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Beginner's Guide to Bird Photography

Lesson 7 of 14

Lighting for Bird Photography

Ben Knoot

Beginner's Guide to Bird Photography

Ben Knoot

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Lesson Info

7. Lighting for Bird Photography


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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

Lighting for Bird Photography

When you're out photographing birds there's about five different lighting situations you need to be aware of. There's flat or even light. There's the light right behind you so sun at your back. There's the light right in front of you so you're facing the sun. There's channeled light which is a very, very specific kind of light source that penetrates and only hits a part of the subject. And then there's side light. This is when you're shooting kind of perpendicular to your light source. An example of flat or even light is a Hummingbird on a perch in a a nice, shaded area. This is gonna give nice pure colors. Low in contrast but very, very pleasing to look at. An example of side light would be like a shorebird like a Dowitcher that's sitting in a pond and the sun is coming from my right and I'm shooting at it straight on. This is gonna illuminate one side of the bird and have the other side of the bird in the shade which is gonna give it a kind of a nice, artistic look. Next example of b...

ack lighting. An owl flying through a field with like a whole bunch of spiderwebs with bugs flying around and then the sun illuminating through the feathers of the owl, it gives it a really nice haloed edge kind of look. Another good one is the sun at your back, this is usually best done in the morning or in the late evening when the sun is at its golden hour. This is really good on ducks. Illuminates the water to a nice blue, gives a nice strong, vibrant, warm color and also these are gonna be very pleasing to look at. Another good one to look at is channeled light. Channeled light is one of the harder ones to find. It's usually caused by a breaking storm or sun shining through the trees at just the right angle or breaking through the clouds at just the right angle. It usually it creates a natural vignetting to your image and usually one part of your image is illuminated and that's where the eyes draws and these are generally the most artistic types of photos. These are all lighting sources that you should be on the lookout while you're out shooting.

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.