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Fireflies in Japan

Funnily enough, after many, many visits, I had never seen or photographed fireflies in Japan. This year, shortly after arriving, we spotted some articles in the newspaper saying they were out and about, so I made a couple of trips to nearby Koori to see for myself.

fireflies in fukushima japan

The setting at Koori, Fukushima. The full moon certainly made exposures tricky but the fireflies were definitely out and about which was the main thing

The first visit basically coincided with a full moon, which of course made exposure a little tricky but I enjoyed the challenge. There was a fair bit of activity and most shots had at least a few fireflies here and there. The shot above is the location, and the shots below are various crops of fireflies from many shots over the night.

fireflies fukushima japan

Firefly against a tree trunk. 20 second exposure at ISO 1600.

fireflies fukushima japan

Another 20 second exposure with multiple trails. Some might be the same firefly as it switched its light on and off during the exposure, but there must be at least a few individuals in this exposure.

fireflies fukushima japan

Fireflies in Koori. 20 second exposure as one firefly flew along just above the water, intermittently switching its light on and off.

Processing Firefly Photos

The shot below is a blend of 5 images taken over approx 5-10 minutes. The best way to blend images like this together is to load up all images into one single file (eg copy and paste all images on top of each other) then use the “lighten” blend mode. This results in all the brightest parts of the image (ie the firefly trails) becoming visible over your original background layer.


Multiple 20 second exposures blended into one image, capturing the flight paths of many fireflies. 5 exposures taken over approx 10 minutes.

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About Luke

Luke O'Brien runs a stall at Hobart's popular Salamanca Market every Saturday where his prints and cards are available for purchase. Follow Luke's photographic adventures on Twitter at @lukeobrienphoto, at his Facebook page or by subscribing to his email newsletter.