Taking pictures of flies


Active Member
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.

Jay C

Active Member
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.



Active Member
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.


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.
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! ;)

Jay C

Active Member
I bought some daylight bulbs for my lamps, and set my white balance to auto. I think they are getting better, thanks guys! I might still need a bit more light.

Jeff Dodd

Active Member
Jay C
That last photo looks good!

My experience is minimal to the guys responding, but I have found problems with flies in photos that I could not see with my optivisor #3 lens plus the optiloop! Pretty cool
And I thought I was the only one tying mini leeches and nymphs and wooley buggers on small jig hooks.

I struggle with taking pics of my flies and I hope to learn from this thread.


Jay, you're on the right track! The color is correct. You can either change your exposure or add more lighting. The orange cast is completely gone so you've figured out that one.

You're almost there! You caught on quickly.
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.
Takes more to scare me away, Gene - I have simply been busy with other stuff. The vise is calling me, though - so be afraid, be very afraid... :cool:

As to what I use? I use the lowest of low tech for my fly shots - a very humble, very dated Nikon CoolPix 995.

I have high end camera bodies, high end glass - yet the CP995 runs rings around all of those for this specific purpose - it does for me, anyway ;-)

Hans W