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Beginner's Guide to Bird Photography

Lesson 6 of 14


Ben Knoot

Beginner's Guide to Bird Photography

Ben Knoot

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Lesson Info

6. Composition


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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


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.

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.