5. Set your exposure. For birds in flight, the best approach is manual exposure. Meter for the intended subject and it will be exposed properly, regardless of the background. But if you're truly a beginner, start with program mode and bracket until you get the hang of it. In manual mode, use partial or evaluative metering to get a light reading for your subject. I often meter off grass, trees, and shrubs, as well as blue sky. Shutter speed is vital to stop motion -- select 1/1250 sec or faster, with an ISO of 320-400.