Introduction to Macro Photography


Lesson Info

Camera Support

Let's talk tripods. I love tripods. This is always fun to discuss. People love gear and I have a whole bunch of tripod and support type of equipment. So this is a great tripod. It's a carbon fiber tripod. Over the years I've spent little amounts on tripods and then I bought another one that was a little bit more expensive and then I'm finding like, you know what, I'm just gonna do it. I'm just gonna spend 1,200 bucks on a tripod and I did it and I've never been sad about it since that day. In fact, now I think I have three or four $1,500 tripods and it drives my wife crazy. She's like really, you really need another $1,000 tripod? Well yes I do, it's my job. So what do we need to think about with tripods for macro photography? Well the first thing is you want each of the legs to be independently controlled. This is really important 'cause you're gonna be setting up on some flowers and you're on a hillside and the hill is sloping down like that and so you're gonna want one of the legs t...

o be able to go way out like that onto the hill. The next thing is you want each of the leg segments to be able to control up and down. And then the last thing that I recommend for your tripod is to think really long and hard about whether or not you want a center column. Here's why. Where are most flowers? They're on the ground, right? And so let's say that your tripod does have a center column and you wanna get that tripod down to ground level. You're not gonna be able to do it because that center column is gonna prevent that tripod from going any lower than the height of that center column, right? So you won't be able to do... Get that out. You won't be able do something like that. So I have another tripod here that does have a center column. If you're doing studio work, having a center column can be very nice because maybe you're on a table like the one I've got over here. You can move that column up and down and that makes a lot of sense, but if you're doing more field work and flower work, don't use a center column. It just gets in the way of your photography. Would you guys tell my wife it's okay to have one with the center column and one without the center column? So this tripod does go down to ground level and I can splay the legs out and it's got three positions for the legs. I recommend something like this for your macro work. If you do a lot of macro photography, you're going to want... I'm gonna move back to the gear table here. You're gonna want something like a low pod. So these have a bunch of different names. Low pod, low boy. It's not quite a mini tripod, but it is pretty small. These legs also go flat. And they're independently controlled. So if you do macro work, you're gonna want to invest in maybe one or two of these different types of tripod supports. And then you can see the ball heads gonna go here on the top. This little tripod was sold by a company called Kirk Enterprises and I think it was called their mini low boy or their low boy or something like that. They don't sell it anymore. So I know other tripod manufacturers do sell these specialized. The one that I do recommend I think is Really Right Stuff, they sell a high end mini tripod like that. But you notice that the legs are still real beefy. Long ago I stopped buying inexpensive tripod gear 'cause I know you're always gonna be frustrated. So just buy nice, high quality, expensive tripod gear. You can get by with inexpensive stuff, but overtime you're gonna want to spend a little more money on at least the base support. Okay, so that's the mini low boy. We've got this, which is a real honest to goodness mini tripod. Bogen, Oben. A bunch of different camera companies or camera suppliers make this type of gear. The issue that I have with this little one is the size of the head. That ball head is really small. And when you're trying to put a big old hunking SLR on there, it just isn't gonna support it. So I don't recommend something like this unless you're doing iPhone or Android type smartphone photography, which by the way, you can do really great work with that stuff as well. Okay, there's that. Next is this one. This is made by Kirk Enterprises, but this one allows you to basically go down on the ground. You've got your ball head like that and you're basically shooting like this. And this doesn't have independently adjustable legs, so you kinda have to find a place on the ground that's flat, whereas a tripod allows you to work on uneven ground. But this is really good for macro work and maybe even work on the beach. The next one that I have is very useful especially if you do like wildlife and animal photography. This one is also made by Kirk and I always called it the groofwin pod. Ground, roof and window. It's really the window pod and it's designed to go over a window on your car and then you put your ball head right here and you can shoot birds and that type of stuff. But I've also used it quite extensively for macro work. You set it up like this, put it on the ground and it works like any of the other ground type pods. It ain't cheap I hate to tell you that. This one ain't cheap. It's pretty specialized and there's a lot of machining and anodizing. I'm a recovering mechanical engineer. That was one of my careers long ago and so I just love stuff like this. I just get real excited about it. So the ground, roof, window pod from Kirk. Now, all of that costs money, but this one, one of my favorites. Want some fried eggs? This one's really cool. It's literally a pan. It's a Teflon pan. It's super inexpensive. I paid like $3.99 for the pan. I drilled a hole through the bottom and then put a screw in there so you've got my ball head on that pan. This works great for photos on the beach, seashells, even birds and wildlife photography. Anywhere that's muddy and mucky and you don't wanna stick your tripod into that quagmire, this is a fantastic solution. So again, another great way to do it yourself. It's one of my favorite tools. I use it quite often.

Learn how to unlock the fantastic world of macro photography. Instructor Mike Hagen details the gear, techniques, and software you’ll need to capture extreme detail in everything from flowers to insects to jewelry. Create larger than life images with intricate detail using methods that Mike clearly demonstrates in this class.



  • Good class, but I want more. CreativeLive, please get Mike Hagen to come back to do a full 1-2 day macro class. I'd love to see a deeper exploration of all his macro gear, diy toys, demos of Helicon Focus and Zerene Stacker, and maybe showing live examples beyond flowers like bugs, abstracts and shooting through water.
  • A good intro course.I learned a lot in a short period of time, but really this class needs to be longer. It felt rushed. Would have liked to seen more on lighting specifically. However given the time Mike had to work in he did a great job and I enjoyed his insights.
  • I appreciated Mike's suggestions for DIY macro equipment. There is a lot of money you could save with those ideas alone. Great class and I agree ​it would be great to see more!