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Macro Photography: Insects and Plant Life

Lesson 13 of 15

Post-Processing: Crane Fly

Chris McGinnis

Macro Photography: Insects and Plant Life

Chris McGinnis

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Lesson Info

13. Post-Processing: Crane Fly


  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: Crane Fly

Once you're done shooting, it's time to edit your shots. When it comes to processing shots I like to use Adobe Lightroom. I use both the desktop version and the mobile version. So, here on my desktop I've already imported several photos from our shoot earlier into Lightroom and we're going to process a couple now and take you through the process of what it looks like to finalize a photo. So, this is a JPEG that's the result of an in-camera stack of a crane fly. So, you'll see that the camera did a great job stacking the photo in camera. We have areas in focus here, all the way to the back of the head. This photo looks pretty good right out of the camera but we can take it even further. On that topic it's really important to try and get photos right during the shoot. The better you start with, the better you'll finish with. And what I mean by that is a photo can only be pushed so far in post. Ideally, you just enhance your photos. You take them that little step further from good to grea...

t. So, let's take this good photo and see how far we can take it. So, the first thing I do is I click on develop and get all of my develop options down the right side of the screen. Although I don't always love the results from the auto settings in Lightroom, I usually click on them just to see what the computer thinks the photo should look like and it gives me a sense of where I might take it. So, here we didn't see too much change, my color changed to a little warmer. Same thing with color, white balance. I might switch that to auto and see what that does. So, these changes weren't too dramatic and I'm gonna leave them alone and go from there. It's just another option from starting with the baseline or maybe from seeing how the software wants to push your photo. From here I'll start at the top down. I'm okay with the white balance right now and I'm gonna go into exposure. I wanna bring that up just a bit, contrast also up just a little bit, highlights when I hit auto it pushed the highlights down. I actually want to bring them up a little but as I'm doing so, watching that I don't blow the highlights entirely. So, this area is my brightest highlight. I'm gonna watch that I don't go too bright and lose all the detail. So, I'll come back here to about there. Shadows I'm gonna bring back down a little bit to get some more contrast from light to dark. White's I'm gonna bring up to brighten the subject overall and you'll see the background lightening a bit and blacks to here. So, real quick we can look at the before and after. So, this was what came out of the camera and this is where we've gotten so far. Next we move into the present section, a fairly new introduction in Lightroom is the texture slider and it's really great for macro. A lot of textures show up that you didn't know existed when you look closely. So, we have some texture here, we have texture in the eyes and the legs and we can use the texture slider as a whole or we can use selective edits and we'll get into that a few minutes. But just to show you how the texture slider affects the image. Everything looks a little bit smoother and everything looks more textured. We're gonna leave that alone for now but we'll come back to it when we do selective editing. Clarity is not a solution for out-of-focus images. Same thing with sharpness but using clarity to enhance certain areas can improve the overall look of your image. With this image I'm going to increase the clarity just a bit but not push it too far. Dehaze comes into play with an image like this because it is a bit hazy. So, I'm gonna try to see if I can recover some of that haze but I don't wanna go to much and cause the super high contrast image. Likewise I don't wanna go too hazy with it and lose all the detail. So, I'm gonna come up a little bit with dehaze, vibrance I'm going to leave a lone because I don't want this image to have too much color. It was fairly monochromatic and I wanna leave that alone. Same thing with saturation. In fact, I'm gonna bring the vibrance down just a bit from where auto sent it. In my curves, I'm just gonna bring the highlights up again and you'll see what that does. My background gets brighter because that's where my highlights are for the most part. And then down into the individual color adjustments. The only strong areas of color here are the yellow legs in the foreground and then the color of the eyes. I don't want the legs to overpower my composition so I'm going to take the saturation in legs down just a bit. So, that's probably going to be my orange slider and you see there versus really high saturation. And then come down just a little bit so the yellow and the orange are not overwhelming. Sharpness, be careful with sharpness not to over sharpen your images. If you go up too much it starts to look too grainy, not enough your image might look a little bit soft. Bring a little bit of sharpness in here. And then there's noise reduction. So, what I like to do in a shot like this where the bulk of my subject is here in focus, I don't want to over reduce the noise in that region. If you do that you tend to get a little bit of softness. So, if I bring the noise reduction way up, you start to lose some of this detail and I don't wanna do that. So, in a composition like this. I opt to use noise reduction as a selective edit and we'll get to that right after we crop the image. So, next up I'm gonna crop. Sometimes I crop early, sometimes I crop later. I'm just gonna rotate a little bit and adjust so I get the eyes in the center of the frame and rotate a tiny bit more and now we'll move on to those selective edits. So, I'm gonna use a radial filter and let's address the noise that I talked about. This photo is not particularly noisy but it could stand for a little help to make it look even smoother in the areas that are not in focus. So, I'm gonna draw a radial filter around the area that I wanna protect from noise reduction. I will invert that filter, reset my sliders as I was on custom here and now I'm going to affect all the areas of my composition other than what's in this oval. So, go down to the noise slider and bring it up. I'll bring it up to and we can see I'll show the difference between noisy and reduced. I'm gonna come up a little bit higher. When you're adjusting noise reduction, you wanna be careful you don't lose details that you'd like to keep. I've kind of set us up for success here because I avoided the area that was most important. So, the last thing I'm gonna do is bring a little bit of additional exposure to the top half of the photo. I'm gonna do that with another selective adjustment with a graduated filter. I'm gonna pull down from the top and just bring up my exposure a bit, like so and we're pretty good. The last thing I like to do after I'm happy with the overall photo is I look for areas that could be slightly accentuated with a little bit more sharpness or contrast. So on insects, oftentimes that's in the face or the eyes. So, I like this area of texture here. I mentioned the texture slider earlier. I'm just gonna take a radial filter on I'll call it the bridge of the nose of this crane fly and we're gonna add a little clarity and we're going to add a little bit of texture. Be careful not to go too far because you'll start to look pixelated and noisy but it does add some extra texture at a point of focus and that's it. So, here's our before and after and we can look at them side-by-side here and you'll see the difference.

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