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  • Nature's Night Lights

    Nature's Night Lights

    Been enjoying the evening firefly spectacle in recent days and have managed to capture a few frames of these fleeting, flickering little harbingers of summer. It's turned out to be a fairly challenging effort, but after a week's worth of trial and error I've caught a few decent images and learned a few lessons.

    For the most part, there's about a 10-15 minute window a bit after sunset when the insects first begin their flirtatious flashing and there's still enough ambient light in the sky to offer a sense of the surroundings. I also find it much easier to track them at dusk as you're not stumbling around in complete darkness. Still, I find I'm stretching the medium a bit with camera ISO settings in the 4000 range and shutter speeds a 30th of second or less with the lens wide open. A macro lens is pretty key for close-ups, but there's a fine line between trying to get near enough for a good image and scaring the little buggers off.

    The main barrier, though, to photographing them has turned out to be the mosquitoes. They've been fierce, and I try to make sure I'm pretty well covered. I did break down and tried applying insect repellent for one outing, but unfortunately, it did repel the insects, fireflies and all. Since you're usually shooting at very slow, hand-held shutter speeds, there are times when you might be contending with a fair number of them buzzing around your head and attempting to draw their daily ration from your face, neck and ears.

    So, it takes a bit of patience and a whole lot of missed shots (I've probably taken several hundred frames and ended up with just a few decent ones) but they do offer a unique glimpse at this annual seasonal ritual.