Posts tagged ‘fireflies’

June 30, 2019

The Path of Fireflies

This is not a great shot in technical sense, but the experience was quiet surreal …

I was really lucky : I got to experience the synchronous fireflies at Smokies for two years in a row. For the first year I got the tickets (this was the first year when they introduced the lottery for the viewing). For the second year I was not that lucky – the tickets got sold in minutes, from when it was opened up online.

As I was exploring to see if anyone would share or other alternate options – realized that booking a camp site at Elkmont campground, during the same days – would grant access to the trails. After trying few days, was able to grab a reservation as someone else cancelled. This even had an added advantage – It gets you within a mile of the Elkmont Viewing area. Even more, one could hike up the entire trail to avoid the crowds, much beyond the set area for lottery viewing. Just make sure to carry the campground reservation.

This shot is a composite of 164 shots (22 minutes) and around 8 sec exposure for the foreground. Thanks to the Sony A7S II that I was able to rent. This low light monster was able to capture so much of details even in the faint moon light !

The 70% gibbous moon was not conducive for the fireflies, but that did help light up the nearby stream :)

The hustling stream, chilling breeze, dark of the night, the little bit moon lit forest, walking with my son, by the trail into the Smokies Forest & Fireflies along the path – it was indeed a surreal experience !

Sony A7S II : Sony 28 mm: ISO 12800 : 10 mm : f2.0 : 8.0 sec [164 shots]

Great Smoky Mountains
Gatlinburg, Tennessee, USA

June 18, 2017

Symphony of Light

Dying daylight & rising twilight,
Kindles the tiny angels of the endless night.
It is quiet a sight
Witnessing the symphony of light.

Specks of light, Shining bright,
Weaving a silent song by moon’s light,
So nimble & ever in flight –
To watch them twinkle, is always a delight :)

 

If you are interested with how this was shot & processed, check out this article.

Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : ISO 400 – 3200 : 10 mm : f8.0 : 30 sec ; 245 Shots

     Elkmont
Gatlinburg, Tennessee, USA
June 13, 2016

Synchronous Fireflies of Smokies

For two weeks, each year, the secluded forests of Elkmont is converted into a magical wonderland.

Words can’t describe the experience, but let me try. As we venture into the forests, a light drizzle along with the cool breeze accompanies. Smokies as the name has it, brings in a rolling fog as the dusk sets in. After finding a remote spot by the trees and set the camera for a composition I liked, it was time to wait. Not long before the horizon begins to darken and the first of the fireflies beings to twinkle. Here a twinkle, there a twinkle and before you know it – everywhere a twinkle twinkle. The entire forest begins to glow, and then as if all lights are off, becomes pitch dark. After couple of seconds, the entire place is lit up once again. There fireflies surround you in its mythical glow. The thousands of lightning bugs gather in swarms and flash in harmony as the entire forest alternates between light and darkness. It truly becomes a magical wonderland.

 

The show is all made possible – thanks to Photinus carolinus – or more commonly known as Synchronous fireflies. Unlike other fireflies, this species uses the synchronicity of the flashing, probably to attract it’s mate.  Synchronous species of fireflies are very special—and they exist only in a handful of places throughout the world. Elkmont @ Smokies is one such place. Fireflies combine the chemical luciferin and oxygen with the enzyme luciferase in their lanterns (part of their abdomens) to make light. The light produced is referred to as a “cold” light, with nearly 100% of the energy given off as light. In contrast, the energy produced by an incandescent light bulb is approximately 10% light and 90% heat. So much for our human invention !

No one is sure why the fireflies flash synchronously. Competition between males might be one reason: they all want to be the first to flash. Or perhaps if the males all flash together so they have a better chance of being noticed. What ever be the reason – it indeed is magical & Here is my take on that magical experience. Hope you like the same as much as I enjoyed capturing it.

 

 

Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : ISO 640 -5000: 10 mm : f3.5 : 15-30 sec ; 100 shots

 Elkmont
Gatlinburg, Tennessee, USA


Tips to get your way to Elkmont

  • Elkmont is Part of the Smoky National Park.
  • Lottery : Starting this year (2016), NPS has introduces Lottery. You need to be on the look out @ the NPS Website and apply during registration period. If you are lucky and get selected, you would need to drive up to Sugarlands Visiter Center on the allocated date. Around 6:30 PM local time the trolley takes to the viewing area. The Trolley / shuttle runs thru 11:30 PM so you will have ample time to experience the fireflies. You can read more about the lottery here.
  • Campground : Don’t lose heart , if you do not get the lottery. The next best thing (or actually an even better option) is to get a camp site at the Elkmont Campground. This gets you within a mile of the Elkmont Viewing area. Additionaly learnt, one more huge advantage is the you could hike up the entire trail to avoid the crowds, much beyond the set area for lottery viewing. Just make sure to carry the campground reservation.
  • But you are warned, Elkmont campground is one of the most famous ones, though it has only the basic facilities. You need to book a spot months ahead, or need to keep checking every other day for a cancellation to pop up, like I did :)
  • Be sure to follow the Fireflies Etiquette.
  • Do remember you are visiting them in their natural habitat, not the other way around. Take every step need to ensure they are not disturbed.
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