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Thread: Fireflies

  1. #1
    2F/2F's Avatar
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    Fireflies

    Any rules of thumb for an ISO:aperture relationship for shooting fireflies? Dim little buggers that I don't image stand a chance of showing up at anything other than the wider apertures. I had no idea on my recent trip, so tried all sorts of things with Delta 1000 and NPH in an RZ. It was a great shot. I hope they show up. They were rising up in little one-second bursts out of the grass in an old graveyard outside of a WV coal mining camp at dusk. It was the first time I had ever seen them.

    The film is already shot, but won't be developed for a while. I am curious as to what I should expect.
    Last edited by 2F/2F; 07-09-2009 at 05:35 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

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    Sounds interesting, hope to see these images posted. I have thought about trying to photograph fire flies, they were everywhere in Southwest Michigan.

    I have been stationed at Ft. Bragg, NC for seven years and have never seen any here.

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    PhotoJim's Avatar
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    I saw them for the first time a couple of weekends ago at our cottage near Regina Beach, Saskatchewan. They are pretty amazing.

    I'm not sure how you would photograph them. You'd need to have an absolutely dark night, well away from the city with little or no moonlight to have much of a chance of recording them, I suspect.
    Jim MacKenzie - Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

    A bunch of Nikons; Feds, Zorkis and a Kiev; Pentax 67-II (inherited from my deceased father-in-law); Bronica SQ-A; and a nice Shen Hao 4x5 field camera with 3 decent lenses that needs to be taken outside more. Oh, and as of mid-2012, one of those bodies we don't talk about here.

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    Lee L's Avatar
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    I've seen some "photograms" where the photographer put the fireflies into the same container with color materials. The results IIRC were displayed as backlit transparencies.

    But I have no idea what light levels they produce, or what an appropriate exposure would be.

    Lee

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    keithwms's Avatar
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    I once spent quite some time optimizing for fireflies and here was the technique I figured out: long exposure (a second or two) for the firefly's blinker; short flash exposure to freeze the body and boost the ambient. Occasionally the two exposures will coincide satisfactorily and the blinks will be in the right place. Sometimes the blinks will be trailing the body which is also quite amusing. This usually worked best with the flash synched to the rear curtain. Take a lot of shots and you'll get a few keepers.

    I never bothered trying to get them in flight, for obvious reasons. Instead I captured them, rattled them gently to disorient them, and then set them on a leaf where the camera was set up. After being deposited on the leaf, they will be a bit dazed and will move slowly, but their blinking can be triggered by warm breath.
    "Only dead fish follow the stream"

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    mhanc's Avatar
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    I have them in my yard each summer about this time. They are fascinating to watch in the evening and are usually out when is is just barely dark. My kids loved to catch them and put them in a jar for a short time. I seem to notice that there are a lot more of them now than 10 years or so ago - I attribute this to the decline in the use of pesticides, particularly in residential areas.

    I think it might be interesting to try a time-lapse shot - one might be able to capture not only the same individual on its journey, leaving a blinking trail of light on the film, but maybe several others as well in the same shot. Their light is pretty dim though.

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    2F/2F's Avatar
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    Something like this pic from Wikipedia would be great to get:



    The dusk lighting in which I shot was very similar, if not a tad darker due to being under a bunch of trees.

    Just like fireworks, it would be film speed and aperture that determine how the trails show up, and shutter speed to control the ambient light.

    I was not hoping to take pix of the beetles themselves. I just wanted the trails to show up in the picture of the cemetery.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

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    MattKing's Avatar
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    See the Appendix at the bottom of this article:

    http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.166...urnalCode=ambt

    Camera: Canon SLR 300D, 15 sec shutter speed, F/4.5, 15 sec exposure time, ISO 100

    Photograph technique: each shot of firefly flashes was combined in the same picture and adjusted the color via Adobe® Photoshop® CS


    The information relates to digital capture, but still might help.

    Matt

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    2F/2F's Avatar
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    Thanks, all.

    My films were 400 and 1000, and I tried all sorts of apertures from f/4 to f/16, and shutters from '2 to 60 sec. I even grossly overexposed some shots hoping to be able to capture more bugs and then print through the density.

    Based on that ISO 100 pic at f/4.5, my f/5.6 - f/8 shots on the NPH might work out well, and so might my f/8 - f/11 shots on the Delta.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

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    Fireflies near Reading England


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