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Macro Photography: Insects and Plant Life

Lesson 14 of 15

Post-Processing: Bee

Chris McGinnis

Macro Photography: Insects and Plant Life

Chris McGinnis

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Lesson Info

14. Post-Processing: Bee


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
1 Class Introduction Duration:01:39
2 Location Scouting Duration:02:59
3 What is Macro Photography Duration:02:09
5 Gear Duration:11:20
6 Preparing for Outdoor Macro Duration:02:00
7 Camera Settings Duration:06:48
10 Textures and Focus Stacking Duration:01:43
11 How to Get the Shot Duration:15:23
12 Using Macro Flash Set Duration:02:44
13 Post-Processing: Crane Fly Duration:10:04
14 Post-Processing: Bee Duration:14:57

Lesson Info

Post-Processing: Bee

I spent some time shooting bees earlier today. Bees are an incredibly difficult subject to get in focus, because they're always on the move. But once in a while with enough patience, you get a shot that you wanna finish off and share. So here's a photo of a bee looking for some nectar. And there's a couple of problems with the shot, but in general it's in focus, it's reasonably well exposed, and I'm gonna see if I can make some corrections, and some enhancements. So as I did with the Crane Fly shot, I'm going to go into develop, and I'm going to see what auto does for me. And actually, I really like that result. And the reason I like it is because I had lost these highlights a bit. Now this is a raw image, I do have some decent dynamic range to save the highlights and the shadows, and that's what's happening here. So let's start with the auto adjustment. And then make our adjustments to my own liking from here. Color seems okay, I'm going to just see what auto does. It doesn't change i...

t much. Made it just a bit cooler. We'll leave that so you can see the temperature slider here. Went from 5350 down to 4900. And I think we'll leave that alone. So next we'll do the same thing that we did with the Crane Fly. We start at the top, we go down. Starting with exposure, going through the tone, then going through presence, adjust the curves if we want to, color tweaking, then on to local adjustments, cropping, and we're done. As I said with the Crane Fly, sometimes I see a shot, and I have a particular composition in mind, and I crop first. Sometimes I crop at the end. Doesn't really matter, it can be a personal preference. So, since I did crop the Crane Fly last, let's crop the bee first. I like to share my photos on Instagram, so it's important to know that if you do change a photo to a vertical layout, a portrait layout, that Instagram has a limit of a four by five ratio. Right now I'm in a four thirds ratio. Three to four in this case, because it's portrait. So you can change your aspect ratio here. So four five is the same as eight ten. And that adjusted, that way you can assure that nothing gets cropped when you share to Instagram, if that's how you choose to share your photos. So we'll keep that in mind. I'm going to crop, to ensure that I have the entire petal of the flower on the right side. All of the wings of the bee on the left side. Don't lose any of the petal on the bottom. So really, this shot is all about the relationship between the bee and the flower. The rest I don't need, and that's going to get cropped away like so. So now let's go into those adjustments, starting with tone. We've already auto-toned the image, but it's not quite how I want it, so we're going to make some more adjustments. First thing I'm going to to is bring a little bit more exposure to the image. Keeping a close watch on those highlights, because I already know that they're at risk. Contrast, we can take a look at all the way down, versus all the way up. And when I'm not sure how an adjustment's going to change an image, or I'm not sure what I'm going to like, I take the slider, I slide it all the way to the left, I slide it all the way to the right, and that gives me a sense of the extremes. I'm never going to leave it at the extremes, or very rarely will I leave it at the extremes, but I like to see what changes, how the changes will impact my result. So for this image, I think it's a little high contrast to start with, I'm going to bring the contrast back. My highlights, they're already down pretty low. I don't want to lose brightness, so I'm going to leave it where auto put us, at about minus 90, which is very low. Shadows again, we can look all the way down versus all the way up. In this case, all the way up brings about, brings out some of that background, and all the way down pushes it to a darker black. I like it a little darker, so I'm going to bring the shadows down slightly. My whites are bright, but again, if I bring them up too much I'm going to lose those highlights, so I'm going to bring them up as bright as I can, where I still see detail on the highlights. Now the left side of my image is a little bit darker than I want, but I'm going to fix that with radial, with a graduated adjustment, rather than affect it here, because I don't want to lose this petal. Blacks again, we can go kind of faded, or really high contrast. I'm going to go down a little bit, to minus 20. Texture I mentioned is awesome. Look at those petals, right? Look at all that texture we can bring into the petals. Or, if you like that softer look, which is popular with flower photography, we can soften the whole thing. Or we can use local adjustments to control what has texture, and what's soft. I kind of like that softer look, but I want some texture in the petals, so I'm going to leave it alone, and we'll see if maybe we come back to it during local adjustments. Clarity, I don't expect really to use here, but maybe I'll bring it in at local adjustment for the bee. Same thing with de-haze. We shouldn't need any, but we can always take a look. Vibrants, I don't want to overdo this. But I do like the yellow, and I'm going to handle that on it's own. And I'm going to leave saturation alone as well. So down here, we have another opportunity to play with the highlights, but we're going to leave the tone curve flat. Actually, I may adjust the darks, or the shadows a bit. I think they can stand to go a little bit darker. Yup, there we go. So we'll change the shadows down. And now we'll move into the individual colors. So the biggest area of color, is the bee itself. And it's mostly yellow. So we're going to look at the yellow, and we can change individual colors in light room, by hue saturation or luminance. Or we can display all at once. So first let's look at the hue. And we'll just focus on the yellow right now. We can make that really orange, or really green. I'm going to move it to a little bit more orange. And thenI'm going to try and really make it saturated. So really bright, vibrant yellow. Without looking beyond the scope of reality. And what luminance does, is how much that color shows up in your composition. And in this case, all the yellow areas are going to get whiter or darker. And we'll bring up the luminance just a little bit. Okay, so just take a quick look at the before and after. The main area that we've affected is those petals, which was the main area that I was concerned with. So again, before and after. Or we can look at the side-by-side. And we have those petals saved. The last thing on our list here that we'll adjust, actually not the last thing, but one of the last things. We're going to bring up the sharpness a tiny bit. We don't really have any noise to worry about. So unlike the Crane Fly, I don't think that local adjustment or major noise reduction is important. We can add just a bit. And I had said that was the last thing we were going to do, but I do want a look at some vignetting in this photo. So... (sighs) I caution you against over-vignetting your image. So vignetting is darker or brighter corners, kind of that halo around your image. But since this photo is already dark around the edges, it might help to focus the subject, or draw attention to the subject if we add some post-crop vignetting. So we can bring it all the way down, and as you'll see, it gives it more of that dramatic studio look. We can push it the opposite direction to all white, but I do want to bring some in, to focus the viewer's eyes on the flower, and the bee. So we'll go to minus 20, and we're all set. So we've already cropped, we don't have any real issues with spot removal, or blemishes, or anything that needs to be cleaned up. Maybe there's a little something here. So there's a little something on this flower, that's a bit distracting. So we're going to click on our spot removal tool, or you can press "Q" on your keyboard. Increase the size of the brush, and we just click. Now, by default, light room is going to pick the area that it thinks will help to correct the spot. If that is not what you want, you have the option to drag it around, and pick a different source area, that blends in nicer, like here. And when you hit return, it's gone. So the last thing I was to do with this, is bring in a couple of graduated filters, a radial filter, and a regular graduated filter. First from the left side. I want a little bit more exposure to the bee, but I don't want to affect the flower. So I'm going to come across on an angle, Across the bee, I'll choose exposure, and I'm going to bring up the exposure a little, but I'm going to bring the blacks down. Because I want that background to stay black, or stay as dark as it was. If I don't do that, or if I bring blacks back to zero, and exposure up too much, you're going to see this artificial light in the corner which is not what I want. So I'm going to bring my exposure up a little, and move that over a little. And bring my blacks back down. I'm also going to try a radial filter towards the center. Just somewhat arbitrarily draw that right now, I'm going to move it in a minute. And go to exposure here, and this is going to bring some more light to the bee's face. This is too much right now, it's going to be very slight, and then I'll move my adjustment. Here, like this, and kind of follow the shape of the flower. So it's not so noticeable, that we've modified this. And now again, we can see before and after. The last thing I want to do is bring up the whites in the flower itself, just in this area. The petals I'm happy with, they're out of focus, or not our focus, but I want to bring this part of the flower up a little bit. And maybe one more thing with the bee's wings. So first we'll draw a radial gradient again. Go over just the area that we want to affect. Don't cover up that bee too much. Here we go. And we're just going to push the whites up a tiny bit. We can push the exposure a little too, because we've already said we want to expose the bee a little bit more. And there we are. And I want to take a look at the texture of the wings, I don't know if it's going to help or not. You can use a radial filter, or you can use the brush for this. Since they are fairly oval, let's go with radial again. Because it is a little faster, and I think it'll work here. And we kind of follow the shape of the wing. Adjust our size down. And we'll go to texture, bring up the exposure a little. Bring up the texture and the clarity. And I don't like it as much as I thought, so I'm going to undo it. So those are the things that sometimes you think that it'll help, I like the fact that it added texture to the wing, but what I don't like is that it's now distracting from the area that I wanted to focus on. So I'm actually going to do the opposite, and keep it, but I'm going to bring the texture and clarity down a little bit. Because I realized, after I brought attention to it, that it needs to be less of a focus. Last thing I'm going to do is just push my exposure ever so slightly, carefully watching those highlights that I worked to save. And we're all set. And there's your before and after.

Class Description


  • Understand Macro Photography and how to begin shooting it
  • Know what gear to bring and how to set up your camera
  • Find and approach your subjects, even the crawling/flying ones
  • Fast post-processing techniques to keep you on the move


Take a closer look in this beginner’s guide to macro photography and insect photography. Chris McGinnis, will dive into the world of macro photography from understanding what it is to how to shoot it. He’ll explain how to search and capture a smaller world with just the use of your camera. He’ll dive into the behaviors of insects and their relationships to plant life so that you can capture amazing images from your backyard to national parks.


  • Macro Photographers
  • Beginners
  • Hikers


Adobe Lightroom CC 2019




Chris McGinnis is a graphic designer, photographer, and macro photography enthusiast based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He obtained his degree in graphic design from Moravian College and, after a stint in the publishing world, joined the creative department at Olympus America. Chris currently works as the Senior Manager of Creative Services and oversees all phases of Olympus’ graphic design, photography, and video production. When he purchased an OM-D E-M10 in 2014, Chris vowed to shoot (and share) at least one photo each day for an entire year. After 365 days shooting, sharing, and learning, he found himself more and more interested in the details. He bought a macro lens and has never looked back. As Chris ventured deeper into the world of macro, he soon shifted his efforts toward featuring the beauty, design, and intricacy of arthropods which often go unnoticed.


Andrew Lamberson

I found the class both very informative and very motivational to get started in Macro photography. It is an entry-level class but it explains what you really need to know to be successful. I especially found the information on the value of using flash and how to modify your flash for it to be more effective especially helpful. I am an experienced wildlife photographer and have done some "Macro" with my telephoto lens, but this class motivated me to purchase a dedicated lens. I am really looking forward to spring and finding some good bugs!

Chris Baudec

Great presentation and great motivation in the post processing. I do wish that the would have been made available. After all, this is a Olympus sponsored event, and Oly settings are always welcomed.... and a tad difficult on the learning curve.

Gary Hook

Chris does a commendable job of explaining his techniques, reasons and potential pitfalls to avoid. Very thorough and much more enthusiastic about little bugs than I will ever be :-) but at the end one has a good concept on how to approach the task at hand. Nice closing with his practical examples of 'post' shoot production. One suggestion for inclusion would be some operating tips/techniques with a tripod/macro rail slider. His Olympus is way smaller/lighter than my Canon 5D so my hand holding will be at a minimum. Well done. Thank you