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Mobile Macro Photography

Lesson 3 of 8

Macro Subject Matter

Lisa Carney

Mobile Macro Photography

Lisa Carney

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Lesson Info

3. Macro Subject Matter

Lesson Info

Macro Subject Matter

So let's talk about subject matter. What do you shoot for? Macro? Maybe it's, it's obvious. I don't know. I think it's worth talking about. So yeah, look, you're going to get the lens and what are you gonna do? You're gonna show pictures of your eyeball, your kid's eyeball, your dog's eyeball. It's okay. We all do it. We can't help it. Especially with these lenses now they're so amazing. That detail you can get is phenomenal. So go ahead and get it out of your system and shoot the eyeballs. And then let's come back and talk about some other subjects you can shoot. So what I did this year is I gave myself a really good gift. I planted a photography garden. Yes. I planted a garden specifically so I could take pictures. And it was, it was a good thing. We were locked down. It gave me something to do and heck fire. Got some cute critters that came into the, into the yard at the same time. So when you are choosing to plant a garden or when you're in your neighborhood, what are you looking f...

or? What you want to find our tiny little flowers? For example, tiny. The key here is tiny because if they're too big, when you put that macro lens, you're not going to be able to see anything. It's just gonna be a giant blur. So tiny. Tiny. Small is best. I like to say that. And um, you can't shoot larger items. It's not impossible. It's just a little harder to get your subject matter zoomed and there's so much you can do. it's really awesome. So here are some zinnias, which is a large flower and with the zinnias you can see I can zoom into the little Steinman, I think they're called uh to get something up close and they're cool. So you can shoot larger, but you might want to plant small is all I'm saying. Alright, so here's a sample. Like I love some flowers, I really do. So, in my garden, I do have some larger items. I just know that in my head if I'm going to shoot them, I'm going to perhaps have to be a little more abstract in my image making if that makes sense. All right now, I'd like to talk to you about different stages of plants and I think this is really important to think about. So when you pick a subject to shoot, keep in mind you can shoot it at different stages. So this is a milkweed and with milkweed you can have the blooming stage and then you can have the seed stage and then you can have just a seed pods. I mean, imagine this all from one plant, just different stages. So, I'd like to bring your attention to some of this to give you some creative ideas. So this is a night blooming jasmine and again, there's the bloom and then there's the super bloom, as I like to call it completely different looking items, this is a bottle brush plant and when the plant is blooming, you get these really beautiful fiery red stems that come out of it. But also when they've all died and following off, you get this really cool looking structure, really fun to shoot. So with stages keep in mind, you have the, the bloom, but before the bloom you have the bud and the bud can be really interesting all from the same plant. So one of my all time favorite things to shoot our onions. I love me some onions and they're easy, easy peasy to, to grow and look what you get. You get the initial, when it's just starting to bud, you get the opening stage when the plant really starts opening. Then these little, I don't know if they're well they're seeds really start coming out of their shell and then they bloom. I mean it's absolutely extraordinary. And then if you're lucky a little critter will come along and you get a twofer is, I like to call it now keep in mind sometimes with the same plant, you can actually have multiple items at the same time, like a small flower with a large flower and then maybe an older looking berry. That's kind of cool. And then you've got this beautiful bloom with some water on it and then you can find even newer buds or berries that will come out and then with the same image you can make it black and white, Maybe do it, do a tone a tree tonala all at the same time on the same plant. It's pretty cool critters now with critters. This is interesting when I shoot um, critters as I like to call insects. I cannot always use the macro lens because if you get close they're going to jump away. So with something like a grasshopper, What I tend to do is I'll use the macro telephoto lens so that I can get close without disturbing the animals or animal critter. You get the idea And this especially with bees can be handy and praying mantis. This is charlie. Um, I love charlie. I've had a few of them and charlie on my sunflower and I couldn't get anywhere near him without him jumping away. So I use the telephoto lens from moment. Bees, bees, bees, I love me some bees. And um, you know what? If you're calm, they're totally cool. You don't need to freak out or you can freak out a little bit whatever you need to. First time I did a Hive, I was, I was freaking out. No lie, but these are extraordinary to shoot and on this shot here, this is just the standard iphone regular. No added lens to it because I didn't want to get too close. So again, you can do a macro even without an added lens, there's lots of other critters in the garden to shoot lady bugs, caterpillars. The ladybug here is shot with a macro lens. The caterpillar is shot with a standard iphone white ankle. All right. He's one of my favorite sections here. Old is gold. Yes. Old is gold. I think you can get the most beautiful imagery from old crusty leaves and discarded items. Macro really opens up a whole new world here. So, um, with leaves in particular, I mean with lighting, you can get some really, really interesting effects, some edges. So I have a whole section in my house, you probably can't see that's right behind me there and it's a bunch of dried old items that I found while I'm walking, leaves, um, flowers. My friends laugh at me because it's, it's not very pretty. My oldest gold section in the house. It's not like a still life. But I really think you can get some magic when you're shooting old items and I would like it if you guys when you're walking. Remember that fanny pouch, you can carry your macro anywhere you are, I want to look at the world differently. Like look at this pile of leaves and it doesn't look so exciting. But man, when you get in that macro lens and you get in there, look at this, you can make some really beautiful stuff. And what is it? The side of the road. Look at this side. This is just out in front of my house. Yeah, I know I need to sweep, but look what you can find in there. It's absolutely beautiful. Yeah. Water and ice. You can find the most beautiful worlds, as I like to say, inside of drop of water or drop of ice. So when you get out by the water's edge, you know, stick your camera and the lens, that little diffusion device on the edge of the camera will allow you a little safety rooms so that your lens won't get wet and you can get some really cool images of bubbles. Look at that ice with the ice in particular, your extra lighting device really comes in handy. This is just icing on the side of my roof at my house. Now I want to call attention to something here. This is ice that I found that the lake's edge Donner Lake in California and I walked out there and I broke the ice up. But what I'm paying attention to is what is the horizon in the background? What is the broken happening? So I will take the ice in my hand and actually turn so I can see what the background is doing. And I get different horizon lines and this is actually a sunset shot of ice using my macro lens, so pay attention to your background. Now water drops goodness. Water drops can be really beautiful on a leaf and on a, on a branch. So at this point I'm going to call attention to one more piece of equipment you might want to get, which is a spray bottle so that you can actually poor or squirt some water and make your own water drops when it's not raining. So I'd like to propose an idea. What about this kind of experiment? Light as subject? You know, the Golden Hour isn't just for shooting cars and people maybe you consider the light the actual subject rather than the object. It's worthy experiment. And here's something else to consider. What about abstract macro photography as abstract art? Who says everything has to be in focus and sharp. What if it's just graphic and design? So get out there and have some fun and shoot nature.

Class Description


  • Use special tricks for shooting with Lightroom Mobile cameras and other capture apps.
  • Understand equipment options for your mobile device.
  • Have a better understanding of what to shoot in Macro.
  • Light for macro mobile photography.
  • Edit in Lightroom and take Macro shots from good to WOW.


The ART within the tiny.

Join Lisa for an adventure into the miniature world we often overlook. Lisa will guide you through special shooting techniques, lighting, equipment selection and subject matter to help hone and bring your vision of this amazing world into focus.

Lisa captures the intensity—and delight—of our micro environment, urging us to slow down and savor the treasures hiding in plain sight.


  • Beginner/Intermediate Mobile Photographers


Moment Macro Lens
Lightroom Mobile
3rd party mobile apps.


Lisa Carney is a high end retoucher who has spent over two decades working with the most dynamic players in the print, motion picture, and television industries.

Besides being a regular presenter at the Adobe MAX conference, her teaching roster runs the gamut from beginners to professional retouchers, and includes universities, design studios, movie studios, corporations, and private students.

Lisa has worked with all major movie studios and many television networks including Disney, Buena Vista, Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight, Sony, Universal, Newline, Columbia, MGM, ABC Television, ESPN, TNT, CNN, CBS, CW, Warner Brothers and Sony.

Advertising credits include Burger King, Baskin-Robbins, Lowes, Jordana Cosmetics, Strategic Perceptions, Mattel, Chrysler, Mercedes, Mazda and Best Buy.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Class Handout

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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I loved this short class & how accessible Lisa made it. Although some of the recommended equipment does have a cost, I appreciated Lisa's take on what matters: fun in the process and final product (it's not always about investing in super-expensive equipment). I loved seeing the photo reels that she shared; it gave me lots of ideas for a project I am working on. A few suggestions toward composite photos and experimentation made this seem just like so much fun!

fbuser 692c9645

Another winner by Lisa Carney. This is my second class of hers and I really like her teaching style. She has a relaxed way of approaching the material and makes it fun and clear. She inspired me once again to purchase a few new tools including a macro lens and I'm glad I did. I'm looking forward to diving into more of her classes.

Mary Dawson

A wonderful class by a very creative and inspirational teacher. Thank you