Sunshine from Within

Wandering through the grocery store, I spotted a potted variety of Ornithogalum dubium, also known as a Sun Star or a Star of Bethlehem flower. Having found a cut stem of this previously, I knew it was a solid performer for UV fluorescence – and I was right. View large and read on!

This cultivar must have been slightly different from the one I found in the flower shop, presenting itself with much softer yellow and orange tones. Usually my fluorescence work packs a punch in both contrast and colour, but I’m really enjoying the smoother and softer colour palette that these flowers produce when hit with a massive amount of UV light.

This was also another test shot done with the Panasonic Lumix GX9 – one that I’m glad I pushed the limits for. Shot at F/16 and ISO 200, I needed a LOT of ultraviolet light to hit the flowers. A 25 second exposure was chosen, and I used four UV flashes at point blank range firing off repeatedly as soon as they would fully recycle. In addition, I had a continuous UV light source that was light painting from above – a high-intensity discharge UV flashlight that looks like a dumbbell of sorts. The lower ISO really helped create a clean image, and I didn’t notice any quality loss from diffraction at a small aperture on a small sensor here. I’d consider this a successful test! For a just-under-$1000 camera, it can give some great results in the hands of a photographer that knows their craft. I suppose that can be said of EVERY camera, though. 🙂 It’s my new favourite travel camera: www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1391011-REG/panasonic_dc_g…

With the intensity of the UV light source being so extreme, if any visible light sneaks through the UV-only filters, it can contaminate the image. It may have come from the flashlight that uses a slightly different filter set, but there is a reddish-magenta colour on some of the petals and stems that is indicative of a visible light bleed. Many UV-only filters will bleed a little on the red side or a little on the purple side, and I’ve found that pairing the Hoya U-340 filter with a MidOpt BP365 filter is a great way to cut off this visible light and get the best quality UV image. That filter combination also allows infrared light through, which is blocked by the camera – but they can serve double duty if you ever find yourself in need of an infrared flash for reason.

These flowers are in the same family of plants as asparagus. I’ve already started some asparagus seedlings to be planted in our garden later this year and I plan on letting them go to flower. Wouldn’t it be fun if the entire family of plants glowed? Many more experiments to come as the weather warms up!

Also, if you’re not listening to my podcast Photo Geek Weekly, you should really give it a listen! photogeekweekly.com/

click image for larger version