Macro Photography Workshop

The stars have aligned somewhat perfectly in the photo world recently in terms of workshops. While Anne and I aren’t really photo workshop junkies by any stretch of the imagination, we’ve been to 3 in roughly the past month. Two weeks ago, Rick Sammon was in town and we managed to grab free tickets to see him talk. OK, it wasn’t really a workshop, more of a lecture.

Today, we were lucky to be able to secure access to a workshop Charles Needle was giving on macro photography for the day. We’ve seen a lecture from Charles before, about 8 months ago. Charles works primarily in garden style macro photography and often his photographs involve the rich colors of flowers combined with an artistic style that Anne and I both have interest in. Given that macro photography is new to both Anne and me so it’s a natural new area for growth. Combined with the new macro lens I gave Anne for Christmas, it was a perfect chance to learn more about seeing in new ways.

The class had a short lecture in the morning but was primarily dedicated to shooting. Students were highly encouraged to bring macro lenses and tripods. Stations were set up around the room, and Charles brought what must have been a literal truckload of props ranging from live flowers to cut glass and stands. We all fanned out to stations and quickly lost ourselves trying to see in new ways, using the props to create new realities for the camera to capture.
This style of shooting was all new to me. When you look at the work Charles has put together, you can see the strong sense of complementary colors he chooses to help highlight his subjects. Since Anne and I shoot primarily in natural landscapes, I felt somewhat out of my depth needing to create my surroundings and having creating control over the subject, background, colors and textures my images would include.

There were several techniques that both of us experimented with that we’d really wanted to try for a while…

The Orton Effect

This is an effect where by taking one image in focus and stacking it with another that’s slightly out of focus, you can create a slight halo or softness to the image. I was able to do this in camera, using the image stacking feature to achieve a nice halo. It took some practice to try and realize the right amount of softness in the focus as well as the correct depth of field, but I was happy with my results.



Water Drops

Anne was able to spend time perfecting taking photos of water drops. Images like these are often seen on the internet, and they are especially captivating because of the way they render small portals to the subject. While it looks easy, it’s certainly an art to line up the water drops in a way that not only leads the eyes through the image, but in making sure they are large enough to adequately render the subject below them.


(photo by Anne Archambault)


Charles isn’t afraid to use sheets of glass to add creative effects to his images. Anne and I set up panes of glass to help capture otherwise normal subjects in new ways. This also provided an opportunity to creatively use flash photography techniques as well.



(photo by Anne Archambault)

Shallow Depth of Field

This is a classic but it’s always fun to use a super shallow depth of field to play with the reality of the subject being photographed.


In all, it was a great day of creative growth. Anne and I both learned some new techniques to try and I think we both came away with an increased desire to spend more time working in the macro world.