Backyard Bird Photography Workshop

Do you struggle with photographing wildlife?  

Are your action shots not as sharp as you'd like? 

Do you feel like you miss capturing the critical moment in your wildlife or action photographs?

Do you feel like you rarely get good birds in flight images?

Do you find it challenging to practice backyard bird photography, so it's hard to get better?

This is the workshop for you...

Backyard Bird Photography Workshop with instructors Mary Louise Ravese and Alan Clark

  • April 13 (online / zoom session) for learning settings and technique. This session will also be recorded so it can be reviewed afterwards.
  • April 21-23  (in-person hands-on photo shoot in Clemson, South Carolina) 
  • May 4 (online / zoom session) for participant image review and feedback. This session will also be recorded so it can be reviewed afterwards.

Class size limited to 8 participants

ACT NOW: Save $50 when you register by February 29, 2024

$699 Early Registration by 2/29/24
$749 General Registration after 2/29/24

The workshop is split into 5 sessions. The first session will be held online over zoom. Sessions 2, 3 and 4 will be in-person in Clemson, SC where participants can practice with the guidance of the two instructors. Session 5 will be online over zoom and offer participants the opportunity to share a selection of their images and receive constructive feedback from the instructors.

Fantastic wildlife photography opportunities exist right in your own backyard and species vary with the seasons.

Join photographers Mary Louise Ravese and Alan Clark in an intermediate workshop on how to artfully photograph backyard birds. Learn new skills through a combination of lectures, hands-on photo shoots and a participant image feedback session. Practice photographing backyard birds a few feet away from a photo blind at a specially designed backyard bird habitat in Clemson, South Carolina.

In this workshop you'll learn the secrets to capturing beautiful bird portraits and gain insights to the key factors for creating a bird-friendly habitat suitable for photography in your own backyard. You will learn about the best camera settings, shooting technique and composition for creating beautiful backyard bird images in live online (zoom) sessions in preparation for a day and a half in-person photo shoot at a private property location specifically designed for backyard bird photography. This shooting location offers multiple perches, water features, and two large photo blind structures - each large enough to comfortably seat 5 photographers at a time.

This workshop is suitable for photographers with mobility issues, since photographers can sit in the photo blind and photograph either handheld or with a tripod. The birds are acclimated to the setting and come in relatively close to the blinds - typically within 10-25 feet. As a result, heavy, long telephoto lenses are not required and more manageable zoom lenses in the 150 - 600 mm focal length range can work very well in this environment.

Some birds that may be sighted during the workshop include: Northern Cardinal, Carolina Chickadee, Carolina wren, Tufted titmouse, Ruby-crowned kinglet, House Finch, American Goldfinch, American Robin, American Crow, Common Grackle, Brown-headed Nuthatch, White-breasted Nuthatch, Red-winged Blackbird, Eastern Bluebird, Pine warbler, Yellow-rumped warbler, Yellow-throated warbler, Brown- headed Cowbird, White-throated sparrow, Chipping sparrow, Downy woodpecker, Red-bellied woodpecker, Blue Jay, Eastern Towhee, Mourning Dove, Hermit Thrush, Brown Thrasher, Northern Mockingbird. Adding to the possibilities, the workshop is timed so there is a good chance of capturing the birds with colorful spring flowers like azaleas and wisteria. Of course, Mother Nature will dictate which birds and flowers will actually be seen.

For those who would like to extend their visit to the Clemson, SC area, other local attractions for photography include the South Carolina Botanical Garden in Clemson and the Blue Ridge Mountains which are a short drive away.

About the InstructorS

Having access to two instructors means more personal attention to your individual learning needs thanks to a low student to instructor ratio.

Mary Louise Ravese specializes in fine art nature and travel photography from locations across the world. Her photographs are in private, university and corporate collections in over 40 states and are exhibited nationally. She has published images in calendars, magazines, books and websites. Mary Louise is a regular speaker and competition judge for photography clubs She enjoys teaching on a wide range of topics related to nature, travel and creative photography. Based in North Carolina, Mary Louise leads classes and workshops at a variety of locations across the US and abroad.

Alan Clark is an award-winning nature and landscape photographer who combines his 30+ years of professional environmental work with a life-long passion for nature and photography. Alan worked as a coastal wetlands biologist for over seven years with the State of Maryland, taking evening classes in photography at the Maryland Institute of Art. Since retiring as an environmental planner from North Carolina in 2012, he has been able to devote time to his photographic art. He has won or placed in numerous nature photography contests and juried shows including, but not limited to, Wildlife in North Carolina Magazine’s Annual Photography Contest, the Appalachian Mountain Photography Contest, Carolina Nature Photographers Association’s (CNPA) Member’s Choice Contest, Augusta Photo Festival and the North Carolina Botanical Garden’s Native Bird Contest. He has had four solo exhibits and is a regular contributor to the North Carolina Nature Conservancy’s “Afield” magazine and other nature publications.

Who should attend

Intermediate to advanced photographers, or those who are comfortable using their camera in aperture priority, shutter priority and/or manual mode. Participants must be familiar with basic camera operation, including the setting of aperture, shutter speed, ISO and exposure compensation. During this workshop, the instructors will be able to offer personalized guidance suitable to your skill level. 

This workshop is suitable for those with mobility issues, since photographers can sit in the photo blind and photograph either using a tripod or handheld.

Suggested Equipment

DSLR or mirrorless camera with lenses in the 300 - 600 mm focal length range. A zoom lens e.g. 150 - 600 mm would be well suited for the shooting location. Additional equipment recommendations, including rental companies, will be supplied upon registration.

Getting there

The in-person portion of the workshop is based at a private property in Clemson, South Carolina. 

The closest airport is: 

Greenville/Spartanburg: 45 min drive

Other sample drive times: 

  • Atlanta, GA 2 hrs
  • Charlotte, NC 2 hr 15 min
  • Raleigh, NC: 4 hr 50 min

Lodging and Ground Transportation

Lodging and ground transportation to the photo-shoot location in Clemson, SC is not included in the tuition. The workshop hotel is about a 10 min drive from the photo-shoot location. A hotel room block at a negotiated rate is being held for workshop participants. Details will be supplied to registered event participants.

What past participants have said about this class

"If you'd like to learn to photograph birds, you couldn't ask for a better setting, better materials or better instructors. But it's more than a backyard birding workshop: you learn invaluable skills and techniques that can apply to every aspect of your photography whether or not your goal is bird photography." - Scottee C.

"I would absolutely recommend this workshop to other photographers. Mary Louise and Alan are incredibly knowledgeable about backyard bird photography and photography in general. They were very willing to share their knowledge and help me throughout the course." - Linda J.

"I liked everything about this workshop, and of all the workshops I've taken of yours, I think it was the best: Great location, informative materials, one-on-one help, good length, and fun people. And for me, as someone who has physical limitations, it was ideal." - Scottee C.

"I really enjoyed the workshop format! It was great to have lecture sessions on Zoom and then to have a field portion for the workshop to practice what we had learned with experts readily available to answer questions. I know it's hard with strangers for everyone to get comfortable. The instructors did an excellent job of making me feel comfortable. The feedback session was awesome! I learned something from each of the image critiques. I enjoyed hearing everyone's questions and the answers. I thought the detailed examples of changes to images were extremely useful. " - Linda J.

"What an incredible photo location and very easy to get around - no strenuous walks, wonderful blinds, perfect setup for photography. Plus Carl was a great host. Having your online sessions in advance is critical to doing well on site, and the session following the workshop to go over photos was an invaluable learning experience. Watching you work on photos was very helpful. " - Scottee C.

"The size of the workshop was just right. It allowed enough time to spend one on one with the instructors. I liked the small group. This was the best learning experience . I would highly recommend it to anyone. It was time well spent!!" - Harvestine M.

"I enjoyed learning from Alan, I always find him kind, patient and knowledgeable - both about birds and the best way to photograph them. He also is very supportive/encouraging of what I want to capture in my photos and how to do it with the equipment that I have. And Mary Louise, I always learn something new from you, and credit you with helping me make the progress I have had over the past four years." - Scottee C.

"Overall wonderful experience. Can't wait to see future offerings. " - Mark R.

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