• Ultraviolet Photography

My UV Method: Andrea G. Blum

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#1 Andrea B.

    Desert Dancer

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  • Location: UVP Western Division, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Posted 30 April 2013 - 18:29

[Began: 19 November 2013]
[Eventually Finished: 29 June 2021]

Field Kit: Camera, Ballhead and Tripod
  • Nikon D610-broadband
    This is the best full-spectrum conversion I've ever used. Highly recommended. The sensor is so good for UV because of its high ISO capability and wide dynamic range.
  • Hoodman HoodLoupe
    Unless you want to wear a blanket over your head to block out the light while focusing via LiveView, then some kind of LCD loupe is necessary. This loupe attaches to the camera back with elastic cords or can be handheld while focusing. There are better ones than this, but this one is easiest for me to use.
  • Really Right Stuff Ground Pod
    Most every botanical subject is low enough that this small tripod has worked well for me.
    I don't use a focusing rail at this time, but certainly don't rule it out in the future.
  • Manfrotto 327RC2 Pistol Grip Ballhead with Level Bubble
    I've found this Manfrotto ballhead to be quite easy to adjust precisely. It has a two-lever quick release plate, however I'm quite careful when carrying the whole rig as I don't want to test whether it is possible to bump both levers in such a way as to release the camera. A screw tightened release plate is a better option methinks. On the grip side a protruding portion of the ball cover does bump into the tripod mount plate when tilted down too far, so sometimes you have to compensate for that.
  • Nikon GPS-1
    This is velcro-ed to a tripod leg and plugged into a left-hand port door on the D610. Truly, every camera should have a built-in GPS, but this add-on will have to do for now. It does function well as a GPS.
  • Nikon MC-DC2 Remote Shutter Release
    This plugs into the GPS-1 and is also velcroed to a tripod leg. When it died a couple of years ago, I replaced it with a Vello clone which works just as well. Wireless options are also available, but I'm afraid I would just lose one of those.
Field Kit: Lenses & Adapters & Step Rings
  • Every lens is kitted out, if needed, with step rings to bring it to a 52mm front filter size.
  • Every lens, if needed, has a permanent mount adapter attached.
Field Kit: Flashes & Torches
  • Nikon SB-14 UV-Mod Flash and Battery Case
    I have worked both with and without a UV-flash over the years when documenting UV-signatures. It is clear that a UV-flash is absolutely necessary when working in the field or indoors. (Unless, of course, you have UV studio lights!! I do not have those at this time.) This SB-14 flash kit fits nicely into a LowePro Rezo 470 AW case (with the all-weather cover) along with a spare set of 6 rechargeable C cells.
  • Nikon SB-140 UV/IR Flash and Battery Case
    This is an SB-14 flash equipped with 3 filters for visible, UV and IR light. I had a chance to buy one in a lot of UV gear, so I did. But there is nothing particularly special about it except for those 3 fitted filters. Given its rarity and over-pricing due to collectors, I would not chase it. It is quite easy to adapt and filter any Xenon flash.
  • Nichia 365nm UV-LED Torch: Titanium "Haiku" by Don McLeish (McGizmo)
    The D610 Live View can be used for UV focusing in strong sunlight with the lens wide open but how often do we get really strong sunlight? So, a UV-Led torch shined on the subject permits excellent Live View focusing. I now have added Convoy 365 UV-Led torches to the Kit.
  • Nikon SB-400 Speedlight
    I prefer photographing the flowers in Visible light without flash or with only a tiny bit of fill flash from the D610's built-in. But just in case I need more, this compact speedlight is easy enough to carry along with the big UV flashes.
Field Kit: Standards, Filters, Extensions, Helicoids
  • LabSphere Reflective Standards
    These are used for white balance measurement in both Visible and Ultraviolet light. I've found it mandatory to make a white balance reference photograph for every shooting session because camera, lens, filter and lighting (ambient sunlight and/or flash) all affect the white balance in either Visible or UV light. I have also found that an in-camera white balance measurement may be somewhat inaccurate under UV filters or IR filters. We only white balance UV/IR work in order to standardize it, but it may not look quite right if the in-camera WB doesn't perform accurately.
  • LabSphere 5x5" Spectralon Diffuse Reflectance Target
    This is a nice, tough, washable, sandable square target big enough to provide a good area for white balance measurements or to serve as a background for small flower photography. The aluminum frame has a fitting for a post which could be useful. If it were not so expensive, I would have a larger Spectralon rectangle.
  • Color Checker Passport
    This is used for accurate Visible colour profiling. Again it is mandatory to make a CC Passport reference photograph for every shoot in order to profile visible colour based on the converted camera, lens and filter in use and to take into account the current ambient lighting conditions and possible flash usage. Photo converter/editors such as Photo Ninja and Lightroom have colour profiling tools based on the CC Passport. These tools enable easy colour profiling for each shooting session.

    BTW, I have not yet found an external UVIR-blocking filter which completely compensates for the colour changes induced by removal of the camera's internal UVIR-blocking filter. The differences are usually minor, but sometimes not. So you need to make both a white balance measurement and a color profile for visible photos. I have also found that an in-camera white balance measurement may be somewhat inaccurate under dark filters or IR filters,
  • Filters
    Yes, of course. UV-Pass, IR-Pass, Red+IR-Pass, UVIR-Block, BG, Dual UV+IR Bandpass and more.
  • Extension Tubes
    Typically I bring my Nikon PN-11 for use on the UV-Nikkor.
  • Focusing Helicoids
    I helicoids of 3 different lengths in Nikon F-mount for use with UV-capable enlarging lenses such as
    the Zeiss 60/4.0 UV-Planar or Nikon 80/5.6 EL-Nikkor.
Note to Self before Shooting
  • Make sure all ports, viewfinders, lens windows and whatnot are closed against Visible or IR contamination.
    It is quite amazing how many times I have lost that blasted D610 viewfinder cover and not realized it. I've taken to carrying spares which is, of course, the only sensible thing to do.
  • Review Presets.
    I have saved some basic Visible presets and UV presets in the D610's U1 and U2 banks. Under some shooting conditions, a little tweaking is needed. For example, when using a UV+Blue+Green filter, I like to shoot in Monochrome mode to better judge the exposure without the overload of Blue seen with other settings.
  • Set the Manual Lens Data
    On a D610, you must enter the focal length and speed (largest aperture) for any unchipped, manual focus lens. Almost all of my UV-capable lenses are unchipped and manual.
  • Set Mirror-Up Mode.
    The D6010 has a fairly tame shutter slap, but I don't take any chances and shoot mirror-up with the remote.
  • Cover Leaky Upper LCD
    Seems like such an odd location for light leaks. Tape around the LCD edges tends to get sticky in the hot sun, so I usually just use some foil or drape a washcloth over it.
Field Kit: Stuff
  • Spare batteries for camera, flash, torch.
  • Spare UV-pass and IR-blocking filter in case you step on one and total it.
  • Hex wrenches for tripod & ballhead adjustments.
  • Goggles for windy, dusty days so contact lenses don't go awry.
  • Small measuring tape to record flower sizes if needed.
  • Microfiber cloths for dust/pollen/raindrop removal from lens or filters.
  • Bug repellant against ticks/sand fleas/mosquitoes/black flies and other crawlies.
  • Sun block for skin and lips.
  • Sun hat.
Preliminary Photographs
  • Visible: Photograph Color Checker Passport under the UVIR-Block FIlter.
    • Shoot at the same angle/direction from which the flower photographs will be made.
    • Repeat whenever equipment or lighting changes during a shooting session.
  • UV: Photograph Reflective Standards or Target under the UV-Pass Filter.
    • Shoot at the same angle/direction from which the flower photographs will be made.
    • Repeat whenever equipment or lighting changes during a session.
  • Document the flower for identification purposes.
    • Flower: top, side, bottom. Sepals/phyllaries.
    • Leaves: top, bottom.
    • Stems. Branching. Habit and Habitat.
    • For a while I used a nice little Nikon Coolpix A for documentation because it made excellent raw files and is hand-holdable. It had a 28mm fixed lens and a nifty macro setting for close-ups.
Make the Photos
  • Review Note to Self above. It is amazing how many times I just start shooting without checking my settings. Geez.
Photo Mechanic: Naming and Sorting:
  • Create folder(s) for the session.
  • Ingest and name photos.
  • Toss out the blurred or badly exposed stuff.
  • Tag any file to be worked up for posting.
Photo Ninja: Conversion
  • Create WB Profile & Colour Profiles for the session.
  • Open file and apply those Profiles.
  • Set Black & White points by adjustment of Black/Shadows sliders and Illumination/Exposure sliders while making use of Highlights slider as needed.
  • Apply 10-15 units of Detail slider to get the fuzz off the basic photo.
  • Save as TIF.
  • Sharpening is postponed until the saved TIF is resized for posting.
I have a very minimalist approach to photo conversion and processing. But there are sometimes dust bunnies to clone out and sharpening to apply to the original file and any resized versions. Sometimes minor color tweaks must be made no matter how careful I am to measure WB and create color profiles. For documentary floral photos, I also sometimes simplify the backgrounds to be white or black. Occasionally I make depth-of-field stacks for better detail.
Andrea G. Blum
Often found hanging out with flowers & bees.

#2 Andrea B.

    Desert Dancer

  • Owner-Administrator
  • 9,115 posts
  • Location: UVP Western Division, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Posted 29 June 2021 - 23:37

For what it might be worth, I finished this thing. It only took me 8 years to get it done.
Andrea G. Blum
Often found hanging out with flowers & bees.