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Macro Photography Workshop Session 1

Update (13 May 2014)
I have received feedback that this workshop showcases a bad example of staged photography which is in conflict with the article on macro photography ethics listed here. First, I would need to clarify that the Science Centre houses animals and insects which had been brought over from the customs after they were confiscated in smuggling attempts, and they cannot be released into the local eco-system. During the workshop, we also paid extra attention to ensure that the participants do not touch or handle the subjects to minimize the stress on them.

Looking back, despite the measures taken, it was still a form of staged photography which I am trying to discourage and should not be continued. Any subsequent macro workshops (if any) will no longer have indoor practice with subjects in captivity. More time will be spent outdoors, which the participants were more excited about anyway! :)


The first macro workshop is finally complete after a grueling 5 hours of yakking away and bug shooting! It was a full house and I got a bit worried because we had some completely new to photography and some rather seasoned macro photographers as well. I had to balance the basics with the advanced topics, but all in all, I'm glad everyone walked away learning something new and inspired enough to go harass some bugs in the very near future! You may read some of the participants' testimonials at the bottom of this post.

We were able to let the participants take photos of the stick insects and hissing cockroaches from the Science Centre conservatory for practice, and then proceeded to the Eco Garden to observe subjects in their natural behavior. As participants were briefed on ethics during the workshop, many were careful not to touch the subjects nor subject them to too much stress.

Many thanks to be said!
  • Thanks to Aishah and Espie from the Science Centre for the registration and logistics support
  • Thanks to Andrew for the drive to the workshop venue
  • Thanks to Victor for loaning the diffusers as samples and the cute little clay toys for practice
  • Thanks to Melvyn for loaning the LX3 for showcase
  • Thanks to David, James and Chris for sacrificing their Saturdays and helping to guide the participants and providing the behind the scenes shots from their phones
  • Last but definitely not least, a BIG THANK YOU to all my friends who have helped to share and spread the word for this workshop. There's still another session this weekend you know. :P

    20130629_132250
  1. Received the special pass from the visitor's centre as I had to run about to settle the logistics

  2. 20130629_131545
  3. Almost all participants in, had to wait for some more but everybody was already staring at me, had to start with something!

  4. IMG_0797
  5. We progressed with the diffuser-making session with the help of my friends

  6. 20130629_114807
  7. All ready to shoot the subjects in the Science Centre! These are Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. They hissed a lot at me when I went close to approach them.

  8. 20130629_152213
  9. Many of the participants preferred the stick insects, but those skinny fellas were one of the hardest subjects to shoot. As the stick insects were very fragile, participants were told not to handle them by hand.

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  11. We were already seeing variations in the participants' lighting setups

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  13. Slightly modified R1 setup

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  15. After the indoor practice session, I did a quick demo on shooting a harvestman which we found in the leaf litter and had everyone romping out to the eco garden! The harvestman was subsequently returned to the leaf litter.

  16. I was going around checking on everyone to make sure they were doing ok, but managed a few simple shots.

    Jumping Spider (Salticidae) - DSC_8449
  17. A lovely Jumping Spider spotted by Anna and Hee Hon

  18. Jumping Spider (Salticidae) - DSC_8423
  19. Look at the beautiful turquoise eyes!

  20. Tortoise Beetle (Cassidinae) - DSC_8149
  21. These Tortoise Beetles (Cassidinae) were always there, but it really depended on luck for them to look at you!

  22. Tortoise Beetle pupa (Cassidinae) - DSC_8136
  23. This is how the Tortoise Beetle pupa looks like

  24. Jumping Spider (Salticidae) - DSC_8143
  25. James found this Two-Striped Telamonia eating a moth (Telamonia dimidiata)

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  27. Everyone was eagerly hunting for bugs

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  29. Some chose to stick their faces into the bushes

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  31. Some chose to shoot in natural light with just 1 hand.. steady hand!

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  33. Non-stop shooting as we started to find more subjects

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  35. Some of us shooting the tortoise beetles

  36. At the end of the session, I was glad that most of the participants had learnt enough to produce shots much better than what I had when I started shooting bugs. I was kinda jealous.. lol

    Participants' Photos
    With the permission of the participants, here are some of their photos for the day, and some with their testimonials for the workshop. I will add to the list as their responses are still coming in. Thanks everyone!

    Jasmine Victorina Lye
  37. Stink Bug, by Jasmine-Victorina Lye
    "I never expected to leave the workshop with shots that I'll actually keep but I did. It's a really good first step for all budding macro photographers to take as compared to reading up on magazines or watching youtube videos. Definitely recommended!"

  38. Low Lay Poh
  39. Jumping Spider, by Low Lay Poh

  40. matt_henricksen
  41. Jumping Spider, by Matt Henricksen
    "Nicky Bay's macros are exceptional, so I attended the workshop to learn about his methods. He gave a very clear talk, each slide illustrated with one of his macro shots. After the talk, we had practical experience under the instruction of both him and his assistants, for the remainder of the afternoon. I felt very motivated as a result of his workshop, and armed with new techniques and understanding, I can look forward to improving my macro photography."

  42. pan_denan
  43. Jumping Spider eating a moth, by Pan Denan
    "I would strongly recommend this to those who are new to insect macro-photography. Nicky's session will give beginner a good start on how to start shooting macro and he is incredibly generous in sharing his knowledge and setup. For photographers who are more experienced, its refreshing to know the creative ways he employed for his own shoot. Good informative workshop to attend!"

  44. teonamsiang
  45. Red Weaver Ants tearing their prey apart, by Teo Nam Siang
    "Nicky is eager and generous in sharing his immense knowledge in the field of macro photography. The workshop helps both beginners and more experienced photographers in understanding the know-hows of making better images, not just technically and but artistically as well. Highly recommended."

  46. anna_kwa
  47. Jumping with Glitters, by Anna Kwa

  48. dennis_tan
  49. Jumping Spider, by Dennis Tan
    "Nicky is innovative and creative in his approach to macro photography. His method of diffusing light allows many photographers to take nice macro shots without purchasing expensive equipment. He is sincere and shared his knowledge freely so that I was able to pick up many pertinent skills on how to capture really good photos. Nicky is already quite an accomplished macro photographer in his own right. He brings his own style of photographing subject matter such as insects, spiders etc. His passion is infectious and I'd love to see his photos in the coming years."

  50. heehon
  51. Fly, by Hee Hon
    "Macro-photography is another world of its own and it provides an insight of the features and structures of the subject that is beyond the naked eyes. Nicky Bay's photos have been inspiring, attending his workshop had showcased another level of his work. His innovation to better "shots" is an eye-opener and passion for macrophotography are highly contagious. The workshop "deepens" my love for macrophotography, and am sure it will appeal to photographers with all levels of experience. Thank you Nicky for sharing."

  52. cham_tudd_yin
  53. Red Leaf Beetle, by Cham Tudd Yin
    "The macro photography workshop conducted by Nicky Bay was informative, interesting and inspiring! The workshop has certainly answered many questions I had on macro photography with flash and diffusers."
I would like to thank all participants for their enthusiasm in the workshop, it has been a real pleasure working with everyone and I hope to see you in the field soon, in some uncompromising position to shoot bugs. :P

As the first workshop concluded, I have sought and received feedback from the participants. Most preferred more time outdoors, and more on live demonstrations. Looks like I have more to prepare for the next workshop! Sign up for the next workshop if you'd like to join the fun!




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