Animals

By Jack Williams

These stunning close-up images offer a way to see fireflies like never before.


Terry Priest’s shots not only showcase the insects’ details at incredibly close range, but also capture the bugs mid-flight, their bodies aglow as they move through the air.

Taking such breathtaking images also requires incredible commitment: Terry shoots between 6,000 and 10,000 images of fireflies every year – around 200 to 300 shots a night during peak times – allowing him to gather just a few suitable works to use for display purposes.

PIC BY TERRY PRIEST / CATERS

In order to photograph the insects in their natural habitat, Terry, who lives near Evansville in Indiana, USA, heads out to his garden or the wooded area next to his home.

All of the shots are taken using manual settings, Terry, who began shooting his series in 2006, said, as his first attempts with auto focus methods did not achieve the desired results.

Terry, 63, follows behind the fireflies as they move, as not to scare them away.

He then takes advantage of the insects’ hover and natural pause, a few seconds after they glow.

This allows the photographer to capture detailed images of the fireflies themselves – but capturing them with lit up, too, is a much more difficult task.

PIC BY TERRY PRIEST / CATERS

Terry looks at his camera side on, pointing and shooting, so that he can gauge the camera’s distance from the insect and whether or not the firefly is in the middle of the frame.

There are a lot of misses, he said, but the trial-and-error method has served him well so far, as he believes very few others have been able to capture the insects with so much clarity – and while aglow.

Terry said: “Its fun and it gets me outdoors.

PIC BY TERRY PRIEST / CATERS

“Getting a glow is addictive, but very much harder than just capturing them at their pause, so I start with the pause.

“There are only a couple weeks of prime shooting, and on those nights there is an hour or two at most.

“Some people tell me I should find a new bug, as I take maybe 6000 to 10000 photos a year of fireflies.

PIC BY TERRY PRIEST / CATERS –

“That’s because it’s hard – it’s a skill thing, and they present themselves so I can easily take 200 to 300 shots a night for a month.

“Inevitably I post my favorites and inevitably some people see too many fireflies.

“Strangers sometimes love them.

“Its fun to share them.”