The Firefly Festival never happened, mostly because the fireflies respect no one’s schedule – some night in June and, wham! Fireflies. I wanted to host a dinner out in the grass with them, but it’s impossible to get guests to commit to show up on some random evening in June.

I used to try to photograph them but now I don’t try. I’ve given up. Perhaps one of the newer generation DSLRs could do it. But then I began to feel the dance of the fireflies was special, not to be shared. The silent blinks, like flying LEDs – so many it looks like there is one per cubic meter of space. They don’t like to fly high (I assume the bat would get them) so they form a sort of carpet. It was hot last night and then it rained, so there was mist and fireflies.

There is a Japanese photographer who has mastered a technique for capturing them on pixels, in low light. I could look at his pictures and estimate the aperture and exposure times, but mine just were not as good. So, here are some, from Tsuneaki Hiramatsu [wired]

Photo by Tsuneaki Hiramatsu

You may have seen pictures of my yard, graced by Mr. Elk. You can imagine the firefly population in the  deep grass, curving down to the pond. The field pulsates with lights. Some years I’m wistful, some years I’m speechless, some years I’ve missed it – mostly now I’m glad we all made our appointment. These days it seems an accomplishment of sorts. So I sat on the porch and drank some coffee and was grateful we’ve all made it another year.

Photo by Tsuneaki Hiramatsu


  1. ridana says

    I like how, especially in the second photo, they’ve ringed the trees like shimenawa.

  2. says

    There have been a few night when I’m in bed that I wonder where the bright flashes of light are coming. Then I notice it’s a firefly outside the window.

  3. starblue says

    I think they fly low because they are looking for mates on the ground.
    These are long exposures where each firefly blinks about 10 to 20 times, you can see it in the chains of regularly spaced dots. They have very short duty cycles, probably shorter than those here in Europe.
    Impressive pictures.

  4. jazzlet says

    Amazing photos. I’m glad you are here to greet them. I’ve only seen them when I’ve been on holiday in Ireland most of England is just to managed for fireflies to do well.

  5. kestrel says

    I love fireflies and these are great photos. As a child the two most amazing things about my grandmother’s house (besides my grandmother) were the fireflies and the roses. Now that I’m a grown-up I have the roses, but nothing can be done about the fireflies… they simply don’t live here. You are very fortunate!

  6. says

    Every time I see his photos I think “next year I should really sit down and try to get a few” – but I usually forget. Maybe I should start marking the dates on my calendar. Hm.

  7. Johnny Vector says

    In my area (DC vicinity), they would leave vertical streaks. Most of the fireflies I see turn on their light, rise a foot or two, and then turn it off. The process takes about a second. I don’t think there’s anywhere dark enough nearby to get a photo that’s not washed out by the bright skies.

  8. coragyps says

    We don’t have fireflies out here in the Great American Desert, and I miss ‘em. One of my favorite memories of the misspent portions of my youth is a breezy summer evening in a 1954 Plymouth with some friends, sitting by a grassy field in Arkansas watching fireflies light up and then turn off two feet downwind. By the hundreds. I guess it was pretty grassy inside the Plymouth too, if I’m remembering correctly. But it was purty!

  9. says

    I wanted to host a dinner out in the grass with them, but it’s impossible to get guests to commit to show up on some random evening in June.

    People are too busy nowadays. Granted, it’s only recently that I managed to shed most stuff off my schedule so that now I can do anything at any time. A dinner out in the grass with fireflies would sound great. It’s a pity that I live in another continent.

    The thing is, I have never seen fireflies in real life, only in video and photos. They seem very beautiful. That’s what I get for living in a city. I have never seen the Milky Way either. There’s too much light pollution in Europe.