June 13, 2016
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
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, thought it has only the basic facilities. You need to book a spot months before, or need to keep check every other for a cancellation to pop up, like it 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.
September 17, 2014
Cloud gate, also affectionately called by the locals as bean is a lovely spot amidst downtown Chicago to spend an evening. As if the bean by itself is not interesting enough, there are numerous areas of interest near by, all walk able. Be it the amazing architecture or the beautiful fountains or interesting shows at Jay Pritzker Pavilion (mostly free) or the lovely lake – this spot has got it all !!!
Canon 7D : Canon 10-24 mm : ISO 100 : 10 mm : f8.0 : 30 sec
Chicago, Illinois, USA
July 17, 2014
Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray – Rumi
Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : ISO 100 : 10 mm : f22 : 1 sec
||Sunrise by Michigan Lake
Alder Planetarium, Chicago, Illinois, USA
January 20, 2014
There’s almost nothing more relaxing than the sound of the ocean as the sun sets over the water.
Canon 7D : Canon 10-22 mm : ISO 100 : 17 mm : f4.0 : 1/125 sec
||Devils Punch Bowl State Park
Otter Rock, Oregon, USA
December 13, 2012
I came across Maryhill in Washington, when I was trying to finalize (light pollution free) places to shoot Geminids meteor shower. This park has a full-size, astronomically-aligned replica of Stonehenge and was commissioned by Samuel Hill and dedicated on July 4, 1918 as a memorial to those that died in World War I. The memorial was completed in 1929.
The peak of Geminids is actually tonight (Dec 13, 2013), but given the overcast weather here at the northwest, it is not very promising. Hence, when there was a break in the weather yesterday, decided to take my chances. It was a nice experience, braving the December cold and watching the meteor shower in person. I was able to witness close to ~5 in a span of 15 minutes, as I was scouting / setting up at the location. But subsequently the skies were clear only for a few minutes – here and there. So much for the forecast and almost clear skies. It was not a great night for capturing the meteors, but given the new moon and having the entire place to play with some lighting, it turned out to a pretty good night for some star photography.
I used a small headlamp to light up the inside of the Stonehenge. The light from a near by settlement was reflecting on the clouds creating the yellow. The (once distracting series of) tower lights, harmonized with the fog resulting in the lovely red hue over the horizon. Incidentally, the passing by Union Pacific train decided to play along and lit up the outside of the Stonehenge. Wish there had been a meteor on this particular shot, oh well … I just love it when a plan comes together, or not :)
Camera : Canon 7D
Lens : Canon 10-22 mm
Filter : None
ISO 3200 : 10 mm : f3.5 : 30 sec
||Milky way @ Stonehenge
MaryHill, Washington, USA
April 23, 2011
This week’s shot is from Marina Beach – the second largest beach in the world. The place gets brimmed with people from all walks of life, during a typical evening. The early mornings though are little different. If you get to the one, near the Besant nagar residential area, it is real serene – except for the few joggers and fishermen setting up for the days catch. This is from one such morning, when I managed to drag myself, out of the bed early to get to the place, to be treated with an awesome sun rise. The early mornings are probably the best time to enjoy the Chennai beaches !
On the post processing front, yeah, I know is kind of little extreme on the HDR. But I really dig the way it turned out, nothing else would have helped me capture the golden hour better. More over it goes well with the new bold and dynamic theme here at the blog [if ur reading this via feed reader or mail, do drop by the site to check out the updates]. What do u think… Feel free to leave feedback in comments !!!