Macro Fly Photography - A Process

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tie2fish
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Re: Macro Fly Photography - A Process

Post by tie2fish » Fri May 29, 2015 7:15 am

I vote for the "wood"; it compliments the colors of the fly but is enough darker that it provides contrast.
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Re: Macro Fly Photography - A Process

Post by hankaye » Fri May 29, 2015 8:25 am

dub-ya, Howdy;

I'm liking all of them, they all have their merits, although
with the fly in the 'spotlight' I'd say wool ,wood, & refl
would be the winners. Were you to have a fly with a darker
hackle then perhaps White may then shine. It seems to me that
photography is one of the fluid mediums, able to shift and flow
about the subject. Like a dog chasing it's tail ... every once in awhile
it may catch it (oh happy day! Now what do I do with it???), but
ends up letting it go so it can move on.
Happy Tails :D

hank
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Re: Macro Fly Photography - A Process

Post by William Anderson » Fri May 29, 2015 8:59 am

Thanks for the encouragement fellas. These are all fine, of course there were 15 to start and you only saw 5. :lol: . There was something wrong about this arrangement and I couldn't quite figure it out, but Karsten was kind enough to point it out privately and I'll ask that he make his comments public for all of our benefit. I'll be able to provide a better response once you've seen his keen critical eye at work. Very helpful.

w
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Re: Macro Fly Photography - A Process

Post by William Anderson » Fri May 29, 2015 10:48 am

Backgrounds continued

While my main objective is to find the a balance between a clear documentation of the pattern and a slightly more artful image, an ongoing study of the effects the background is important, and it's something that has come up often over the years. I won't attempt to resolve it, but at least put the work in to find what is most effective. I'll say this, I did my very best to maintain a consistent operation on the camera, F13, ISO 200 and as I used the Aperture priority setting, the shutter speed varied. I also had to make lots of adjustments to the Exposure Compensation to keep the fly as a constant while the camera arrived a vastly different readings with each background presented. Even with that, in editing I had to alter the images color temperature, exposure, contrast, shade, white and black balances, all just to get the fly back to what I thought was a consistent and accurate representation.

Black Felt. The black background wreaks havoc on the materials, washing them out and removing important color tones. Once complete, the stark contrast is still too acute to my eye and seems too harsh for the delicate materials represented.
Image

Gray Fabric. Not unlike the black, this too remains to stark in contrast. I'll say the process of getting the fly back to accurate representation altered the darkness of the background which was more nuanced on it's own.
Image

Gray Wool. Getting better. I like the mottled effect of the background and for some flies this might be a nice background, but not something I could rely on for consistency over a range of flies.
Image

Gray Felt. Definitely one of my favorites for its subtle mottling and warm neutral tone. A possibility as a standard for this type of documentation shot.
Image

Gray Matt Board. This very neutral tone has promise but lacks interest. I suppose as a standard, I could do worse. However the risk that half of my flies contain shades of dun might pose issues as materials get lost. That would be unacceptable.
Image

Gray Matt Board - Tilted at 45 degrees Ditto, and the added gradation is a big plus. Something tinker with for a more pronounced effect.
Image

Gray Paper This too has promise and shows the fly in a very flattering, unobtrusive light. It might prove too light for some flies, but works very well for this particular fly.
Image

White - an attempt at white. For shooting this documentation type of image, the white is a tough shot. And if it worked, I don't know that I would like it. I won't give up on the white as a background in general, especially after studying Lucian's and Lance's images. Those are stunning...this one not so much. Much work to be done.
Image

Mottled Cork The impulse to go for a more natural tone of a complement of the flies colors is always there, but as with this shot, you lose the materials and colors become suspect, when you can see them. You almost have to infer what you see rather than actually seeing what you know is there. It's warm, but materials are lost.
Image

Classic Blue The standard. I don't know who worked out this background, might have been Hans, who certainly did it best. It just works for this type of shot. I always works and provides the kind of clarity without compromise. It's no wonder nearly every book and magazine in the past 20 years uses this background by default.
Image

Original - 2011 For years I liked these shots, I thought they were clear and offered a strong presentation of my flies. They do, but the clarity is lacking compared to the current camera set up, and a pale comparison to Hans' shots. It was the best I could do for a long time. I'm not complaining.
Image

:D We have several threads addressing this topic, links are posted on page 1.
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Re: Macro Fly Photography - A Process

Post by Smuggler » Fri May 29, 2015 12:30 pm

Nice. That cork background doesn't do it for me. However the Grey matte on the 45 degree tilt is very attractive. Nice stuff Will.
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Re: Macro Fly Photography - A Process

Post by daringduffer » Fri May 29, 2015 2:29 pm

On my old laptop screen the gray paper background enhances the qualities of the fly the most. I will eventually check this on another screen.

(I remember your giant leaps as a fly tier not so many years ago).

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Re: Macro Fly Photography - A Process

Post by daringduffer » Fri May 29, 2015 2:47 pm

I know almost naathing about photography. Have to ask you if you are 'stacking exposures' (?) to get crisp pictures? I believe David Stenström, among others, "cheats" that way.

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Re: Macro Fly Photography - A Process

Post by fly_fischa » Fri May 29, 2015 5:52 pm

Karsten's PM on Composition

Sorry for the delayed response Will, sent my Pm before bed after beer o'clock our time. :oops:
As requested here's my response;
Heya mate,
I'm loving this thread buddy, great to see you really getting into your photography, your images are looking great and coming along nicely. This last fly is simply gorgeous, me like. :D The tin can looks interesting and I love the monochromatic texture it brings to the image.
When considering composition a good approach is to create a main focal point and after deciding on an angle for the fly including depth of field considering the rest of the composition. When you introduce backgrounds and shapes like the round top of the tin your photos would look better if the proportions looked more intentional and sure (I hope that makes sense). The crescent created by the tin is a bit small and a negative space (not a bad thing if incorporated well), it would benefit from being more prominent a dissection of the image and if it wasn't as uniform/more dynamic. Maybe the left point of the tin being closer to the bottom left of the frame and the top right portion of the tin ending exactly in the top right corner. At the moment the proportional semicircle at the top intersecting the top of the hackle looks too unintentional and draws your eye to this point. The colour experimentation is interesting but some of the colours although sympathetic to the hues of the fly look a bit dirty and detract from the subject and the already beautiful contrast in textures/materials between the tin and the fly. The image that works best is the most intentional and confident one, the third from the top with the black background. It's hard to put this into writing but I hope it makes sense. I reckon this image could be an absolute cracker if you tweaked it a bit, also play with the lighting, some shadows might be nice, you may lose some detail but have a more arty photo. Keep up the great work mate, I'm enjoying this thread immensely. Although it's far from perfect, here's a quick butchered version of what I'm getting at with my comments above, bearing in mind that the perspective hasn't changed. Gotta go for now, look forward to seeing more.

Image

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Re: Macro Fly Photography - A Process

Post by William Anderson » Fri May 29, 2015 9:07 pm

Response to Karsten's PM on Composition

Karsten, thank you again for your thoughtful feedback and keen insight and for posting your PM here. It's greatly appreciated and when I saw it I knew you were spot on. The images in question are on the bottom of page 5, those with the varied background, or a sliver of a background.

Image


You really nailed the crux of this problem. Exactly right. I wish I had seen it in the initial set up but I didn't. I swear to god, I thought the exact same thing this morning looking at the pic. Something was off and I thought it was the proportions of the shot. My thought was that I hate that little bit of hackle against the background, it should either be more of the fly in contrast above the edge or none at all, and then it hit me, that little slip of background is a mistake. Looking back, I know what I was thinking. The arc of the edge of the tin just has no interesting character so make it less prominent. Setting up the flies position should have been more carefully thought through, but wasn't. I wanted that camera angle that offers a clean shot of the body and hackle, not in quite in profile, but better than a steep angle that would eliminate the background by raising the camera. My goal is to find the balance between an artful shot and the clear documentation of the fly. I lean to the documentation as my heart is more in the sharing and teaching than the artistic presentation. But it can be both and I think I have a ways to go. Stenstrom can do it, but often with catskill dries, they stand like supermodels waiting to be photographed. Soft-hackles are much tougher and I like this posture in this image, but I need to find a platform that I can shoot lots of different flies on and offers the same quality of shot. Continuity over time for my site, etc. That's probably asking a lot of any one material, but I would like my site to maintain a clarity and the flies should be very readable. I don't mind sharing the rough drafts in public, though, and I do enjoy the process. But I DO need your help.

I believe this is on point with your comment regarding the division of the image, finding the thirds and making the fly integrated with both portions.

Image

This early shot is better too in its jagged edge before falling off into the background creating an interesting dynamic that is not present with the curve of the old tin can.

Image

Or maybe this re-cropping as a response to your comments (RAW files are non-destructive meaning you can go back to them and start from scratch any time)

Image

Any feedback is welcome and we all learn something with every addition. Much thanks, mate.
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Re: Macro Fly Photography - A Process

Post by William Anderson » Fri May 29, 2015 9:33 pm

To respond to Eric and Stefan a couple of posts back.

Eric, thank you, I agree that he tilted gray board gives just the right contrast (on this fly) and a slight visual interest in the gradient that is created by the tilt. Getting soft-hackled flies to pose well and finding a suitable position/composition is really more important that the background color at this point, but I won't discount the importance of getting that right, avoiding any backgrounds that distract with their own visual interest and any colors or tones that are found in the fly in a way the makes them less significant when viewed as a whole. The very reason Hans (and others) blue background works all the time is the ability to highlight every material without diminishing any material. Perfect documentation. I'm hoping to find a balance.

Stefan, thanks for your kind words. No, I have not tried the layered exposures for a richer effect. I opened my first RAW file only days ago, and I have some working knowledge of Photoshop, but it seems I use about 10% of it's potential. The editing and software end of this is extraordinary and should really be it's own thread, or maybe on photography forum all together. His technique is beyond my skill set at present. But it's fun and I'm working on it. Thanks.
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