Show me your firefly shots: How to improve mine?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by mtbdudex, Jun 18, 2010.

  1. mtbdudex macrumors 68000

    mtbdudex

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2007
    Location:
    SE Michigan
    #1
    Show me your firefly shots!

    See the green dots/small streaks? These are 20 sec time exposures.
    Well I did try capturing fireflys/lightning bugs in our wildflower field, but too much ambient light from the low clouds, which bounce light from 2 miles away Wal-mart/Meijers.
    Light pollution ruins another shot. Need clear skies.

    Q: How to improve mine?
    Instead of say 20-30 sec exposures should I take 30-40 5 second exposures and stack them? These are at 18mm, less wide angle, say 35mm or even 50mm would show "longer streak" than just green dots?? I tried various exposures/ISO/f stop combos, and nothing clicked, except the mosquitos who were biting me all over...



    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Designer Dale macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2009
    Location:
    Folding space
    #2
    I remember these guys from growing up down in Ohio. They might just not produce enough light to be effective in wide shots like this. Especially with all the light pollution now. How about catching a bunch of them in a glass jar and shooting them under controlled light conditions inside?

    Dale
     
  3. mtbdudex thread starter macrumors 68000

    mtbdudex

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2007
    Location:
    SE Michigan
    #3
    Dale;
    great idea!
    The kids will love catching them for dad, then we all gather in the basement closet, shut the door, and they watch as I take some shots (tripod of course).
    I'll even try to capture them in it somehow....cool and thx for the inspiration. It's 91 deg and humid right now, so there will be plenty outside tonight.
    Summer family fun!
     
  4. tekmoe macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2005
    #4
    I think you could capture some amazing shots in pure darkness, such as a closet like you suggested. Can't wait to see what you post up!
     
  5. Gold89 macrumors 6502

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    Location:
    UK
    #6
  6. mtbdudex thread starter macrumors 68000

    mtbdudex

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2007
    Location:
    SE Michigan
    #7
    thx for the above link, possibly I'll try my 50mm 1.4 with same settings he used, though on my crop camera it will not be as wide as his.

    well about 9pm the big storms rolled in, so the firefly/lightning bugs will wait till tomorrow, my camera/tripod/remote is on the front porch taking lighting bolt shots.....might have some nice ones still taking shots right now....
    (Aperture is downloading 507 RAW shots right now, lots of deletes of course but cheaper than me spending $$$'s for one of those auto lightning bolt detectors)
     
  7. mtbdudex thread starter macrumors 68000

    mtbdudex

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2007
    Location:
    SE Michigan
    #8
    Firefly 101: take lots of shots and stack, these taken 7/9 between 10:03 and 10:23pm EDT, only images with actual firefly saved, here is result:
    73 images stacked ; each 2 seconds @ ISO 800, f 5.6, 48mm (via kit lens 18-55 IS).
    In hindsight next time I'll shoot ISO 400 @ 4 seconds, less digital noise for "better" PP ability.
    Very little PP done in Aperture 3; exposure pushed +0.5, vibrancy +0.12, highlights dial down 18%, that's it.
    [​IMG]
     
  8. gnd macrumors 6502a

    gnd

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2008
    Location:
    At my cat's house
    #9
    This image looks great but I wonder, why such a short exposure? You could have gone for ISO100 and 16 seconds at the same aperture and would have caught more fireflies in each shot. Or did you try to get just one blink from each firefly (and thus avoid the blinking light trail)?
     
  9. jackerin macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #10
    Not fireflies, but a bit on the same theme, gnats with the sun straight behind them against a forrest in shade.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. mtbdudex thread starter macrumors 68000

    mtbdudex

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2007
    Location:
    SE Michigan
    #11
    Good points, this is a work/education in progress, and posts here help my thoughts gel on improvements.
    I feel the blinking light trail is "neater" to see and visually represents the fireflies better than green dots for still pictures.

    Taking test shots I watched the fireflies and saw their "light" lasted about 2 seconds, so I picked that as shutter speed and played with ISO to balance darkness with too much ambient light with as much aperture as my kits lens had at the zoom.
    The way my remote and continuous shutter works, there is about a 1 second gap between each picture, so 2 seconds cuts off possible too many in-process firefly lights I can grasp that now. Probably 4-5 seconds as minimum as starting point.

    Like stated, for the next round of this I'll try lower ISO, maybe even ISO 200, but now up the time in accord.
    Best is test shot during actual shooting condition, PP works, but I like having correct exposure as much as possible into original image.

    Also will work on composition, having the home dark vs possible light "paint" the home with my Canon 580 (another variable, how bright to shoot the flash....).
    My neighbor has a decent size wine vineyard, that may look cool as background for firefly shots, I'll ask his permission....
     
  11. blockburner28 macrumors 6502

    blockburner28

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    Jun 27, 2009
    Location:
    New Orleans
    #12
    I never seen any fireflies in New Orleans. I"m Jealous guys!
     
  12. NeGRit0 macrumors 6502a

    NeGRit0

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2008
    Location:
    Las Vegas, Nv
    #13
    ^^ Dont feel bad I have never seen them either, but then again i live in a desert so i guess its not the ideal locale. lol.

    @mtbdudex: Very Cool Shot!
     
  13. mtbdudex thread starter macrumors 68000

    mtbdudex

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2007
    Location:
    SE Michigan
    #14
    Ok;
    I played some more last night with this firefly/stacking thing.

    This is 160 images stacked, shot with my Ti1 and Canon 50mm 1.4 prime lens set at f1.4, ISO 100, 8 seconds exposure each. Exposures taken 10:02pm - 10:26pm continuous.
    Too many mosquitoes outside besides all the fireflies!!

    I like this better than my 1st shot, I was about 130' away from my home.
    For 1 more, I'll move further back and shoot in Portrait mode to capture more fireflies in foreground.
    C&C appreciated.
    [​IMG]
     
  14. MattSepeta macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2009
    Location:
    375th St. Y
    #15
    Awesome!

    Very well done! You should be proud of that shot (And your killer house!)! I like the colors the sky and the house provide, but maybe try it against an even darker background again, close to pure black maybe even?
    Very cool though. Makes me want to go try;)
     
  15. mtbdudex thread starter macrumors 68000

    mtbdudex

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2007
    Location:
    SE Michigan
    #16
    Thx Matt! Come on, join the fun and take some by your place.

    Below taken later in the evening....much darker mood.
    Just trying to nail down a decent firefly shot, this taken tonight (7/16)
    Using my new Canon lens EF-S15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM;
    285 images; 35 mm, 10 second exposures, ISO 100, f 4.5, stacked.
    With wider shot the firefly trails become sorta dots......
    Those are star trails in the western sky behind our home, due to combining images taken over 10:17 - 11:12 pm; 55 minutes.
    The lights were on in the inside due to my wife making cake/stuff, tomorrow is 2 of our 3 kids b-day party.
    [​IMG]
     

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