One of the areas I have been wanting to do some work with for some time now, is with lighting that falls outside the conventional lighting spectrum for photography, namely Ultra Violet (UV) & Infra Red (IR). I still have to really dip my toe into the area of IR but have made a start with UV which I am sharing with you here.
The thing to remember about UV light is that this light source itself isn’t actually visible to the human, being a shorter wave length than we can see, that is why it is sometimes referred to as “Black Light”. Instead what happens is that human eye sees the illumination or more accurately the florencence of objects that are reactive to UV light. There is I am sure a much more detailed explanation of this on the net if you want to know the exact chemistry, but for the purpose of simplicity items that react with UV are usually either bright neon colours or things that glow in the dark.
When planning a photoshoot with this lighting in mind I think it is worth testing each of the items that you plan to use, as not only do some items appear brighter that others, they can also appear a very different colour to the one you will see in day light. So the next thing you will need to consider is your UV light source there is some larger equipment available like large strip lights and a UV Cannon used for discos, but so far I have only worked with smaller UV bulbs but in large numbers to get enough power out to illuminate a large part of my studio.
I personally think a good place to start is with a couple of low energy UV bulbs and see this lighting effect for yourselves as I first did here:
If you are anything like me you will want to get a better idea of how items can come together for your shoot a mannequin is very useful for all aspects of photography and no more so than here adorned with neon wig and sun glasses :
In this above test shot you will see behind the mannequin I have used a continuous lighting unit with the daylight bulbs swapped out for UV bulbs, and this appears to be a reasonable light source although one is certainly not enough so the front light source for this test shot was my “beauty board ” again with a bulb exchange from daylight to UV as shown here:
As you can see there are 12 bulbs in the board and a further 6 in the dish and this probably still isn’t enough for a studio shoot, but I do think it is a very good set-up and in my case utilizes existing equipment very well.
This is also going to be one of those shoots where you need to consider your camera equipment as it may well be that expensive cameras and lens aren’t the best for this work. I am still looking further into this before offering up this theme as one of my studio workshops. For instance the test shot above was taken on a iPhone which is free of expensive glass lenses and filters and captured thing reasonably well.
All my images (below) are shot with a Hasselblad H1 with a Phase One digital back at 400 ISO and certainly give me greater quality as you would expect over the iPhone, but so far anything shot with a Canon DSRL has been very disappointing.and this would appear to be an issue with the lens more than the camera. The important thing is to remove any UV filter you may have on your lens to protect them. But even with these removed there appears to be further UV coating within the lenses themselves suggesting that older or less expensive lenses would be more useful for this type of work.
Below are some images from my UV shoot with my model Mickey (Anders) that I think will inspire you to to give this a go for yourselves:
The above images all had help with make up and styling from Natalie Creatives and I would strongly recommend working with a good MUA and also a model capable of holding a pose for what will be longer shutter speeds than you would normal have with a conventional studio set up.
All the above shots where taken at F2.8 – 3.5 with a slow shutter speed of between 1/25 – 1/6 sec at ISO 400 or in the case of the bubbles ISO 800 to get enough shutter speed to capture the bubbles. There will be further work done using UV and I will up date this blog with further advise once this has been done, but don’t wait for me to do this ….. get creative now, half the fun is in working in unknown and you already have a better start than i had by reading this blog.