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The Art of Photographing Birds

Lesson 22 of 22

Student Critique


The Art of Photographing Birds

Lesson 22 of 22

Student Critique


Lesson Info

Student Critique

all right, We're gonna, uh, look at images that have been submitted by viewers, and I've organized them in the same way as the rest of the course content. So we're gonna look first at some images of birds as portrait in birth in portrait mode. So let's display the 1st So this is an image of an IBIs made by Randall Fox in the murder set National Wildlife Refuge in California. He says he goes there quite often, and it's made that in 80 to 400 zoom lens, lightest openings. One point. The Vitus opening is 45 So, um, nice reflection of the bird in the water. But it looks a little bit busy year in the foreground, thin in the background as well. And that leads me back to one of the earlier questions that his race, you know, how far do you go with removing blemishes in the scene? And if I have a Randall, then I would have no problem that kind of blurring this out a little bit more. You know, you Confederate this out. This is really the main distraction in the composition. As I see it, I had c...

ropped the image here a little bit because I don't like to see too many things right at the edges of the composition that draw my eye away from the bird itself to the periphery. So a little bit of a crop here and a little bit of a crop there and doing a little bit of local adjustment in light room is what's going to clean it up. Um, but the next time you go out there, Randall, I've would suggest that you use either to foreground more deliberately, and you really start using it as a screen along the lines of what I've shown some examples off. Or you go a little bit to the right so that you avoid this in the foreground. So, meanwhile, I think Adam has cropped it a little bit. You see, it's becoming a little bit cleaner here. We could go a little bit further along that edge, but then it's becoming a pretty tight along the back side of the IBIs. But maybe that is worth it. What do you think? Tim looks a little bit cleaner here now of one thing. One rule that I apply, then I crop images is as much as possible. I'd like to stick to the original aspect ratio in the case of a DSLR that is to buy three. So in the crop moat, Adam, can you show the crop mode here that is in the right panel at light room? You know, we keep the lock close, and then if you want to use any other aspect ratio, then you can open it up and choose from any other settings, or you go for a custom aspect ratio. Should we go to the second image? All right. Uh huh. This image came courtesy of Rainy Schuler, and he says this is a juvenile boost it that sat still while waiting for its next meal. So I imagine that this bird was just out of the nest and eso it's really cute. The bird has a lot of personality, but the rainy, the my suggestion to you, if you submit images for a course like this, or for any other external use, find to put your identification in there, but do it in a little bit more of a discreet matter, because now the copyright symbol really overpowers the bird itself. So Adam's gonna crop the image from the bottom up, and then we're not just going to be able to remove that distraction. But I think we're also going to get much closer to that. Really cute young Bush did itself so because there was a little bit too much of a gap at the bottom and all the color. All the eye candy is happening right here. And I would take it a little bit in from the left as well, because I'd rather see that come a little bit tighter around the bird. But beautiful portrait and it definitely has personality. So let's look at the next one, Andre all day. Ah, superior this image of a female killdeer, we do not have any more information. And eso all these images were submitted us Jay Pek. So normally in the upper right panel, you can see all the maker information to camera the lens information the exposure and you can learn a lot from that. But they were just going to have to interpret the image as it was delivered here. I think this is a lovely portrait. The photographer, his eye level with the bird. This bird is only about this toll So that's exactly what I would have done if I had been in that position. And I think that the opportunity is wide open and that leads to that lovely, smooth background in the smooth foreground. Now, there's a few distractions in here. If you would want to make a picture perfect. So I would say perhaps the best thing we can do is kind of bring in that corner a little bit or we just kind of crop it in from from this site. And that way we're gonna meant maintain the original aspect ratio here. Just like that, Yeah, we don't need any more, and she now it looks a little cleaner. I'm particularly concerned about distractions that lead you to the edge of the frame instead of looking at the bird itself for the rest. I think it's beautifully composed and the beautifully exposed. I wouldn't do anything else except maybe town that down a little bit. That little piece of grass right there. I just want to say that Andre is tuning in, Um and so Audrey says it was shot with the came in five D, Mark four at 500 millimeters and the Isil was quite high as it was getting dark. So thanks for tuning in, Andre. Now your regular. Yeah, in compliments for that portrait. Really lovely portrait. So the next image, this is a great example of reflected light ray medallion. I hope I pronounce your name right, Ray. Deliver this image that was captured of, um, organs Irvine, a Nikon D 8 50 a long 600 F four lens exposed that around the thousands of a second at f 56 So those are the tech specs, but, um, just like the maker of the previous image, rave is really low down. These Ida Wiviott that Morganza and the quality of the light is really astonishing. Here reflected light eso it's coming in from someplace up there, reflecting on to the border. And this is really gorgeous. I would be really proud of fiber to make her of this image. And I wouldn't change a thing. Well done, right. Awesome. And raising your saying Yes, that's correct. He's got the Nikon d 8 5600 millimeters at F four, so right, So the next day, Mitch was delivered by Justin Nixon. And let me read this. What what he told us, he says. A flock of hundreds of Robin's swarmed the cherry tree in his backyard after a snow storm, and he set up an eight foot ladder next to the tree. And he perched innovative 500 millimeter cannon lens and maybe even made an extender. And then he took pictures of the birds foreign hours. They stripped the tree of every berry. Kudos to you, man, because this is a perfect example of backyard bird photography and seizing an opportunity. Then it happens, and I think this is a fantastic portrait. And he goes beyond being a portrait because you see the Robin Hood wanted to Berries in its mouth and foreground, this perfect background this perfect. There's a lovely color combination between the purple of the buries, the core into the breast and then the dark color of the rest of the bird. It's really this is perfect. And I would say, Keep that ladder handy, because if the Robbins do it one year I met, I imagine they may be back next year. Maybe we can come join you there. All right, now for something different. Um, Jeff Martin made this image of a rave in which he describes as a friendly beggar Raven, and he was less than three feet away, and he captured it with a 10 to 24 zoom on the X two X T to Fujifilm camera. So this is a right angle portrait. I don't know exactly worried this made. But judging from the vegetation Avatar, summer in the In the West and Ravens are amazing birds. They have a lot of personality, and typically they're quite shy. But when they feel they can get away with something, they will not hesitate to come close to you. And that is really what you're seeing here. You're my eye goes right towards that face. That bird is looking at the photographer and hoping that something will come out of that encounter that will make him happy. So it's the body posture that makes the portrait, in my opinion, so it looks like it's being cropped a little bit. It doesn't look like it's a tooth do three aspect ratio. You could argue well, this is a distraction, those buildings in the background. But I kind of like it because it reveals that there is a human setting so I wouldn't change a thing. I I think this is just right now. We've got a little bit of a complication here that the white snow and the Blackbird. But I see enough details in here. When I look at the history Graham, it's not clipped in. The highlight sort of white is properly exposed as she just a tiny bit of clipping in parts of the parts of the blacks. But overall, I would say this is really well done. Now, Um, now we're transitioning from Portrait's to Bert in the landscape, and that previous image of the raven could have qualified for a bird in the landscape. Israel. But that's definitely the case here. So this is a great gray owl captured by Eve parole. Ah, we're not seeing where was captured but agitated somewhere in the upper Midwest. Right, because that's where you can see those birds in that time of the year. Nikon D 4 500 millimeter lens in a 1.7 extender captured a tooth 1 2000 of a second at F So I like this on the you could argue well, but the birth in the center make it symmetrical. That is one approach. Or you can put the bird off center, which is a bit more of a dynamic composition. Both of them work now, just that fits in previous images. You're faced with a choice here. Do you want to be the artist, In which case you give yourself the liberty to a downplay the vegetation here a bit, and then you end up in a very stark black and white and making this a black and white conversion is another option. All you have to do is go to the right panel here and then let's see what happens. Does it make any difference? It looks practically the same, I would say. So Um, yeah, I wouldn't change a thing in the image I accepted as it is, but yeah, I would give the photographer the license to play that these weeds a little bit in the foreground, and I imagine if it's pretty cold there. So Joseph Overture a delivered This image to us was captured in the Gulf of Mexico. Apparently there was a construction project that led to two does posts, and it was abandoned. And then the brown pelican said, Well, thank you very much. This is just what we wanted and they started perching there. So this is a perfect example of birch in a landscape and actually birch in the humanized landscape as well. So I like the patterning. I wouldn't change anything in the composition as it was delivered, but I would also like to think of what I would do here on yet I I don't know the exact circumstances. I don't know how trusting the birds were, but I'm beginning to think of Could I come any closer? Could I make the composition a little bit more dramatic? So that thes boasts are kind of towering above me, and I get, um, or extreme angle and I get a little bit closer to these birds here and then ideally, maybe if the birth year tolerate me, I keep one eye on these birds and then my other eyes looking for other birds that are coming down on the post because remember what I showed you early around with all these beaters lined up on that one branch. When you've got this many birds here, there's guarantee guaranteed to b'more comings and goings. So I would say Joseph if you have a chance to go back there and practice what? I just suggest it. We would love to see what you can do next. This image was delivered by E. Collins. No location given, but, um ah, yep. What I'm reading here is that Daddy owl hiding in Spanish moss while Mom attends to their two babies. Now, Spanish moss in that luxuriant thickness is typical of the Southeast. I would say, um, this looks like a great Hornell on. And if there's a bird on the nest with young, then you have to be careful. Your we talked about the ethics of Burt of photographing birds on the nest or near the nest. So you I'm just interpreting this and always interpreting your bird behavior. The eyes of the owl are white open. So it means that eider there's something happening on the nest or there's happening. Something else is happening. So eso you don't spook that bird because, yo, it's part of a pair. You don't want to cause any disturbance around the nest. Now, I'm not saying that that's the case. You just want to be really careful about that. I liked the image, but I find this white here at the bottom a little bit distracting. This white is a little bit distracting. And this white here to takes away from that feeling of the bird being surrounded by the nature of a forest. So, Adam, what if we crop it in from the top and from the bottom and turn this into more of a panoramic compositions over letting go the lock here and we're going to do a custom crop. So if we end up somewhere around here a the bottom save weaken, let's try that. And then we come into more or less over here at the top. Yeah. Now let's have another look at it. Um, what do you think? Him fighting. You want to get more radical and take this out as well. Let's do it. So just crop it in from the left until no, this I think looks your looks more compelling. Better d The file justifies that tight of a crop. We don't know because we don't see the delivery specs in here. But I would say is a composition. This is more interesting than what What we were looking at early around. So be careful with that at all come So the next image I really like. I can relate to this because it has made along the coast of California in Southern California by Brent Alex It was a snowy eager it in a Luna Luna Dobey. And, um, it was made to get a Nikon Coolpix in a W 100 with a wide angle lens. Now, that's not a professional camera, but this is very compact. And that enabled a photographer to get out into the water, cause this is not solid ground here to photographers in the water and the photographers also, I level with the bird and in fact, created a peekaboo effect with another blade of kelp in that very nicely frames the upper part of the composition. So I really like this. It's a different point of view. And we talked about that earlier on the intercourse. Um, could we improve this a little bit? Ah, I would shave. Maybe this edge off the composition and I've see, perhaps better, we can lift that up and make it a little bit cleaner on the bottom. Damn. Bring it down a little bit more, Adam. So something like that, So this looks a little bit cleaner on the bottom. And, um so the hissed a gram is okay. It's, ah, white bird in bright sunlight. But I'm not seeing any clipping here on the right hand side of the hissed. A grams over. Okay, well done. And so think of compact cameras as an additional tool in your kit, and you can be more free and easy. Remember what I said about that Sony Rx 100 similar and the Liberty now, and he made this photograph in held along, which is in Germany. He said he may. You can a beautiful moment, especially early in the morning, 5 30 when the light can be warm and soft. He's often photographed there and says that other photographers do it but a longer telephoto lens, and then you can get close to the birch. But he did this for the White England's, and I think that was the right choice here because this captures the entire scene, and especially with a glorious morning light, you know, the, uh, that just covers the sky, the ocean and then creates a glow in the birds as well. We don't have any information unfortunately about the Apertura to shutter speed. It said three. But I can tell that the shutter speed was fast enough to capture that landing again. It so there must have been at least 1 25th of a second, so I wouldn't do a single thing to change the composition. Um, so I don't think we can shave this off year cause Ember beginning to hit that gannet. And this is all pretty nice here. So I would say Arnold or sorry, Andy, do this again. Because if you can find this on one morning, just think of the opportunities when you go back, all right? Pamela Costner did not provide any information about this image of a bold eagle, but I would say this has been captured summer along the coast of British Columbia or in the southeast Alaska, where V may go next bit. Tell Mendelssohn and Art Wolf. I think this is great. Um, so this is a bold eagle in historian, Her element, and you know, that distinctive shape leads you right to the bird, even though it's very small in the frame on. It's a little bit unfortunate to see this prominent water marking there, just as I mentioned previously. When I do this, I become a little bit more discreet. I really took things in at the bottom of the frame, but that is not, Ah, critical comment about the the making of that image at all. But I do anything differently. I would experiment a little bit to see if what happens if we let go of the water in the foreground. Um, but I also like that kind of sense of spacing that comes from seeing the water before the rocks. Um, I would experiment a little bit with Grant Filter to see if we could dark and that a little bit, because that's going to draw more attention to the bottom end of the frame. But it looks really clean. Overall, it's not gonna be so easy to see the subtleties of changes made to the image for the audience in the studio. Perhaps, But if you're looking at this on screen, please just accept my word for it, that this is an exquisite image and that I think Adam is making a nice improvement to the image, darkening this a little bit, and this is exactly what we do in our studio workshops in Santa Cruz, California, when we really turned loose on the capabilities of light room. And it's amazing how quickly we can go from a role capture to a final finished frame. So well done, Pamela. So we're still looking a birch in landscapes here. Ah, last light is what Tom Post called this image and he wrote a very nice description of it. It's a Navas settled mudflats, and, um, this is in fading light. And yo, he philosophizes about a bird in conjunction with the landscape is the most difficult in the most rewarding thing to do. And I would agree with that. And I really like shorebirds. I really like wetlands. And I think Tom made the most of a fading opportunity here because there really isn't a hell of a lot like in this situation. And he did the right thing just as I was referring to chasing light in some of our field videos. That is what Tom has been doing here because the most light is right there where the light is reflected in the water and look, you just have this narrow portion in the frame where the silhouette works. And I really like the way that you hind leg of the of the adversities stilted, so on beautiful image. I wouldn't change a thing here. All right, um, for past birch in the landscape now and Virgin Flight So Catherine Shearling did not say where the image was made, But she said she was on the beach while her mom was feeding the seagulls and it was fun. Both the watch her in practice, taking birth photos at the same time. I would say That's great teamwork, Catherine. So and you're lucky to have somebody to work with you attracting the birds while you can capture them now. We talked before about practices abating birds. But, um, I'm not sure that anyone would object to feeding seagulls on the beach would be. So it's not endangering the birds, but let's get focus on the image in question because girls are overlooked. You know, the really splendid birds. And if there were far fewer of them, you know, even holding me much higher esteem, correct. So they're ubiquitous and therefore we looked past him. But I would just like to acknowledge the goal in general and also pay compliments to Catherine for this image of the golden flight because I think it's picture perfect. Perfect symmetry here. Uh, you don't know the maker information here, but it's got the right shutter speed. It's got the right background. I'd say it's picture perfect. And then there's Morris. Um, Morris submitted this image of a retail talk looking for prey, and we're not seeing the, ah, the maker information. But I have a judge from the image that it was captured at at least 1 500 of a second, perhaps even faster, because everything is tack sharp in here. So well done. Morris Video capture. It's got a really nice dynamic angle, the way the bird is kind of moving through the frame there. But, um, it's something happened in the processing of this image that that is not quite perfect. It looks like quite a bit of masking happened, and that could have been the result of the original exposure. Being too dark you. I'm only guessing at this because we don't have the original raw image. Or maybe it wasn't even captured as a role image, but you can definitely see some ghosting around the bird Now if that was done for creative purposes. Fine. But when I look at this from a distance, I'd say it really takes away from being able to appreciate how you captured a bird there. So I would be a little bit careful that you're masking and maybe start all over again. But that particular frame or better still, go back into the field and find another hawk. Good. Then Douglas Croft, um, found two birds very obliging the scent hill cranes. Ah, flying information, he said. Now, Santiago cranes are amazing. Yeah, lifelong pair bonds. We don't know if this is a pair, but these birds often hang out in pairs. And I think this is lovely the way they're banking together. And I would like to make the most of your this particular moment by cropping this in from the top right and getting much tighter. Almost two birds. Well, you keep the wing taping there, but just came. Let's see what happens now. Um, you know, over that again, the maker information isn't there, so it looks like the resolution is not perfect. So this is what I would do if the original file would allow for this kind of cropping. But I think this looks better than in the frame now then than it did before. Now we're really writing their of it with the cranes banking. So in terms of color adjustments, in contrast, I would leave it just the way it is. Okay. Theresa Copec, um told us that she liked the earnestness of this blackbird and the abstract nature to read Handheld um, which is saying something because, you know, she was using a 550 millimeter lens, and but fortunately, she exposed it at faster than 1/1000 of a second. And here's something that I haven't mentioned before yet. And that is, um, you really want to pay attention to the length of your lens and your shutter speed when you're doing things handheld. And the starting rule is if you using a 500 millimeter lens, use at least a shutter speed of 1 500 of a second. But in my case, I would give myself the margin of two extra shutter speed increments because I'm not that stable. When I used lenses show handheld. So I think she did quite all right here because it looks like this redwing Blackbird, um, is pretty sharp. And even though the apertures relatively open now, what we don't know is better. That birth was perched on the read here. The read looks a little bit too thin, too fragile to support the birds. So, um, I think this is quite all right. Um, so I wouldn't change a thing in this except on if the original aspect ratio was a two by three, then, ah, we could perhaps tighten it up on the right side a little bit to restore it to the original two by three aspect ratio. But that's just me. And of course, you can crop anyway you want. But if you produce a lot of images, I think there's a virtue to maintaining some standard aspect ratios instead of looking at every image in a customized way. So Neil Neil Parking that IHS photographed a hummingbird on Anna's hummingbird, coming to what appears to be a grave Ilia grave. Eleazar plants from Australia, and I don't know where this image was made, but if it's an anise hummingbird, it probably occur somewhere on the West Coast, so it may be in somebody's backyard. It could be in a botanical garden and botanical gardens attract hummingbirds like Crazy. In fact, are Botanical Garden in Santa Cruz is a fantastic place to photograph hummingbirds, So I think this is nicely done on yo venue. Offer a lot of different flowers to hummingbirds. It is really difficult to predict where they're going to be, so you can chase the hummingbirds or you can watch their patterns and see where they want to come. Eso We don't know what Neil did to capture this particular bird here. No maker information. It looks pretty sharp in here. The background looks pretty dark. He used a fill flash. I can tell that from the appearance of the bird itself, and that was quite nicely done so But let's look at the next image. This was also delivered by Neil, but this is a ruby throated hummingbird, and it shows a different technique. Remember what I mentioned? Excuse me, but I mentioned early on about using Ah yeah, flash as a feel light and then combining Evan Ambien light. Um, and that is what I apply to the hummingbirds humming bird in flight that I photographed in Brazil. Neil's applying a similar technique here um, So I would say, let's crop this bar out because this appears to be it's either a feeder or something else. And I think we would be better off showing the hummingbird without it, because it it doesn't really play a role in this particular composition. So you can come a bit tighter around there, but then give us every inch of space below the hummingbird. Yeah, sometimes. Sometimes resist your efforts to bring it down. Right. Okay, so now I think we're really looking at the hummingbird in question. So it looks a little bit hop on the belly there. And this is variety stroke the the hummingbird that wanted the tools here in our toolbar. Like the brush. You feel that in a little bit? Uh, it looks like here to history, etc. Who now we're bringing it back. And now, instead of looking at the over exposed breast, were beginning to appreciate the subtle coloration in the hummingbird a little bit better, I guess we could have started to buy taking the exposure down a little bit. See what that does. Yeah, um, virtually all of these files, if not all of them were delivered to us as J packs, which are derivatives of role files, and it makes it a little bit difficult to do your detailed adjustments, right? But I would say this is already looking better now because we're lacking the maker information. We don't know what the shutter speed is, but I would guess it's somewhere around 200 of a second. So because of the speed with which the hummingbird moves, you're beginning to see, you know, the different ring postures in the course of the exposure, and that's not quite ideal. It almost looks like there's three wings coming out of the hummingbird. So eso when you do this, you really have to stave. It'd and do it time and again, all right, Jodi Frayed. Eonni reports that this little petrol was blown inshore by unseasonal winds, and then it ended up flying around in the Monterey yacht Harvard. Now I know the Monterey Yacht Harbor, and that is a fantastic place to find seabirds because it's right at the edge of the Monterey Bay, which attracts kind of really unusual varieties of sea birds, especially in late summer in August, September and normally, people go offshore to look for these pelagic birds as they're cold. And, uh, you know, you can get a little bit She sick when you're going up and down. It's a lot easier to find him in the yacht harbor if you're so lucky. And then on top of that you get these amazing reflections because the colors in the pattern the colors in the background are reflected from the boats that are anchored there. So, Verus, if you're out on the bay, the background would be mawr. Like a uniform. Great. So I really like this image. You'll look at it. Perfect reflection. Ah, perfect position. Like these kind of you, These drooping legs There it looks like the image may being cropped quite a bit because we're looking a little bit of grain in the image. There again, we don't know the file size heater, but I would say Jodi compliments and I'm gonna have to check out that Monterey Harbor more often myself. All right. Ah, Stephan. Roger. Road us that a flock of Deng Lin and a garbage or racing across the Scottish pain early evening light casting reflections as they go on. So this is one of these moments, remember? that video when beaver in the Sacramento refuge and suddenly all the birds took off and we were lucky to have settings on our camera that that enabled us to capture this crisply. And something like this happens. You know, you have no time to adjust your settings. But, Stephan, if you could be a time traveler and if you could go back to that point in time I've put love to see you adopt a different shedding and see if you could ah, close your aperture to the point that those done Linz in the foreground would be even in your depth of field. And it looks like there was quite a bit of light. So the ideal settings in this case, I think, would have been 1000 of a second that f 16. And then we would have seen more sharpness you because I find thes out of focus birds in the foreground a little bit distracting, my eyes going around. I'm not quite sure where the look, if you know what I mean. So but go back to that to that same place and do it again. Carl Bostick, um, deliver this image here and he wrote us that a sudden royal albatross for soaring just above the waves and he composited it iss from a 1 to 2 second burst that a Fuji X two X t to camera in a 200 millimeter lens. Now this, I think, is a really unusual image. Um, so it's a composite. So as far as I can tell from what we're looking at here, it is really the result of your multiple exposures that illustrate the flight path of an albatross. These birds are just gonna looping up and down constantly. And I think this is very creatively scene and perfectly executed. The images being cropped from Yohan Original Aspect ratio into this panoramic format. But I think it really works with what the photographer was trying to achieve, so I would love to know more about the circumstances. So, Carl, if you could write his fits or more details right ish in the chat room, or write me directly, but kudos for doing this, and I would do this again in different situations with the same kind of Burt's or apply it to other birds. This is the most creative image that has been submitted to us in the category of virgin flight for sure. All right, I lean. I lean hurt. Ah, photograph these stilts, Um, close to where I live in Mountain View, California. And made it within a Nikon a 10 205 105 6 Lens 2000. I s 061 6/40 of a second, and ah, I think this is really beautifully done. This really looks like a painting. Practically now, I don't know if I lean adjusted to file deliberately or Vetter. She cropped in very tightly around these birds. But by conventional standards, you know, we're not seeing a lot of sharpness in the birch themselves, but because of the nature of the composition and that high key rendering when I look at it from a distance and I'm just coming to join you here now, uh, I think this looks lovely. So, as you know, by now, ah, I tend to break some rules myself. So I really commend Eileen for seeing this and for executing this. Now, what I would do I lean is I would Prentice and printed as an eight by 10 for starters and then printed as attend by and see what it looks like an it If it survives, then you have a beautiful parental. Newell, Kevin Loman. And of course, you know by now that these are among my favorite birds. So I would say, Kevin, this is really well done because first of all, these birds never stopped moving. Kevin must have been right down on the beach because his eye level with those sandal ings. It's a tricky light situation. Just it's with that image of the Morganza. This is reflected light, so and it actually is a beautiful complimented it of whites of the birds themselves. Perfect reflection. Not everyone is very in the depth of field, but the key characters air right here. And those are razor sharp. So, um, this is really nicely done. He reports that he made this with a 600 millimeter lens, the same that I used better of one point converter. So he's really working. These birds been in 840 millimeter rig and he uses he used the shutter speed of 1 of a second. So really well down, Kevin. Beautiful image. Ah, we're on to Dave. Hotch now. Ah Davis in Hungary, and he was seeing a bunch of birds. He's not stating rich birds. They are. But I really like the layering effect of this here. If you are not seeing the sailboats, would it still be an interesting image? UMP, I see you shake your head. No, I would agree. There's a depth to it that comes from the sailboats in the background. So, um, the shutter speed is adequate in in rendering the birds sharp. And, uh, it's it's a beautiful tableau, Um, and he's not the only one who really likes the image because he also said he just sold a 30 by 50 print of it, so it must work really well at a big sizes, too. All right, the next one, Pamela Costner, is back with another image, and this time it's snow geese blasting off, and we've seen a lot of images of snow geese in the in this course. But I couldn't resist picking this one because I thought it was just such a beautiful example of selective focus. I showed you images of flocks of birch where they're either old sharp or there either deliberately on sharp. But I really like the fact that this bird is the only one in focus, and then the rest is a suggestion of movement. Really? Well done, Pam. We're in the bird behavior now. And Matthew Roberts. Sorry, Matthew Richardson photographed this bird, actually, in the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum, where we do our macro classes, and he managed to photograph than Allen's hummingbird, uh, perched. And this image I put in the category of bird behavior because these birds were really feisty. This bird is displaying its laying its wings back, and it's fluffing out its chest Fedders, and it's really signaling to other birds. Stay away. This is my territory, and that gives the bird personality and I really like that. I wouldn't change a thing in that in that picture. Really Well done. Matthew. Yo, Kevin Lohman, who sandal ings we saw just earlier is showing us this snowy eager. It also in a pretty aggressive posturing because member to do this, when the next feathers go up and the wings come down, that is really an indication to other birds to stay away. And to do that while it's happening, I think, is really perfect. I don't have the settings here but I wouldn't change a thing in this. Ah, I'm looking at the history Graham here. The whites are captured with enough detail in here that they're not blown out. So picture perfect when you say Adam him All right. Rafael Ponta Leonie. Um, a dish image in central Italy. Um, and he's not saying what kind of birth this is, but I can tell it's a Greep. And he made it with a D Nikon d 300 with 1 50 to 600 a millimeter lens very fast and relatively vied open. And it was handheld so on. He says he tried a similar shop before and he said that he was really focused on these speculum highlights in the water and that he wanted of work with that. Andi, I really liked that effect. So Ah, let's see what happens if we lighten this up just a little bit. Are we still seeing a speculum? Highlights? I think so. It begins to look a little bit more silvery because I like the twinkling of the light, but there's something really translucent about it as well. Um, so now let's add a little bit more contrast because that emphasizes, yeah, that speckled quality of the images. Well, this is picture perfect, except for this, which is obviously something in the water there. So I would kind of fuss that out because it's not something that is essential to the image, and I would rather see it render Deena's beautiful a fashion as possible. This is a really impressionistic way to work it light and the same thing we're seeing. So I would say, Rafael, go back and do dairy again because you have a lot of potential with this and in the next image, we're going to see a similar effect. Um, Johann Carlberg made this image in a lake near his home in Stockholm, Sweden, of a crested Greep. And I love this, and this is really a very good example of a style of birth photography that is very common in Scandinavia. Scandinavian wildlife photographers have a unique signature, and I can often tell photographs made by Scandinavian photographers and tell them apart from other European photographers, and I'll take that a step further. The fins have a different style than the Norwegians and Swedes to so but a yo home. Uh, it's done this really well, now that Northern light, especially in the summer, the endless sunsets that merge into some rises give you hours of magic light there. So he went against the light. The sun is over there. And then he also worked with the speculator highlights in the same as a Rafael did. So the birth is really incidental. This is really an image about light. And the bird just gives us an anchor in the image. It gives us something to specific to look for, but really my eyes air relishing the color in the light in here. So your home keep out it green mole house in that sounds like a Dutchman. Or like an expat Dutch who ended up in Tasmania, was in a port. Um, and a c go lend it on an overhead screen. Um, the eight camera d 80 camera, But the settings, another is important is what he did there. I like the fact that he saw this. Obviously the bird is only canopy and he's under the canopy. So we're just looking at the shadow of the bird. And this is one of the kind of images that I want to see more off in subsequent courses because this takes it way beyond what we normally see goals portrayed out. So So since this is a total creative expression, I would like to do make some adjustments here. You know, this is the scene in the canopy. I've had cleaned that up, and I would start playing with the color here. I see nothing wrong with extracting a little bit more red from those gold feet. I would experiment as well. With flipping this image around. Let's try it into a vertical. Let's rotate it towards the right. We go to the photo, we go to photo here at the top, and then we go to rotate right on. And what do you think? Ah, is this crazy? Is this too crazy way we could flip it around as well? And, ah, let's make one more adjustment on the photo. And now flip vertical. So you can really play that this right? So you get the idea. So, um, Green keep looking. And I hope this inspires all of you to keep looking as well for unusual ways to capture goals. All right, Niels the bond, who also sounds like a Dutchman or maybe Ah, somebody from South Africa tells us that this is a peekaboo image of a sociable leave weaver looking at us from his nest. They make huge nest for many birds. Aggregate. And what I like about this is that just as in the previous image, the bird is almost incidental. The bird is surrounded this time not by a man made structure, but by a structure made by the reverse themselves. So not sure about the resolution in the file. It could be that the camera, we have no information from the maker. It could also be that it's cropped a little bit, so Ah, I'm not sure how much we can do with this. Ideally, I would have seen their another river in there. Ah, I see a man made object in here that may have been put in there by one of the sociable rivers. But if I were him, I would really work that situation and stick with it and see bore opportunities from multiple holes and multiple individuals appear there and, by the way, were now in a section the closing section for the Image Review. Practically where we're looking at birth as designs. So the previous image Marine, the goal in the canopy was a clear example of taking things a step towards abstraction, and I think this one does as well. And then the next day, image On was delivered by Jeff Hawk, who's actually here. It is in the studio, and he mentioned that he was on an Owl Research Institute trip, the Denver hold, and they were capturing and banning long eared owls. And this was just captured handheld. Tell us more about it. Denver does a great job examining the habitat of owls, especially along the western Sea coast from Alaska south. This was a trip that he arranged for the local Audubon Society going back to your links, and the opportunity comes from that. A wintertime trip in Missoula, Montana, and they were using a mist net like you showed in one of the previous images. Toe capture wild, long eared owls and then banned them and weigh them for future study. Make sure that habitat encroachment is not problematic for the owls, and then somebody was holding the owl by by its feet, and that enabled you to just isolate the talents exactly and letting the business. End of the hour loose can be a little scary. Yeah, a little scary. So I really like this image. You really drew my attention. Then, uh, then we're looking at the original submissions. And my I was really going to this part because that is you, you refer to It is that's the business end of the owl here. So But I don't think you fully express the potential in this. Because if we summarize this, what's the image about? Is it a foot or is it the talent? It would be the talents. Okay, then I would suggest that, um um if you would have found a way to kind of express the taelons a little bit more So maybe going to the right, going on the neat I don't know. Or if you see this and their assembly somebody handling the bird, you have worked with handler and say, Could we do a little bit of this? Could be due a little bit of that. Um, I know it's tricky in those situations because, you know, the birds are not there at your convenience, but I think this is a great opportunity to work with details in birds as a zai mentioned previously. So maybe there's another field trip in your future, right? I think so. For Morales and more talents. So then toe leader Stump, Um Ah. Send us this image from the Netherlands. It was during a masterclass about birds of prey and there was a ah, bold eagle, and, um, she made it with a Shoni camera. Ah, and we do not have the file information here, but it looks like this was cropped in quite a bit because the, uh the images locking in resolution of it. So I'm gonna come in Talita for seeing this and for zeroing in on the details and that she's mentioned. It was clearly, uh, this was a bold eagle in a captive situation perhaps similar to what Jeff just described. And it gives you great opportunities to go beyond the whole bird and begin to relish the details of what makes up a birth. So Talita Kudos for seeing that, But I think you need to go back there and do more of that. So Benjamin Shaw said he was on a lake in Myanmar and he was able to capture of I D grit and a fisherman in a temple at the same time. Now, uh, this image through my eyes, then I saw it because we're now in a section of birch and people and, um Ah, there are a lot of wetlands in the tropics there a lot of wetlands in Asian in particular. And that is where people in birds are cramming into the same space. And there's a lot of resource conflicts there. And that is why I wanted to share this image with you because, uh, you see all the ingredients here, you see a bird, you see the habit that you see a fisherman and you see a cultural symbol there. So that's the good part about it. But it looks a little bit too loose. So I would like to tighten it up and really focus the viewer on these essential ingredients. So, Adam, what if we turned his horizontal composition into a vertical crop? It in from the, um yeah, opened up the lock. And ah, you leave the don't close in from the bottom. Just bring it in from the right and from the left. Yeah. Yeah, because I think now it's clear what the images about and then on. I've it feeling the whites a little bit because it looks a little bit hot and I would also feel this in a little bit. And I would also fill that in a little bit mawr and then ver beginning to appreciate mawr. What the balances between the birth and the fishermen and the landscape there. Adam Dimon eight. Ah road is that every year Siberian sea gulls migrate to dislike in western China. The sheer volume of them makes it a sight to behold. Well, they're not just coming to this lake. It looks like there's quite a few people going on there as well, so it must be city park of some kind. We don't know what is attracting the birds there, but I do see is that there was a flash used for filling the light. It looks a little bit hot in this goal and in that goal and in DiScala as well. But you know, it's very easy to make that correction by ah, pulling down the highlights on may be doing some local adjustments in the goals in question. I would look towards tightening up the bottom of the frame a little bit because I see some incidental bits and pieces. But I'd say overall, this is a really intriguing image because if there's one place where there's a confluence in a conflict between birds and people, it must be in China. Right? And I would love to Seymour images in future courses from people in China and anyone else in Asia, because that's really the future gravity of our planet when it comes to natural resource is and stewardship of Birch. So Adam Doom orbit this because I think you're on to something here. There's a lot of potential and then eight, and James sent us this image and wrote Arlo the A Leaguers, McCall playfully lace on his back. Now this has got to be somebody's pet. Matt McCall, right? This McCall is clearly very relaxed, and, um, yeah, I love this image. You know? What better way to express the relationship between people and birds, then something like this. Now I also like the color in the background mean it's very clear that this is not a bird in nature. This is in somebody's home or maybe right outside in a wall. But what really strikes me is Yeah, the attitude of the bird and then also the caressing of the hints. So that really makes it into a very nice combination. Now, I could also suggest that if we would want to emphasize that that your re could turn is from a horizontal into a very graphic vertical. So just yeah, seeing now we're getting even closer to the essential quality. So I always ask myself, What is the image about? What is it about? Officially, But also what is the theme that resonates here? So if you don't mind, Aidan could believe it as this and, ah, and thank you for submitting this because I think this is a great way to end the image review. We've seen everything from Bird Portrait's the birch in flight and now overseeing birds and people together as well. So kudos to all of you for submitting the images. I hope I haven't men handled your names, your pronunciation, and I wish we knew more about the circumstances. But I hope you found this valuable. My comments about your images and keep at it. I thought we tend the course by once again stressing the connection between people in birds or vice versa. Um, you know, while you're looking for the birds, the birds may be looking at you behind your back, ready? You know it or not. You know, they're all knowing their all seeing right, these air really extraordinary creatures of its senses that we can barely comprehend. And of course, their future is in our hands. And I think that's a really important thing to recognize as the focus, our cameras in Arlen since and our attention on them, the rial barometers for the quality of our environments, especially as this planet is changing so fast as a result of climate change and other impacts that we have collectively on them. So, really, it's not just about the birds, it's about the future that the old share with them and then as the last image. I would like to share this because in the course of doing the field trips for this course, I had the great pleasure to revisit some of these refugees that I'd come to know so well and you never know what you're going to encounter. You know, don't expect fireworks every time you head off into the field and it's really important to wipe your own expectations off your your eyes and off your minds. Don't think that the next time you go out suddenly everything's gonna happen. Just be inspired and be happy for what comes to you. And then maybe one morning the morning FARC will do amazing things as the sky is turning yellow. Thank you so much for joining us here. Thank you so much.

Class Description


  • Photograph birds in a variety of scenarios

  • Understand bird behavior to get closer to birds

  • Build the ideal gar kit for photographing birds

  • Set the proper shutter speed, aperture, and ISO for birds

  • Know where to find birds to photograph

  • Capture birds in different types of light

  • Develop a better eye for bird photography


Love birds, but can't quite capture their colorful personality on camera? Join nature photographer Frans Lanting on a journey in start-to-finish bird photography. Master photography basics for photographing birds, from the best camera settings to tactics for getting up close and personal to different bird species.

With a mix of on-site shooting and in-class lectures, learn the ins and outs of bird photography. Build the skills to operate a camera and long lens as well as an understanding of basic bird behavior. Learn to capture more than the boring, obvious photo and dive into categories like bird portraiture, flying birds, flocks of birds, and detailed close-ups for your best bird photos yet.

Whether you are a beginner or intermediate bird photographer, craft better photos of birds with tips and insight from a National Geographic photographer with three decades of experience capturing wildlife across the globe.


  • Beginners new to bird photography

  • Intermediate bird photographers

  • Experienced photographers new to capturing birds

  • Beginner wildlife photographers


Frans Lanting has spent more than three decades traveling the world capturing nature and wildlife. For the wildlife photographer, birds often capture his attention, from penguins and endangered species to birds common to North America. Frans worked as a photographer-in-residence with National Geographic, a position that opened rare opportunities for photographing little known species. His nature photography has also appeared in his own books and exhibitions. Born in the Netherlands, he moved to the U.S. to study environmental planning before embarking on his photography career.


  1. Introduction

    See how Frans went from a boring bird snapshot to intimate images of birds. Meet the instructor and learn what to expect during the course, including an overview of the different types of bird photography from flying birds to close-ups of feathered friends.

  2. Introduction to Location Shoot

    Jump right into the on-site lessons with this quick intro lesson. Learn the three essentials you need to photograph birds.

  3. Camera and Lenses

    Getting up close to birds often requires long lenses and heavy tripods to stabilize them -- but other shots are better with a wide angle lens. See the best lenses for photographing birds, like the 600mm focal length or a 180-400mm super telephoto lens. Find handy accessories for when you can't hand-hold that long lens. Learn about camera gear from telephoto converters to tripods in this lesson, from high-end pro gear to more budget-friendly alternatives

  4. DSLR vs Mirrorless

    Frans shoots with Nikon, but says brand isn't the biggest thing to consider when working with gear. And while DSLRs may be the more traditional option, mirrorless has some perks too, like the smaller size. Weigh the pros and cons of both systems in this lesson.

  5. Field Trip 1

    Visit a national wildlife refuge with Frans and go behind the scenes with a professional bird photographer. Gain bird photography tips from choosing an ISO and using aperture to control the depth of field. See the process from evaluating the gear to seeing the composition.

  6. Getting Close To Birds

    Some birds aren't skittish around people, but most of the time, wild birds are cautious around people. Master strategies to get close to the birds for better photos, from blending with the surroundings to using a blind.

  7. Camera Settings

    Nail the camera settings for bird photography, from the file settings to metering and frame rate or burst mode. Understand the modes on the camera, like aperture priority, shutter priority, and manual mode.

  8. Settings For Creativity

    Pinpoint the best shutter speed, aperture, and ISO for capturing images of birds. Learn creative techniques to freeze birds in flight with a fast shutter for sharp images or at slow speeds to create creative blur. Work with aperture to control depth of field. Then, pick up creative techniques for composition.

  9. Point of View

    While the bird may be the star of the photograph, the background and foreground matter too. In this lesson, Frans explains how to use perspective to go from snapshots to great bird photos that draw the eye.

  10. Bird Portraits

    Bird photography is a subset of wildlife photography, but treat the genre like a portrait, and you'll capture stunning images that stand out. In this lesson, Frans explains how to create an intimate bird portrait by considering perspective, background, and more.

  11. Birds in Flocks

    While a portrait of a single bird is stunning, flocks of birds create excellent photo opportunities too. In this on-site lesson, learn to look for patterns created by groups of birds.

  12. Birds in Flight

    Capturing flying birds is much different than photographing birds at rest. Learn where to set your exposure settings to capture birds in flight. Gain tips on capturing birds in action as Frans continues the shoot at the wildlife preserve.

  13. Field Trip 2

    After the morning shoot, return back to the wildlife refuge in the late afternoon for more opportunities to capture birds. In this behind-the-scenes video, gain additional insight from exposure to composition. Gain specifics like learning how to properly expose white birds like the egret.

  14. Behavior

    A bird photographer that doesn't understand bird behavior is like a sports photographer that doesn't understand the rules of the game. Dive into bird behavior basics to help you better anticipate the bird's actions and how they interact with other birds.

  15. Birds in Landscapes

    Opposite of the bird portrait, bird landscapes show the bird in its natural environment to tell a story. Find inspiration from Frans' images and tips for including the landscape in bird photography. Gain insight from questions from students like you, including tips for photographing elusive bald eagles and other endangered birds.

  16. Field Trip at Sunset

    Take a final field trip back to the refuge at the end of the day. Build the skills to work with limited light at different angles. Work with tricky scenarios, such as high-contrast scenes.

  17. Impressions

    Using a slow shutter speed on birds in flight creates a look similar to an impressionist painting. In this lesson, Frans shares tips for getting that look and finding a shutter speed that's just right.

  18. Qualities of Light

    In this quick primer, Frans explains how different types of light influences bird photography. Learn to work with backlight, front light, sidelight, flat light, and spotlight and the different looks the types of light create.

  19. Birds as Designs

    Continuing the dive beyond the obvious bird photo, learn how to spot the designs created by birds. Develop an eye for bird patterns, using close-ups and beyond.

  20. Birds and People

    Mixing birds and people in the same shot helps create a sense of scale or tell a story. Learn how to mix people and birds, like how Frans used photography to tell a story about birds and plastic pollution.

  21. Locations

    Where do you find birds to photograph? In this lesson, learn where to find hotspots to photograph birds. You don't even have to go far -- something as simple as a bird feeder in your backyard can create plenty of photo opportunities. Then, gain insight into travel bird photography.

  22. Student Critique

    Gain specific tips to improve your bird photography using Frans' critiques of work from students like you. Build an eye for better photographs by learning to see potential improvements, both that you could make as you shoot and adjustments in post-processing.


Carl Bergstrom

I was privileged to be in the studio audience for Frans Lanting's Art of Photographing Birds course, and it was amazing. The morning was a perfectly pitched lesson on the technical aspects of bird photography, intermixed with Frans's own photographs and excellent videos of him working in the field. The afternoon focused more on bird behavior, composition, and artistry, and was even more delightful. If you know Lanting's photography you already know about his ability to find unusual perspectives on the world. What really shone through in the class was his love for wildlife and especially for birds. His knowledge of natural history is as amazing as his photography, and I loved the message that to take great photographs of birds, one needs to understand them and their behaviors. I've admired Lanting as a photographer for decades. Today I learned that he is an equally talented teacher. I'll be purchasing all of his CreativeLive courses. Thank you, Carl Bergstrom

Marie Gessle

Amazing class! Mr Lanting is charming and full of knowledge about birds and of course photography. In every moment of this course you can see his great passion and love for these flying creatures. The course is full of tips for photographers who want to start capturing moments of birds life. Awesome!!!

André Audet

Great class, very inspiring. Packed with great tips and beautiful imagery. Frans is a great instructor. I enjoyed watching this class a lot, and will watch it again!