Each year when summer comes along, we all look forward to different things. Some of us head to the beach, others to the mountains for camping. Some look forward to the epicurean delights like watermelon and ice cones. But for a select group of photographers in Japan, Summer signals the arrival of fireflies. And for very short periods – typically May and June, from around 7 to 9pm – these photographers set off to secret locations all around Japan, hoping to capture the magical insects that light up the night. But we’ll let you in on a little secret. One popular spot is Senri Ryokuchi Park in Osaka.
One thing that makes these photographs so magical is that they capture views that the naked eye is simply incapable of seeing. The photographs are typically composites, meaning that they combine anywhere from 10 to 200 of the exact same frame. That’s why it can look like swarms of thousands of fireflies have invaded the forest, when in reality it’s much less. But that’s not to discount these photographs, which require insider knowledge, equipment, skill and patience.
Fireflies live for only about 10 days and they’re extremely sensitive. They react negatively to any form of light and pollution, making finding them half the battle. Here, we present to you some a selection of our favorites from the 2016 summer season.
July 6, 2016 at 6:06 pm
Great photos! Wondering if we could find out the particular firefly species stars in each photo?
July 6, 2016 at 10:44 pm
@Sara – most of them are hime-hotaru (姫蛍) which, according to my googling, are Luciola parvula!
July 8, 2016 at 6:39 am
Is it possible to buy a print of these images please? Lovely photos.
July 9, 2016 at 3:55 pm
Love the firefly tropes in Korean and Japanese dramas. CG generated fireflies look almost like the real thing!
July 10, 2016 at 12:09 pm
These are great pictures! Books on high dynamic range (HDR) and night photography are useful in figuring out how to make photos like this. Some experimentation is involved. Experience is the best teacher.