Starry Long Exposure Photos of Fireflies in the Forests of Japan


This beautiful photograph is titled “Last Dance of the Fairies.” It was shot by Japanese photographer Yume Cyan in a forested area near Nagoya City, Japan.

Yume has been visiting the wooded areas over the past month with a Canon 5D Mark III and 50mm lens. After setting up his camera, Yume snaps long exposures of the scenes — often 30 seconds at ISO 800 — and then combines them together into composite shots.

The intermittent flashing of the fireflies appear as singular points of light in the shots, with trails of light points indicating the flight path of individual fireflies.

With his aperture set at f/2.8, the closer fireflies show up as out-of-focus circles of light while the ones further away are captured as points.





If you like these photographs, be sure to check out this similar series of Japanese firefly photos we featured early last year. You can find more of Yume’s work over on his 500px page.

(via Colossal)

Image credits: Photographs by Yume Cyan and used with permission

  • Tommy Sar

    Reminds me of a scene in Grave of the Fireflies….

  • Nick Fancher

    Gorgeous. Simple and effective.

  • brob

    those are amazing

  • Arnold Newman

    These are awesome. Wish I was close to an area with fireflies. I’d love to try it.

  • Genkakuzai

    Great stuff!

  • ninpou_kobanashi

    Ya, I wonder how well a video variant of that would work

  • Alejandro Martin

    it is pretty deceiving that either the artist, or the writer provided false information in the method of how these photographs were taken. Fireflies while in the air are moving, they aren’t hovering around completely still. If the exposure was actually set for 30 seconds there would be lines of light instead of dots…and much less of them. these photographs are actually multiple photographs layered ontop of eachother. If you insist that a 30 second shot can produce this, grab a dslr and try for yourself, or better yet point it at the stars, and you will see that even stars create a trail at 30 second exposure time.

  • Ben Hollingsworth

    Alejandro, have you ever actually seen fireflies first hand? Their butts flash very briefly, and they don’t fly all that fast. Your suggestion of layering multiple, brief exposures makes a lot less sense than a single, long exposure.

  • Will Mederski

    There are different species of fireflies, some of which do flash rapidly, I do find myself viewing these photos with skepticism.

    @ben_hollingsworth:disqus – I do have experience shooting fireflies.

  • Michael Zhang

    Hi Alejandro, You can actually download the file from 500px (you’ll need to grab it from the source) and check the EXIF data yourself.

  • Jun


  • Michael Zhang

    We’re corrected the post a bit to make it clear that it is multiple long exposures layered.

  • Guest

    huh. interesting.

    looks like this may well be a genuine single-shot.
    but considering there is an article posted just after this one advising one to use layer blending, hopefully our skepticism is understood.

    props to mr. cyan.

  • Yume Cyan

    Hi Alejandro
    I am yume.
    Thank you for discussion of my photos.
    Please forgive my poor English.

    I am not an artist, I am a photographer.
    There are many people in Japan to take the same photo as this.
    This is repeated several photos of exposure 30 seconds definitely.
    There are a variety of species in the firefly.
    Do you know only a particular species?
    Flashing lights of fireflies of this kind is very fast.
    This is the reason that can be taken at point not line.
    Your knowledge is very narrow.
    Please write it after you study more.
    Thank you

  • Alejandro Martin

    Hello Yume, thanks for taking the time to write to me.

    Before the article stated it was one photo with 30 second exposure, and after i brought up my speculation, the writer fixed his post and provided the correct information. I was unaware though of fireflies being able to flash very fast, so now i believe getting the result with 30 second exposure is possible. thank you!

  • Yume Cyan

    You’re welcome,Alejandro~^^
    I’m glad to get your understanding.

    Please come to Japan and shoot fireflies,someday.
    You’ll feel happy to be able to take a picture as I do.
    Thank you!