This was a fun and very challenging image to create, using some photographic techniques that are rarely employed, combined together to create something magical. This is a cross-view 3D image that requires you to cross your eyes to see properly. If you’re not familiar with the technique, spend five minutes training yourself: www.neilcreek.com/2008/02/28/how-to-see-3d-photos/ – the image cannot fill your field of view, nor can it be too small. Sit back from a large desktop monitor or bring a smartphone a little closer than you would otherwise!
This image is made with UV light. Firing at full strength, I have a flash modified first for full-spectrum photography (removing a UV-blocking filter) and then fitted with two special filters that work to allow only UV light through (A Hoya U-340 & a MidOpt BP365) taped in front of the flash head, the image would be mostly dark with the fainted hints of deep blue visible. The secret ingredient? Highlighter ink.
Specifically, Noodler’s Catfish Dragon Orange ink. A few drops of that carefully placed through a hypodermic needle (my accountants will raise an eyebrow at my business expenses), places this ink right as the edge of the center of a Gerbera Daisy. When the UV light hits the ink it fluoresces, producing a vibrant orange colour that appears to be the source of light in the frame. Because the light is only visible once it hits the ink, the tiny drops of ink effectively illuminate the scene.
This is the only time I’ve used my De Wijs 3D macro lens in a studio setting, and it isn’t easy. The tiny aperture of F/80 on the lens I have means that nothing is visible through the viewfinder unless I’m in bright light. I handheld this shot with the aid of a flashlight adding a small amount of additional light to the flower. The amount was not enough to have any effect on the overall exposure, but it was enough to help me dimly find focus. It wasn’t easy, and a few dozen shots were taken before I was able to get the focus set perfectly.
It really is an amazing (and incredibly challenging) lens. If you’d like to explore 3D macro photography, in my opinion there is only one place to look. A small outfit located in The Netherlands that makes these lenses by hand, deWijs, and sadly they no longer manufacture them. The barrier to entry here is quite high – but if you can find one of these lenses I recommend giving it a shot… if you enjoy a challenge!
This image combines many levels of “inventive” photography: 3D, Macro, UV Fluorescence, and staged studio shooting. I’m really happy with how this turned out.