Fireflies under the full moon along the White Clay Kill, Tivoli, NY 7/9/14 by Pete Mauney
8"x10" ($35) | 11"x14" ($75) | 16"x20" ($260) | 24"x30" ($1350) | 30"x40" ($2500)
Escaping into nature is easier to do when it doesn’t involve inclement weather. True! Also true? This new Pete Mauney edition from an enchanting summer night will tide you over till it’s warm again. Our fourth firefly photograph from the master of midnight light, it’s a reminder of the lush vegetation and vibrating ecosystem that’s waiting in the wings.
To be fair, city dwellers will likely have a bit of a hike ahead of them to reach so pastoral a setting. As the title suggests, Mauney made Fireflies under the full moon along the White Clay Kill, Tivoli, NY 7/9/14 about 2 hours outside NYC. Then again, location’s just a minor detail in what makes this photograph magic. The composition frames a path, encircled by dark green foliage and dazzling streaks of firefly glow, drawing the eye in toward the center as if to lead the viewer deeper into the wood. Mauney’s pressed pause on the firefly flickering so their illumination is suspended midair, like fairy lights. A sherbet sky lends the whole photo a fantasy novel feel. And then there’s the spellbinding technical achievement to totally transfix us.
Producing these beautifully chaotic images actually necessitates stillness and tremendous patience (just your friendly creative paradox). Hunting for the densest firefly hotspots, Mauney explores the local wilderness around his Hudson Valley home to find the right clearing or thicket in which to situate himself for the evening, alone. He sets up his cameras, employs his tried-and-true long-exposure technique, and waits. And waits some more. Later, he’ll layer multiple exposures, arriving at a final photograph that freezes hours of firefly activity in a single frame. In this way, he captures more than the eye could ever see at once—a firefly-laden fifth dimension that’s as alive with the complexly coded flight paths of these soft-bodied beetles as it is ethereal and ephemeral.
The challenge is part of what attracts Mauney to his incandescent insect subjects. Fireflies under the full moon is the result of this photographer’s long-perfected practice of artistic alchemy. Or is it time travel? Jen Bekman, our founder and head curator, touched on this when she wrote that “Pete’s work unlocks the sublime by using light to collapse time, fixing an infinite number of moments into a single plane”. Because Mauney’s work allows us to glimpse the incalculable, the inimitable, the imperceptible, it makes room for us to question our senses, to take out our metaphysical tuning forks and see what resonates. There’s something inherently optimistic about that exercise. We’ve been lucky to reflect on this artist’s work numerous times over the years, and if there’s one thing we’ve learned it’s that—if you look long enough—the darkness is full of light.
With art for everyone,