Artistic Bird Photography Workshop


The workshop is split into 5 sessions. The first two sessions will be held online over zoom and will cover equipment, technique, and artistic guidelines for bird photography. Sessions 3 and 4 will be in-person at Sylvan Heights Bird Park 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.

Session 1) Saturday April 9, 2022
9 am - 3 pm (ET) online/zoom session (includes a break for lunch)

Session 2) Saturday April 23, 2022
9 am - 3 pm (ET) online/zoom session
(includes a break for lunch)

Session 3) Thursday May 5, 2022
9 am - 3 pm (ET) in-person photo shoot session
at Sylvan Heights Bird Park. Participants can stay longer and photograph more on their own 3-4 pm (optional)

Session 4) Friday May 6, 2022
9 am - 3 pm (ET) in-person photo shoot session
plus lecture at Sylvan Heights Bird Park Participants can stay longer and photograph more on their own 3-4 pm (optional)

Session 5) Saturday May 14, 2022
1 pm - 4 pm (ET) online/zoom session
for participant image review and feedback

Each of the online sessions will be recorded so they can be watched offline for reference or if 100% attendance isn't feasible.

Workshop Fee:

ACT NOW: Save $50
when you register
by March 26, 2022

$645 Early Registration
$695 Registration after 3/26/2022


Mary Louise Ravese
Bella Vista Photography
(919) 307-9054 (East Coast)

Getting There

Photo by Alan Clark

The workshop is based at Sylvan Heights Bird Park in Scotland Neck, North Carolina.

If driving, sample drive times:

Raleigh, NC: 1.5 hrs

Wilmington, NC 2 hr 50 min

Fairfax, VA: 3.5 hrs

Charlotte, NC 4 hrs


The Scotland Neck Inn is located around 2 miles away from Sylvan Heights Bird Park.

Scotland Neck Inn
308 S. Main Street
Scotland Neck, NC 27874
(757) 826-5141

Chain hotels are available in the towns of Rocky Mount (40 min drive) or Tarboro (30 min drive).

Comments from Previous
Workshop Participants

  Titmouse by Alan Clark
"It would be hard to overstate what a terrific workshop Mary Louise provided us in September 2020. Despite the challenges of the pandemic (and in part because of that), she and Alan Clark gave us far more attention and instruction than we could have expected through a series of detailed Zoom meetings. As one who was struggling with the technology of a new camera plus Lightroom and Photoshop, I emerged with much more confidence. Then the trip to Sylvan Heights Bird Park was the icing on the cake. This reserve, set up mainly to educate the public and protect endangered species, is a perfect place for practicing photography among thousands of beautiful and obviously very happy birds." - Julia M.

“Mary Louise knows her stuff, knows how to teach, friendly and fun to boot – Sandra B.

“Mary Louise does a great job adapting to the level of a student's knowledge – David W.

“Good value for the money, learned so many new techniques and skills neeeded to continue work at home afterwards – Lori S.

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Images copyright
Mary Louise Ravese or Alan Clark,
All Rights Reserved


Goldfinches by Alan Clark Have you ever watched birds fly, swoop, eat, fight, court, or play out any of their myriad of amazing behaviors and said to yourself: I wish I could capture this moment? Birds provide a fascinating and inspiring subject to the photographer, and also a hugely challenging one. Artful bird photography is inspired by and celebrates our fascination with birds from our own backyards to vast natural expanses. It is a way of seeing birds and striving to photograph them in ways that capture our imagination.

Unique Photo Opportunities Await You

Hands-on photo shoots will be conducted at Sylvan Heights Bird Park, a unique 18-acre facility featuring walk-through aviaries that give an up-close view of a variety of birds from around the world, ranging from waterfowl to parrots, flamingos, exotic birds and more! It is the largest bird park in North America and the largest waterfowl park in the world.  Additionally, before our hands-on session at Sylvan Heights we will have a series of live webinar sessions to get participants prepared with equipment and techniques. Then a week after our hand-on sessions, we will have a follow-up webinar when class participants can receive feedback on a selection of their workshop images. All webinar sessions will be recorded so they can be reviewed afterwards.

Note, for those with mobility issues, lots of photo opportunities are available with just limited walking. Rolling photo bags can be used on the paved walkways.

What will you learn? 

  • The difference between artistic and documentary bird photography, considering such factors as composition, subject isolation, story-telling and visual impact
  • Key bird photography features for camera, lens, and other accessory equipment
  • Technical shooting considerations and techniques
  • How to shoot common bird photography scenarios including backyard, captive, and in the wild
  • How to shoot individuals or groups of birds, either in flight or at rest
  • How to deal with environmental considerations from time of day and seasons, to wind and atmospheric conditions
  • Practical bird photography tips
  • Post-processing considerations for bird images
  • Resources for bird photography

Who Should Attend 

My Eyes on You by Mary Louise Ravese Intermediate to advanced photographers, or those who are comfortable using their camera in aperture priority or shutter priority modes 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.

Workshop size: 7-14 participants with our two instructors.

Suggested Equipment

DSLR or mirrorless camera with lenses in the 100-300mm range. Lenses with longer focal lengths in the 400- 600mm focal length range would be a plus. Additional equipment recommendations will be supplied upon registration. Some equipment, like long lenses can be rented if you don't currently own one.

What's included with your tuition

  • Photo by Alan Clark Over 10 hours of lectures on bird photography planning, equipment and shooting techniques (offered as live, interactive webinars)
  • Lecture notes and resource handouts
  • Hands-on photo shoots, guided by two instructors
  • 2 days admission to Sylvan Heights Bird Park
  • Follow-up webinar when class participants can receive feedback on a selection of their workshop images
  • 2 boxed  lunches while at Sylvan Heights Bird Park

What's not included with your tuition

  • Lodging
  • Ground Transportation to Sylvan Heights Bird Park

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.

MLRMary Louise Ravese specializes in fine art nature and travel photography from locations across the world. Her photographs are in private, university & 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 also 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 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.