Published Feb 14. 2023 - 1 year ago
Updated or edited Sep 11. 2023

Book review: Imaging Imitations

Photographing Fishing Flies

Want to take stylish fly photos? This book will go through all the gear, accessories and methods that author Nick Thomas uses.

Nick Thomas
Nick Thomas
Publishing year: 
US$ plus postage or 11 US$ for a PDF
Reviewed by: 

British fly angler, fly tyer and author Nick Thomas is probably recognized by most regular readers of this site. During the last year and then some, Nick has contributed a couple of handfuls of fly pattern articles to the site.
Nick’s style of flies is quite unique and characteristic, as it can be seen from his articles as well as from his book Fly Couture, which I reviewed early 2022.
One of the things that lends even more character to Nick’s patterns in the articles and the above mentioned book is his style of photography. The fly patterns themselves are pretty “modern”, utilizing many special and often synthetic materials, and the photography follows troop, also being very stylish and modern and easily recognizable.

Nick has now created a book on photographing flies in this style, and on the 80 pages that comprise “Imaging Imitations”, you will be led through all the gear, accessories and methods that he uses to create his stylish fly images.
Being a photographer myself, I have shot thousands of flies for books, magazines and not least this site – heck even for coffee mugs and wall clocks! I have also written extensively on the subject on this web site, held workshops, done presentations and much more, so this is a subject that has my immediate interest.
Nick offered me a PDF of the book quite early after its publishing, but I’m very much a “dead trees guy”, so I ordered a physical copy soon after having seen the PDF.
Like my own books, Nick’s are available as print-on-demand from the publisher Blurb, and although prices aren’t exactly low. These are high quality books about niche subjects, so a fairly high price tag is what to expect. Nick’s book costs 22 US$ or 19.19 UK£ without postage, so not agonizing, but still a decent price for 80 pages.
The book arrived a few days after I’d ordered it. Blurb has print shops located in many countries, and I believe that my copy was printed in the Netherlands.

Sample pages from Imaging Imitations
Sample pages from Imaging Imitations
Sample pages from Imaging Imitations
Sample pages from Imaging Imitations
Sample pages
Nick Thomas

It’s not a large book as such. The page format is Letter, and on Blurb’s site the book format is called “magazine”. I honestly think it presents itself more like a book than a magazine, but you can also see it as a hefty, high quality magazine printed on heavy paper, like what you’d see with some high-end design and architecture magazines.
No matter what, the large page format enables a really nice presentation of the pictures, which makes very good sense, this being a photo book after all.

It approaches its subject in the logical sequence, which you would as a photographer by roughly following the work process: Camera and lenses, light, extra equipment, backgrounds and fly display, composition and post processing.
Each chapter is of course generously garnished with lots of images, both of the equipment and processes and examples of the finished results.
Nick Thomas goes into detail about every step, and I particularly enjoyed the tips on using acrylic and mirrors and those on using magnets for holding the flies. There’s a wealth of great tips and very detailed instructions on how to obtain great fly images, and you don’t need to aim for Nick Thomas’ very stylish images to benefit from the tips. Photographers with humbler ambitions will also benefit from the tips. There’s a lot to learn here.

So, if you’re into photography and fly photography in particular, this is a book for you. I love the way that Nick tries to “discipline” the reader and instill some good habits and teach people to think before they shoot, and give it a bit more effort than just swinging the phone in front of a vise, not considering the light, the background, the perspective or anything.

This book will teach you to set a high bar, and put some work into the images, and I for one would love to see more great fly pictures, because I do see a lot, and with all due respect, some of them are pretty lousy.
So if you want to elevate your fly photography to a new level, this book is worth a shot. The PDF is just 11 US$, so if you are fine with a digital version, it’s very approachable.


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