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DrTomas

photographing a fly in vise vs. flat on a surface

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hey all,

 

i have a question about whether we should, as a standard, photograph our flies in a vise or flat on a surface; and if this topic has been visited before i apologize for the revisit.

 

the question is which is better?

 

i am biased, and i will explain why.

 

i think, if a tyer really wants a critical evaluation of his/her fly, then they should never photograph it lying flat on a surface. it is quite easy to hide many flaws and to "primp" a fly into looking better than it does in actuality because when it is flat that surface helps to hold "fly-away" feathers in position. crests that are skewed or throats that aren't seated properly can easily be hidden this way, whereas in a vise you cannot control that unless it is tied in properly to begin with.

 

similarly, photographing a fly flat may falsely "create" flaws that are not truly there. for example a fly using many veilings, if the veilings are large, the veilings may look as though they are skewed because the flat surface "pushes" them towards the photographed surface.

 

if one is photographing a fly for strictly artistic purposes, then really, one can photograph it however they please. but if one is truly asking for critiques to improve their tying, then my bias would be to photograph the fly in 4 views; right side, left side, front view, back view all while mounted in the vise. this would give people critiquing the flies the best views to see how truly well-tied that fly is.

 

i am not trying to create controversy, or to aggravate or offend people (as i know i have posted only a few flies on this board---something i hope to rectify as time allows). however, the primary function of this board is to enlighten, assist and encourage people in learning this art, and i believe a "standard of Photography for criticism" would be very helpful to both beginners and experts alike.

 

tonight, when i get home from work, i will try to post photos of examples in this thread to illustrate my points better.

 

i would graciously welcome others comments regarding this topic.

 

Regards,

 

Tom McFarland

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Hi Tom,

 

Do you mean flat on a scanner? If so, I agree that the lid of the scanner can either cause materials to be pressed into a flatering view or push materials way out of place making the fly look worse than it might otherwise be.

 

I take my step shots in the vise but my finished shots are almost floating in the air so nothing touches the dressing in any way so what you see, is what you get.

 

Where is that bent hook/s??? :)

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Ronn,

 

first of all remember i am just talking about photos asking for critique and not artistic photos.

 

i mean on any flat surface and using a digital camera to photograph it.

 

scanning a fly isn't feasible, you won't reproduce the proper colors, etc., and besides you'll smash the fly and make it look worse than it does.

 

photographing a fly on a flat surface can falsely IMPROVE the look of the fly.

 

what i am trying to illustrate is that, for example, say you tie a classic and your topping is skewed off to the back side of the fly so that if you looked at it from the front, you'd see the topping tailing off to the starboard side of the fly (backside).

 

when you place that fly on a flat surface, especialy any kind of cloth, you can primp the feather into looking like it is straight pretty easily when in fact it isn't. the cloth or other flat surface, hold the feather in place, when in actuality it isn't.

 

IMHO, only when the fly is upright and unencumbered on any side do you see the real skill with which it is tied.

 

i may not be making myself clear, and as i said, perhaps showing photos demonstrating this might be more illustrative of the points i am trying to make.

 

T

 

ps the hook is bent...but still on my bench...where else? :)

 

 

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As long as the body filler, sticky tape and paint covering the bare patches doesn't show I don't mind how I photograph it.

Dave

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I know what you're saying. You can do a lot with a little help from ol' Mr. Gravity while a fly is laying on a flat surface, even though he can be the enemy when your fly is upright in a vise. Even if it is unintentional, say you lay the fly down and adjust a few fibers from the throat to make for a better picture cause they are out of place from being layed flat- it's easier to get them precisely where you want them when you've got the friction from the surface on your team. I don't think someone would intentionally hide flaws and then ask for a critique, cause that wouldn't make sense. Four pics might be a little much but obviously the more angles the person critiquing your fly has, the better the critique could be.

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I always attempt to photo my fly with the least embellishment, enhancement, or influential backdrop possible. Usually a piece of grey roofing slate. This allows a clear perspective, unhampered by distractions, ideal for evaluation by my peers. If I want to sell it, or appeal to the uninformed public, that's different. I don't know squat about photography, but keeping it simple is keeping it real. Letting a fly float with gravity seems to be the best bet.

 

DG

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Guest

I would say the biggest problem with fly photography I have seen is out of focus and underexposed images. So proper lighting and exposure is far more important than if the fly is in a vise or on a flat surface.

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Knowing absolutely nothing about photography, I have found it easier to lay them flat. I use cloth as a backdrop because it absorbs alot of the light I have to shine on the fly. You can primp and prep a fly just about any way you want to regardless of if it is in a vice or not.

 

If I was going to ask for a critique and was trying to hide a flaw by laying it flat, I would be defeating the purpose of asking for the critique in the first place.

 

Aaron

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as i tried to state above, i am in no way trying to cast aspersions on what anyone is trying to do. nor was i trying to accuse anyone of purposely trying to cover up flaws.

 

quite the opposite. many people here do not know a lot about classic atlantic salmon fly tying or photography, and i thought a discussion would be helpful.

 

people crave constructive criticism on this site, and one way to insure uniform critiquing is to have uniform criteria upon which to base that criticism.

 

i guess the anal-retentive scientist comes out in me for things like this. for anything to be valid it has to be based on a uniform standard. while there are hardly uniform standards in this art, there are certain accepted norms. having a uniform way to view these flies would give us all a better medium through which to encourage others. i don't want to make it more tedious than it needs to be, however.

 

again no offense was ever intended.

 

T

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I agree with you Tom. Flies are 3D and a 2D picture doesn't tell the whole story if constructive criticism is asked for.

 

Also, like you stated, if the photo is to share a fly for enjoyment and criticism isn't asked for, the photo is done in the eye of the beholder and we welcome them.

 

I do love the artistic photos with a fly on some exotic feathers!!

 

Frank

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This is a good thread Doc...very good. I tend to blow forcefully (mouth) on all my dressings to see whether they've got the solid structure that I look for in a fly. It's easy to break out the needles and carefully manipulate all barbs etc. for maximum impact. Whose kidding who? Are we preparing a photo shoot for a model who will appear on the front page of Vogue?

 

Great thread ...good stuff

 

DG

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As DG said - when you see fly by one of the top tyers photographed REALLY well do you honestly believe it hasn't been carefully prepared on being taken from it's box/mount to be seen in its best light? (it could be argued that any lighting etc that results in the fly looking brighter or more attractive than it does when just dumped on a table is artificially enhancing it - I don't believe this I'm just making the point).

 

As far as I'm concerned there's nothing wrong with preening for a photo if it's simply ensuring hackle fibres lie in their best position or that there isn't a wayward strand of seal fur spoiling the cleanliness of a silouhette. What ISN"T acceptable is things like for instance artificially hooking fibres around other fibres so that a wing that is actually naturally out of place temporarilly looks right - if in reality it will pop back out of position given the least handling.

 

Dave

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preening individuals fibres of the topping is almost required to get that phenomenal cascading effect we all strive for, so yes i agree some preening is necessary.

 

my only point is that there should be a difference between photographing a fly for criticism and photographing one for artistic purposes or to sell it. in the latter cases you want it to look as good as you can get it. in the former you want it to present itself as it is so constructive advice can be rendered.

 

i really don't think you can really adequately critique a fly that is lying flat, for all the reasons i stated in the thread above, no matter whom it is tied by.

 

having said that, however, the best tyers can't help but have a nice-looking fly, because they take the time and care to make it look so.

 

so in answer to your rhetorical question, no, i don't ever think a fly posted by the top tyers here is ever photogrphed without taking care to make sure it looks right. at the same time, those same tyers would not photograph a fly they weren't totally satisfied with either.

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so in answer to your rhetorical question, no, i don't ever think a fly posted by the top tyers here is ever photogrphed without taking care to make sure it looks right. at the same time, those same tyers would not photograph a fly they weren't totally satisfied with either.

 

My comments were really just thinking out loud - personallyI just whack a light on my fly i9n the vice and maybe heap some materials or a book cover behind it if I feel like it.

 

I would say I don't think any really great tyer will ever be totally satisfied with a fly - there is ALWAYS something that could be bettered and the best tyers are just that largely because they focus on the most minor imperfections and drive constantly to improve them.

 

Dave

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I understand your argument about a topping being pushed back into place (assuming it's leaning to the back) but I don't understand how laying a fly down is going to affect the veilings on the front of the fly. If anything I think laying it down tends to slightly distort the throat and potentially crush some of the ostrich herl (all making the fly look worse).

 

I tend to pose my fly on top of different backgrounds. To me it's an aspect of the whole game which I enjoy. I try to find a background which allows the fly to stand out well.

 

And as far a people asking for critiques "while trying to hide flaws" - who cares? If they are hiding it then obviously they already know about it and don't need to be told. And if you're worried that it will make them look better than they are - who cares again - chances are if they are doing this type of thing they won't look that much better by hiding one or two flaws.

 

Bottom line - I don't think it makes much difference whether the fly is in the vice or not. If you want to be super technical then post four pictures. Whatever pleases the tyer is the correct way to photograph the fly.

 

Jeff

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