The Art of Macro

By Jeff Insel

I was very fortunate to spend a weekend working with two great photographers, Amy Horn and Bruce Taubert, along with fellow photo guide David Goodell. This workshop is excellent for those photographers who may be interested in macro photography but
haven’t delved into it much. These instructors brought all the materials and subjects for photographing: milk, paper, food coloring, dish soap, paint, live insects such as various beetles and scorpions, geckos, frogs, flowers, rocks, sliced agates, moth wings, butterfly wings, bird feathers, wood & metal shavings, extra off-camera flashes with transceivers and receivers, diffusers of all kinds and lastly, the experience and skill to teach those willing to learn. With the surge of the Delta variant, everyone was masked up the whole weekend, which didn’t seem to be a big bother.


The first day was somewhat introductory – the participants split into two groups with a group going outside with Bruce Taubert to photograph live beetles on tree limbs and dirt. The other group stayed inside to photograph water drops with Amy Horn. After an hour or so the groups switched places. The Photo Guides assisted the photographers in the set up and handling of the supplies (and insects) so the group could get successful photos. In some cases we tried to assist participants with camera or flash issues.

Amy assists water drop photo

After lunch, one group photographed flowers and the other group feathers (some exotic), again switching roles after an hour or so. Mid-afternoon, one group learned to photograph milk, dish soap and food coloring as directed by Amy Horn. Bruce Taubert’s group photographed various types of moth wings – the groups switched for the final hour.

Macro wing
Milk & coloring

Day two brought more subjects to photograph – butterfly wings, agates, rocks, wood and metal shavings, folded papers, milk with paints, live geckos, scorpions, and frogs. The participants learned when to utilize on-camera and off-camera flash to accentuate colors, freeze action and bring out colors. After lunch we also held a photo critique session and were very impressed with the quality of photos presented. The instructors gave a presentation on focus stacking with Helicon software. Some of the participants had cameras with in-camera focus stacking capability as well.

Macro agate
Colored rock
Milk & paint
Light paper
Red blue paper
Bruce & scorpion

Jeff Insel is a Photo Guide for Arizona Highways PhotoScapes.