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Close-Up Photography Workshop with Ralph Clevenger

May 6, 2017 @ 8:30 am - 4:30 pm PDT
Santa Barbara, CA United States
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California, Santa Barbara, Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden city park. A honey bee, Apis mellifera, gathering nectar from a blue-eyed grass flower in a garden.

Flowers, butterflies, frogs, leaves, raindrops…..there is a tiny world full of life all around us. Photographing the inhabitants and landscapes of this “macro” world isn’t easy and finding the perfect subject is only the first step. Ralph will be showing you where and what to look for and demonstrating equipment and techniques that you can use to create stunning close-up images of your subjects. We will cover lenses, close-up accessories, and techniques like focus stacking, plane of focus, and shooting through glass. Special light modification tools including reflectors, diffusers, and wireless small flash will also be covered. Ralph is there to help you solve problems, answer your questions, and provide tips on creating your best images. The workshop includes an opportunity with a small-animal wrangler who is bringing some wonderful small subjects like frogs, lizards, spiders, and insects that we can photograph in controlled natural settings. The goal is to leave the workshop with some new skills and the motivation to create many more amazing close-up images.


Instructor Bio: Ralph holds degrees in both zoology and photography and has spent the last 33 years as a senior faculty member at the Brooks Institute of Photography. Based in Santa Barbara, California, Ralph pursues his passion for the natural world by specializing in location photography and video projects of eco-travel, environmental portraiture, wildlife, and undersea subjects. He is the author of the book “Photographing Nature”, published by Peachpit Press New Riders.

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Ralph has traveled throughout the world on assignment and his publication credits include; Audubon, Islands, Oceans, Outside, Orion Nature Quarterly, National Geographic magazine, Nature’s Best, and many other national and international publications. You can view his award-winning photographic work at .


Experience Level: INTERMEDIATE and higher. Participants need to understand how to operate their camera’s tools; f/stops, shutter speed, ISO, and change focus settings. Knowledge of flash is very helpful but not required.

Gear requirements: A lens capable of focusing very close. Life-size magnification (1:1) is ideal but lenses that can focus to half life-size will work. You can use macro lenses, close-up diopters, and extension tubes to focus closer. If you have a flash capable of off-camera operation bring it. Contact the instructor if you have any questions about equipment.


  • Meet at a private residence for an orientation and equipment discussion.  Please plan on arriving by 8:15am so we can get started right at 8:30.
  • After our orientation we’ll drive to one of Ralph’s favorite gardens and spend the morning photographing (Island Nursery or Music Academy).
  • Lunch Break (Lunch will be provided)
  • After lunch we’ll meet our animal wrangler, Gina Papadakis. The afternoon will be spent working with some of Gina’s amazing animals in a variety of staged environments and photographing the flowers around the garden.
  • We’ll go over the tools you need to get close to small subjects and the pros and cons of each:Tripods, Macro rails, Macro lenses, Diopters, Extension tubes
  • Available light and light shaping tools plus small flash techniques:Reflectors and Diffusers, Speedlights, Macro lighting kits, Wireless flash
  • Close-up photography introduces several problems and we’ll talk about how to solve many of these:Depth of field, Plane of focus, Shooting through glass
  • Special shooting and Photoshop processing technique:Focus stacking
  • Composition is a big element in creating strong images and you’ll learn all the tips about how to:Arrange subjects within the frame, Concepts of balance in an image, The importance of symmetry


Ralph Clevenger:



instagram: ralphwildshot

Date: May 6, 2017
Time: 8:30 am - 4:30 pm
Venue Name: Private Location
Address: Santa Barbara, CA United States
Organizer Name: Samys Photo School Santa Barbara