Photography: Close-up, Macro and Focus Stacking

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Learn the art of close-up and macro photography with our Photography courses in Sydney.

Learn the techniques and equipment (optical, lighting and support) needed to achieve sharply focused, well-exposed photographs of flowers, insects, water drops, miniatures, coins, jewellery and much more.

This intensive hands-on workshop will show you how to get the most from your DSLR and how to enhance its macro capabilities in very affordable ways. In this course, you will learn every type of close-up shot, from wide-angle to extreme macro, and equipment ranging from macro and reversed lenses to close-up attachments and bellows. It also covers focus stacking techniques (including processing through Photoshop) as well as software and equipment for extreme macro.

Please note that we currently offer two types of courses – classroom and live online via zoom platform. If you choose our live online option, a material kit with all necessary items will be delivered to your doorstep after enrolment.

Course outcomes

  • Hardware: Gain a solid understanding of what constitutes close-up and macro photography and what special equipment can help to get a sharp, well-exposed picture.
  • Lighting and exposure: Understand the nature of light and how to control exposure to get best colour, contrast and depth of field for c/u and macro.
  • Focus and depth of field: Learn the best ways to get sharp focus with a range of lenses and attachments and under a wide range of lighting conditions.
  • Close-up and macro: Learn how to photograph a range of small objects at different focal lengths and using a variety of attachments and light sources.
  • Extreme macro and focus stacking: Photograph at greater than 1:1 magnification using a range of optical, lighting and stabilising equipment as well as focus stacking.

Who is this course for?

  • Anyone who has a thorough working knowledge of their camera, aperture, shutter speeds, focusing and the basic principles of photography, or who has completed a beginner’s Photography course or similar.

Course outline

  • Students evaluate their camera’s c/u and macro features. Gain hands-on experience with a wide range of macro equipment, from camera bodies to lenses, diopter lenses, bellows, lighting equipment, supports, attachments, clips and clamps.
  • Students explore the relationship between shutter speed, aperture and ISO. Examine white balance and the advantage of RAW image format. Try different exposure meters built into cameras and pros and cons of different light sources for c/u and macro. Use daylight, tungsten/LED, standard and macro flash. Balance subject/background lighting.
  • Exploit depth of field and zone of focus to render sharp subjects and variously focused backgrounds. Find the “sweet spot” of a lens and avoid softening due to refraction. Holding the camera for sharp images at various shutter speeds. Using a tripod and macro rails at higher magnifications.
  • Photograph flowers, insects (dead specimens provided), miniature models, coins, jewellery, fabrics, and small objects (eg. for selling on eBay). Copy photos and prints. Use a light tent to control reflections and diffuse light. Explore limits of hand-held macro and when to use tripods etc. Explore composition, colour and texture on a macro scale. Use flash to freeze action.
  • Students photograph very small parts of insects, flowers, seeds etc using reversed lenses, bellows, extension tubes, stacked lenses and image stacking. Also, use different light sources and supports. Use focus rails for stacking, then process stacked images in Photoshop.

About your tutor

Nic van Oudtshoorn is a highly qualified tutor, photojournalist and macro specialist with more than 40 years experience. His skills have earned him the distinction of Associate of the prestigious Royal Photographic Society. His photographs have appeared worldwide in numerous books, newspapers and magazines, including Reader’s Digest and Time. As an accomplished documentary filmmaker, Nic’s video footage has been shown on TV internationally, including National Geographic and Discovery channels.

Essential materials

  • A DSLR – digital single-lens reflex camera / four-thirds or mirrorless camera with adjustable ISO and aperture settings.
  • Lens(es) - Either a macro lens or standard and/or telephotos lens/zoom lens with manual focus.
  • Laptop computer loaded with Helicon Remote (a free program from and Adobe Photoshop, a free 7-day trial version of Photoshop can be downloaded from (If you are unable to bring a laptop please contact us)

Optional items

  • Tripod
  • Focus rails and close-up filters (diopters)
  • Close-up filters and/or extension tubes
  • Macro flash or off-camera flash with cord and/or transmitter and diffuser
  • An extra battery and flashcard, as you will be using your camera, and reviewing your photographs frequently.
  • Card reader to cord to download images from your camera to your laptop.
  • Your camera’s instruction manual.
  • Notepad and pen or tablet


Photography: Close-up, Macro and Focus Stacking

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$199 Limited inc GST / $159.20 / $179.10

If there isn't a class to suit you, please join our waitlist and we will notify you when we have places available. Join Waitlist

If there isn't a class to suit you, please join our waitlist and we will notify you when we have places available. Join Waitlist

Course testimonials:

  • said: Nic is an engaging tutor and the level of information presented was at an appropriate level. Time allowed for the workshop worked well with a good balance of theory and time for practical application. Very happy with what I learned in this workshop.

  • said: This was a really enjoyable and fascinating course that made the world of macro photography accessible with theory, demonstrations, tips and a hands on workshop format. Each student produced series' of focus stacked images that were then shared with the class.

  • said: Useful, practical information for nerdy photographers. Lots of equipment to examine and understand.

  • said: Excellant. Great training, loads of valuable details and plenty of practical time, guidance and coaching. Highly recommended.

  • said: Enjoyed seeing all the equipment and hands on experience of focus stacking.

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