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The Art of Seeing: Macro Techniques for Flowers and Plants

Lesson 15 of 15

Frans' Studio Tour & Final Thoughts

Frans Lanting

The Art of Seeing: Macro Techniques for Flowers and Plants

Frans Lanting

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Lesson Info

15. Frans' Studio Tour & Final Thoughts


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
1 Class introduction Duration:03:17
2 Macro Photography Overview Duration:16:27
3 Playing With Plants Duration:49:33
4 The Importance of Light Duration:36:29
6 Working With Afternoon Light Duration:10:18
7 The Lighting Toolkit Wrap Up Duration:16:15
8 Why Macro Photography? Duration:04:08

Lesson Info

Frans' Studio Tour & Final Thoughts

I started photographing decades ago when photography was an activity that was almost like alchemy. We literally practiced alchemy, cause we would capture images on film and then you would disappear into a darkroom, and you'd be there messing around with chemicals in the dark. It was a somewhat mysterious process, that was practiced by not so many people, and not so many people looked at the pictures either. Since photography became a digital activity we've seen an explosion. Now many, many, many more people now practice the art of photography. Instead of this being something that is held close to your chest. It's become an open activity, it's a shared activity. The process of making images is just the first step. We now have the ability to instantly process pictures. You can have the satisfaction of looking at your own images. But then you take the next step, and you put them online and you begin to share them. Or, you create images together, in the course of a workshop, and then the w...

orkshop, in our case, always culminates in an image with you and it becomes a shared creative opportunity. It is no longer photography processed along your own sidelines. There is a point where you intersect with others. It's a totally different activity from what it was 30 years ago. That is the reason we are all here, and that is the reason why thousands and thousands of people are connecting with us online worldwide. This is a miraculous new expression of photography, and I'm so happy you're all here in the audience. I'm so happy that Kate and Doug had a chance to spend a day with me. And I'm also so happy that all of you who are out there beyond our horizon are also enjoying the experience with us. I just wanted to get that off my chest. [Computer Technician] It's awesome, thank you. Alright, do you want to set up this final video, or do you just want to roll with it. Sure, we did this workshop five minutes from where I live, and five minutes where we have our studio in Santa Cruz, California along the magnificent California coastline. And at the end of the day, after we played with plants at the UCSC Arboretum, we went back to our studio. Which is the home base for Chris Eckstrom, my wife, and myself. In this next video you see a little glimpse of what we come home to after the end of our travels. This is also the place where we host our workshops. Lets roll the tape. [Computer Technician] Great. Welcome to the studio, come in. When I'm not traveling someplace around the world this is where I come back to, this is our home base. In Santa Cruz, California we have a gallery here where we put the images on display. These are panels from one of our exhibits about the history of life on Earth. I'll take you on a tour through the rest of the studio cause back here is where all the work happens. This is where we process the images from my assignments and from all the other events that we produce. We still have a film library, these are the crown jewels from the past. All digitized now. (cabinet clanks shut) And this is where we store the fine prints that we make for collectors. Prints are very important to me. Even though I love digital photography, I can do so much more now than I could when was capturing images on film. There's still something about the physical expression of an image on a piece of paper that I love. I'm gonna share some things with you about that. We have work stations here, this is where our staff processes the images. This is where we deal with all the communications with our clients around the world. We have a publications library here. All the stories I've published in National Geographic. The features in magazines in many different countries. All the books that we've put together. I've been doing this for quite a while, for more than 30 years so you accumulate a lot of stuff. And this is where it's all gathered. Then in the back is all the rest of the gear that we need for our travels. Cause we travel about six months of the year, and I say we because it's me and my wife. She's not here at the moment, but we really work together as a team. And here we have some freshly produced prints. These are generated by one of our printers that we have in the studio, it's an Epson printer. And I would like to invite two special people to come here and join me to admire them. Kate and Doug. I wonder if you would like to turn it over. Wow. What do you think of that? It turned out really really nice. This was early morning in the arboretum. When we were talking about how to apply selective focus. And you did an amazing image there, look at it. Look how soft the foreground is and then we've got one flower in the middle and then it just kind of slowly and beautifully trails off into soft focus in the background. Nice, I like it. This one's for you. Oh, thank you. Yeah. Kate, would you like to turn that one over? Ah, cool. I'm so proud of you. You did this on your own. You snuck outside when we were dealing with the creating of a set. And you found these plants, which happen to be among my favorite of all plants in the arboretum. These are aeoniums from the Canary Islands. You applied a lensbaby effect. You have very soft ethereal focus and you turned it into a gorgeous image. There's almost nothing sharp in there but that's the whole idea behind selective focus. We lure you into an image where there's just a hint of sharpness but for the rest there is a suggestion. I love this image, I hope you're really proud of it. Oh thank you, no I love it too. Thank you, thank you so much. So both of these are made on premium luster paper made by Epson and they're perfect for framing. Definitely, definitely. Now, if you take these away, or if I can take them away for you. We'll put them to the side. More, another one? Lets turn it this way. This is another image that you made this morning. Yes. After we finished talking about the applying of selective focus I said "Lets get a little bit "more experimental, lets see how we can capture texture." That's when I introduced you to how you can generate multiple exposures, layering frames. In this case it was three frames right? Three frames. Look at the effect, it's dazzling. It is. At least to me this is dazzling, and I think you did it really well considering that this is something that you hadn't done much before. Yeah, I had not done at all. So look at the result. It's beautiful. So everything is there, layers of the white flowers on top of the yellow flowers and the orange flowers. Are you pleased with it? I'm very pleased with it yes. Kate, how about this one? ( Kate laughs) Nobody will appreciate the fact that this was done indoors unless you tell them this cause this is an abstraction. This is one of these amazing flowers from Australia, a banksia. We set it up in the studio, we created a lighting set. And at first we brought all the detail into the image by closing the aperture all the way down, and then you decided to take it in the other direction. You applied soft focus, aperture wide open, and I'm so happy that you did it because that was the ultimate frame and now we can really appreciate it. It's one thing to see it in the back of the camera, or to see it on the screen of a computer. I think this is the ultimate expression. So this is a print that is suitable for framing, and because it's printed on that wonderful paper that Epson makes it's gonna last for decades and decades. I can't wait to get it on my walls. So these are yours to take home. Thank you so much. (applause) So Frans, we're at that magical time once again here at CreativeLive. Just gonna ask you for your final thoughts. Yeah I would like to come back to the comments I made not so long ago. Where I philosophized a little bit about how photography has changed from its analog days to its current digital identity. It's really fostered a new community that is many times larger than it use to be. That is, I think, the magic power of photography. It really is a universal language that can be shared by people no matter what kind of cultural or political backgrounds they have. That's the reason we are all here, and that is the reason so many people are watching this live around the world. I hope that you can all express that power of photography, and I hope that I've provided you with some inspiration, and I hope that I've given you some tools so that you can all carry out and express flower power in your own unique way. And to all those people who are watching with whom I've crossed paths with in the past. No matter whether you've helped me, or whether you've joined us on a workshop or on a trip, I hope our paths will cross again. Thank you. (applause)

Class Description

The beauty of nature runs deep. Every growing thing hides whorls, patterns, and subtle shadings of color that escape the cursory glance. Macro photographers are driven to capture these secret details, but it can be hard to master the techniques that allow them to truly evoke nature at its best.

Join renowned National Geographic photographer and naturalist Frans Lanting for this class as he walks you through the Arboretum at the University of California at Santa Cruz.

You’ll learn:

  • How to take great impressionistic shots freehand
  • How to use combinations of natural light, flash, and light modifiers
  • How to set up beautiful and controlled images
Frans Lanting has documented wildlife from the Amazon to Antarctica, and has made a career of recording the beauty of nature in vivid, transporting imagery. In this class, you’ll learn how he has distilled the quiet joy of discovering hidden beauty, and bring it home with you. Best of all, you'll be able to apply these macro photography approaches and techniques in the field or even at home with a bouquet of flowers on your kitchen table. 


JIll C.

I had the pleasure of participating in this class as part of the live studio audience in the Creative Live San Francisco studios. I really enjoyed the format in which two students had been pre-selected to visit the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum for a photo shoot with Frans Lanting about a week in advance of the class; then the videos were edited and played out during the class. Frans stopped the video frequently to clarify and supplement the information provided, so we weren't just sitting in a room watching pre-recorded material. Nor were we just listening to him lecture for hours. It was actually a surprisingly dynamic format. I also enjoyed the final session in which student-submitted images were critiqued by Frans and edited by Jim Cetechi (Creative Live host) real-time. It was interesting to learn how our images could be improved with just a few simple techniques, e.g. cropping, contrast, highlights etc. - all done in Lightroom. Frans helped us to see the potential for perfection in each image. I was thrilled when he didn't find anything to "fix" in my images :) Frans seems to truly enjoy "playing with plants", and helped us think about how we can use our photography to portray the beauty and significance of the natural world. I like the fact that he helped us to think about the potential of photography as more than just a hobby. He is an enthusiastic and personable trainer, well-versed in all aspects of photography, not just macro photos. I can't wait to add some of his techniques to my photography arsenal.

North San Francisco Bay

This workshop will give you everything you need to start macro photography, appreciate macro photography, and/or take your personal skill set to the next level. Frans really is a fantastic instructor whose love of teaching is obvious and infectious. He provides you the technical tools, inspiration, and has a unique ability to help you refine your own vision while simultaneously broadening the possibilities of that same vision. His respect for individual artistry coupled with his fined tuned eye of decades of experience puts him in a very elite class of photography instructors. You can expect to have a list of gear (much of out inexpensive and very effective) to put on your wish list as well as the urge to immediately go out and try what you have learned. If you have gone so far as to read this whole recommendation then go ahead and purchase the class. You won't regret it. Have fun!

a Creativelive Student

Frans is an inspiration. Not only is he an incredible photographer, but also he is an equally wonderful teacher. His ability to explain both the simple and complex in easy terms -- as well is the ease with which he shows as he speaks -- makes learning from him a treat. You can also see him come alive with excitement as he 'plays with plants' which makes you all the more excited. So glad I was able to take this course with him! Thanks, CL!