We Simplify The Technical!

Nature photographer Mary Lundeberg shares tips and techniques for photographing birds against a background of sand and surf.

*Please scroll to the bottom of the post for more images from our guest.*

Episode 171

Tips for Photographing Birds at the Beach
with Mary Lundeberg

“My primary goal with photography is to preserve the beauty of Southwest Florida.”

The Approach

  • Stand back – don’t rush in. Take the time to observe.
  • Don’t make a beeline for your subject – take a wide arc, stop along the way, and let them get used to your presence.
  • Watch how the birds are moving. Set up your tripod in an area that will let the birds come to you.
  • Get low to the ground and be still to be less threatening to the birds.


  • Backpack or camera bag – ALWAYS keep your camera and lenses in a bag at the beach – salt and sand can wreak havoc on your equipment.
  • Towel to lay on.
  • Kneeling Pad– for kneeling OR as a base for your camera on the sand.
  • Tripod – Gitzo Carbon Fiber
  • Gimbal head – Mongoose Generation 4
  • Telephoto Extender
  • 100-400 mm lens and 600 mm lens

Get to Know Your Subjects

  • Learn what birds might be seen in that area and look up some of their behaviors.
    Cornell University Ornithology
    Florida Shorebird Alliance
    – Park Rangers are also a great source of information.
  • The variety of birds changes with the season. Migration and nesting cycles are different for each species.
  • Spend time with the birds. Learn to predict their behavior and be ready.
  • Get involved in organizations and conservation groups.

Other Tips

  • Be aware and present in the moment – the beach and surf can be damaging to your equipment.
  • Pay attention to the background – MOVE and position yourself for the best shot.
  • Increase exposure compensation +1/3 to +2/3 to correct for the brightness at the beach.
  • Use AI Servo /AFC– Continuous Focus to track and focus on moving subjects.
  • If taking pictures of a flock, it’s best to capture the flock as they land. Try a slightly slower shutter speed to capture the energy and movement– 1/50s to 1/25s.
  • Most of the time the sun should be at your back, BUT the beach also has great backlighting options because of the reflectivity of the sand and water.

Mentioned on the Show

Which Gimbal Head to Buy and Why

Finding Mary




    Listen to the Understand Photography Show on iTunes:  https://tinyurl.com/y66g545vTo leave us a review (we’d REALLY appreciate it!), click on LISTEN ON APPLE PODCASTS, then OPEN IN iTUNES


    Understand Photography
    General Notes 


    What you need to learn for a solid photography education.  Watch our free video:



    Upcoming Trips:

    Everglades 4 Day Adventure
    Jan 16-19, 2020
    (SOLD OUT!)

    Everglades 4 Day Adventure
    Jan 30-Feb 2, 2020
    (SOLD OUT!)

    Everglades 4 Day Adventure
    Feb 4 – 7, 2020
    (1 OPENING!)

    Everglades 4 Day Adventure
    Feb 10 – 13, 2020

    Florida’s Forgotten Coast 
    March 25-29, 2020
    (SOLD OUT!)


    Understand Photography is a member of the Amazon Associates Program.

    I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, and/or link to any products or services from this website. Your purchase helps support my work in bringing you  information about photography


    Gear Recommendation of the Week

    ExOfficio Bug Jacket

    Head off the beaten path with confidence in the ExOfficio Lightweight Jacket, thanks to the built-in BugsAway technology featuring Permethrin that repels insects such as ticks and mosquitoes for up to 70 washes as well as providing protection from bug-borne illnesses like Lyme disease and Zika. The adjustable drawcord hood, cinched hem and elasticized cuffs provide additional protection, while the chest and side pockets store the essentials for easy on-the-go access. When your trek is done, this hooded jacket packs into its own security pocket for convenient storage in your backpack or suitcase.






    Mary Lundeberg Least Tern feeding junior at Lido Beach
    Mary Lundeberg Eat your fish, little one
    Mary Lundeberg LETE dive bombing yellow-crowned night-heron
    Mary Lundeberg Checking on newly hatched chick with eggteeth
    Mary Lundeberg Least tern looking at newborn chick
    Mary Lundeberg Attitude
    Mary Lundeberg Skimmer: Orange minnow orange tongue

    Pin It on Pinterest

    Share This