• Ultraviolet Photography

UV - The early Days 2

3 replies to this topic

#1 Adrian


  • Members+G
  • 199 posts
  • Location: Ashtead, Surrey, UK

Posted 07 April 2020 - 08:25

Following Birna's post about early experiments with UV, I thought I would add some of my own.

I first started getting interested seriously in UV photography in the 1980’s, when I worked in a hospital photographic department, and they were using UVR to see if it could be used as an early detection system for melanomas.

I then started reading about floral UV signatures, and, as a nature photographer, thought I would try it, ending with an MSc in 1994 with the highly pretentious title:
“An Examination of Photographic Techniques for the Production of Trichromatic Images of Plants Representing Insect Spectral Sensitivity”

This was of course pre-digital, so I ended up using two extremely cumbersome techniques:

1. Photograph a flower/plant in UV (monochrome film) then the same flower with the same camera/lens (normal coated 105mm micro Nikkor lens so requiring many multiple flashes. Kodak Wood’s Glass 18A filter) with colour negative film, using Kodak Wratten colour separation filters to get the red and green components. I then printed these in register in a colour darkroom onto colour paper in total darkness! Each image took a whole morning if you were lucky! The results were, to say the least, poor!

2. Photograph as above, using colour transparency rather than colour negative film. Make a B/W transparency from the monochrome image, then project the three images using three aligned Kodak Carousel projectors, and photograph the final projected image. Again, the results were very por, but did give a glimpse as what might be happening!

I even made my own grey scale using varying amounts of carbon black and magnesium oxide.

I was doing something right as I did achieve the MSc., but it does look very poor now looking at the images again! I have included a couple of the monochrome images from the time, shot on Ilford FP4 from around 1990

Attached Images

  • Attached Image: MM film.jpg
  • Attached Image: Sarracenia film.jpg

Adrian Davies

#2 Bernard Foot

    Bernard Foot

  • Members+G
  • 722 posts
  • Location: UK

Posted 07 April 2020 - 08:35

There's dedication for you! If ultravioletphotography.com had been around them, I guess there would not have been many members.
Bernard Foot

#3 Andrea B.

    Desert Dancer

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

Posted 07 April 2020 - 16:54

Adrian, it is good to learn that you were one of the early UV floral signature pioneers as well as early user of "home made" standards with carbon black & MgO. :cool:

I've always wanted to collect info about those like you, Birna and Dr. Klaus who were early reflected UV photographers. Maybe I could add a short "history" post here on UVP. Granted, there have been scientific papers featuring UV photos which date to very far back. But those who are more oriented around the practice of photography are the ones I enjoy learning about.
Andrea G. Blum
Often found hanging out with flowers & bees.

#4 Adrian


  • Members+G
  • 199 posts
  • Location: Ashtead, Surrey, UK

Posted 09 April 2020 - 10:59

I should have added that after my MSc I left UV photography for some time to learn and teach digital photography (I co-wrote one of the first text books on "Electronic Imaging" in 1994), but returned to it when I found Birna's fantastic web site of UV flowers and kit! I didn't quite manage the removal of coatings from lenses!
Adrian Davies