Jess Rhine (@pickledgoose) has an intensely beautiful feed filled to the brim with her excellent macro photography work. Her keen eye for the tiny bits of splendor in nature that many people overlook is one of the many characteristics that make her gallery such a pleasure to view. We're always both intrigued and impressed by her ability to use Mextures with such care and gentleness on subjects that are many times infinitely delicate. We spent a bit of time with her recently to learn more about her love of photography and specifically her development in the realm of macro photography. My name is Jessica (but I prefer Jess). I live in Florida with my man and our two wildling children. I'm a stay at home mom and a lover of photography. A sucker for details, pancakes, and beards. I'm clumsy, can make a mean bowl of cereal and want to raise goats and pigeons.
What caused you to fall in love with photography?
I'm not really sure what sparked my fancy at first. I know it happened when I was young. I've always been the one behind the camera and have owned a camera for as long as I can remember. I've broken many too. I take all of my photos with my iPhone now… and have broken one of those as well.
Photography just makes me happy. It always has. It's a way for me to escape. To enjoy a moment longer. To see the beauty in the details. I have a serious love affair with my macro lens. The details and focus I can get with it. The bokeh. Ah, the bokeh that comes with a macro lens.
I love it. I'll take pictures for as long as my fingers and eyes allow me.
What does your editing process typically look like?
I can be an editing disaster sometimes. I'm indecisive and have been known to change my mind halfway through editing a photo.
I generally start by uploading my photo in to VSCO to set the mood. I mess around a lot with exposure and the strength of the filters. I then move on to Mextures. I have a few preset formulas specifically for macros that I like to use or I may just add a few separate layers for added light leaks or texture. I tend to prefer a more natural look when it comes to my macro shots and will do just a bit of fine tuning, add fade and play with exposure some more.
If I'm working on a self portrait that can get messy and I may have several final edits to choose from. I like to play around a lot with my self portraits, especially in Mextures.
How did you get started shooting with a macro lens?
I had been on Instagram for a little while using a different account and had noticed these beautiful macro shots people were posting. I found out about some attachable macro lenses for iPhones and ordered one immediately. Complete love at first sight. It took a bit of getting used to though - finding the right distance for the focus I wanted and I also shake something fierce when macro'ing. There's a lot of breath holding involved to steady myself. And dirt. Lots of dirt.
It's all worth it though. I love that bug's eye view. It's very Alice and Wonderlandish to see something that is usually so tiny to the eye in such great detail. The tiniest droplet or wisp of a bird's feather. It's all so beautiful.
Does your editing process differ when you edit a shot taken with a macro lens as opposed to editing a picture shot on a standard lens?
I think editing depends a lot on my mood. I'm a take now, post later kind of gal so I can have a certain edit in mind when I take a photo but by the time I'm ready to share it I may have changed my idea entirely. I do tend to stick to moodier edits for the most part on all of my photos. I suppose the filters, layers and adjustments I choose depend on the subject.
I try to keep my macros as clear as possible in editing. Mextures has the best sharpening tool of any app I've used. I use that and the other adjustment tools for most of my macro shots along with any layers I may add. I like to use some of my formulas on some of my macros for clarity and mood.
When editing my self portraits though I usually add Grit and Grain and tend to not care as much about clarity. I use the fade tool a lot as well. They all add a bit of darkness and mystery to them.
Do you feel like Mextures offers anything unique to your editing process?
The versatility of Mextures is what drew me to the app. I can do a darker, moodier edit for a self portrait or a more subtle, natural edit for my macro shots. I love that you can create your own formula or work off of another’s formula to customize it to work best for your own photo. There are endless editing possibilities.
Are there any formulas that you’d be willing to share with the mextures crew?
But of course! I'm kind of bad at remembering to save my formulas but here are a few of my favorites that I did remember to save:
Unbearable Lightness - Formula Code - FHKSBJT • • • - Formula Code - JMKQBNU Splendor - Formula Code - SIGXGZZ Sunday Morning - Formula Code - HHVJDLT Seven - Formula Code - DAATPDF
How do you go about selecting a subject for your macro shots?
I shoot all of my macros in my back or side yard and along the small lake we live on so my subjects are kind of selected for me. I'm at Mother Nature's mercy. I love it that way. There's dew that covers everything most mornings, the sun rises along the lake, we have birds galore that leave me feathers and many spiders with their dew dropped webs. And now that it's spring the bees are returning!
I try to take my time to get the right angle for most of my shots. I have to get as low to the ground as possible for dew drops on grass or reach as high as I can to capture a spider web. I have horrible balance and I shake a lot when macro'ing so that causes me to have to retake some shots which can take more time. Sometimes I'll take a photo from a certain angle, stop to look at the shots and realize it wasn't the best angle so I change positions and try again. I've been using my macro lens for a few years now and have had a ton of practice. It was a lot of trial and error at first but I've learned several techniques that have helped speed thing up when I'm in a rush. Which happens often since I only shoot at dawn or right after. I have a small window of time to shoot in the light I love.
What all goes in to the double exposure work on your self portraits?
I'm a bit of a disaster when I work on my double exposure self portraits. I don't always have a plan starting out. I kind of just stumble my way through and see what happens. I still haven't convinced myself that I'm all that great at it but they're fun to experiment with. I love to do collabs for a lot of them. My two favorites so far have been the butterfly on my shoulder with @figment_hf and the snowy forest/Mother Nature edit with @moners_. I had an actual concept going into both edits and to be able to pull it off the way I envisioned was surprising and rather satisfying.
Do you have any specific goals or aspirations for your photography and Instagram work?
I'm not actively pursuing anything at the moment but I have always daydreamed about my photography. I never figured anything much would come of it though. Simply knowing people like my work alone makes me happy. I never imagined I'd actually have any of my work in print other than if I did it for myself, but a few months ago I was a finalist in the Twenty20/West Elm challenge. I was nearly knocked to the floor when I found out my photo was one of those chosen to be sold on westelm.com. I still can't believe it. Absolutely one of the neatest things to have happened to me.
Who are the people who have inspired your work the most?
There are so many people that inspire me and keep me going for various reasons. I'm really drawn to details and dark moody edits.
There have been a few times that I've taken a break from IG and considered not returning but the incredible support of @hihorosie and @terri_calico have kept me going. I'm ever grateful for their inspiration and support.
Make sure to take a look at more of Jess’s beautiful work at @pickledgoose!