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Online Photography Course
Creative Close-ups

Become a better photographer today!

Join 's Course: 4-Week Short Course: Creative Close-upsFind out how close-at-hand subjects can result in larger-than-life images. Detail photos provide the accent that can set a mood, reveal pattern, line, and shape, and add visual variety to your collection of photographs. As instructor and author Kerry Drager will show you, the more intimate view can often reveal more about a subject than the broader scene! This class will show you how to use either everyday camera gear or specialized macro equipment to capture great close-up (and sometimes abstract) images of just about anything - nature subjects, still life scenes, architectural details, close-up portraits, etc.
Key Features

  • Developing an Eye for Details
  • Compositional Choices
  • Working with Natural Light
  • Going to the Extremes - Close-ups and Macro

  • Perfect for serious hobbyists through intermediates.
  • Covers creative and technical aspects that apply to the following: 1) tight close-ups with regular lenses, and 2) extreme close-ups with a macro lens or macro accessory.
  • Expand your vision to include details of just about any subject: nature, architecture, still life, close-up portraits, etc.
  • Covers a key issue in photographing close-ups: critical focusing.
  • Learn to handle the inherently narrow Depth of Field in close-up and macro photography.

What You Get


You get direct feedback on your photos from world-acclaimed, professional photographers. You can learn photography in this way from anywhere in the world.  
  • Learn at your pace, with structure.
  • Be guided by a real pro instructor.
  • Get your photos critiqued every week.
  • Join students from around the world.
  • Go far beyond any book or DVD.
  • Make great pictures, again and again!



Photography Instructor: Kerry  Drager Kerry Drager

The content manager and course advisor for, Kerry Drager is also the co-author of two books: The BetterPhoto Guide to Creative Digital Photography (2011) and The BetterPhoto Guide to Photographing Light (2012). In addition, he teaches photography online at BetterPhoto's digital photography school. See his instructor bio and list of courses...

Be sure to check out Kerry's Pro BetterPholio website -

Also, he is the author of Scenic Photography 101, the photographer of the photo-essay books The Golden Dream: California from Gold Rush to Statehood and California Desert , a contributor to the books BetterPhoto Basics and Daybreak 2000, and a co-photographer of Portrait of California. In addition, Kerry was profiled in the April 1994 issue of Outdoor Photographer magazine and in Vik Orenstein's 2010 book The Photographer's Market Guide to Building Your Photography Business, and his website was showcased in the January 2003 issue of Shutterbug magazine. Plus, his work has appeared in magazines, Hallmark cards and Sierra Club calendars, and in advertising campaigns for American Express and Sinar Bron Imaging.

Also see his Visual Creativity photography blog, and follow Kerry on Facebook.

Kerry lives with his wife, Mary, on California's Central Coast, with their three Newfoundland dogs, four cats, and a mixed terrier.

A Couple of Photos by the Instructor

© Kerry Drager 

© Kerry Drager 

Course Outline


Week 1: Developing an Eye for Details
Introduction: Why a photogenic part sometimes is stronger than the whole. How to find eye-catching subjects. The art and technique of exploring and experimenting. Bonus Lesson: Macro equipment options (from lenses to accessories, although again, macro gear is optional in this course). Sidebar: Tripods and other camera supports.
Assignment: Isolate the small view within the big scene - close-up or macro.

Week 2: Compositional Choices
Lens focal length options - moving physically closer vs. zooming in tighter. Zeroing in as tight as possible with standard lenses or with macro equipment. Positioning the subject. Simplifying a scene (by eliminating distracting elements). Sidebar: Depth of Field.
Assignment: Shoot the same subject with different compositions (close-up or macro).

Week 3: Working with Natural Light
How light can impact a photo: late/early day for warm light and striking shadows for small scenes; soft overcast light for close-ups and macro shots; sidelight vs. backlight; etc. Working in challenging conditions (light-vs.-dark contrast): “fixing” things with fill flash, a reflector, or diffusion disc, or by shifting the camera to eliminate a distracting bright “hot” spot, etc. Also: Using a polarizing filter.
Assignment: Shoot the same subject in different light - close-up or macro.

Week 4: Going to the Extremes - Close-ups and Macro
An introduction to extreme close-up and macro photography: Shooting survival strategies: i.e., dealing with a razor-thin depth of field, paying attention to backgrounds, etc. More tips, tricks, and techniques for successful macro photography.
Assignment: Experiment with viewpoint and sharpness – via close-focusing with a standard lens or moving in tight with macro gear.

© Kerry Drager 

© Kerry Drager 



  • Digital camera.
  • Knowledge of - and the ability to control - aperture and shutter speed.
  • A tripod - and the willingness to use it!
  • Polarizing filter recommended, but not required
  • Macro equipment optional




Is this course intended only for beginning/intermediate photographers or can advanced photographers take part too?
This course is open to any photographer who wants to explore the realm of detail and macro photography.  

What kind of equipment will I need to complete the photo assignments?
Any digital camera that allows for creative adjustments - i.e., the ability to control shutter speed and aperture - will do. This course doesn't require an arsenal of lenses, but you will need either a zoom lens or a few fixed-focal-length lenses. Also, you'll need a tripod.

Optional: Macro gear (i.e., a macro function on camera, a macro lens, close-up filters, or extension tubes). While not providing the extreme close-up ability of a macro lens, regular lenses can work great for close-up photography. And the course techniques apply to any macro or non-macro close-ups.  

What about flash photography?
This course focuses mostly on natural, non-flash outdoor light - plus window light and available light indoors. The subject of fill flash will come up briefly from time to time, but it won't be required for any assignments.  

For those of us who have it, can we use photo imaging software on our weekly submissions?
Yes, but only if the software is used as a corrective tool and for routine post-processing (in particular, Raw images need work). Don't lean on it too much for creativity. For example, please avoid using the digital darkroom for things such as adding motion effects, creating soft backgrounds, or cleaning up or eliminating large distractions, such as trees or telephone poles. And, please, no major cropping! This course is making great images with your camera. It is not about what you can do with digital imaging programs after the fact (BetterPhoto has some terrific courses designed specifically for working in the digital darkroom).  

© Kerry Drager 

© Kerry Drager 

Do I have to be online at any specific time?
No, you do not need to be online at any specific time. The lessons are sent to your email and you are also provided the Campus Square - where you interact with your classmates and instructor. This is also where you upload your photos to be critiqued by your instructor. The instructors are very punctual and respond quickly.

Will I have access to the instructor to ask questions during the photo course?
Absolutely! Students can ask questions in the special Q&A forum set up in the course's Campus Square, or can ask the instructor via email.

Do you offer a money back guarantee?
Yes. We are confident that you will fully enjoy our courses. All the same, for our 8-week classes, we offer a 100% money-back guarantee before the Wednesday that Lesson #3 is sent out. If for any reason, you are not satisfied and let us know that you would like to withdraw before the Wednesday that Lesson #3 is sent, you will be promptly refunded.

For our 4-week courses, we offer a 100% money back guarantee before the Wednesday that Lesson #2 is sent out from BetterPhoto. If for any reason you are not satisfied and you let the ordering department know that you would like to withdraw before the Wednesday that Lesson #2 is sent, you will be refunded within 7 days. After the second lesson has been sent out, no refunds will be given.

Still have questions about this course? Ask Us

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At a Glance
4-Week Short Course
Category: Composition Courses

$198.00 USD
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Average Customer Rating: 5 out of 5
5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5
Read all 46 reviews

Course Reviews:

5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5
BetterPhoto Member Kalena Randall
Kalena Randall
member since: 9/13/2011
Kerry Drager is a excellent instructor. His lessons are clear and concise, yet very informative. All of the sample photos help to demonstrate the concepts in each lesson very well. I learned a bunch by looking and comparing each photo as well as Kerry's teaching of the concepts.

The evaluations were completely positive. They helped me enjoy the class and gave me a strong desire to accomplish the next lesson.

Kerry's additional tips in each lesson were great in helping me get what I needed for each photo I took. His insights also helped me to develop the habit of constantly looking around me for a photo to take even if I didn't gave my camera - a great habit to develop!

I would recommend his classes and articles to anyone who wishes to advance their photography skills. I'm looking forward to taking his 8-week course.

- 2/1/2014 5:44:47 PM

5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5
Jan Marshall
member since: 12/30/2009
I learnt so much on this course .Even though I had read about some of the different aspects of this course
I really began to understand so much more.Kerry gave very supportive and helpful critiques and wouldn't hesitate to do another course with him. I have gained so much more confidence in the last four weeks.

- 10/3/2012 4:29:01 AM

5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5
BetterPhoto Member Ralph McBride IV
Ralph McBride IV
member since: 7/2/2012
Great class and would recommend to anyone. I look at every scene differently after taking this class and see photo opportunities everywhere. Mr. Drager provides great feedback and is willing to answer any question and will supply supplemental reading to strengthen his feedback. GREAT CLASS!!

- 9/26/2012 1:19:33 PM

5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5
Joan M. Reuben
member since: 1/3/2010
"I really enjoyed being a part of your Creative Close-ups class. It was fun and I really learned a lot of valuable information. The thing that stands out the most is your emphasis on light while taking close-ups. This has opened up a whole new world of photographic possibilities for me. Now I long for cloudy days!! I hope I will able to take other classes with you in the near future. Thank you again, Kerry!

- 9/18/2012 7:57:56 AM

5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5 5 out of 5
BetterPhoto Member stephen barney
stephen barney
member since: 4/3/2012
This is such a good course and Kerry is fantastic. If you can only ever do one more bettephoto course in your life, do this one. Kerry has an amazing way of engaging with the class. He was quick to respond and we had long ongoing conversations as a group that helped me to learn far more. I cannot praise this class - and especially its instructor - highly enough.

- 6/12/2012 2:38:15 AM

Read all 46 course reviews...

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More Delighted Customers:

"Kerry gives, by far, the best constructive critiques. I have learned so much from his critiques of all of the shots during the course. His lessons are detailed, but written simply enough that a beginning photographer can understand. I will definitely take another of Kerry's courses!" -Cathy Jo Wheeler 

"Kerry's course was excellent! He made very helpful suggestions in his critiques of my photos. He let me know what I did well and where I needed to improve. Thank you, Kerry, for a very informative and fun class!" -Phil Burdick 

"Kerry Drager is a fine instructor. He gives explanations suited to the novice photographer as well as those more experienced. He even includes 'bonus lessons' and sidebars to give more detailed explanations of concepts. His critiques are helpful and always encouraging... His course helped me become more aware of details and of how more interesting and dynamic a close-up photo can be. I highly recommend his course!" -Susan D. Eginton  

"I really enjoyed taking this course. Kerry Drager is a great teacher! His critiques were most helpful and he always answered questions very quickly. I hope to take another course with him in the near future. Thanks, Kerry!" -Toni Vavra 

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