Digital Photography for Naturalists

RGV BioU Mark

Instructors: Sean Beckett
May 23 – 24 | $295
Course size: 12 students


earn to better harness your camera and your artistic imagination to improve your nature photography and expand your naturalist skill set. In this course, we’ll delve into each part of the nature photography workflow, including conception, composition, exposure, camera technique, editing, and production. We’ll visit local natural areas in the morning and evening to take advantage of prime photography light, then return to the nature center for post-processing, evaluation, and instructional topics designed around the interests and experience of the group. Participants will leave with a group-critiqued portfolio of beautiful photographs, and a powerful new approach to walking in the north woods.

Course Goals

  • Participants will gain new techniques and frameworks for composing, photographing, and processing images of the natural world.
  • Participants will develop or strengthen their full artistic workflow by establishing and mastering routines and techniques that capitalize on each individual’s style and interests.

Course Objectives

  • Practice techniques for mastering creative use of shutter speed, aperture, focus, and exposure.
  • Instruction in topical subjects such as macro photography, wildlife photography, insects, botany, landscapes, etc. Topics chosen based on student interest.
  • Instruction and practice in post-processing technique and workflow.
  • Field-based photography activities exploring the intersection of composition technique and natural history investigation.
  • Develop fluency in analyzing and critiquing photographs via group evaluation of photographs taken during this course.

About the Instructor(s)

Sean Beckett is a professional naturalist photography guide who brings travelers to see and photograph North America’s powerful landscapes and charismatic wildlife. Sean leads expeditions with the World Wildlife Fund and Natural Habitat Adventures, and spends the bulk of his guiding seasons in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Sean is an artisan at Burlington’s Frog Hollow gallery, and owns Green Mountain Exposure, a Vermont-based photography and photo instruction business. Sean received his M.S. from University of Vermont’s Field Naturalist graduate program, and holds a bachelor’s degree in Biology and Environmental Studies. Sean is North Branch Nature Center’s Staff Naturalist and Program Director.


Coffee, tea, and light breakfast fare included with course fee. Picnic lunches (Saturday and Sunday) and a catered, buffet-style dinner (Saturday) are also included. Participants may opt out of meals and provide their own food instead. Those declining the included meals will be reimbursed for a portion of the course registration fee.

Required Materials and Recommended Reading

No required readings, though participants will be asked to submit a few favorite photos in advance of the course.

Participants are required to bring a laptop with photo editing software. This course will primarily use Adobe Lightroom Classic, but alternatives are fine, as long as the participant is comfortable using their software.


Course begins 9 AM on May 23rd at North Branch Nature Center. Saturday dinner is at 6 pm. An optional evening session follows dinner.
Course begins on Sunday at a time of the instructor's choosing. Course concludes by 5 PM on May 24th.

Academic Credit / Professional Development:

This course qualifies for 1 graduate-level science credit for an additional $150 course fee. All BioU courses are accredited by Castleton University. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that home institutions will accept the credit. Participants pursuing academic credit will be required to complete an additional assignment above and beyond the course hours, including literature review, reflective writing, or a field-based project.

This course qualifies for 20 hours of professional development hours and continuing education units. Certificates of completion are provided at the conclusion of the course.

Cancellation Policy

While we realize that unexpected circumstances arise that are out of our control, North Branch Nature Center cannot guarantee refunds for registrations cancelled within 30 days of the course.  If a cancellation occurs within this window, NBNC will attempt to fill the space from our wait list and provide a full refund.

North Branch Nature Center

713 Elm Street
Montpelier, Vermont 05602
(802) 229-6206
[email protected]

Office Open Monday-Friday from 9 am to 4 pm
Trails Open 24/7