Gary Ray Rush – Tutorial – Tabletop Macro-Pan Photography

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© Gary Ray Rush Photography

To get you excited about the upcoming Still Life Photography seminar with Photographer Gary Ray Rush, we’re very fortunate to have a bit of a bonus for you. Gary has provided a mini tutorial on Macro-Pan photography right here! FREE. So without further delay, take it away, Gary!

Cameras, light bulbs, opera glasses, radios, harmonicas, phones, what do these objects all have in common? When you distill it down – out of necessity or inspiration, they were imagined and designed before they were brought into being.

These objects are utilitarian (useful) and as such are intended to be appealing to our eyes and to feel good in our hands. The process of selecting, researching and photographing these objects is an education in itself.

I’ve coined the word “Macro-pan photography” to describe my approach to photographing well designed objects on a table top.


Photographing small objects using close up photography equipment so that the object can be printed greater than life size. From Greek makros meaning “large” as in macro photography.


Photographing several slightly overlapping sections of a scene or object by tilting or swinging a camera from one side to another or up and down. From Greek pan meaning “all, all-inclusive” as in the word panorama.

I select items that have appealing features and design, try to select objects that are in as pristine shape as possible and even then give them a good scrubbing. Retouching takes time and shooting macro brings out all the flaws.

My tabletop set up consists of a three by five foot long table and white seamless paper hung down from about six feet and covering the length of the tabletop. I have a 250-watt strobe in a softbox on a boom stand directing light evenly down on the table from above. I have white boards and strips of white paper, black board and strips of black paper and five small adjustable mirrors all standing by to direct or block light.

My tabletop photography equipment includes a Nikon D7000, a fixed 105 mm focal length lens and a Nikon macro extension tube. A Tripod with a bracket mount that permits me to shoot vertical or horizontal without shifting my off the axis my tripod and a remote control shutter release.

olympus_pen by Gary Ray Rush

© Gary Ray Rush Photography

I’ll study the object on the tabletop and take test shots in order to choose the angle and lighting that draws attention to the beautifully designed features of my subject. Once the angle and lighting are worked out I’ll shoot many close-ups of each facet of the object. I shoot each close-up using a macro lens and sized in camera to print sharp and render excellent detail at approximately 16×20 inches. Using Adobe Photoshop I then merge as many as twelve of these images together resulting in a file that can be printed up to twelve feet by fifteen feet with uncompromising detail at close inspection. Next in Photoshop I’ll transform the image to bring the object back to its original perspective. Finally the retouching; often the objects I’m choosing are decades old and show tremendous wear and tear, my challenge in retouching is to leave the character that only use and age can produce while ensuring the original design elements shine through.

My images are printed on an archival photo paper with a print life of seventy to two hundred years. I use either Flex Archival Paper or Exhibition Fiber Paper. The prints are elegantly framed using only conservation quality materials.

Gary Ray Rush’s Still Photography seminar takes place Saturday, March 22nd at 10am in Toronto.