• Ultraviolet Photography

[UV] The Early Days

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#1 nfoto

    Former Fierce Bear of the North

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Posted 02 April 2020 - 21:54

I commenced UV photography nearly twenty years later than I did IR. The first attempts towards the end of the '80s were triggered by my reading a passage on UV "signatures" of plants written by a Swedish nature photographer, Ingmar Holmåsen. He was experimenting with a Hasselblad and had a UV-Sonnar (on loan, presumably) from the Hasselblad factory, which was located in Sweden at that time. He showed some rather mundane b/w comparison shots which held no visual interest -- except they were of a Potentilla erecta and thus exhibited very visible dark basal patches on the petals. I became curious whether several, or even all, flowers had similar "patterns", so scoured available literature that didn't came up with much. A little later I had by some truly unbelievable stroke of luck managed to buy a brand-new UV-Nikkor for a very favourable price. Actually it was a complete UV kit with UV-Nikkor 105, the flip-down AF-1 fiilter holder, the factory FF "UV" filter (roughly equivalent to Wratten 18B) plus its dedicated UR-2 retaining ring, and the SB-140 flash.

Professional and domestic issues interfered almost immediately after I got the kit, (for reasons entirely unrelated to the purchase, I'd like to add), thus I could not start exploring the UV domain until a few years later. The first season I think was in mid '90s and towards the end of the '90s I thought I had mastered the basic technique. On film, of course, which was either Fuji RT- 64 tungsten film, Ilford XP-1/XP-2 negative (for C-41 process), or EIR. The use of the latter film immediately taught me that the Nikon FF filter did leak a lot of IR and shouldn't be used with this film unless I wanted to shoot colour IR, not UV.

Anyway, I explored a lot of various flowers in those early days and quickly observed that many species in the Rose Family Roseaceae had beautiful renditions in UV. This, and the fact that few other photographers were into UV back then, made for some economically very successful images.

This pair of Vis/UV captures of Silverweed Potentilla anserina still sells and earns me good money.

Attached Image: D990618915.jpg

Attached Image: D990618923.jpg

They were captured by the UV-Nikkor on my erstwhile workhorse, Nikon F5, using Fuji RT film and just ever so small fill-in by SB-140.