whilst amongst their surroundings. In Dombes such places are rather easy to find. The region is amazing. I’d never visited before. I want to come back.

To take images from a floating blind, I plop myself down in an area of my choice and then wait a little. The birds never delay much and arrive quite quickly. Otherwise, if I see a bird within an interesting environment, I go towards it. My approach comes at a snails pace. Photographing a bird take flight is a very rare occasion indeed. When he looks at me, I don’t just yet take the shot. I wait for him to become accustomed to my presence whilst within his space. Then he goes back to about his business and we’re all set. Floating blinds necessitate a lot of patient observation.

The workshop’s organization was particularly well done. You take care of us. We don’t have to worry about anything. It really does make for an agreeable kind of vacation.

The ambiance throughout the entirety of the week’s length was very nice. The members were fun to be around. The group’s overall level of photography was far from amateurish. It’s interesting to share points of view with people whom have different visions and perspectives than your own.

Last year I’d come along for the workshop following the rut of the deer. With this workshop as an addition to the previous one, I’ve yet again come to see things differently. I’ve truly progressed.

If I had to hold onto a key moment about this workshop, it would be this moment. I saw a purple heron land amongst the reeds. We search for one another for more than an hours. Tracking him down and isolating him was difficult but the experience of it all was exceptional.

James James.

It’s my second workshop in the Dombes with you. I came back as I wanted to meet you again as I learn many things throughout your workshops and the ambiance is sympathetic. You explain how to create beautiful photos quite well. This year there was much less water than the last. This permitted me to realize some different types of snapshots, more creative than usual. After this workshop, I understood how to realize more creative photographs. Before I was especially good at photojournalism. Given how low the water levels were, I had to adapt.

This year you changed with ponds we visited. It was really interesting as the photos were, in effect, made different as well. The species we encountered were also quite different. I saw eurasian spoonbills for the first time. I snapped many shots of herons as well as northern lapwings, the latter so difficult to approach usually. They made for some nice discoveries.

The workshop’s organization was perfect. The holiday homes were magnificent whether it be from their interior to their exteriors. It was really cool. It was a real week’s worth of vacation apart from the physical exertion but I’d signed up for that as well. I came to stretch my legs. I was ready for anything except for it’s absence.

If I had to remember something about this workshop it would be our last outing. Yet there were so many so it’s honestly rather hard to tell.


Some pictures taken by the students

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