Workshop Update

Our first indoor, classroom style workshop was held yesterday October 4th.  Based upon attendee feedback, I'm going to call it a success.  While many members said (very quietly) at the outset and in the first exercise that they were concerned that it might be over their head, the images being created showed that this was not true.

We started with a conversation on setup, going over the critical points and a suggested workflow to prepare for macro photography.

Our first exercise was to make three exposures of a scaled device (think a ruler) at different apertures to see how shallow depth of field is in closeup work and to better understand how smaller apertures give more depth of field while wider apertures give very shallow depth of field.  At first some folks didn't see the point of the exercise (very fair) but after the discussion, I think everyone had it figured out.

Next the attendees placed their own subjects and arranged their lights (most everyone used the cheap and cheerful desklamp as suggested) proving that you don't need to spend a ton on lighting for excellent macro work.  Many attendees used inexpensive extension tubes because this was a new topic and (rightly) did not want to spend a lot of money on gear before knowing if this type of photography would be interesting.  In making the second group of exposures, we shot at the metered setting and then performed a five stop bracket at -2, -1, 0 +1, +2 to see in real life how choices about exposure make the images different and to build skill in recogizing what type of exposure compensation would be a good place to start for different subjects and background types.  The sequence was then repeated using reflectors, with most keeping to the cheap and cheerful mantra using white foamcore as the reflector, keeping the costs down and the learning level up.

While additional sequences appeared in the Workshop Guide provided to those attending, timing proved to be challenging as setup took longer than expected (by me) and because the attendees were really getting into the shooting.  One attendee admitted that she feared that indoor macro would be really boring, but said later she now has shots to make all winter.  A great outcome for her.

We then moved to managing the direction of light.  Being in control of the light for macro work is incredibly powerful, so attendees then did a 5 stop bracket, without reflectors, using their lights in three positions.  First was the classic upper front position.  Great photos were made by all.  Next was with the light behind the subject in the same plane as the lens.  Many attendees noted that this allowed for really powerful rim lighting on their subjects that could produce a halo effect but by having the light very close, the wrap was still sufficient to prevent silhouettes.  Again, the use of bracketing showed the value of experimentation and seeing in the viewfinder before making the shot.  The final shot sequence put the light hard right, just skimming across the surface of the subject.  Many attendees pointed out how this side light really brought out texture and depth to their subjects that was not seen in the traditional light position.

We closed the suggestion with images volunteered by attendees being post processed in Lightroom.  The goal here was not to teach Lightroom, but to show how post processing can enhance a great image with very little time required.  I spent less than three minutes on each image (I had marvelous material to work with) and most folks really liked the subtle enhancements.

There was learning on my part as well.  I don't own a screen to project on, Bryan always goes through the hassle of carrying one for the meetings.  Projecting on the white brick was ok, but not optimal.  My little business projector, so great in meeting and boardrooms isn't really bright enough for a big room.  I'll have to figure out an alternative for next time.  AC power is a problem in our meeting room, because despite bringing extensions and multiple power bars, set up was delayed as we worked to get everybody power. 

Despite these hiccups, response was very positive and I got good feedback on the desire for more workshops.  This type of opportunity is very popular with members so I will coordinate more workshops coming up.  

Thanks to all for their support of the club.

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