On lighting conditions and the firefly

Growing up in Florida I never saw fireflies (a.k.a. lightning bugs) until we vacationed elsewhere.  Such interesting little insects…doing their mating dance to the glow of a bioluminescent butt.  Once I moved up north, or mid-west if your prefer, I finally had a chance to live with these great little insects and would find myself enjoying their little light show when their time of the year would roll around.  And it is that time of the year here, in Ohio.

The other night my wife and I were driving home from someplace and as we came upon a field of tall grass I noticed the field was alight with the firefly mating dance.  There must have been thousands of these male fireflies moving up a few feet above the tall grass, trying desperately to entice the opposite sex.  We pulled over to enjoy this moment and it was then I thought “Hey!  I wonder if I could get a picture of this?” and I became very excited about the prospect.

I knew that what I could most likely do was take a timed exposure that would capture these little guys doing there dance and that my image would be just that:  a darkened field with little vertical streaks of light.  I really had no idea if this would at all work, but I certainly had nothing to lose by trying.

Tonight my wife and I returned to the field to try my photographic experiment.  Conveniently the field is on the way to our local airport, which we were heading to anyway as to pick up our friends from Florida who are coming to visit for a week.  So about 9:30 or so we arrived at the field, I set up my camera kit, took the longer exposure (15 seconds) and found that the evening sky was still too bright for this experiment to work.  At this time of the year there is still plenty of light in the western sky and this was the only direction in which I could shoot this particular field.  Alas, the experiment yielded no postive results, but it has given me the idea to try again, but at a later hour of the evening; say 10:30.

So tomorrow, with my best friend with me, I’m going to head back to that field with my camera kit and try this again.  Who knows….maybe I’ll have better luck this time!


7 thoughts on “On lighting conditions and the firefly

  1. Cool! That sounds like a really fun thing to do. Last time I ever saw fireflies was years ago, when I was a kid living in the New Forest. Used to get loads of them there.

    I’ll be fascinated to hear how you get on.

  2. OKAY, so you are NOT going to believe this but I am going to take that risk and tell you anyway. Just tonight I was outside and noticed all the fireflies in the trees behind my house. It is too late to set up tonight so I promised myself I would try it tomorrow night. Can you believe that? Same photo idea. I hope yours works out for you. I’d be very interested in seeing your results. Good luck with your shoot!!

  3. mark, i can’t believe you never saw fireflies in florida. remember may 2000 at mama and papa k’s place in tallahassee? my mom has a ton of them out at her place too, every summer we sit on the back porch and watch them.

  4. Sorry Jupe…..they don’t ring any bells. The last memory I have of seeing fireflies was when I was a little kid visiting family in the Maryland area.

  5. Pingback: An update concerning the fireflies…. « Forkboy’s Photographic Travails

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