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I am very – VERY – excited to announce a new series of day-long workshops for the Zoological Society of London. Since I started running workshops for ZSL, a frequent pre-workshop question has been whether we get exclusive access to animal enclosures. The stock response is this is too difficult to organise – we need more hands on deck, for one thing, and timing everything right is tricky. There's also the fact that, for most people, including advanced photographers, both London and Whipsnade Zoos offer more than enough photo opportunities. They're great places for workshops, but still... there's always that little itch.

New for 2018 – and for only three dates – I'm running a series of small group workshops at London Zoo, in which we'll be working with some of the zoo's most exciting inhabitants of the Reptile House and the B.U.G.S. (Biodiversity Underpinning Global Survival, now you know) habitats.

These workshops, and all the species we'll be photographing, are geared exclusively towards macro photography. To that end, we'll shoot in a temporary studio with adjustable, powerful lights, and everything we shoot will be free to roam around, allowing you to get unique, reflection-and-cage-free images of some of the zoo's most fascinating species.

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These macro workshops – and spaces on them – are LIMITED. This isn't a ploy to make you think you have to book now – I'm rammed this year so finding dates was tricky to say the least. Each group will have a maximum of six participants, which means those who have never shot macro photographs before will get lots of attention from someone who has (hello!), while those who are more comfortable won't be tripping over other photographers as they look for a good angle.

The dates in question:

22nd September
6th October
13th October

 Oh yeah, you'll be able to get in the giant tortoise enclosure as well, where you can shoot some incredible macro images while trying to avoid being run over by one of nature's most unstoppable forces.

Oh yeah, you'll be able to get in the giant tortoise enclosure as well, where you can shoot some incredible macro images while trying to avoid being run over by one of nature's most unstoppable forces.

All you need to know, including pricing and the layout of the day, are over on ZSL's website. Just click here for all you need to know and to make a booking.

If there's anything else you want to know, here are the FAQs – or if your question isn't frequently asked enough to make it on the list, just pop an email to me at workshops@davestevenson.co.uk and I'll do my best to clear things up.

FAQs

Who are these days for?
If you love small wildlife and want to push your wildlife photography onwards while creating some great images, these days are for you. You’ll get close to all kinds of exotic species in two of ZSL London Zoo’s most interesting locations, out of their enclosures and under my expert supervision. I've been running workshops for the Zoological Society of London for the better part of a decade so I should be able to help with most questions.

Do I need to be an advanced photographer?
No! If you already know your shutter speeds from your apertures, this workshop will allow you to get on with shooting some fascinating species in a unique environment, with me on hand to provide compositional hints and tips, help with lighting and anything else you need. If you’re just starting out, I can take you through how to manage exposure, get started with manual modes and how to get the most out of autofocus. Small group sizes – a maximum of six – mean you’re guaranteed plenty of one-on-one help and advice.

Do I need a macro lens?
YES. DEFINITELY. A camera that allows you to change lenses, such as a DSLR or a mirrorless camera, is more or less essential here to get the most out of our subjects and setting.

At the very least, you should bring a telephoto lens with a macro switch on it, such as Sigma’s 70-300mm F4-5.6 DG Macro. This is at an absolute minimum, though – the best bang per buck will come from using a dedicated macro lens. If you’re unsure whether your lens will do the trick, you can email me whenever you like at workshops@davestevenson.co.uk.

Where should I get a macro lens?
There are loads of options when it comes to macro lenses, and this isn’t intended to be an exhaustive list. If you want to try before you buy – and save 20% – I'm chuffed beyond words  to be partnering with top lens hire firm Lenses For Hire. Head there and type “macro” in the search box and you’ll be able to find a high-end macro lens for our workshop. Lenses For Hire takes care of shipping and insurance, and – the best bit – we've got a promo code that will get you 20% off once your booking is confirmed. Lenses For Hire is a company I've used professionally for a few years and they're the absolute bomb – great customer service, an amazing selection of gorgeously maintained lenses and a passion for photography that easily matches that of their customers.

Do I need a tripod?
NO. Definitely. These workshops take place in relatively confined spaces where we need to work together to help each other out, and six tripods will get in the way. Unfortunately that means trying certain macro techniques, such as focus stacking, won’t be possible, but it does mean you’ll have the freedom to move around and find interesting compositions without tripping over other people’s equipment.

Do I need a flash?
You’re free to bring supplementary lighting, whether that’s an on-camera flash, wireless system or ring flash, although there are some species whose welfare needs dictate strobes not be used. We place animal welfare above everything else on these workshops so although you’re welcome to bring a flash, you may not be able to use it all the time. Please don’t bring lightstands. I light these workshops with two bright, high-end, 5400K (daylight) LED panels so you’ll be able to shoot steady shutter speeds and stop your aperture down a bit to manage depth of field while keeping your ISO reasonable. If all that’s Greek to you, come along to a workshop and all will be explained!

Where do I go to book these days?
Glad you asked – head to ZSL's official booking website here.

Show me another macro photograph.
Sure! Have a good day.

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