Experimenting With Underwater Fly Photography

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Experimenting With Underwater Fly Photography

Postby letumgo » Sat Feb 21, 2009 10:09 pm

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I've been thinking about photographing flies under water for some time and decided to give it a try today. This is my first attempt at photographing a soft hackle fly under water. The fly was photographed in a small plastic storage container filled with water. The fly is suspended from a fine piece of copper wire that I could bend and hold in place. The camera used (Pentax Optio W30) is submerged under water and in macro mode. I'm still trying to get the hang of getting the focus distance just right, but this method seems to be promising.

I love how the fibers of the fly capture little bubbles of air and there is a bubble on the back of the thorax.
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Re: Experimenting With Underwater Fly Photography

Postby Ron Eagle Elk » Sun Feb 22, 2009 1:08 am

Very nice, Ray. Great fly as well as great photography.
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Re: Experimenting With Underwater Fly Photography

Postby tie2fish » Sun Feb 22, 2009 9:29 am

Excellent, Ray! I've been hoping someone would find a way to show how our creations actually look to the wee fishies. The next step, I suppose, would be to have a tank with the water actually circulating to create movement.
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Re: Experimenting With Underwater Fly Photography

Postby 5feathers » Sun Feb 22, 2009 10:12 am

Cool photo and great idea. It's nice to see how the barbules hold water bubbles.
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Re: Experimenting With Underwater Fly Photography

Postby John Dunn » Sun Feb 22, 2009 12:04 pm

Ya that's kinda neat, the air bubble caught my eye too. Nice job.

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Re: Experimenting With Underwater Fly Photography

Postby daringduffer » Sun Feb 22, 2009 2:42 pm

This is a cut-and-paste job; recycling:

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Somewhat off topic, but anyway; you often see pictures of flies, using this or that material, with remarks about their ability to 'hold bubbles'. The pictures show the flies holding bubbles. My problem with this is that those pictures mostly are shot with the fly in fresh tap water, which contains a lot of oxygen which adheres to the material. Most of our fisheries hold a lot less oxygen, meaning less bubbles. My point is that these pictures don't tell the whole truth of the flies behaviour/appearance in an actual fishing situation. The 'mimicry' referred to by V. Hidy needs clean turbulent water.
Don't read this as a stated fact but as a stated belief. Soft material, as cdc, has other useful charactheristics.

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Re: Experimenting With Underwater Fly Photography

Postby letumgo » Sun Feb 22, 2009 3:14 pm

Good point, Stefan, and it is one I understand well as an engineer. That is one of the reasons I let the water "age" (i.e. - degas) so that it is able to come to a natural saturation level at the lower pressure and at ambient conditions (i.e. - room temperature & atmospheric pressure). Natural stream water is at equilibrium with the environment and its amount of dissolved gasses. Fresh tap water has not yet come to equilibrium with the amount of dissolved gasses (it is colder than ambient conditions so it will tend to hold more dissolved gasses, and it it was at elevated pressure which also raises the amount of dissolved gasses the water can hold). By letting the water come to "age", the dissolved gasses will come to equilibrium to better match the conditions in a stream. The materials of the fly still want to hold onto some air as the fly is submerged into the water.

I am sure that if I knocked the fly around hard enough I could dislodge the bubbles from the fly, but that wasn't the intent of my experiment. I was initially trying to prove to myself that I could take macro photos of a fly in simulated fishing conditions (i.e. - underwater). I've seen a number of discussions about "What does this fly looks like underwater, not just wet?", which was the source of my inspiration. It's fun to try to answer these questions with actual photos. I need to find time to do some more experimental photos to see flies in the surface film (right at the water/air meniscus).

Gary LaFontaine used to do a lot of underwater observation of fly patterns to try to imitate certain appearances (like his studies of antron yarn on sparkle caddis patterns). After I read about about Gary's observations, it made me wonder what I could try with my waterproof digital camera. Last summer I was crazy enough to jump in a swimming pool to photograph flies with CDC on them. Now with my little set-up, I don't need to jump in a pool to take the pictures. :lol: :D
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Re: Experimenting With Underwater Fly Photography

Postby Soft-hackle » Sun Feb 22, 2009 3:19 pm

Stefan,
You are correct that these flies would not have bubbles in turbulent water. They'd be washed away. most likely. However, I don't think the amount of oxygen in the water makes a difference as to how much air the fly traps in the fibers before it is submerged. It carries the trapped air below the surface, hanging onto it. So I believe these photos, indeed, show how air clings to and gets trapped in the fly fibers or materials.

Mr. Hidy suggested drying between casts to help the fly trap air and carry it below. Fished in a moderate to slow area, just below the surface and so the angler controls the line to prevent drag, many of the bubbles would remain.

Another trick would be to treat the fly with Scotch Guard and let the fly dry thoroughly prior to fishing. This also waterproofs the fly to some extent, and when submerged, carries air below about the fly.

It's a very effective trick.

Mark
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Re: Experimenting With Underwater Fly Photography

Postby Soft-hackle » Sun Feb 22, 2009 3:23 pm

Ray,
Here's the rub. While I can not argue that having bubbles or imitating the bubble with flashy, glittery material, there has never been any documented proof of La Fontaine's air bubble supposition. If anyone has proof I'd like to see it.

Mark
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Re: Experimenting With Underwater Fly Photography

Postby letumgo » Sun Feb 22, 2009 3:30 pm

Mark - Your Scotch Guard comment got me thinking about a material I have on my tying desk for treating flies to make them float. It is a liquid called "Hydrostop" made by Loon Products. It is a very thin clear liquid that you dip a fly in and then let it dry for 24 hours. The material keeps water from wetting the surface of the material. It is normally used to treat dry flies to make them float without treating them with floatant at the streamside.

In the past I had wondered what a nymph or soft hackle pattern would look like if it was first treated with "Hydrostop" before it was submerged. I believe the fly would get a thin layer of air over the entire surface of the fly (kind of shiny silver bubble appearance), but now I can test that theory... ;)
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