Macro Photography challenges even the most experienced photographers to see their subject matter in a new way, from a new perspective. It's all about getting up-close and personal. From crisp detail in a flower to more abstract images of color and texture, Macro photography is an exciting photographic genre and can take your skills to the next level.
On a bright, sunny Sunday, 6 brave test subjects, I mean students, arrived at our Aperture Academy studio in San Jose, CA, to participate in our inaugural Macro Photography Workshop! There were lots of familiar faces as everyone was a returning student, which is always nice to see. Our students got settled in and it was time to get underway.
Because this was our first Macro class, the legendary Stephen Oachs himself welcomed everyone and thanked them for coming, then it was up to Phil and DeAnna, the instructors for the day, to get things rolling.
We started off with some introductions to find out a little more about our students and the type of camera gear they brought with them. Everyone was properly equipped with a Macro lens, tripod, and shutter release.
After the introductions were complete, the students were treated to a presentation introducing Macro Photography. The presentation covered the distinction between Macro Photography and "Close-up" photography, and some of the equipment that is available. Next, we moved on to the more technical aspects involving the exposure triangle, reviewing how depth of field impacts Macro photography, which is important to understand because minor adjustments can make a big impact on the finished image. Finally, we reviewed the creative aspects of composition, reminding students that the use of leading lines, and rule of thirds principles can be applied to Macro photography the same as in Landscape, Wildlife, or Portrait photography, just on a much smaller scale.
With the basics covered, it was time to let the fun begin and start shooting. We helped each student get set up at a light station, with several objects and subject matter for our students to work with and challenge their creativity. The next 90 minutes were spent setting up subjects and helping students choose the best angles and lighting to get the shots they wanted. Students worked with three different subjects and environments, from fruit to flowers, to a little abstract with food coloring. Phil worked with each student to get some "stacking" images. This involves taking several images, each one with a different plane of the image in focus, so that when "stacked" in Photoshop, you get one image that is sharp all the way through.
We had a little extra time before the lunch break, so everyone had the chance to pick their own subject from the available items and let their creativity break free! It was so much fun seeing what people would come up with and how they saw their images. With such variety of subject matter everyone was able to find something to connect with and get some really beautiful images.
Soon it was time to break for lunch so that we could transform our studio stations into the classroom for processing.
After lunch, our students returned to see workstations ready to process the gorgeous photos from the morning's effort and they quickly got to importing their images into Lightroom.
DeAnna walked the students through her basic workflow, discussing how to review and select their favorite images in the Library Module. Then moving to the Develop Module, covering how to crop an image, adjust exposure, contrast and white balance. Next, Phil showed everyone the focus stacking technique and how to take "stacked" images and put them together using Photoshop layers to compile an image that is sharp and crisp throughout. The final results were spectacular and we soon realized what a truly talented bunch of students we had.
After a bit more time fielding specific questions from students, we set up for a group shot, and then, all too soon, our time had come to an end. After one final “Thank You” to our brave test subjects (I mean students), we sent them on their way to practice their new-found knowledge in Macro Photography, a fantastic time had by all!
Until next time…from DeAnna, Phil, Stephen and the rest of the Aperture Academy Team!
P.S. If you'd like to join us at one of our workshops, you can find the schedule/sign up here.