Backyard Bioluminescence

This firefly series was my first experience with creating a complete and polished time-lapse video. The project included a lot of fun, and came along with the typical editing frustration headaches, but in the end it is one to be proud of. I was especially pleased with the music my good friend, Brandon McCoy, composed, and he exceeded all expectations with the final outcome.

Most of this gallery was shot over the summer of 2013 between Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, and my hometown of Grand Ledge, Michigan. Making sure to utilize as many perspectives as possible these fireflies were captured using boats over quiet lakes, sitting in overgrown vacant lots fighting off ticks, wading through nearby creeks, and while exploring hometown quarries.  Many different photo tricks and techniques are highlighted here including image stacking, 360 degree startrail panoramas, and even a macro love scene.

Fireflies by the RopeswingLake of the Ozarks, MO

My photo fascination of fireflies started in April of 2012 while I was visiting Lake of the Ozarks. By chance, I arrived at dusk just as the lightning bugs were beginning their nightly appearance. Inspired, I set up the shot and put the camera in time lapse mode. These creatures are fascinating. While named firefly or lightning bug they are really a beetle with over 1000 different species. Some fireflies can blink in sync with others, and some do not light up at all. Typically it is the males that you see blinking through the air. The lifespan of a firefly begins in the glow worm stage where they primarily dine on snails. Adulthood is short for a firefly lasting somewhere between 24 hours and seven days a time when  they do not need to bother with food, though it is not uncommon for a female to devour a male after mating. These friendly beetles are not a pest, and they do not bother or bite us. Fireflies just bless us with their presence, light up, make love, and call it a life.

I spent the month of June chasing them around Lake of the Ozarks, MO. The first night I went out seemed like an uneventful but peacefully quiet night. I looked through the photos the next day and saw a firefly tracing a heart across the night sky! I knew I was in the right place!

Firefly LoveA lone firefly signals for a mate by writing a heart in the night sky.

After getting a 101 course from my aunt and uncle on how to operate and crash a pontoon onto shore I was ready for the water. Going out on the boat on a calm night in the summer is an incredible experience. The boat cuts through the still water like a diamond scratching glass while the fireflies throw a raging disco party in the surrounding forest. I tried to capture a scene showing the stillness of the water with the firefly party and stars streaking across the sky. 

Fireflies and Lake of the OzarksFireflies along the shore of Lake of the Ozarks. One of the most spectacular displays I found along the lake!

When I look at this next photo I always recall discovering for myself the amount of ticks that are in the Ozarks! Trudging through the tall grass they are not afraid to cling on! I personally wish ticks would take lessons on how to be cool creatures from the fireflies. I probably picked twenty off of me, and even more off the dog.

Fireflies & TreeFireflies of Lake of the Ozarks. A simple shot with fireflies illuminating around a tree.

Returning back home to Grand Ledge, Michigan in early July, the fireflies were just starting to show in the area, and I wasn't done shooting! I headed to the local Fitzgerald Park and perched up on a hill and looked down as they illuminated the enchanted forest.

Fireflies of FitzgeraldTime-lapse image showing fireflies over 3 hours at Fitzgerald Park in Grand Ledge, MI.

I then went to the quarry where the fireflies put on a symmetrical show with the stars.

Fireflies at the QuarryMany fireflies illuminate the quarry over the course of 3 hours in my hometown of Grand Ledge, MI. 360 degree time-lapse panorama showing the startrails and fireflies.

Fireflies of the OzarksFireflies of the Ozarks - 360 Panorama360 degree time-lapse panorama. Lake of the Ozarks, MO


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