How to Shoot a Hover Fly in Flight

The main thing with in flight hover fly photos is not to try, by that I mean if you go out to take one you will end up normally chasing a hoverfly all over the place with little chance of success. I only take them when an opportunity arises.

In this case the males of this species of hoverfly patrol the flowering bush looking for females . When they spot one they go into a stationary hover for about 10seconds whilst they decide if the female is what they think it is and if it’s a suitable mate.

I was just using a bean pole for support (hold bean pole in left hand along with a bit of camera – normally the lens), Spotted a male hoverfly following a female hoverfly and waited for the female to land. The male went into the expected stationary hover about 5cms above the female, I then just moved in with fixed focus until the the hover came into focus and took about 6 shots in quick succession of which 2 had the focus where I wanted.

The above shot is a crop of this one:

Shot with a Canon 5D Mark II and Canon MP-E 65 Macro lens at around 1:1 with bracket mounted diffused flash FEC set at -0.3.

Camera settings: Camera in manual 1/200th, F10, ISO200, flash in ETTL.

The main point is knowing the habits of the subject.

About the author: Brian Valentine is a UK-based photographer that focuses on macro shots in his garden. You can find him on Flickr as Lord V.

  • Studio

    10 seconds to determine if a female is suitable? Sounds like Mr. Hoverfly needs to raise his standards a bit.

  • Chung Dha Lam

    You should try to capture a ladybug spreading it wing before flight. I had a great opportunity once to do that I flew in my house and landed on the table I put out all the lights and shined a bicycle light at it and it was before I had a dslr but I used my Minolta Z5 superzoom to capture it. It would actually spread it wings for 1-2 seconds before it would fly off. So I was able to take the shot, also before it flew of I shut off the light so it would not fly to the light and stay in place. I was able to take allot of shots of the same ladybug.

  • Casey Myers Photography

    Brian is one of the Best Macro Photographers out there. I have been following him on Flickr for a few years now and have learned many things from him. Here is my Macro Set on Flickr and owe Brian a lot of credit for all the help he has provided to me and the other macro photographers out there.
    Another good friend of mine Peter Kinowski has some amazing work as well.
    His photostream:

  • SketchMyWorld

    Thanks for advise! Love the pictures!

  • Jos De Graeve

    Ever seen the setup “fotoopa” uses to photograph insects in-flight ? see: