Fireflies season is usually from the end of May to the end of June, just at the beginning of summer time. To find them, you need a very dark place and avoid pollution, both light, water and air ones.
All of this makes quite difficult to find them from my home (I live in very downtown Milan), and I have been wondering about since last year, when Covid made it definately impossible to move around!
Finally I got my chance this year where I joined a workshop organized by a local foundation, the same one that organizes the italian exhibitions of Wildlife Photographer of the Year. The big plus of this, is being accompanied by renowed photographers and having access to special places for spotting fireflies.
During a week night, I travelled 3 hours to reach a private forest in the Apennines nearby Bologna, where I met a local photographer.
Shooting fireflies is quite tricky for 2 reasons:
- you need very long exposures, from 30 seconds to 3-5 minutes, so you need to use a remote for setting up the bulb shutter mode
- you need to set up your frame and your focus BEFORE it gets pitch black! once its dark every light will disturb the fireflies and possibily scare them away, so it is crucial to set up your scene and decide everything before the night comes. You can eventually turn on a light to change your frame (and refocus), but you will risk to not having so many fireflies after
As you can imagine, this takes a lot of practice, and it is quite difficult (at least it was for me) to get it all right the first time! I am quite satisfied with just 3 shots:
This was one of the first frames I did in the night, and to amplify the number of fireflies in the frame I merged multiple shots, and gave it a blue tint. It really reminds me of Starry Night painting of Van Gogh.
I really like the movement of this shots, its dynamicity. The vertical frame I believe empowers the shape of the tree in the background, which, by the way, is out of focus, but it adds to the scene. I’ve tried the replicate the frame in the next one.
The tree here is fully focused, by maybe the photo lost its dynamicity. I’ve posted it anyway because I can’t decide myself!
Here’s the resuly instead of a very long exposure of 3 minutes, it looks almost like daytime!