Digital Photography for Naturalists

RGV BioU Mark

Instructors: Sean Beckett
May 27 - 28, 2021 | $265
Course size: 12 students
Please Contact Us to request scholarship assistance

Adaptations and Expectations for our 2021 BioU Programs:

We are monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic response carefully, and adjusting our policies and protocols accordingly. The following considerations are subject to change:

  • We will no longer be serving food or drinks this season. We ask that you please bring your own food.
  • Courses have been designed to take place largely in the field or in our event tent, but there may be 60-90 minutes of lecture per day in our large indoor classroom.
  • Course size has been reduced to 12 participants or fewer.
  • If you will be traveling from out of state, please contact us at least 30 days before the start of the course to evaluate the safety of your participation. NBNC may decline your participation according to state guidelines.

In order to keep you, our staff, and our community safe, NBNC is adhering to strict safety protocols based on CDC and VT Department of Health guidelines. We’re in this together, so here’s what you can expect from us, and what we ask of you as a participant of an in-person NBNC program:

What you can expect of us:

  • Breathing Room: We’ve capped all our BioU programs at 12 participants or fewer, and designed them to take place outdoors, with the exceptions of bathroom access, thunderstorm contingencies, and (in some cases) short-term use of the community room.
  • Cleanliness: All potential shared surfaces will have been sanitized before and after each program. No two programs will share the same indoor space (including bathrooms) on any given day. We’ll start each program with a briefing to ensure everyone is on the same page regarding behavior, expectations, masks, distancing, etc.
  • Professionalism: We have completed state-mandated safety trainings, established a staff/board safety committee and a COVID-19 Task Force, and are adhering to strict workplace guidelines to make sure we are taking appropriate measures to make NBNC a safe place to work, learn, and play.
  • Honesty: Our instructors will be following state safety guidelines, and complete health screenings prior to each program to ensure a healthy staff and a safe space for each program.
  • Respect: Our staff and instructors will wear a mask at all times (inside and outside), and maintain at least 6’ distance from all other people throughout all programs. 
  • Transparency: We want to make sure you are comfortable. If you’ve got questions or concerns about our programs and policies, please reach out to us at [email protected].

What we ask of you:

  • Honesty: Do not come to the program if you are feeling ill in any way. You’ll be asked to sign a waiver and health screening document upon arrival acknowledging that you are symptom-free and haven’t been at high risk of exposure to the coronavirus recently. If you develop COVID-like symptoms within 14 days after the program, notify NBNC immediately.
  • Respect: Wear a mask at all times (inside and outside), during NBNC programs. Maintain at least 6’ distance from all other people, including staff, during the program. Follow all safety guidelines explained by our staff.
  • Cleanliness: Sanitize bathrooms and other common surfaces before and after use, according to our guidelines posted in each space. Bring and use hand sanitizer, and wash your hands thoroughly.
  • Flexibility: Please understand that programs may be cancelled on very short notice, and that our protocols are continually adapting to best available science and expert recommendations. Refunds will be provided in the event of program cancellation.

Thank you for your support in keeping our community safe!


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.


Due to continued concerns around COVID-19, meals and beverages will not be provided this year. We ask that you please bring your own food.

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 Thursday at North Branch Nature Center. Course begins on Friday at a time of the instructor's choosing. Course concludes by 5 PM on Friday.

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. If the course needs to be cancelled within 30 days of the program, NBNC will provide a full refund. If you need to cancel due to concerns related to COVID-19, a full refund will be provided up to 48 hours before the course.

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