Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Return of the Fireflies

The fireflies returned  to the garden the other night, flying around like dancing sparks from a bonfire.  Its always an amazing and unworldly sight  to see living organisms glow and especially weird to see them appear and disappear as the bioluminescence switches on and off.
They aren't the easiest of things to photograph. Last year I made some attempts but wasn't very successful, and my attempt at a video was mainly a completely black screen with  the sound of me crashing about through the jungly undergrowth after a pin prick of yellow light.
This year, I decided to try some long exposure shots and I managed to have a bit of success.
The garden being a bit more tamed,  helped from the point of view of setting up the tripods and wasn't such a trip hazard when stumbling around in the pitch black.  Fireflies will often stop glowing if there are other lights around , so switching on a torch needs to be kept to a minimum.

flitting about

I took a lot of shots,  almost all of which either showed one yellow dot  or nothing but darkness  when the bugs decided to fly off in a different direction.  But  I managed to get a couple that show  something kind of interesting . I will probably have another go over the next few nights using the lessons learned and maybe I will get some  more.

des lucioles dansent devant mes yeux


They don't appear for very long - they  just fly around  glowing for a few nights in early summer, while they search for a suitable mate.
Apparently all fireflies glow as larvae, but in many species, only the adult males glow, the females stay in the dark , waiting. 
I took a few macro shots of one of the fireflies lit up. Its pretty hard to focus in the pitch black for long exposures  but I was quite pleased with this one as it shows the glow quite well.
I've read that before safety lamps were introduced,  miners sometimes used to take jars of fireflies [and also somewhat peculiarly, dried fish skins which also produce  bio luminance]  into  mines  - I guess hundreds would produce a fair amount of light, but I'm not sure it would be ideal  for working with tools in a dangerous environment.
The glowing bits



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