The little luminary pictured above was photographed in 2010 by award-winning photographer Radim Schreiber, of Fairfield, Iowa. The photo, entitled Amber Firefly, took 1st place out of 56,000 entries in “The Natural World” category at the 8th annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest published in March 2011.
A designer, photographer and videographer, formerly for the Sky Factory, Radim has won several national and international photography competitions. Also in 2011 he took 1st place in the 41st annual National Wildlife Photo Contest in the “Backyard Habitat” professional category out of 27,000 entries. He won the 2010 Galapagos Conservancy Photography Contest, and the 2008 and 2009 Rainforest Alliance’s “Picture Sustainability” Photo Contest. Awards are listed on his website.
Radim Schreiber had rarely seen fireflies back home and was surprised and thrilled by their abundance here in Iowa. He started taking still photos and then made a movie of them.
“In the Czech Republic where I grew up, I only saw fireflies a couple of times, deep in the forest. When I came to the United States, I was shocked and thrilled to see the abundance of fireflies and their amazing glow. I was happy to encounter this firefly and photograph its magical bioluminescence.”
Read this July 2011 Iowa Source interview with Christine Schrum to find out how Radim braved ditches, swamps, mosquitoes, and chiggers to obtain his fantastic firefly photos: Stalking Fireflies in the Night.
Radim’s award-winning firefly images have been featured at CBS, NPR, National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Iowa Public Television (Fireflies In Iowa) The Weather Channel, The National Wildlife Federation, and KEW – Royal Botanical Gardens. Read more in Mo Ellis’s updated profile of Radim on the MUM website.
Update Insert: On March 24, 2016 I found out that Radim’s photo, Synchronous Fireflies, won the Altered Images category of the 13th Annual Smithsonian.com Photo Contest. The next day The Des Moines Register wrote: Fairfield photographer’s fireflies win Smithsonian award.
The photo was taken mid-June 2014 at twilight in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee. Radim was in almost complete darkness surrounded by fireflies and witnessed one of the most amazing and magical natural phenomena—fireflies that synchronize. He used the latest low-light camera technology and took several long exposures over several minutes and merged them together to preserve detail and clarity. He uploaded it November 2015 and it was selected as Shot Of The Day on December 24, 2015, then Editors’ Pick, Finalist, and now Altered Images Winner. See the other winners and finalists here. Radim had used this photo for the cover of his Firefly Experience film described below.
The Firefly Experience on Film
This summer I saw a magical little film at the first annual Creative Edge Film Fest in Fairfield, Iowa. Made by fellow MUM alum Radim Schreiber, BFA, it was so beautifully put together visually and musically, the audience was spellbound. When it was over, the 2½-minute short elicited an extended exuberant response.
In this film, Radim Schreiber tried to capture his experiences with fireflies in Lamson Woods, a State Preserve and segment of the Jefferson County Trails System near his house in Fairfield, Iowa. He wanted to document not only their beauty and magical glow, but also behavior in their natural environment, the Neff Wetlands section of the Fairfield Loop Trail.
“When I walk through a quiet forest in the middle of the night full of fireflies, I have an experience of a magical forest. When I see fireflies being a mere reflection of stars under the Milky Way, I feel connected to everything in the universe. They are communicating to me. I am listening.”
Radim chose to not do any digital manipulation to the video itself. The footage came straight from the camera. This is not time-lapse photography, but realtime footage of fireflies!
Radim Schreiber’s Firefly Experience is synchronistically edited with a beautiful soundtrack specifically composed and performed for the film by Tiko Lasola. Radim loves the song. “It is a perfect match for my photos. In fact I was shocked that it happened this way.” I agree! After watching the film you can hear Tiko’s full 3½-minute Fireflies piece here.
After the screening, Radim was selling HD and Blu-ray DVDs of his film. I bought the Blu-ray. I never tire of watching and listening to it; it’s beautiful! It produces a calming effect.
For optimal viewing, Radim suggests we watch the video at night in full screen mode with all lights turned off and the sound turned up.
Visit Radim’s website to see more firefly photos and videos at www.FireflyExperience.org.
A Firefly Poem
Have you ever experienced the magic of fireflies? I’ve seen them around Fairfield, but never like what I saw in southern Missouri during a summer Residence Course in the early 1990s. I had driven with three other Maharishi Ayurveda Health Technicians to a movement facility in Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri to provide rejuvenation therapies.
The building was located at the edge of the Mark Twain National Forest. The warm night air was thick with nature’s sounds and sights. Hundreds of frogs incessantly called out to each other from a pond behind the building. Swarms of fireflies dazzled me with their exuberant flashing lights as I walked around the grounds. Their colors and bubbly nature reminded me of Champagne! Inspired, I wrote this short four-line poem.
EVENING DROPS OF DEW