Website re-design for monitor and phone - 7/25/2023

Some details and sub-pages are still in-process - 8/3/2023

Firefly Photography

For a good while now I have had this weird little hobby. I take macro photography shots of fireflies at 2.5" away from the lens while they are flying in good focus. The trick is that I do not look at the camera screen or viewfinder. I set a manual focus distance on the camera, hold it in front of me, sideways, and judge the correct distance to a flying insect. If I can do that, everything else is conventional photography. The firefly is doing his part. He does his well-known flash, I call it a glow, and then he pauses, hovers, looking for an answer glow. It's a mating mechanism. Only males fly. Females wait on the ground, a bush or a leaf, and signal their location during his pause. It all takes place before sunset while I can still track them good visually.

Photinus pyralis, the most common firefly of the U.S., is the only species with this behaviour and so many individuals flying that the difficulties and peculiarities of the process can be worked out. To a degree. Its like a sport where to get good you have to do a lot of repetitions - shooting a long jump shot or hitting a round ball with a round bat. I have never had to make myself do it. During the season, approximately June 5 to July 15, I go out almost every night. Usually the shooting stops about sundown, which on the solstice is 8:15. The season peaks like a sine curve the week just after the solstice. It depends on the ground temperature, but that is average. They come out in the shady areas well before sundown, as early as 6:30. As the shadows deepen they move and I move into the open areas. During the best week or 10 days there is sometimes close to 2 hours of shooting fireflies, not necessarily continuous. At the very peak sometimes there is a wild 10 minute flurry just before sunset where they are all flying and I just sit down and watch. My favorite photos from more than 15 years of shooting are down below.

How to take Photos of Fireflies in Flight PDF

Firefly photography © 2006-2023 by Terry Priest is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Firefly photography by Terry Priest is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Firefly pics -

taken with 20 MP cameras look much better on a computer monitor than a small phone unzoomed display. The most common monitor is 1920 width by 1080 height. I edit and view on a 2560 by 1440. The height is the limiting number to display an entire picture. A phone has about 1000 pixels wide but its normally portrait mode instead of landscape. Most pictures are landscape, 8x10 format, but the long glows are portrait. I split the files into portrait and landscape groups. The landscapes are designed to view on a 1080 monitor and look good on a phone; the portraits are designed for 1440 monitor and look good on a phone.

Top Twelve - Landscape - 1080

Top Twelve - Portrait - 1440

2020 - Landscape - 1080 - Great pics

2020 - Portrait - 1440 - Mostly Glows

2021 - Landscape - 1080 - Great pics

2022-2023 - Landscape - 1080

2021-2023 - Portrait - 1440 - Longest glows

Fireflies 2006 - 2019


Canon A80, 4mp, fixed lens, built-in flash


Canon G7, 10mp, fixed lens, hot shoe flash w/reflector


Canon G7, 10mp


Canon G12, 10mp, (first pic is Pentax K-7)


Canon G15, 12mp, hot shoe


Canon G15, 12mp


Canon G15, 12mp, Sony DSC-RX100M2, 20 mp


Sony DSC-RX100M2, 20 mp, fixed lens, hot shoe


Fuji X-T2, 24 mp, 18-55mm lens, 11mm extension tube


Fuji X-T2, 24 mp, experimental background


Fuji X-T2, 24 mp, 18-55mm lens, 11mm extension tube (still using X-T2 in 2023)

Camera and Flash Brackets 2023-2006


2021 Tutorial PDF (same as above)

2016 Tutorial PDF

2009 Tutorial Webpage

2006 Tutorial Webpage


Flickr Archive

Photo Gallery on SmugMug (not up to date)

Esperanza was Traven's daughter?

Henry Schnautz lived a storied life and he saved letters and photos. He was a bodyguard for Leon Trotsky in Mexico in 1940. The next year he met Esperanza Lopez Mateos. She was the translator and close partner of B. Traven, the mysterious novelist. Its a big story with a lot of parts.

Autocad - VBA - Excel

Code Blog -- Autocad Graphing Calculator

Autocad is a mechanical designers program but its built with great generality and programming capability on a classic Euclidean Cartesian mathematical foundation. For several years I wrote a mathcad blog.

Seeing in the Dark - Paleolithic Cave Art - Web page

Seeing in the Dark - Paleolithic Cave Art - PDF

Finding Paleolithic cave art was one of those great miracles where something was found that was completely unexpected - broadening minds of what was. This was a college paper I did that I thoroughly enjoyed. I tried to give it some structure worthy of the momentous subject. With photos and quotes from two leading cave archeologists and Joseph Campbell.

Evansville Zoo - Early Newspaper clippings

My great-uncle Clem Kevekordes was the first superintendent of the Evansville Zoo from the beginning until about 1936. Here are some newspaper clippings from his personal scrapbook

Uhaul Trailer used a picture of mine to create a graphic (by artist Steve King) that is on the side of 1900 trucks. There used to be a nifty U-Haul firefly website but that looks like it is in the past.

Ted talk 2014 - Sara Lewis - The loves and lies of fireflies

How boring is it to be saying the same thing as millions of other people? Media is programming whether by intent or not. Shut it off. Do your own thing.

But of course it is by intent. Worship of the almighty dollar has turned its many devotees into salesmen. Are salesmen known for telling the whole rounded truth of a subject? They dissect, select, and give you their side only.

But what if there really was good news about the universe? But what if you just shifted your attention you could begin to align yourself with the same forces that could spin up a planet? I think we are there. You can and will believe whatever you want and that belief will power you into creating a life. What do you believe? You. Not the conventional stuff, what do you believe that comes from inside? Your own observations? What if that really is where the truth is? Just like a million philosophers said.

Beliefs are magic, that's my key point. They set up reality. They set up reality in a magic way. The physical is mental. Here is where you can say no and most will. But I am putting that thought out, in dreams and life your beliefs talk back to you in a spectacular coincidental way.

Will Mankind make it? I don't know. There needs to be a natural revolution. We are still dependent on the functioning of the tiniest green leaf to eat and breathe. We are dependent on water falling from the sky to drink. We have never not been dependent on the natural world. Its where the individual meets the plural. And that seems to me the place where logically one is able to see the world as a vast interconnected wildly complex but cooperating system that extends all the way to the innermost most subtle thought.

Anne Frank said people were good. So how is it explained? I can't. You know the contradiction, life eats meat. Coexisting with this meat furnace is a brain capable of poetry and war. Is it so simple that we can just replace the fear of bad with the appreciation and intuition of the sublime? It seems like a good first step is to withdraw attention from the media noise and look inward. This will be a lot easier if we believe there is something great inward.

Once having begun a statement of ultimate belief, there is no way to conclude it. The last platitude trails off into vapor, because it is essentially a search where words are not the greater reality. Nothing can be proven. That's the design. Everyone has to find their own truth.

Creativity is how all this came to be. The universe is infinite in all directions. Follow your natural impulses. You have control and you have free will. You may not be able to flap your arms and fly to the moon, but you have options and abilities. You can believe you are helpless and act that out, you have the free will to do that, or you can pay attention to your impulses and bring something into the world nobody else can, starting from where you are now. It can be a small thing. Every creative act is a connection with the larger one. Enjoy your particular unique corner.

Old Family Website Mirror

1999-2003 family website, old family pics (and some old MS vbscript that doesn't work on anything now) includes the famous technicolor snail

Stalking the wild firefly

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

You have permission to use the firefly photos provided all the terms of the CC-BY-SA Creative Commons License are observed. Flickr has a full historical archive. An email notification you are using a photo is a nice custom. When asked I usually prefer a link back to this page, www.frfly.com. All academic, educational, non-profit, and those of you saving the world, use freely.

There are some images uploaded to Wiki Commons Rights

Terry Priest

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