Why Macro Photography?


The Art of Seeing: Macro Techniques for Flowers and Plants


Lesson Info

Why Macro Photography?

We've been very focused on the technicalities in macro photography but let's not lose sight of the bigger picture you know. Why are we drawn to plants? And why are plants important? I mentioned that a little bit when I talked about the importance of botanical gardens but in a bigger sense how can we elevate plants to become indicators for the health of our planet? That is really what it's about for me. I don't just photograph plants because they're pretty. To me they're part of the fabric of our planet. I do that a lot with wildlife and it's easy to make people feel like there's something going on that they need to be part of, to a solution for when you photograph polar bears or penguins. It's not so easy to elevate plants to the status of being stakeholders in a sustainable world for which we need to take responsibility. But I would like to urge each and every one of you here in the audience and all of those of you who are watching around the planet to use your plant photography as le...

verage for creating awareness and you can all do that. No matter at which level you photograph and what you aim your camera on. We talked a little bit about the importance of botanical gardens. There was a question earlier today about the protocols of taking pictures in botanical gardens and my initial answer was, "Well make sure that you don't interrupt "the experience of other visitors." But let me flip it around. If you like to photograph plants, why not go visit a botanical garden and offer yourself up as a person who can make pictures that can be used by that botanical garden because then you put yourself in the service of plant conservation and you're going to find out that the botanist and the curators in that garden are going to show you things and give you permission to do things that make you more than an ordinary visitor. Then you do something with your pictures and isn't that what we all aspire to? Yes, it begins with the process of you being lured into the natural world. You're attracted by the beauty or by the sheer wonder of it but once you get good at making pictures your next question is probably, "Now what can I do with these photographs?" Yes you can show them to your family and to your friends but that gives you a finite audience. The next step is to start thinking about who you can connect with those pictures. So, myself, I work for publication. I work to use my pictures in a pubic discourse. I use that discourse through books and magazines and two exhibitions but my wife and I are also very active in conservation organizations. We donate images, we donate resources and we give our talent to them and I think that each and every one of us can follow a similar path. You know you can always find a connection in your own community or at another level, you can draw a bigger audience into what inspires you to focus your camera on plants and flowers and other things that show in a small way how grandiose the world is. I just wanted to say that Jim, 'cause that to me, is the bigger picture. Yep, love it, thank you.

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.