2013, week 31 – Once-in-a-life-time dance

Mayflies (Fin: päivänkorento (Ephemeroptera)) have fascinating life cycle. After spending their immature stage for months or even years in the water they emerge as adults for only some hours (certain species only minutes!). During that short time mayflies have to mate, and there is no time to eat. In any case they cannot eat as their mouth and digesting organs are vestigial and useless in adults. You most often notice the adults of mayflies as they gather in the evenings with their display flights “dancing” up and down.

Stroboscopic flash

To capture the dancing flight of the mayfly I used the stroboscopic function of my flash. In stroboscopic mode (Canon calls it Multi Mode and Nikon refers to it as Repeating Flash) the flash lights repeatedly within one single shot. This means that the four images of mayfly you see in the picture are actually from one single animal. For that you need to activate the stroboscopic mode in your flash and adjust the following:

- Flashing frequency. That being how many times it would flash within one second (expressed in Hz). It will depend on how fast the object of interest is moving

- Number of flashes you want the flash to do

- Flash power; how strong the flashes you want to be. One has to keep in mind that the frequency and the total number of flash beams will be limited by the power you assign to the flash.

- Shutter speed of the camera. So that the number flashes desired will fit in the time used to take the picture


Images will be better defined if the background is black. However I personally prefer the look it gives the natural background.

You can have a look to another picture taken using stroboscopic flash technique here.


Shooting info:  50 mm (24-105 mm, f/4). 0,4 s at f/22, ISO 160. Flash in stroboscopic mode. Handheld.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>