Mayflies swarm above the Rába at night. Photograph by Imre Potyó
Photography is often all about patience. A photographer might wait hours or even days to get a shot.
Even by that measure, Imre Potyó is a man of exceptional perseverance. He spent 12 days waiting to make this amazing photo of mayflies over the Rába river in Hungary.
The tiny insects, called Ephoron virgo, are but a few months old when they take to the air at the end of July or start of August. Great swarms appear over the rivers of central Europe at sunset to mate by the millions, only to die by dawn.
Imre Potyó first photographed a swarm in 2013. “I was impressed by the wonderful dance of the mayflies,” he says.
Last year, he decided to try shooting the mayflies against a starlit sky. Because no one can ever say just when the flies will appear, Potyó returned to the banks of the Rába night after night.
Finally, the creatures appeared in a whirlwind. “I was standing on the river, so me and my equipment were totally covered by the huge masses of buzzing mayflies,” he says. “They were all around me.”
Potyó took over 200 photos in about two hours with his Nikon D90, but the final image is a composite of two shots. First, he used a fast shutter speed to capture the mayflies’ erratic movements, illuminating them with a flash and a flashlight.
Then he made a 30-second exposure focused on the stars above.
Lake Bokodi, in the village of Bokod, about 80 kilometers west of Budapest, Hungary, is an artificial lake created in 1961 by the Oroszlány Thermal Power Company by flooding a low-lying meadow next to the plant.
The power plant draws cold water from the lake to operate its boilers, and warm water is returned back to the lake. This continues recycling of the water causes the lake to never freeze even in the chilly winter air.
Over the years, the lake became a popular spot for fishing and angling, and a number of small wooden cottage on stilts were erected by the locals, with wooden boardwalks leading to them.
As Lake Bokodi’s fame spread through the internet, tourists and photographers started thronging this remote village.