Skip to main content


Lesson 6 from: Beginner's Guide to Bird Photography

Ben Knoot

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2000+ more >

Lesson Info

6. Composition

Lesson Info


As a beginning photographer, there's a few things you should consider regarding your composition. You wanna watch out for your lighting, your background, distracting elements, and your perspective. Focus on your background, make sure that that's nice and clear. You have no distracting sticks, no distracting bright spots and that you're generally choosing a pleasing color to match your subject. The other thing I would highly recommend, is keeping your bird relatively in the middle of the frame, until you're ready to crop it and put it into post-production, then you can get into the whole rule of thirds business. But I wouldn't try to do that in-camera until you're a little more advanced. In terms of light, composition can be a little tricky. For now, I would recommend shooting with the sun at your back, shooting directly at the subject. This is gonna give you the nicest colors, warmest vibrant colors and also it's just gonna be the easiest to expose. When you get a little more advanced ...

you can work on side lighting, channeled lighting and back lighting. These are a little more advanced and require a little more knowledge of your camera, so I would recommend you start with the sun at your back. Another aspect of composition I would really watch out for when you're a beginner, is making sure you don't have any branches coming through your subjects. These are really, really distracting. And just by stepping to the right, you can actually get a clear shot. And there's been times often where even I forget that, you know, oh, there's a Cedar Waxwing with a branch going through him, but if I just backed up a little bit, oh, okay, now I have a perfectly clear photo. So once you get that shot that you want, that kind of id shot, move and try to find a little more clear of an angle. Another key aspect to composition is your shooting angle, so this is like your perspective. There's a three to perspectives, there's shooting down, there's shooting eye level and then there's shooting up. There's not one correct angle. There's plenty of photo's where if you're shooting straight up at like an owl poking it's head out of it's nest hole, that's a really cool photo. Eye level stuff is really good for ducks, where you have water level and you have a beautiful reflection. So there's not one perfect angle. In general though, what I would recommend is you try to get as eye level to the bird as possible for now. When you start getting a little more advanced you can work on your compositions. Shooting straight up or shooting straight down.

Ratings and Reviews


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.

Student Work