December 9, 2009 – Fly



Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I know, I know, a lot of you think pictures like this one are kind of disgusting. And let’s be honest, they kind of are. But they’re still really cool. And, you have to admit, it’s been quite awhile since I’ve posted one.

This was taken with the 18-55 mm kit lens that came with my Canon, reverse-mounted using one of these guys: . It’s truly ridiculous how close-in you can get that way, and all you need is a cheesy little 13 dollar attachment. Unfortunately, since you’re attaching the lens to your camera backwards, you obviously don’t get the benefit of any of the electronic controls, which means the focus is totally manual (although focusing at that distance consists of simply rocking back and forth on the balls of your feet) and your aperture will be wide open. However, I don’t think shrinking the aperture would help you at all anyway, since there’s such a pitifully small amount of light reaching your sensor anyway.

As you can tell, the depth of field when taking pictures like this is quite literally microscopic. In normal landscape photography, you can take a photo with everything from 15 feet in front of you out to infinity all in focus. Here? The only thing in focus is a very narrow band between the fly’s back and the front of his head. We’re talking maybe a millimeter here. It’s weird. Another odd thing about doing this kind of stuff is how close you have to get to your subject. This fly was literally less than an inch from the front (well, the back) of my lens. As you can imagine, this introduces a whole host of new issues. Such as: flies tend to be a bit skittish. So it can be hard to get close enough to even get a picture. And, I don’t know about you, but I’m not good at standing perfectly still. I tend to rock back and forth a bit. When I’m taking a picture of a mountain, an inch or two in either direction doesn’t really make a difference. But when your depth of field is a millimeter, it’s a bit different. And, even on top of that, it’s worth pointing out that flies are FAST. They move a LOT. So while normally the biggest concern is using a fast enough shutter speed to avoid camera shake, with these shots you need to get much, much faster than that, so that you don’t get motion blur. (1/400th of a second is a great place to start.) So to say getting this picture was a bit frustrating a bit of an understatement. Let’s just say, it’s a good think I was shooting digital, because I had a couple hundred frames of complete garbage. (Not an exaggeration.)

One thing I like about these shots, and this one in particular, is that they’re very illustrative of what happens when you move away from the focal point. The eye is fantastic, because you can see what it looks like in focus, and you can very clearly see how it degrades from that into the general out of focus mushy stuff. Fun times, all around.

Before I let you go today, I’d like to point something out real quick. If you see that link above ( ), that’s a link to Amazon, to the actual reverse-mount attachment I use.  If you use that link to go to Amazon, then buy ANYTHING on the site, it’s linked up to my referral account, so I get 4% of your purchase paid to me.  So I would urge you, if you’re going to do any Amazon shopping this holiday season, to please go to Amazon via that link, help me out a bit.  If you buy enough stuff, I’ll send you a free calendar!!  What could be better than that?!  Oh, a lot of stuff, you’re right.  But it’s still pretty awesome!

Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, reverse-mounted 18-55 mm kit lens.  1/400s, ISO 800.

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  1. avatar
    Will December 9, 2009

    All I see is dave fry chasing a fly around the room with a giant camera. Is this associated with wtf breaking a tibia?

  2. avatar
    Dave December 9, 2009

    Awfully suspicious, isn’t it?

  3. avatar
    Heather Schmidt December 13, 2009

    Some people may think it is disgusting. I think it is amazing. I can’t believe that all you need for that is an adapter for the kit lens and not some crazy expensive macro lens. I am a student at and I came across your blog looking for some inspiration. Thank you so much


  4. avatar
    Amit December 30, 2009

    yup till nw i too had the same thinking about taking a picture of a moth or a bee shld be with macro changed the idea completely ..

  5. Reply

    […] suggested), seen through a reverse-mounted 18-55 mm kit lens. I talked about this already at length in this post, so if you’re at all interested in this kind of stuff, please do yourself a favor and read […]

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