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Green Fire ...

Posted by Dave Bull at 11:12 PM, July 6, 2013 [Permalink]

Late last year I picked up a better quality camera - a digital SLR - mostly for the purpose of making videos for the YouTube channel. It has done that job very well, and a lot of the praise for those videos should really be directed at the camera makers!

I actually haven't been using it much for 'still' photography. It takes images far too massive for my normal use, and the camera itself is covered with buttons and controls that I quite honestly don't have the time to study and learn. For most daily stuff around here I'm still using a point and shoot type of camera.

But tonight I thought I would have a go at taking some pictures of the fireflies in the river behind the workshop, and for that, a point and click is useless of course. So I got out the manual for the new camera and learned how to set it to 'bulb' mode, where the shutter stays open as long as you want.

I charged the battery, set the camera on a firm tripod on the riverbank, and sat next to it to await the fireflies. We're actually pretty much at the end of their season, and I should have tried this a week ago. But some did come along, and I fired the shutter open, and then manually controlled the exposure by placing and removing the lens cap each time a firefly moved into view.

And surprise surprise, I actually got some results!


I'm regretting now that I didn't try this earlier. I had basically been thinking, "Dave, don't spend your time taking photos of these things, just enjoy them in real life ..."

But maybe there is time for both ...

[Update: Although those photos look just fine on my own monitor, I got a 'Can't see anything!' report from a blog reader, so here they are again, with the levels adjusted in Photoshop. This seems to bring out the digital noise, but at least the trails are more visible.]


If the flies come out again tonight - not a sure thing, as we are at the very tail end of the season - I'll try again, with some different ISO settings.


Following comment posted by: Anita on July 7, 2013 3:43 PM

I'm glad you took time for both. At the very least, it adds to my quality of life to see pictures of your back yard wildlife!

There's something particularly captivating about fireflies and your shot of them as gold and green filaments of light streaming above the riverside foliage is appropriately artistic. They are pictures worthy of a poem! I subscribe to a daily haiku email--Issa mostly--with commentary, so I keep them. I'm sure there must be one I can find there about fireflies.

Summer nights when I was a child always seemed full of fireflies. They brought a magical feeling.

Following comment posted by: Anita on July 8, 2013 11:47 AM

Yes, I found one (from David Lanoue):

hotaru yobu yoru no ryô to ya sashi yanagi

an evening spot
for calling fireflies...
planting a willow

Issa is visualizing the future. When the willow is large and shady, people will sit under it in the summertime, calling fireflies.

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