Taking pictures of flies

Discussion in 'Fly Tying' started by Jay C, Jan 16, 2014.

  1. I recently bought a new camera ( Nikon d3100) and am experimenting with taking pics of flies. I know some of you have done this awhile and could use tips. What settings, background colors,lighting. etc. do you find to work? Thanks

    A couple of my attempts:
    DSC_3255.JPG DSC_3275.JPG
    dfl likes this.
  2. Just keep doin what your doin.
  3. Try to get a little more light on the fly, preferably from two directions.
  4. I have made a 'light' box with white bottoms and sides, light blue back to help bounce the light. Bit I think you are correct to add more lights.Thanks
  5. Talk about bushy flies man those are sweet! Did you cross wrap the first hackle then do a rib?
  6. I followed the procedures for tying a Stimulator from Skip Morris book. I need to tie up some more - every one I tie still seems to be a little bit different.
  7. Eyejuggler likes this.
  8. If you can find a ring light for your camera lens, it will take care of any lighting problems. Before digital, we called them ring flashes because they did indeed flash. ....thus, the suckers were expensive. You can still buy the ring flashes for digital cameras but they are expensive so I'm not sure why you'd go the flash route. The advantage of the ring flash is that it only comes on when you release the shutter. The ring light for digital cameras stays on as long as the switch is on.

    I have two for my Canon DSLRs and both fit on the flash shoe of the camera and use either/or batteries and AC for power.

    Considering the number of macro shots I take, the ring lamp is well worth the minor expense -- compared to a dedicated ring flash which in the film days cost as much as a Canon lens. You can pick up a decent ring light for 50 to 100 bucks.
  9. What you are doing looks fine, just do as Richard suggested and use two lights, one on the front and the other I'd use overhead but kind of behind the fly, this will help... I made a light box but never use it, I get mine to come out OK with
    just the two lights with the fly in my vise and a grey back drop...You will have to experiment a bit but you'll get it... Good luck...

  10. Thanks for the help. I know you guys have been doing this for awhile with great results. Do you ever use a flash, with or without a diffuser, or just the lights from the side/above? Thanks again.
  11. Originally used just my Ott tying light (overhead) and a clamp-on 60w (side). Worked pretty well until I started tying some larger saltwater stuff and found I needed more illumination; put another 60w clamp on the other side and have been happy with the results. Grey craft foam is my favorite background (had used cream but most of the photos had a yellowish cast).


    Tried blue the other day - interesting effect, may have possibilities


    Michael v.d.Bogert and Jeff Dodd like this.
  12. you can make a diffuser out of wax paper and of course the old bounce off a white card.
    try using other colors of light. quartz was always good for warm tones. these days you can use CFL some times with digi cameras they handle this better than the old film days. and get some black cloth for back drops. you can play with all sorts of stuff. even do the direct light on metal -- oh my old instructors hated that .
  13. Thanks for the tips everybody. Nice write up Norm!
  14. I've tried many different colors for the background. Blue seems to be the best because there are so few blue patterns. If you notice, fly tying articles written for most publications have a blue background, this is because blue (normally a light hue) shows off the pattern quite well.

    The flyfishing publications in England show many patterns with a black background. I've tried a black background and lighting is tricky to pull off. I can do it but lighting is much more of a hassle than simply using light blue for the background.

    If you want a real challenge, try using glass for the background so the flies appear to float.

    Jim Schollmeyer provides the majority of multiple fly photos for Frank Amato Publications.
    He positions the patterns on glass mounted a few feet above the colored background.
    To eliminate the reflections from the glass, he uses six lamps positioned at various spots in his studio to light the patterns.

    I've tried his technique and it's a bitch! Reflections are a killer! I'll leave the patterns on glass shots to Jim.

    I think Dave Hughes went to using a ring flash. He asked me about the accessory waaaay back in the film days. It really is the most simple solution for shooting fly pattern shots if you plan to take a lot of shots. The ring flash allows you to position the camera lens very close to the fly pattern without messing around with secondary lamps.

    I don't know what Hans uses for his photos. He also uses a light blue background but I don't know what he is doing for the lighting. We must have scared him away because he hasn't posted a pattern or SBS clip in a long time.
  15. For a long time I've used a piece of pale blue railroad board (an inexpensive lightweight cardboard available in a variety of colors). When shooting pictures of products for my F&TJ product review column I seem to frequently wind up shooting at a slight downward angle and placing the sheet of railroad board behind the item being photographed with a large-radius curve provides a smooth shadow-free transition from horizontal to vertical background.

    I use three 75-watt incandescent bulbs in clamp-on aluminum reflectors for a light source, setting the camera's white balance accordingly. Adjusting the location of the reflectors can usually afford a shadow- and reflection-free image.
  16. Here is my latest pic using two 60 watt lights from each side. My background is light blue, but shows in the pic as tan, maybe it is the type of light.

  17. i have been thinking of getting a new camera for this, but i found that my new phone is amazing for these pics. plus there is an app that allows me to play with the pics like this one.
  18. The color shift is due to white balance. Normally you can adjust that with your camera but you can also change the background color difference with an editing program. The downside of digital is the color shift but it can be overcome. Check the owner's manual for your camera and see if there is a section on adjusting white balance. Considering you are using incandescent lighting you need to set your camera to take photos with that setting. Using blue photo-flood lights will also correct the orange cast.

    I use PhotoShop Elements 12 for my photo editing.
  19. jay c

    for me incandescent bulbs are too yellow as you can see in your photo above and may be the problem when not adjusting the white balance.

    i use 2 "daylight" or "full spectrum" bulbs in a couple of desk lamps from home depot.

    i keep the white balance setting on "auto" to let the camera decide.

    i too edit my photos by adjusting the contrast and brightness with a free photo editing software called "photofiltre 7". if its free its for me! ;)
    Jeff Dodd likes this.

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