Finding a Way

A failed experiment that lead to new creative choices.

This image is the first shot that I’ve taken with my new ultraviolet-modified camera. The UV world doesn’t have as much to offer photographers as the infrared world, but I knew it was something I wanted to explore. Patterns appear in flowers, usually only visible to certain insects. With that in mind, I also want to attempt to use this camera for extra-spectrum landscape photography and astrophotography.

Yesterday, the forecast was set for perfectly clear skies all afternoon, so in the late morning I set out for a location over two hours from home, Duchesnay Falls in North Bay, Ontario. It’s a beautiful waterfall site with endless compositions for photographers. As I arrived, the sky was still completely overcast, and it stayed that way until the evening when I gave up and came home. I’m still confused as to how the weather forecast could have been so wrong, but I switched gears and looked for different subjects.

The base of this tree caught my eye, with the jagged rocks and roots adding texture to compliment the smooth flow of water through a narrow channel. There is a certain quality that the UV light lent to this frame, a certain crispness without being overly contrasty that I quite like. It gives the images a bit of a “film” feel, if that makes any sense.

This camera is a special weapon in my arsenal, but it will find a few valuable uses. It’s been modified to remove the filters that normally block UV light, and in its place is a UV-pass filter that only allows ultraviolet light through. This camera takes things a step further, however.

Most digital camera use a “colour filter array” or CFA for short, which allows certain pixels on the sensor to pick up red, others to pick up blue and the rest to pick up green. Software analyzes this information to create a colour photograph, which is now most DSLRs work. The CFA is not very helpful for UV work, as it too blocks this spectrum of light to some degree. Removing this filter means that the camera sensor can be up to six times more sensitive to UV light, with the caveat that it can only be used for black & white images. Colour images can still be created with the aid of a second image taken with another camera in visible light, which is what I’ll be experimenting with next.

The photographic adventure continues!

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