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Family (June 16–27, 2011)

Pat Swovelin †

Headin' Out ...

Ken Stuart

Dancers in the Dark

A rural area near Harford, New York, USA

June 20, 2001, about 10:15 pm EDT (-5 GMT)

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© 2011 Ken Stuart, All Rights Reserved.

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Caption

Although it may appear above that the sky is filled with light (pollution) and stars, the night was quite dark to the naked eye.

Except for acres upon acres of dancing fireflies twinkling in the warm windless, moonless summer night.

In order to have any hope of capturing the ephemeral beauty of such a scene it was necessary to crank up the ISO settings on the camera and expose the CCD for 30 seconds for each frame. The orange glow from nearby towns as well as the Milky Way overhead results from the effort to capture the bio-luminescence of the bugs.

A still image such as this cannot convey the dynamic blinking, of course, nor the movement of the lights in the field as the insects signal and respond to each other.

Having lived with fireflies every summer, I remember their appearance each year being a time when our family had a great time catching a few for keeping in a glass jar or just watching in the yard.

Now that I have my own kids, we do the same, and look forward to the return of lightning bugs each year when it's warm and school's out and we can stay up late to enjoy the show together.

For those unfortunate enough to lack first-hand knowledge of fireflies, more can be learned at the Wikipedia fireflies page.

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Equipment

Nikon D90 with a Nikkor 10.5mm lens; shutter speed 30 seconds at ISO 1250. Nodal Ninja, PTGui Pro, Pano2VR.

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