20 Mar 2015

Fly Macro

In 2013 not long after the Barn Owl appearances, I discovered a photographer on a popular social photography website. His main interest lies in portraits, very close-up, of Jumping Spiders and a few other insects in America. He really inspired me into trying out Super-close Macro as it is called. He also happened to use the same brand of camera as me too. After viewing a video he had made on the equipment required, I could see it was really cheap to buy the necessary kit for this type of photography. In fact £7-15 for what are called extension tubes and about £40-50 for the old lenses.

After eventually finding the 28mm lens I needed at a non  extortionate price and being given the extension tubes as a Birthday gift. I was ready to enter into the genre of Super-close Macro. At first it was very hard and I could not see anything. This was in fact due to me being too far away from the subject I soon discovered. To actually capture the detail up close and personal, it turned out I only had to have a distance of around 50mm from the glass to the subject. This was quite unnerving at first, discovering detail suddenly, that was like that of Horror film monsters. I would jump on many occasions when the fly or other insect would appear very large in the viewfinder!

First successful shot

The above image is one of the first attempts out in the field that was fairly successful. It does lack sharpness in the eye, however captures all the fine hairs on the fly that I had no idea they had. The hardest part I found out in this genre is a very small depth of field. The area where there is focus is only about 5mm. This along with my unsteady hand and the other factors of the fly moving along with a slight breeze moving the leaves proved a steep learning curve. To potentially get an image good enough you really have to persevere and use the continuous shooting mode on the camera. 

Anthomyia procellarus

A couple of days later while out in the garden, I saw several of the above fly variety sunning themselves. They are only an average of 7-10mm long and some, as it turned out were very compliant to be photographed. The above fly was very tame in fact and this allowed me to start refining my technique. After acquiring an Insect pocket book guide (partly to find out what insects would bite!) I found out this is called the "Anthomyia procellaris". I was struck to how different by design this fly is to the first one taken just 2 days earlier. The Leopard like black spots are really striking and make the fly really stand out. For an insect that in so many ways represents disease to be so patterned, fuelled my enthusiasm even further to discover what other flies would look like. I managed to get another one of these at another location some weeks later and this one being much larger than the first. Around 15mm in length.

With spring now in mid flow, fly activity was numerous. With the days now longer  and lighter evenings every opportunity I would have, I would patrol the garden and chase down flies that were of a new species. Some had escaped me totally and would never let me close to them. Built in self preservation evident in these instances! Eventually some would not be spooked and the third I was able to capture is the above one. One common theme with all 3 is that they all have grey bodies and Bright red eyes (Although not so evident in the spotted fly above). This is also around 7mm in length and known just as a "Common Fly" like the first. The yellow triangular body part stands out too as a distinctive detail. The next fly was also taken on the same day. Again with grey colouring but this time having a yellow ochre rear abdomen. The shape of the eye is also different to the previous flies in that they are much longer and touch in the middle on top of the head.

Two days later my next fly was captured. This is much smaller than before and only 4mm long. Grey body yet again but with striking Ochre coloured legs. The small depth of field is really apparent in this photo too.

Another new discovery 11 days later is below. Big eyes feature again as does the grey. 

Finally a month later I found a group of flies that were not grey. They were down in a damp area where my Koi pond filter is. This area is damp most of the time, not from leaking water but as it is in shade from the house and fence constantly. They are very small and skittish, but with dedication worth the try. Stunning metallic green and gold covers them all over, including the compound eyes. These are by far my favourite species of fly. They look armour plated and have the friendliest of faces compared to the others. They have yet to return to the garden though after this time, which is a shame as I would like to really work on getting better representations of them.  


4mm in length! yes the next fly I photographed was only 4mm long. I first captured it on a white post feeding on something on it. Then while walking the dogs on Wye downs I got it again in a more pleasing setting. It is classified in the "Family Grassflies" and Latin name of "Thaumatomyia" and has taken on the colour scheme of a Wasp to give it a warning to potential predators.

This shows how much magnification I can get with the kit

Small Grassfly

The next is not much bigger and for the first time has a completely different stance and form to those preceding it. More aggressive in nature it actually is predatory on other flies. It also has a metallic covering in gold with red and green tinting in the compound eyes. It could be from the Mosquito family but I cannot confirm this either way.


The typical Common House Fly eventually became available to photograph. This particular fly being very calm in nature and allowed me for the first time to really capture the detail of Compound eyes of insects. The number of individual lenses that make up just one eye is staggering. The face also has a completely new design to others with the jaw like structure on the nose area. 

Look into my eyes...

The Horse Fly, big, bold and with a nasty bite too if you are unfortunate! This particular one was during my lunch break at work last May 2014. I worked in the countryside and with all that is normally found on land with stables, ponds and Nettles. It is a natural proving ground for all forms of wildlife and has provided many subjects for my work.

The Horse Fly

The last fly up until now was taken in July 2014 in my girlfriends garden. Being a town garden and near to a main river has created another diverse habitat for insects. It first struck me how different all of the insects were in her garden compared to that in my own and works countryside gardens. In one area alone there was over 100 Ladybird Lavae in all states of transformation. This metallic green fly was found on grass stalks sunning itself. It took me several attempts to get this shot, but patience paid off, as with all the other photos in this blog.

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