The flowers from succulents, when photographed in
ultraviolet light, become magical. Another one of my South African succulents
has decided to bloom for the first time since planting them last year, and the
results? Well worth the wait.
Probably another variation on Polyxena ensifolia, this one
with light pink/purple petals and white stalks, erupting in a cascade of
blooms. The base of some flowers – including many irises – can glow green, but
the long tubes of emerald and aquamarine on these exotic flowers really
impresses. For anyone that has experimented in this kind of photography, you
quickly realize that it’s a constant hunt for subjects that fluoresce in
beautiful and interesting ways.
If you haven’t thought about exploring this kind of
photography before, I wrote a nice article on PetaPixel about it: https://petapixel.com/2017/09/21/using-ultraviolet-light-make-nature-fluoresce-photos/
- the hardest part is getting the two filters to put over a modified flash. Thankfully,
this image was shot with a commercially available UV light system designed
exactly for this type of photography. Shot with an Adaptalux Control Pod 2.0
and two ultraviolet lighting arms that I’m testing, it’s much more accessible!
You can check out the system here: https://adaptalux.com/product/control-pod-2-0/
. The lights don’t output as much as my custom built flashes, but with the “boost”
feature on the new control pods they work just fine. Might have to get more of
these UV arms, but even with two of them I can shoot at ISO 200 and F/20 with a
60-second exposure. Shot on my favourite macro setup, the Lumix GX9 and Leica
45mm F/2.8 macro lens, just a single frame was needed. Keep in mind that this
is shot in complete darkness other than the UV lighting arms!
Images like this get pushed a lot in post-processing, though
not to falsify anything. These plants had been growing in my house, and were
covered with a thin layer of dust. Dust fluoresces bright blue, and thankfully
a lot of it can be removed with a bulb blower; some always remains, so I get
friendly with my cloning and healing tools. If I want to brighten or darken
part of the image, I almost always do this on a local level – those greens and
blues can so easily become over-exposed even if all the data is in the RAW
file. I’ve found ON1 Photo RAW to handle highlights better than Photoshop, but
I still like manual control over how the light shapes the image.
Oh, and where do you I get these bulbs? http://www.massonia.com/ sells a bunch of
different varieties! I think I might have to order more. :)