Macro Digital Photography Workshop – 2nd April 2011

Macro Digital Photography Workshop with Jo Andreae

                                    South Hill Park Art Centre, Bracknell

2nd April 2011

One of my fellow OCA students had told me about this Course and recommended Jo as she had been to previous workshops with her.  The two of us went together which was good as it gave us time at lunch to talk about TAOP together as well and share progress. I was hoping to improve my macro shots in preparation for one of the exercises in TAOP Part 2. Jo’s website is

My handwritten notes are in my paper log and here on the Blog I want to highlight some learning points for me.

  • How close you can get is limited by the type of lens you have.  I have a dedicated 100mm macro lens which is a good one. We also talked about extension tubes and close-up filters.
  • What is meant by close-up anyway? We gave our own definitions such as the subject fills the frame; you may pick out a particular feature of a larger subject.
  • Focusing: It’s best to use manual setting and if you use dof preview you have to give it time to adjust (like going into a dark room and waiting for your pupils to adjust.  I’m actually used to using live view now as I had done some mini projects on my own at home.)  Of course, only the previous week I had been on a Landscape Workshop where I’d used manual most of the day so it was pretty fresh in my mind.
  • Background: think of the background colour.  If the background is white and there is more than 50% of white in the photograph then you have to compensate the exposure.  Jo suggested using a piece of grey photograph and I also learned that many camera bags are grey inside and this is photographic grey.  If all else fails you can use the palm of your hand as well if it isn’t sun-tanned.
  • Depth of Field: We reminded ourselves about this and why a longer focal length macro lens needs a narrower aperture to ensure that everything you want is in focus. I’d kept getting confused about this before.  I think I probably still will for a while until it sinks into my memory banks!
  • Equipment: Apart from tripod and lenses etc, Jo gave us a tip of using a pencil with a rubber on the end to dink the shutter button. We talked about the use of  remote release and also the use of ‘bulb’ in manual mode.  Blue tack can be an essential in your bag of tricks, white tack is even better and easy to remove.
  • Composition:  In addition to the normal rules, Jo told us KISS (keep it simple stupid!).
  • Patience: Give yourself time to set up your tripod properly; be patient setting up manual focus; allow for changes in the weather if outside and remember that wildlife can fly away!
  • Shiny subjects: this came up as a result of looking at some of Jo’s macro shots.  Do you or don’t you get rid of shine with a polariser and exposure etc, or not worry so much if parts of the highlights are blown.

Photography session

As mentioned above I have done macro before as home with some reasonable results and I felt fairly confident. ”Pride goeth before a fall as they say”!  Jo had brought along various things for us to choose amongst and photograph.  I was at the end of the queue for choice.  Also, I couldn’t seem to get in the right frame of mind and was tending to do standard shots straight on which looked boring.  Jo spent some time with me encouraging me to look at things in a different way, to think of the angle, focus on texture.

Here are some of the images.

I’m hoping to improve as time goes by. Jo is a really good tutor and I enjoyed her relaxed and humorous style.  I absorbed information without realizing it was happening. It’s just my luck that she’s taking a sabbatical to write a book on architecture.

2nd April 2011