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Introducing the Firefly Time-Lapse!

Shot primarily over the Summer of 2013 at Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri and around my hometown of Grand Ledge, Michigan. I used every trick I have up my sleeve to pull this off. Image stacking, 360 degree startrail panoramas, and even a macro love scene! Hold on to your seats these fireflies fly by pretty quick!

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This is my first time creating a whole hog time-lapse video. Had a lot of fun and a few headaches trying to get the editing down but in the end I was pleased with the result. I was especially pleased with the music my good friend Brandon McCoy composed, he went above and beyond the call of duty for this project.

This photo fascination of fireflies started back in April of 2012. Yes the fireflies were out in April due to an irregular warm Spring. I went to Lake of the Ozarks to celebrate my mother's birthday. When I arrived in the evening the fireflies were just starting to show themselves, I got out of the car and naturally just setup a shot. Put the camera in time-lapse mode with the intention of stacking like startrails like I had done many times before. Here's the shot, it may be one of my favorites.

Fireflies by the RopeswingLake of the Ozarks, MO

So these creatures are really cool. I don't know if you've ever noticed them. We call them fireflies or lightning bugs, but they aren't a fly or a bug. They are beetles, and there's over a 1000 different species of them. Some get in sync when they blink and some don't even light up at all. In most cases the males are the ones flying around blinking while the female blinks from a leaf or branch. They munch on small snails and such when they are in the glowworm stage of their life, they don't seem to eat anything in their short 24 hour to 7 day adult life, however after the mating it's not uncommon for the female to devour the male. They don't bother you or bite you, not a pest by any means. If your significant other ever says, "Honey, we need to spray the yard, we have a firefly problem." Break up, divorce, and get a restraining order right away! Fireflies just bless you with their presence, light up, make love, and call it a life.

I attempted a few more firefly shots over the Summer, but lets fast forward to the sweet stuff that happened over the Summer of 2013! Once again I headed to Lake of the Ozarks for a family gathering over Memorial Day and had the intention on staying for several weeks as I worked on this project. I got a 101 course on how to operate the pontoon boat and how to crash it onto shore from my Aunt & Uncle. With that, I was all good to go! My first mission was to shoot the 360 degree startrail panoramas while the moon was hiding from the night. On the first night shooting and going through the photos, I was surprised by what I saw in one of the frames.

Firefly Love

Firefly LoveLake of the Ozarks, MO

Now here's the intended 5 camera, 2 and half hour startrail, 360 degree warped 'Planetary Panorama.'

Lake of the Ozarks, MO

'Firefly Planet'

Another night shooting over the lake. I couldn't help but to notice the absurd amount of fireflies lighting up the treeline slightly in the distance. So I setup the camera pointing in that direction. At some point during the exposure a small fishing boat with 2 men blasting 80's rock pulled into the cove behind the treeline. After they killed the engine their was about a second pause before one of them said, "Look at all those f****** fireflies..."

Fireflies Over the Lake of the Ozarks. Shooting from a vacant lot here, as it's nice to have a somewhat open area to shoot from. It's very heavily wooded along the lake except where private property lies. In this vacant lot there's lots of tall grass. It quickly became a standard routine to pick sometimes 10, sometimes 20 ticks off of myself and the dog.

Fireflies at Lake of the Ozarks

I decided to switch things up at one point and trade boat transportation for automobile transportation and head to a nearby creek. Low and behold I found the mothership. It was by far the most spectacular firefly party I have attended. Really when you get to the point, is there anything cooler than firefly light reflecting in still-water?

Fireflies in the CreekWhat's better than the light of fireflies reflecting in still-water?

Fireflies in the Creek 2Lake of the Ozarks

Fireflies in the Cove

Fireflies at the CoveLake of the Ozarks, MO

Along the Dirt Road

Fireflies on the Dirt RoadLake of the Ozarks

Returning back home in Grand Ledge, MI the fireflies were just starting to make their presence known.

Fireflies at the Quarry

The Fireflies of Fitzgerald

Fireflies of Woldumar

Fireflies at the Grand Ledge

Fireflies at the Grand Ledge

Firefly in the Studio

Close-upMacro shot of a firefly

Female Signaling a Male (The males fly around flashing, while the females are on leaves and branches signaling back!)

Fireflies Mating (Same female as the one above)


Fireflies Under The Milky WayComposite photo showing the fireflies over several hours with a static shot of the Milky Way from the same shot sequence.