Watch the Video on YouTube – Shooting Fluorescent Flowers Under Ultraviolet Light
Before you get started, you may wish to read our Introduction to UV fluorescent photography, a breakdown all about UV photography.
When it comes to choosing a subject for ultraviolet induced visible fluorescence photography (UVIVF), fluorescent flowers are a pretty good starting point. Most living things have some degree of UV fluorescence, but fluorescent flowers are by far the most common subjects.
Due to the varied chemical makeup of petals, leaves and pollen – a huge amount of variation can be seen when shooting even the most boring looking flower. Under UV light, the world can look completely different. Flowers are no exception to the rule. We have gathered some of the before/after images from our recent shoot for you to scroll though. Also look out for some tips on how to get the most out of your fluorescent flowers!
Grab the slider on the images below to see the before and after shots of the UV light.
We wanted to demonstrate how interesting a common flower can be under UV light. Lilies make a great test subject. We got a few from a local flower store, making sure to get some with a variety of colours. You never know how a new subject is going to fluoresce, so the more options the better!
You can shoot UV fluorescence flower photographs with the same composition and focus as you would do with any other flower shot. If you already have a flower photography setup, use it! Move your usual setup into a dark space, change your lighting for some UV Lighting arms, and take a long exposure!
The only difference you might need is an extra tripod. As with any long exposure, it is important to keep the camera steady to avoid camera shake and blur.
In a dark room with a long exposure your flowers are going to glow in amazing new ways. For most of the shots in this article we were shooting at 30s, ISO 250 and f8. It’s important to keep the ISO down in particular to avoid too much grain. The longer your exposure, the more grain you are going to pick up if your ISO is too high!
Don’t be afraid to get in close and capture even more amazing details under the UV light too. A macro lens can be an amazing tool for shooting UV fluorescent flowers. We were shooting with a telephoto for most of the shots on this page. However, the shot below we used a reversed 24mm lens to get close to the details on the petals.
Super Fluorescent Flowers
Even the most fluorescent flowers in the world don’t glow as much as say, tonic water or the dye in a highlighter pen. If you are struggling to capture the faint glow of your flowers, there is a way to give them a helping hand. The results can be unpredictable and irreversible though. Only try this if you are sure your flower is not going to glow on it’s own. After all, you cant take water dye out of a flower!
Flowers will actually absorb dye through the water they take in. You can try adding highlighter dye to the water the flowers are sat in and after a day or so, it should show up in the petals. You can also try sitting the flowers in tonic water!
We prefer to capture the natural glow of the flowers, but if you want truly fluorescent flowers, this is a good way to do it!
If you have enjoyed the before and after shots on this page, make sure to check out our introduction to UV fluorescence photography to get an idea of how we did it using our UV Lighting Arms. We have lots more tutorials and UV photography subjects and inspiration to come, so remember to subscribe to our YouTube channel!