Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Flies in flight

The hoverfly Epistrophe eligans male in flight (F11, 1/1000s, ISO 1600, 100mm Macro)
Taking pictures of flies in flight is rather challenging. Hoverflies are a little easier than some others because they hover in one place for a few seconds at a time. Males are territorial and tend to repeatedly return to a similar air space. Epistrophe eligans is a common, early spring species in which the males lek. A group of males tends to form a loose cluster around the end of a branch and jostle for position. These were taken at a reproduction ratio between 1:1 and 1:2 so, even with a 100mm macro, it is still necessary to get pretty close to the fly to focus. Auto-focus is of little use in this situation. It is better to switch to manual focus and focus by rocking backwards and forwards. A small aperture is necessary to get enough depth of field. These wee taken at F11. A fast shutter speed is also necessary to stop motion of both the fly and the camera. Even in bright sunshine, a high ISO will be necessary. So the camera (Canon 80D) was set in manual mode (M) with 1/1000s and F11 dialled in and the ISO set to "Auto". I used high speed shooting mode to take brief bursts of shots when the fly came into focus through the viewfinder.

The Beefly, Bombylius major, is another common early spring species that hovers, although not as persistently as a hoverfly. The following shot was taken using similar techniques.

Bombylius major (F8, 1/1000s, ISO 2500, 100mm macro)