Fly photos the easy way

Fly tiers are happy to share their flies with other fly tiers. One way is to show pictures on the web. Unfortunately, the images you see often are so bad that you can hardly see what the fly looks like. It is quite unnecessary, since it’s simple to get a good picture. Below you can see how I do when I quickly want to take a picture of a new fly. Well, it works with old flies as well. Click on images to enlarge.

Camera, tripod: For macro photography, it is necessary that the camera stays absolutely still, without vibrations. A tripod is of course the best, but you can also put your camera on, for example, some books. Also use self-timer to avoid all kinds of camera shake.
Camera, focusing distance: Do you have a decent digital camera you can get good pictures of your flies. Do you have a compact camera, find the macro function (the symbol usually is a small flower). With the macro function activated, you can go as close to the fly as necessary.
Do you have a digital SLR and a macro lens, you can also go close. If you don’t have a macro lens, you can go as close as you can with your lens. It is important that you have the camera’s image settings set to highest quality. This ensures that you later will be able to crop the image, to focus on the fly.
Camera, White Balance (WB): If you use regular incandescent bulbs, set the camera white balance on incandescent bulb. If you don’t, the picture will be too yellow. An even better option is to set the white balance manually (works only on SLR and advanced compact cameras). To make the adjustments change between different cameras, so consult the manual. If you know the color temperature of the lights you use you can set exactly the white balance for the best result, or you can try different color temperatures. I think I have the camera set to 2400 K when I use incandescent bulbs. Read more about color temperature here:

The white paper under the fly is there to reflect the light to the underside of the fly, to get an even light.

Adjust the lamps for best results. Perhaps one lamp should be closer to the fly than the other. Maybe they should be located more above the fly. You have to try to get the best result.

With this kind of light settings, the background will turn quite dark. Do you want a lighter back ground, you must highlight it with another lamp.

The easiest way is to keep the fly in the vise, but you can of course find other options: a forceps, a stick, a hackle pliers.

The result:
You can see both lamps and the white paper reflected in the gold bead. You can also see that I adjusted the lights so one is closer to the fly. This is to avoid that the gold bead gets too light.

Detta inlägg publicerades i Flugfiske, Fotografering. Bokmärk permalänken.

2 kommentarer till Fly photos the easy way

  1. Lucian Vasies skriver:

    Hi, interesting article, if you aloud me, I will share my 2 cents experience:
    I never use a direct light on the flies. Will over expose some parts and you will have ”burned” areas. To compensate this, you have to adjust from the software the over expose areas and you will get noise in the darker areas.. I prefer to use a reflected light with white papers – in this way I will have a more uniform light on the fly.
    Also for a nice background is like you said, you have to light it but for a nice and blue (for example) uniform background you have to use a light in the back of the background.

    Regarding the details of the flies this is correlated with DOF. If you go very close to the fly, you will loose 3D details (exactly like in the photo from your article, no details in the tail area). Is better to have a distance between camera and fly. For example you have 1/4 or 2/3 from the photo filled with the fly. Make a crop in software and you will have a great photo with lot of details in tails, hackle, etc.
    A compact camera is better for macro due the size of the sensor. But of course the quality of the sensor is not like for DSLR cameras….
    To have an Idea about a good macro when we are talking about flies – Hans W use an old nikon compact camera 🙂

  2. bigtrout skriver:

    Thanks Lucian, for you interseting response. I agree in everything you write. I wrote this article to help my fellow flytyers to get better photos whitout getting special gear. When you look at flies published on Facebook some of the photos are so bad you can’t even see what the fly looks like. This article is for those flytyers.
    The fly in the article is shot with a Canon Digital Ixus 430, which I bought on a web auction for about 38 USD. Of course I get better photos in my studio, with my EOS 5D Mk II, but I seldom bring my flies to the studio. I think this result is good enough for Facebook and other forums. Photos for printed media is a different story…


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