David Tipling

Bird Photography

  • Recommended


    Includes personal feedback and tuition. More

  • $99

    Learn in an online classroom with no more than 20 classmates. More

Course Description

David Tipling is widely regarded as one of the best bird photographers in the world.  This course will reveal the secrets to capturing that perfect shot as practised by one of the world's leading bird photography experts.  

David will give you tips on bird photography, accompanied by advice on the best bird photography lenses and a full length course peppered with examples of some of the best bird photography in the world.

Achieving Your Best Bird Photography

Birds are all around us in our daily lives. Whether it be waders on a windswept estuary or tame ducks in a city park, photographing wild birds is an art that has to be learnt. Good technique is important and will be covered in detail from lighting to creating eye catching compositions. We will explore how different focal length lenses, the best bird photography lenses, your positioning and angle of view all change the feel of a picture. We look at the best ways of supporting a long bird photography lens and how to use a short lens even a compact camera for taking eye catching results. Often the difference between capturing a great shot as opposed to something that is acceptable, but no more, is having the knowledge of how shutter speed and aperture selection can influence the end result. Where in the frame should the bird go, should I shoot in portrait or landscape format? Bird photography however, requires more than just good technique, it needs field-craft.

Bird Photography Tips

You will learn to spot certain signals a bird gives off before take off, how to approach a wary species, positioning of hides, attracting birds to the garden and tips on likely locations that you can try visiting in your neighbourhood for a successful shot. These and many more questions will be answered as we delve down into how to photograph three different groups of birds. We finish with a master-class on capturing birds in flight, and the ability to put some of what you have learnt in the previous lessons to good use.

Learning Outcome

On completion of this 4 week course you will have learnt good basic fieldcraft, along with the ability to consistently capture well exposed and creative images of birds. You will also have the knowledge to successfully shoot birds in flight.


This course will involve some travel to different locations, so before you book it, please make sure you have allowed enough time in your diary. Each week you will be asked to submit 3 images of different types of birds. Lesson one is the easiest for most people as it covers garden birds. Lesson 2,3 and 4 will involve travel to various locations to photograph the different bird varieties. For wild fowl and waders, you you will need to find a suitable pond, river, mudflats or estuary to photograph, or alternatively a zoo or farm, where you can photograph captive birds.

Equipment required:

DSLR or Compact Camera with good zoom lens

A Tripod

Course outline

  • Garden Birds

    We first discuss the ideal all round equipment for photographing birds and take a brief look at the basics of exposure and choosing both appropriate shutter speeds and depth of field.

    We then look at attracting birds to a garden or indeed woodland feeding station. The best way of siting a bird table for light and backgrounds, concealment, hides or using a garden shed or your home as a hide and the props you need to make natural looking images. We examine how to encourage a bird on to a particular perch and then how to frame your subject. Finally we look at manipulating the light and techniques for making striking images that go beyond simple portraits.

  • Wildfowl

    Wildfowl the collective name for ducks, geese and swans are one of the most accessible and dynamic subjects on offer to the bird photographer. They generally inhabit open environments, are often very approachable or gather together outside the breeding season in spectacular flocks.

    This lesson will look at reading the signs these birds give off whether they are about to take flight or exhibit some other form of behaviour. We will look at how your angle of view can dramatically influence the feel of an image, and delve into how perspective can change depending on the focal length of lens used. Flocks can offer all sorts of creative opportunities from freezing action to experimenting with motion blur.

    Guidance will be given on seeking out great places to photograph wildfowl and being creative when your subject is tame.

  • Waders

    Many species of waders or shorebirds as they are commonly referred to in the US travel vast distances, migrating across oceans and continents to and from their breeding and wintering grounds. Some species can be approached by careful stalking, others require more planning with the provision of a hide.

    Various techniques for photographing waders will be discussed including tips on stalking and the pros and cons of wearing camouflage gear when doing so. Roosting flocks such as Knot can offer exciting opportunities and we look at using the landscape around our subject as a key feature of the composition.

    Finally we investigate how some images of waders can work best when converted to black and white.

  • Birds in Flight

    Successful flight photography other than when an opportune moment presents itself, usually means being in the right place at the right time. Our final lesson examines how forward planning and anticipating an opportunity will reap rewards. We look at how depth of field and shutter speeds are crucial to securing a well executed image.

    Tips are given on which species offer the best flight opportunities, and we look at how birds can be manipulated to fly in front of the camera. This final lesson will also draw on much we have learnt in the previous three sessions that when used together help secure images of birds in flight, the most challenging aspect of bird photography.

Choose how you want to learn

  • The Expert option


    Develop your learning further with marked assignments and personal tuition from David Tipling

    • Start course whenever you like
    • 4 weeks tutor access for personalised assignment feedback & coaching
    • 4 assignments marked by David Tipling
    • Certificate of completion from David Tipling
    • Online classroom with up to 20 classmates
    • 4 lessons with expert videos & notes
    • Group chat & direct message with tutor & classmates
    • Lifetime access to videos, notes & classroom
    Learn more
  • The Peer option

    Discover the benefits of group learning in an online interactive classroom of no more than 20 people. Get the most from shared knowledge and community study

    • Start course whenever you like
    • Practise what you learn with your peers
    • Online classroom with up to 20 classmates
    • 4 lessons with expert videos & notes
    • 4 course assignments
    • Group chat & direct message classmates
    • Lifetime access to videos, notes & classroom
    Learn more

Learn better together

  • Online classroom

    Start anytime and join a class of no more than 20 students

    Start anytime and join a class of no more than 20 students
  • Test yourself

    Practice what you learn with assignments after each lesson

    Practice what you learn with assignments after each lesson
  • Personal tuition

    Exclusive assignment feedback from Expert Tutors

    Exclusive assignment feedback from Expert Tutors
  • Share

    Share ideas with classmates from around the world

    Share ideas with classmates from around the world

Meet David Tipling

David Tipling - Photography
David Tipling is one of the World’s most widely published wildlife

photographers renowned for his artistic images of birds. His many accolades

include a coveted European Nature Photographer of the Year Award (2002)

for work on Emperor Penguins, and in North America, Nature’s Best

Indigenous Peoples Award (2009) for his pictures of Mongolian eagle hunters.

He is the author or commissioned photographer for many books including the

RSPB Guide to Digital Wildlife Photography (Bloomsbury) and Penguins –

Close Encounters (New Holland). In 2013 after 6 years work visiting 39

countries on all seven continents the critically acclaimed Birds & People

(Random House) was published. Recently published books include Seabirds

of the World, A Parliament of Owls and an instant best seller with Princeton

University Press, Britain’s Birds. His latest book A Bird Photographer’s Diary

charts his 30 year career in pictures. David writes regularly for various

magazines including Amateur Photographer.

TV and film work have seen appearances in front of the camera on

Springwatch and The One Show, while David has worked behind the camera

making short films and with author Jonathan Franzen on the documentary

Emptying the Skies.

David’s pictures hang in various collections around the World and have been

exhibited in New York’s Times Square, the Nikon Gallery in Japan and

recently the Mall Galleries in London.

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