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(Tsuneaki Hiramatsu)
(Tsuneaki Hiramatsu)
(Tsuneaki Hiramatsu)
(Tsuneaki Hiramatsu)
(Tsuneaki Hiramatsu)
(Tsuneaki Hiramatsu)
(Tsuneaki Hiramatsu)
(Tsuneaki Hiramatsu)

The Beautiful Flight Paths of Fireflies

Flirting lightning bugs illuminate a dark forest with golden flight during mating season

For nearly a decade, amateur photographer Tsuneaki Hiramatsu spent his summer evenings in the forests outside Niimi, in Japan’s Okayama prefecture. He was intent on capturing the spectacle of firefly mating season, when the males and females vie for attention through blinking codes. As night fell, Hiramatsu began shooting a series of eight-second exposures. He then digitally merged the images, creating connect-the-dot photos of the fireflies’ golden flight paths. The images became a sensation on the Web and were included in a traveling museum exhibit called “Creatures of Light: Nature’s Bioluminescence.” But for Hiramatsu, recognition for his artistry is secondary to engendering appreciation for the natural world. “Fireflies are little seen in areas developed by human beings,” he says. “When I feel the splendor and mystery of nature, I am glad to have everyone share that feeling.”

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About Jesse Rhodes

Jesse Rhodes is an editorial assistant for Smithsonian magazine. Before he became an editorial assistant, Jesse worked at the Library of Congress Publishing Office, where he was a contributor to the Library of Congress World War II Companion.

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