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Beginner's Guide to Bird Photography

Lesson 9 of 14

Background Consideration - American Robin

Ben Knoot

Beginner's Guide to Bird Photography

Ben Knoot

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Lesson Info

9. Background Consideration - American Robin


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1 Class Introduction Duration:00:25
2 Location Scouting Duration:12:54
3 Gear Duration:07:43
4 Camera Settings Duration:05:54
6 Composition Duration:01:51

Lesson Info

Background Consideration - American Robin

So, I stopped real quick 'cause there's an awesome robin with some pink flowers in the background that I wanna grab, so... Beautiful. (camera beeping) And, the perch is bending to the left, (camera beeping) which is awesome, so we're gonna get him looking left. (camera beeping) Put him kind of in the top rightish area of the frame. He just needs to look at me. (laughs) The background is composed of these pink flowers that are just stunning. And, when they're that far away from the bird, they throw the background completely out of focus. And, it looks awesome with the robin's kind of orange breast and gray back, so it's a really pretty photo-op, (camera beeping) I would really appreciate it if he would turn his head. Come on! (camera clicking) There he is. (camera clicking) There we go. Come on! (camera clicking) There it is. So, I was able to get him nicely. He's actually turned around, so I'm gonna take a couple more shots, couple more regular shots of him before. But, after that, I l...

ike to take a little bit of video, just to kind of... It shows a little bit more about the bird, kind of how they like to move, if they like to perch a lot. (camera beeping) And, also the video, if they're singing, then the video's really cool, 'cause you get to hear them, so... Now, actually, what I'm gonna do... The 2X is nice, but it's giving me a little too much zoom actually, so I'm gonna take that off, put just the 300 on. Maybe get a 600, so I can get a little more of the pink and a little more of the perch. (camera beeping) Also, this means I can drop my f-stop down to F4. (camera beeping) Yeah. (camera clicking) (camera beeping) (camera clicking) So, this way, if you look at that perch this way, the branches are coming down, kind of. With the 2X, you don't see that, it's just these little nubs at the bottom. With the 600, instead of the 1,200, you can get those kind of branches coming down, it just adds a little more pop to the image. (camera beeping) It's a little cooler. (camera beeping) (camera clicking) If you ever find yourself in a situation where the subject is being very cooperative, like this robin is, still there and it's been, I don't know, it's almost a minute probably, of just sitting here and photographing him, try some different stuff. Try different focal lengths, try composing it a little different. Try finding a different background. Like, I am actually seeing a slightly better background right now, and it just means I have to get out of the car. And, that's fine, once you've got your shots that you're happy with, go ahead and get out of the car and try something else. That way you always, again, always push your boundaries, that's how you keep learning. (camera clicking) Nice bird, nice background, nice perch. Can't really ask for better than that. It's just a robin, but when you begin, everything is really cool. When you get a little more advanced, you become a little more picky. And, that's actually something that I would try to avoid when you do get a little more advanced. Everything can be really beautiful if it's just in the right situation. Like, that robin, if it was on, you know, your sidewalk in the middle of town, I wouldn't necessarily take a photo of it. But, out here, this is a completely wild robin. It's on a beautiful perch with beautiful pink background. (gear shift clicking) It's awesome.

Class Description


  • Learn the habitat and behaviors of a variety of birds
  • How to make the best light choices based off your subject
  • Turn the ordinary into the extraordinary using color, shadows, and symmetry
  • Fast post-processing techniques to take your images to the highest level


Make the most of your wildlife adventures with Ben Knoot in this beginners guide to bird Photography course. Ben Knoot has a background in environmental policy and education as well as a keen eye and love for birds. He has honed his skill into becoming a professional photographer guiding tours around the world to help enthusiasts understand their cameras and their subjects. In this course- Ben will walk through the importance of researching and understanding your subject and the habitat they dwell in. He’ll discuss how to interact and engage a variety of birds so you have a stronger opportunity to capture them while out. He’ll walk through camera fundamentals, how to set your camera, think about composition and work with a variety of lighting. Ben will even talk through his switch to an Olympus mirrorless camera to help improve his ability to make and craft the artistic images he does.


  • Bird Enthusiasts
  • Beginner Photographers
  • Wildlife Photographers


Adobe Lightroom CC 2019




Ben is a 23-year-old nature photographer originally from California. Before graduating in 2018, he studied Environmental Policy and Environmental Education at Western Washington University in Bellingham Washington State. Ben now leads educational and instructive photography tours and workshops for Tropical Birding Tours; Ben’s goal while guiding is to provide a memorable, exciting and successful experience so that other people can enjoy photographing earths beauty as much as he does. Ben has been published by several organizations including, Natures Best Photography, Audubon, Ranger Rick, NANPA, Wildlife Photo Magazine, and the BBC. His deep love and passion for nature has guided and will continue to guide the way he chooses to live his life, with a sense of wonder and curiosity of all things new and exciting.



I liked this class. It gives beginners a great place to start photographing birds. I especially liked his lesson on post-processing. Too many classes skip that part. The use of bird calls is what it is. To be competitive in bird photography you probably have to use them. I personally won't; it's just not worth it to me. So nice to see a young person active in this field!

Colleen Church

This class is wonderful. Ben give you some very helpful information to starting your photo birding adventures. The apps he suggested are very helpful. The tips for scouting and what to look get you going. I will definitely be watching it again.

a Creativelive Student

I really enjoyed this course. The instructor doesn't beat around the bush. He gives you useful information that you can implement. I especially loved that he talks about apps on your phone that could be used to make your experience more fruitful. The only thing I didn't like was the advertisement for Olympus, but you can just skip that part.