-[Melissa] I’m shooting at f/8, because I’ve got the teleconverter on. So I at aperture f/8 and ISO 1600. And my shutter speed is 1/2500th. Again, shutter speed is always the thing that I’m first thinking of. And trying to really freeze those birds in motion.

So on my Nikon I’ve chosen Group Area focus mode. It’s five different points that are gonna be able to grab that bird. And I think it’s gonna be better than just my Single Point focus right now. We’re working off of blue sky so that there’s nothing that can grab those other focus points. So this is one of those rare times when I will move off of Single Point focus. So we’ve got an Osprey hovering right here. It’s a bit behind us. So its flying into the wind and its kind of gone past the point at which we’re interested in photographing it.

We’re looking for anything this way. So the sun is shining on the bird and it’s flying towards us. So we’re gonna hang out here, sort of see if anything comes our way or if this Osprey loops back and starts fishing in this area again. Okay, I see an Osprey out there. It’s a little bit far but I’m gonna try to get some shots. It’s hovering in place and because the wind is so strong, it’s able to do that really easily. And that’s the great thing about photographing birds in flight when there’s a strong wind. Oh, it’s diving. It’s flying back this way now but I don’t think it has a fish. So maybe it’ll be hunting right here. We’ve got it right here.

It’s much closer. It’s against the blue sky and I’ve got five points enabled which are grabbing focus very, very easily. We’ve got such a great contrast with the sky. And I’m just tracking it, just following it the whole time with my lens and I keep bumping the focus even without pressing the shutter because I’m just trying to have my focus keep up with it. And wow, it’s really coming like, oh just did the shake. It’s right almost over us.

End of transcript

Get Exclusive Flight Photography Training—Excerpted from Our Comprehensive Course

Flight photography is a world unto itself—so we’re offering this exclusive excerpt on capturing great shots of birds in flight from our comprehensive Bird Photography course so you can get specialized training from award-winning wildlife photographer Melissa Groo.

  • Line up the perfect in-air shots by anticipating bird behaviors
  • Choose wind and lighting conditions for dynamic images
  • Optimize your gear and settings to capture birds in flight
  • Gain fieldcraft skills for adjusting on-the-fly to get the shot

How to Photograph Birds in Flight with Melissa Groo

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About This Course
  • Lessons inside: 2
  • Topics inside: 6
  • Completion time (estimated): 2 hours
  • Instructional videos: 7
  • Total instructional video time: 31 minutes
  • Level: Advanced
  • Categories: Art and Technical Skills
  • Discussion groups to keep you learning
  • Self-paced, no expiration date, 100% online
  • 60-day refund guarantee
Melissa Groo photographing birds in the ocean
Image: Matt Gelder
Your instructor, Melissa Groo, immerses herself to get the shot.

Why I Made This Course

"There’s nothing like the satisfaction of capturing a stunning photo of a bird in flight. It’s also one of the hardest things to achieve in wildlife photography. Drawing from what I’ve learned on my toughest assignments, I’ll guide you through the process of getting inspiration, choosing your locations wisely, getting birds in your viewfinder, and quickly adjusting to field conditions—all so you can finally achieve your flight photography goals."

Melissa Groo with Her Camera—Melissa Groo, Course Instructor
Red-and-green Macaws in flight
Red-and-green Macaws flying in formation

What's Inside

Excerpted from Melissa Groo’s comprehensive Bird Photography, this self-paced online course contains all you need to achieve your flight photography goals. Start with inspiration and composition, followed by expert tips on how to find birds and predict their behavior, and finally tackle fieldcraft techniques including settings, wind, light, and adjusting on the fly. With 30+ minutes of exclusive video content, you’ll benefit from Melissa’s thousands of hours in the field photographing birds and her extensive experience judging wildlife photography competitions.

How Much Am I Expected to Know in Advance?

We assume that you’ve spent some time with an SLR camera and are ready to explore beyond auto mode to capture compelling photos of small, fast-moving subjects. If you are just starting out, we’d recommend you take the full course that this course is excerpted from: Bird Photography with Melissa Groo, also available from Bird Academy.

Take a Free Peek Inside the Course

Preview a video focusing on key fieldcraft techniques.

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Course Overview

Lesson 1:
Train for Flight Photography Success

Get up to speed on how to align the sun, wind and the bird’s behavior for stunning photos, plus how taking the birds’ perspective can help your photography.

Lesson 2:
Gather Essential Fieldcraft to Get the Shot

Learn field-tested techniques for getting a bird in the frame, adjusting your settings as conditions change, and coming home with images that make you smile.

Meet the Course Instructor

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Satisfaction Guarantee

Our educators and birding experts take pride in the courses they create. If you're not satisfied with the material for ANY reason, contact us within 60 days of the start of the course or purchase for a full refund.

Alternative Course Access

Birds can inspire people accross boundaries to build a more sustainable world. At Bird Academy we want to share the love and knowledge of birds! If you would like alternative access to this course, please take a look at our Take Flight Program

Roseate Spoonbill with wings spread coming in for a landing
Roseate Spoonbill coming in for a landing

This Course is Entirely Online

There’s nothing to be shipped, and no additional material is necessary. Bird Academy courses are online, self-paced, and have no deadline to complete the course. You can return to them for reference or practice as often as you want. All course material, instructional videos, and discussions are available through your web browser. Learn anytime, anywhere*. Gain the skills and understanding you’re looking for.

*Requires an internet connection and a modern web browser.

Course Instructor: Melissa Groo
Course Producers: Mya Thompson, Laura Helft
Course Developers: Laura Helft, Karen Rodriguez, Kevin McGowan, Elissa Johnson, Mya Thompson, and Marla Coppolino
Video Producers: Shayna Muller and Karen Rodriguez
Video Editors: Shayna Muller and Eleven Lakes Media
Videographer: Karen Rodriguez
Second Camera: Darcy Rose
Web Designer and Illustrator: Jeff Szuc
Copy Editor: Marla Coppolino and Jill Leichter
Production Assistants: Andrew Schmalfuss, Elissa Johnson, and Jeff Szuc
Marketing and Promotion Bobby Stickel and Katherine Welch
Student Support: Lee Ann Van Leer
Special Thanks: Jim Verhagen, Shelley and Ron Cooper, Todd Gustafson, The Gelder Family, Ian Davies, Bobby Stickel, Stepfanie Aguillon, and Joy Pojim

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