Taking better photographs of Fly Patterns Part 1 of 2

One of the questions I am most asked is what camera am I using to take photographs of my flies? 

I will answer this in due course but in this blog post I am going to explain how to take better images with limited equipment. I am currently using a mirrorless camera and a dedicated macro lens. I know that most folks won’t be interested in purchasing a high-end camera for taking a few snaps. 


The first thing I want to say more than likely you own a powerful camera already. Most modern smart phones have exceptionally good cameras. Of course, there are some other things that can really improve the quality of your images. Let’s start with essentials things that IMHO you must have to improve your photography.


  1. A lightbox is essential good images require good light and if you can control the light all the better. You do not need to spend a lot of money on one and I use the one bellow for all my pictures a bargain at £13.99. If you don’t want to spend out on a light tent get outside natural light is the best light. That said in this country (England) it can be a rare commodity. With a lightbox you can decide when you want to take pictures. (click on the image to go to the product)



  1. Next you have to keep your phone completely static the best way to do this is to use a bracket and tripod. You can buy these really cheaply but I would caution about going too cheap. I spent a not so fun afternoon trying to get a screw from a cheap tripod that had snapped out of my not so cheap bracket. This one is reasonable and comes with a remote control. Which is handy if you do not wish to bother with using the self- timer on your phone. This is reasonable at £9.89, you can spend more but if it is only for taking photographs of your flies I don’t see the point of the extra expense. (click on the image to go to the product)



So, these are a couple of essentials to my mind. You can jury rig the phone with some elastic bands and a stack of books but to my way of thinking life is too short! Ok so you have your lightbox and are able to steady your phone what else do you need to know?

I have an iPhone 8+, this has an amazing front facing camera. It is definitely much more powerful than the first digital camera I bought with a 12 MP camera 28mm @ F1.8. This is considered an old phone by todays standards. The Android equivalents are just as good if not better in some cases. Getting good focus on the fly pattern then locking it is super important. With the iPhone you simply keep your finger depressed on the point of focus and the focus lock facility will appear on the screen. For other phones just ask Uncle Google and you should get the answer you need. 


If you can take the photo with a remote that comes with the kit above all the better. If not use the self-timer, any attempt at just touching the button will result in slight movement regardless of how careful you think you have been. This can cause the image to come out blurred. Once you have taken the image of the fly use the onboard editing software to crop into the image and frame the fly. You can play about with different backgrounds black, white, and blue works well. I like to use small stones that I have collected from various rivers I have visited. It really is up to you, just remember though it’s all about the fly.

 If you want to up your photography game further with your phone you can buy lens packs for phones the one below gets excellent reviews. (click on the image to go to the product)


 In part two of this Blog I want to discuss the kit I am using for my photographs not only for fly patterns but while out on the water.