Ultraviolet Photography Concepts

Ultraviolet Photography Concepts

Capturing an image, freezing the surprise moment, reveals how rich the reality in photography is. Exploring the unseen world under a beautiful spectrum of light describes the innovation in photography. Ultraviolet photography is one among the creative photography category.

Ultraviolet photography involves recording of beautiful images using UV spectrum i.e. below 380 nm. Light spectrums like UV and IR radiations have no color. They are widely used in numerous applications like science, medicine; forensic, dermatologic uses, macro, portrait, landscape (artistic photography) and others.

Flower photography under UV spectrum creates stunning pollen patterns. Craig Burrows; a well-known photographer specializes in creative flower photography under Infrared, Ultraviolet and Ultraviolet induced visible fluorescence photography. His works are really a masterpiece in field of fluorescence photography. photo edits photoshop sketch.

Ultraviolet Light Photography

Concept of Fluorescence

The emission of light by a substance, which has absorbed light, defines fluorescence. In many cases of fluorescence concept the ejected light will have longer wavelength and lower energy than the absorbed radiation. Stunning marvels occur when fluorescence take place in UV spectrum which are invisible to our naked eyes.

The amazing fluorescence effect is widely used in gemology, chemical sensors, mineralogy, fluorescent labeling, lamps, dyes, biological detectors, cosmic-ray detection and many more. This effect also occurs naturally in variety of bacteria, underwater creatures, minerals, animals and other.

Ultraviolet Light Photography
Ultraviolet Photography

Photographing Fluorescence Effect

Handling quite a little effective experiments in Ultraviolet photography is always good. This practice helps in understanding what to do and what not to. Capturing the emitted light from the objects, need some special additional filters like UV filter, flash, barrier filter and an updated camera. 
One of the simple methods in shooting fluorescence effect is by using UV filter over the camera lens and by illuminating the photography subject with the UV light. Shooting in RAW anyhow takes much process in enhancing the effect. Photographing in dark is a best option since the emitted light is prominent during night.


You can also capture fluorescence effect during day time with the help of ambient light in a normally lit laboratory environment, underwater and outdoor. Make sure the effect of sunlight does not put down your Ultraviolet photography. Shooting in ambient light typically requires electronic flash which is about 2 millisecond in which the fluorescence occur only when the flash is going off. To obtain effective picture set your shutter speed as fast as the camera so that you don’t capture anything away from the fluorescence part.

Other requirements include an electronic flash which is incorporated with an appropriate fluorescence excitation filter. The more the effect of the flash the picture looks much better. Barrier filter fitted on camera lens helps in blocking the reflected excitation light spectrum and transmits only the fluorescence. Last but not the least a camera with the sync to the flash option, at a fast shutter speeds of 1/200 sec, 1/250 to 1/500 sec are more preferable.


Now let us get to know some details of photographing ultraviolet light underwater.

One can encounter marvels and magical effect underwater. Water species like planktons, ostracods, hard corals, eels, polychaetes, nudibranches, sea anemones, sea horses, tunicates, octopus and lot more organisms contains chemicals that emit beautiful light spectrums. In current era most of the fluorescence diving is done with blue light.

The fluorescence effect can be explained using simple physics that is by the excitation of photons concept. Photography underwater is a tedious task and quite challenging. This stunning effect occurs and gives magnificent color changing effect. When you use UV filters a lot of blue light will be reflected back, which hides the fluorescence. In order to capture this stunning transformation process from one color to another use additional filter called barrier filter in front of your camera lens. This blocks the reflected blue light and enhances the fluorescence.


The marine bodies has high fluorescence, to capture those bright textures using an initial aperture of f/8 is best. In case you are using flashlights as light source other than a strobe; you might need steady hand or tripod. To avoid motion blur, be prepared to bump up the ISO that keep the shutter speed ideal at 1/60 sec or faster than that. Great idea in getting spectacular result is by shooting with electronic flash fitted with an excitation filter. This reduces shutter speed to 1/200 sec or even faster.


A Final Thought

Picturing marvelous things around you tend to open up the concept of innovation. Ultraviolet photography paves the way to document visually stunning pictures found in nature. Always think out of box and enjoy the fantasy of photography.
Practice with joy and thousands of mistakes until you get a picture perfect shot.

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