• Ultraviolet Photography

Exploring Nature's Secrets

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#1 nfoto

    Former Fierce Bear of the North

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 00:02

Many people ask why bother to shoot in ultraviolet, when doing it in the visible range is so simple and straightforward. Plus, we cannot see outside the visible range anyway. Correct. However, there is more to this than meets the eye. The human perception is not representative for a myriad of living creatures, small or large. Thus, they can register information in the ultraviolet range of the spectrum, and their appraisal of the world around them likely is different to ours. We cannot imagine what a bee really observes on its entrance to a flower, but at the very least we can record and display aspects of its fascinating non-visible environment.

Pollinators and flowers form an ancient synergetic relationship. The flowers need to be pollinated and the insects, amongst them bees, need food sources that pollen and nectar can provide to them. So, in order to be successful, flowers must attract their pollinators by some kind of advertising. Having marks inside the flowers that only can be observed in ultraviolet light is one of these means to ensure pollinators call to do their duty.

This is what we can observe, using visible light:
Attached Image: B1004140368.jpg

A bee sees something entirely different:
Attached Image: I1104172218.jpg

(Neither visiting pollinator nor flower is identical between the two shots, so these images just serve to illustrate the difference between visible and ultraviolet records).

The overall appearance of a flower head changes when it is seen in ultraviolet light. Here is the familiar mop of a dandelion as an example.

Attached Image: TARAXZ_E980531190_UVVIS.jpg

It can readily be appreciated that the flowers present themselves in a bewilderingly diverse manner when seen in ultraviolet light. This site attempts to present some of these hidden patterns.

In addition to the exploration of the plant diversity in UV, we aim to show UV captures of miscellaneous subjects as well. Landscape photography in UV, to give an example, is akin to travelling back in time to the early days of photography. This is because UV landscapes tend to remind of shooting with orthochromatic film stock just like the pioneers of photography did.

Another field of interest is all kinds of fluorescence induced by UV light. Fluorescence is widely occurring in nature and is found in various parts of flowers or animals, or with inaminate subjects.

Pollen grains and pollen tubes of Four'Oclock (Mirabilis japonica) fluoresce brightly under UV light.

Attached Image: MIRA_JAL_J0509125607_UVIFL.jpg

[Published 5 Feb 2013 last update 14 Apr 2013]