Photographing and Observing Birds

May 01, 2020 - May 03, 2020

Photographing birds requires some specialized photographic techniques, as well as a comfortable familiarity with the subject matter. For this class, we're tackling the topic from both fronts — the techniques of both photography and observation.

Our local bird species are some of the most appealing creatures to capture on our cameras, but they can also be some of the trickiest. Many of them are tiny, they move quickly, and their behavior can seem almost unpredictable. In this class, we'll brush up on observation strategies to help you get the most from your time in the field. We'll discuss where to look for birds, how to observe more carefully, and how to decode bird behavior. We'll also practice identification skills, helping you learn which birds you're likely to find as well as tips and tricks for identifying new species.

Class time will be spent in lecture, group exercises, and skill building; our time in the field will consist of semi-guided practice, so you can exercise your photography skills with a birder on-hand to answer any questions!

Photographic topics include:

  • A review of exposure for bird photography
  • Manual and aperture priority exposure modes
  • Spot metering and evaluative/matrix metering
  • Depth of field
  • Single focus and continuous focus
  • Back button focus
  • Using image stabilization and/or a tripod
  • Best times of day and lighting for photographing birds

You don't need any special equipment to enjoy doing bird photography. This class is designed to show you how you can get good photos of birds using the gear you already own.

It is important that you are comfortable with basic camera controls (f-stops, shutter speeds, depth of field, ISO) in order to take this class. The field shoot is not a time to learn these basics. If you do not have a good understanding of these concepts and how your camera works, we suggest that you enroll in Photo Fundamentals I and/or Photo Fundamentals II prior to taking this class.

Meeting Space

This course will be held in Room #204 at RMSP. To get to Room #204, enter through the double doors at the address below. Take the stairs to the second floor, turn right and the classroom will be directly in front of you. There will be signs posted in the building directing you to your classroom.

Rocky Mountain School of Photography
210 N Higgins Avenue
Missoula, MT 59802
(800) 394-7677


Schedule

Session 1: Friday, May 1, 6:00 - 9:00 p.m., in Room 204 at RMSP

  • Lecture Part I: The basics of bird photography - light, exposure and depth of field for both stationery birds and birds in flight. Also, how to use a tripod correctly.
  • Lecture Part II: Observation strategies and identification skills

Session 2: Saturday, May 2, 8:30 - 11:30 a.m. at Council Grove State Park

  • We will start with a short orientation to the location. We'll have two hours of shooting time and end with a wrap-up talk.

Session 3: Sunday, May 3, 1:00 - 4:00 p.m., in Room 204 at RMSP

  • Critique of student work shot over the weekend, plus a short talk on gear.

You'll have over 24 hours between the field shoot and class the following afternoon to allow you time for more shooting. (We'll mention shooting oppportunties at Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge and the Bison Range.) Since we will review images shot exclusively during the weekend of the class, to make the most of the critique you might want to do a little more shooting beyond the class field trip.

Equipment

  • Digital SLR camera or interchangeable-lens mirrorless camera (If you are unsure whether your camera fits into either of these two categories, please call us and ask!)
  • The longest lens you own! Optimum is a lens of at least 300mm equivalent — either a zoom or prime lens. For those thinking of getting deeper into this type of photography, you'll enjoy the short lecture on lenses that Neil will give during the last session of this class.
  • An easy-to-use tripod, if you do not have stabilization built into your camera body and/or lens.
  • No filters or flash is necessary.
  • Note-taking materials
  • Memory card(s)
  • Spare batteries for equipment
What is RMSP's Evening Course schedule?

Please see our Evening Course listings.

What is the cutoff date for registration?

We accept registrations on a first-come first-served basis until a course is full. Register early!

How do I register?
  1. Register online.

  2. Call the RMSP offices at (406) 543-0171 or 1-800-394-7677.

How many participants are in Evening Courses?

Depending on the course there can be a maximum of 14, 16 or 20 students.

What is RMSP's Evening Courses cancellation policy?

Tuition is refunded in full minus a $25 processing fee (per course) if you notify RMSP at least five business days before the course start date. If your cancellation is received fewer than five days prior to the course start date, full tuition is retained by RMSP. No refunds are given for cancellations or no-shows after the course is in progress. Refunds will be processed within 30 days after our office receives notice of cancellation.

What equipment will I need for my class?

Please check under the Equipment tab for your particular class to see what you should bring.

Please feel free to contact us either by phone or email with any further questions you may have. We look forward to welcoming you to an RMSP Evening Course!

Cancellation Policy

Tuition is refunded in full minus a $25 processing fee (per course) if you notify RMSP at least five business days before the course start date. If your cancellation is received fewer than five days prior to the course start date, full tuition is retained by RMSP. No refunds are given for cancellations or no-shows after the course is in progress. Refunds will be processed within 30 days after our office receives notice of cancellation.

Tuition
$75

Instructors

INSTRUCTOR
Neil Chaput de Saintonge
Neil Chaput de Saintonge, a former junior high science teacher, has taught photography for almost 50 years, to over 20,000 students. In that time, he has taught classes and workshops in the United States, Canada and New Zealand. He is well-known for his enthusiasm, technical knowledge and love of teaching. In 1973, Neil studied under Ansel Adams. In Professional Intensive, Summer Intensive and Workshops, Neil lectures, critiques student work, and meets one-on-one with students to talk about cameras and lenses, and - most importantly - he helps them find their own path in photography. Neil’s photography interests include ballet, documentary, people, landscape and fine art. In 1979, Neil founded the Southeastern Center for the Arts in Atlanta, Georgia, a two-year school that trained students for careers in graphic arts and photography. After vacationing in Montana in 1988, Neil and his wife Jeanne moved to Missoula and started Rocky Mountain School of Photography. Neil has also been a licensed massage therapist for 30 years, is a Reiki Master and teaches healing work.
INSTRUCTOR
Drew Lefebvre

Drew Lefebvre is a naturalist, birder, and general outdoor-enthusiast, and she holds an MS in Environmental Education from the University of Montana. She has led a variety of adult education programs, including citizen science, natural history, and trail work crews, and currently works as the Museum Programs Coordinator at the Montana Natural History Center. She enjoys guiding students toward a deeper understanding of the outdoor areas and ecosystems that are right on our doorstep.

Perks of Registering

EDU Advantage Program

By registering and completing any course with us, you will automatically be eligible for EDU status with B&H Photo. EDU members can save money on select items sold by B&H.

Creative Cloud Subscription

The software you use in your workflow is almost as crucial as your camera. Register for any RMSP course and you will receive a code to save 15% on a Adobe Creative Cloud subscription for the first year.

What Gear Do You Need?

Want a specific lens for a workshop? Need some extra gear for your next shoot? Renting gear from Lens Pro To Go allows you to try before you buy! Upon registering for a course, you will receive a discount code for 10% off your next rental.