Photography (301) - Close-up, macro and focus stacking photography workshop

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Course description

Explore the amazing world of close-up and macro photography. Learn the techniques and equipment (optical, lighting and support) needed to achieve sharply focused, well-exposed photographs of flowers, insects, water drops, miniatures, coins, jewelry 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. The course covers 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.

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 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.
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.
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.
Optional Items
  • Tripod
  • Focus rails and close-up filters (diopters)
  • Laptop computer loaded with Helicon Remote (free program from www.heliconsoft.com) and Adobe Photoshop.
  • Close-up filters and/or extension tubes.
  • Macro flash or off-camera flash with cord and/or transmitter and diffuser.
  • An extra battery and flash card, 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

Avoid disappointment. Enrol early.

Please ensure that you have given a valid email and mobile number as all course changes will be communicated via sms or email.

Course testimonials:

  • Kate 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.

  • Annmaree said: It's very rare that you get the opportunity to learn from a photographer of Nic Ousthoorn's calibre. Nic's experience and knowledge is extraordinary and translates very well into an excellent course. The course not only provides well explained theory but also provides practical experience and guidance with equipment that would only be spoken about in most courses. I cannot recommend this course or any course run by Nic enough.

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