I have always loved close-up and detailed photographs. I signed up for an online Macro photography class though without knowing the definition of Macro (I soon learned it’s when the object being photographed is the same size on the camera’s sensor as it is in real life).
It was a steep learning curve – i definitely felt out of my depth at times during my four week class – but i also loved it and learned so much.
Five things i learned
1. How to focus manually: it was the first time i’ve ever used the manual focus ring on my camera. I learned how to set the ring to the magnification i wanted and how to move my body to achive focus on the subject.
2. Light is (even more) critical in Macro photography: given the longer focal length (100mm Macro lens) and the higher shutter speeds (>200) & closed down aperture (~f7.1) i needed to capture sharp images, getting enough light was hard. I learned to bring the object closer to the light source and have the subject face towards the light, this sounds so obvious but has been a bit of a revelation to me over the past few months.
3. Colour theory & processing: the class refreshed my knowledge of the colour wheel and of the different ways to talk and about colour (in Photography Hue/Saturation/ Luminance vs Design Hue/Value/Intensity). It was so fun to shoot with different colour schemes in mind – monochromatic/analogous/complementary – and to experiment with manipulating colour in post-processing.
4. Macro composition techniques: my class introduced me to some more advanced composition techniques including the golden spiral and golden triangle as well as re-iterating the power of balance, the rule of thirds, diagonals and negative space.
5. How to freelense & other creative techniques: I had heard of freelensing before (when you turn your 50mm lens around and hold it against the sensor) but had always been too intimidated to try it. I experimented for the first time during my class and fell in love with the technique. I also discovered the power of a spray bottle for droplet effects.
Other learning thoughts & reflections
It was easy to get caught up in comparing my own images with those of my classmates and to then feel completely deflated. It happened at points during each week of the class. I tried to catch myself when I could feel it happening, take time to reflect (& take a break if i need to) and then work on bringing my focus back to my own progression. Reading through my notes and acknowledging how much i had learned seemed to help. The class also highlighted for me both the vulnerability and power of sharing my work. The days i shared images and dedicated time to giving feedback to classmates, usually Wednesdays and Saturdays, were some of the most inspirational of the class. I think though for me two days a week was the right amount, anymore may have added too much stress to my month.
I also need to figure out how to incorporate my new knowledge and skills into my life in a way that is inspirational as well as manageable. For Macro photography I think this will include: taking macro photos of our home flowers during the year; each season doing a solo shoot in a park with my macro lense; freelensing outside if i have my 50mm and including macro photos when planning more in-depth projects and shoots. My increased knowledge of light, colour, composition and manual focusing are applicable to all the photography i do.