Projector Photography involves projecting patterns, shapes, textures, or photos onto objects, people, and/or landscapes to create interesting effects and accentuate form.
The DLP projector I am currently using is the portable / / .
Specs:The Ideal Max Lumens (DC) 800 900 1200 1000+ Max Lumens (Battery) 400 500 500 1000+ Native Resolution 720p 720p 1080p 1080p+ Contrast Ratio 1:2,000 1:2,000 1:2,000 Black pixels w/ no illumination
The Aaxa M4/M5 has the and is more pronounced when projecting images onto surfaces that are further away from the projector. The screen-door effect can be reduced by slightly defocusing the focus ring on the projector. The screen-door effect is not as noticeable on the M6 because of the 1080p native resolution.
The screen-door effect is more noticeable when viewing the image at 1:1, as shown above. The screen-door effect looks like little lines of un-illuminated space between each pixel, like a screen-door.
These Aaxa projectors have the and do not have the best :
The image on the left demonstrates the 1:2000 contrast ratio, meaning that black pixels still project out light that can be seen (see the faint rectangle?). The image on the right demonstrates the rainbow effect and is a 1.6 second light painting long exposure of the same circle shape being projected as the image on the left, with the only difference being that I moved the projector back and forth to create light trails throughout the 1.6 seconds. As you can see, the circle does not render as white when moving the projector around, because the projector rapidly shifts between projecting red, green, and blue. In order for the projection to render with no rainbow effect, you will need to use a shutter speed of 1/80th or slower and make sure that the projector or whatever comes into contact with the light is not moving at a fast pace. You could also use a LCoS projector instead of a DLP projector. The projector was roughly 2 meters away from the rock.
With all that being said, you can do some pretty cool stuff with this projector. Here are some ideas:
Projecting patterns onto humans, landscapes, flora, and objects all work well.
Projector camera right, roughly 5 meters away from the tree base. See a previous image in this article to see how the screen-door effect is noticeable when this image is zoomed in at 1:1.
Notice how the 1:2000 contrast ratio is not noticeable in this photo - the projected blacks are not noticeable/illuminated. This is because this picture was taken just before night time, where there is enough atmospheric ambient light to over-power the black pixels of the projected light.
The screen-door effect can be significantly reduced when placing the projector extremely close to surfaces. No screen-door effect is noticeable even when viewing the image zoomed in at 1:1, although you may notice a tiny bit of chromatic aberration.
Concentric circles being projected onto tree branches. For tree branches in particular, placing the projector as close as possible to the camera will produce the cleanest, in-tact projection. The further the projector moves away from the camera, the more difficult it will be to identify what you are projecting and the image being projected will just appear to be a jumbled mess of light due to the chaotic complexity of the tree branches.
The projector can be used to light up your scene with psychedelic colors.
The sharpest lines able to be projected are horizontal and vertical lines. Diagonal lines can be projected, however you may see some pixelation. The screen-door effect is apparent when projecting horizontal, vertical, or diagonal lines. The screen-door effect is not noticeable in this image because the projector was close enough to the model. One projector aimed at his back, the other at his front.
Again, placing the projector as close as possible to surfaces will create the cleanest projection. This photo was taken with a shutter speed shorter than 1/80th, and thus the white grid looks red and green due to the rainbow effect.
Projecting half-tone patterns works particularly well, as half-tone patterns use geometric patterns to transition from light to dark.
Another half-tone pattern.
This is an image of a projector pointing directly at the camera. A was being projected through fog created by a fog machine. ISO 3200 / F2.8 / 1/60sec / 24mm. .
Same thing as above, except the projector is behind me pointing at the camera, projecting a star field space photo through fog. On-camera flash was used for fill light.
A spiral was projected onto a wall/background, creating a silhouette of the model, who was standing in front of the projector. You can see pixelation in this image due to the low resolution image that was used - remember that pixelation can be reduced by defocusing the focus ring on the projector, and can come out quite well with bold, simple patterns such as hypnosis spirals.
You can turn on Live View mode when using a DSLR or video camera and then plug it into an input port on the projector to project out what the DSLR sees... this basically means that you can project an image of what is already there onto what is already there, and then take a picture of it. You may need to use two DSLRs to do this though, as the DSLR you plug into the projector may not be able to take pictures and be in Live View at the same time.
Keystoning is a feature the projector has where it can shift the perspective of the projection so it appears correct from the projector's point of view (vertical correction only). This picture was created by placing the projector onto a tripod, aiming it downward roughly 35 degrees or so, projecting out a symbol onto cement and tracing it with chalk at dusk. Then when in daylight, I put my camera where the projector was and took a picture. As you can see, it appears to be a perfect circle even though it is on a surface that is stretching out towards the vanishing point. The second image you see on the right is the same thing, just shot at a different angle, and thus looks distorted from that point of view. This technique can be taken much further to create realistic optical illusions - painting the cement to make it look like the asphalt has collapsed and there is a hole in the ground, for example.
Gradient tiles being projected onto a garden. Note that this is not the same thing as going into Adobe Photoshop and placing the same gradient over an image - when a projector is used, real photons are hitting the physical 3D surface of the object you are photographing and taking its shape/form. The projection will cast shadows as well (depending on what you are photographing and what angle the projector is at), whereas Photoshop will not do that. Different material absorbs/reflects different wavelengths of light at different rates as well, which is another thing that is impossible for Photoshop to emulate.
, taken from my projector images pack (which I'll talk about later), was projected onto the floor to give it a retrowave vibe.
Other Techniques and Ideas:
You can hook the projector up to a laptop (or tablet/phone) and use Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator (or whatever else), live, in real-time, to draw light onto surfaces with maximum precision. You can do the same thing using as well. Just hit the F key twice to enter Full Screen Mode when you are in Adobe programs.
You can project a pattern onto a model, and have the model move around to create an interesting long exposure light painting abstract. You can also project a video of a moving pattern onto a model or anything else, and have them move around (or not) to create another type of long exposure light painting. Here is a .
You can take a long exposure image of a person walking in front of the projector a few meters away, walking from the left side of the projection to the right side of the projection while projecting a video where a white scan-line starts at the top row of pixels, slowly slides downward, and ends up at the bottom row of pixels. This is known as slit-scan photography. More information about this specific technique will be in the image pack.
You can use the projector as a light painting device for long exposures, being able to project any shape or color of light onto any surface, and be able to change the color of the light as it is moving at any speed.
There are projectors out there that are brighter and higher res than the portable Aaxa projectors, however they are larger, heavier, more expensive, and do not come with an on-board battery. Here is a that are 'better' than the M5 that I could find during my research in 2016. As far as I know right now, LCoS/SXRD technology (as opposed to DLP or LCD) reduces screen-door effect and eliminates rainbow effect, and using lasers instead of LEDs as the light source also reduces screen-door effect and requires no focus ring; comment below if you have anything to add regarding this.
There are available as well but they are not as bright.
A is a physical stencil or template slotted inside, or placed in front of, a lighting source, used to control the shape of emitted light. You can make the shadows of the projection sharper by making the lightsource smaller in relation to the gobo stencil, use non-diffused light sources, and/or increase the distance of the gobo from the light source. Miniature krypton light bulbs that are used in Maglites can produce extremely sharp shadows because the light source is so small. Non-diffused tungsten light bulbs can also be used and create decently sharp shadows.
The is a type of gobo/light combo system that converts your portable speedlight flash into a slide projector. I prefer the Aaxa projectors because of the unlimited amount of patterns and sizes of projections that can be projected, however a speedlight would be better if you wanted to capture highspeed images of say fog or rain, where you could see each individual particle very clearly with no motion blur.
Other than that, I have not looked into other projectors that could be used. If you have any specific recommendations for something you feel is better than the M5, feel free to leave the name of the projector down below in the comments and a reason or two of why it is good/better.
I've created an image pack which contains hundreds of images/videos that can be used with the Aaxa M4 projector (or any projector, really). The image pack contains a variety of shapes, colors, patterns, half-tone patterns, slit-scans, and videos, all organized in their appropriate folders with the filenames titled for ease-of-use.
After downloading the image pack, simply extract the folder onto a micro SD card or USB stick, put that in your projector, and you now have hundreds of images to work with! Boom done!
The Projector Photography Image Pack should be able to be purchased here within the next few months.
To get notified when the image pack is released, .
: Broad over-view of projector types. Reviews all of the vocabulary involved in the second half of the article.
is a projection photographer who has explored in-depth photographing nude women, and has a very good available that showcases many many photographs.
And that is that! The bottom line is, you can use this projector for all kinds of stuff! It has many applications for photography and something that could be a great addition to your kit! Hopefully the technology will improve with time as well, and some of the features I listed out will be a reality someday.
If we take a look at the electromagnetic spectrum, we can see that visible light is only a small part of it. Our eyes can only see/detect/sense visible light, however there exists a much wider range of light, including ultraviolet light and infrared light which are invisible to the naked eye and cannot be detected directly.
Ultraviolet light has a shorter wavelength compared to visible light, while infrared light has a longer wavelength compared to visible light. The wavelength of any given category of light is physically very small, so the common unit of measurement used is nanometers, or nm for short.
In my own terms, Fluorescence refers to the phenomenon that occurs when you shine light of a particular wavelength onto a material object which absorbs part of that energy inward but then re-emits part of it back outward. The wavelength that is emitted outward will always be longer than or equal to what was originally shined onto it. All material contains different properties that fluoresce differently than the next (some brighter, some different colors, etc). For instance:
If I shine a UV light onto a wall that has a certain type of white paint on it, the white paint will reflect almost nothing back outward towards me in the visible range that I can see.
If I take the exact same UV light and shine it onto an a white piece of paper, however, I will see a very bright blue spot on that piece of paper reflecting back at me, because it is a different material containing different properties than the white paint.
If I take the exact same UV light and shine it onto a different type of material that also appears white under the same lighting conditions as in the previous two examples (lets say sunlight), depending on the properties of that material, it could fluoresce a different color when exposed exclusively to UV light, so long as it is a longer wavelength (ex. the material might appear more purple or more yellow compared to the other types of material previously mentioned), with the brightness also varying from the previous two examples. Many things that appear pink in visible light will fluoresce pink, however Pink holi powder, for instance, fluoresces orange/gold when exposed to UV light. Certain types of plastic that appear black under visible light appear orange when under UV light.
The only difference between the three examples mentioned above is the different type of material. All material will look different than it does in visible light when exposed exclusively to UV light. The material can appear to be a different color than it normally does under visible light or appear more or less bright than how it normally would in visible light. How much energy the light looses is determined by the material's . Different material Has different stoke shift amounts.
The plant above has some leafs with trichromes (hairs) that fluoresce very brightly when exposed to ultraviolet radiation. No UV dyes were applied to the trichromes, they fluoresce that way in their natural state.
Leafs with a pink holi powder on them fluoresces orange/gold.
Yes, some bright neon material fluoresces very brightly, and that is what most people think of when they think of the word fluorescence. However, given enough exposure time, ISO sensitivity, and aperture size, you can photograph any material and view it properly exposed. Paper and white cotton, for instance, fluoresces very brightly, so a shorter exposure would be used. Dirt and leafs, however, usually do not emit out as much visible light, so you need either a brighter light or a longer exposure time to capture a proper exposure of that material.
Leaf on grass.
Remember that you cannot see true UV light directly (it is invisible to humans), you can only see the byproduct of UV, which is visible florescence. You also don't need to use UV light in order to observe fluorescence, although because UV lies just outside visible light, it is the most commonly used light source to demonstrate fluorescent effects. You can have visible-induced infrared fluorescence (which, the only way to observe that would be to use an infrared camera that can record infrared light), or blue-induced green fluorescence, for example (the latter is actually what a lot of divers use when photographing marine life underwater). Both are possible because you are simply taking a shorter waveform light and converting it to a longer waveform light after it hits an object.
Visible Light is the category of electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths between 400 and 700nm. The common sub-categories of visible light are Red (620-750nm), Orange (590-620nm), Yellow (570-590nm), Green (495-570nm), Blue (450-495nm), and Violet (380-450nm).
After violet, we now exit the visible light category and enter the Ultraviolet category, which is electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths between 10nm and 400nm. The common sub-categories of ultraviolet light are UV-A/longwave (315-400nm), UV-B/midwave (280-315nm), and UV-C/shortwave (100-280nm). There is also "Extreme Ultraviolet" (10-121nm), however I will not be discussing that. All UV categories generate different fluorescent effects depending on the material you are shining it on.
UV-A (315-400nm): The type of ultraviolet light I'll mostly be focusing on in this particular article is UV-A, which is closest to visible light on the electromagnetic spectrum and is the most popular and is the safest UV light to use. Over-exposure to too much UV-A radiation (whether it be short-term or long-term/cumulative) can damage your eyes (especially when looking directly at the light source) and age your skin. UV-A damage is cumulative, meaning you may only see the skin aging later in life. 95% of UV-A from the sun gets past the Earth's atmosphere.
I've found that most UV-A emitting light sources are advertised to peak at 365nm, 368nm, 385nm, 395nm-405nm. Lights advertised to be peaked at 395nm-405nm will most likely emit a lot of visible violet light that will overpower any fluorescent effect you would get from a filtered 365nm peaked light. I would only ever want to use a 395nm light if I was photographing very bright neon material, and even then I would still prefer 365nm.
UV-B (280-315nm): As we continue to shorten the wavelength, rays penetrate the surfaces of material less, but can cause more damage. UV-B is known for causing sunburn and can also damage your eyes. 5% of UV-B from the sun gets past Earth's atmosphere. Most standard UV-B light sources are advertised to peak at 302nm, 312nm, or 315nm.
UV-C (100-280nm): UV-C is commonly used to kills micro-organisms, and being near any UV-C light source will damage your eyes, skin, and DNA much faster than UV-B or UV-A if you don't wear protective clothing to cover all exposed skin and eyes. Using UV-C is dangerous. The unique visual effect that can be obtained with UV-C is that it will turn transparent glass and mirrors into a solid opaque gold color. UV-C is also useful when photographing , as many minerals are much more responsive to UV-C than UV-A or UV-B. 0% of UV-C gets past Earth's atmosphere. Most standard UV-C light sources I've found are advertised to be peaked at 254nm. Below is a photograph taken using shortwave UV-C light.
Mirror and sink taken with UV-C light roughly 1-1.5 meter away - f7.1 / 20sec / ISO400
Extreme Ultraviolet (10-121nm): I don't know if there are any purchasable light sources available that emit extreme ultraviolet, what the visual effects would be, and what safety precautions would need to be in place when using them. Air absorbs extreme UV, so you would have to photograph everything inside a vacuum. If anyone wants to take UVIVF photography to the next level and show us EXTREME Ultraviolet fluorescence, leave a comment and show us! I have not found any examples of extreme UV induced visible fluorescence anywhere online. I do not know for certain if it would even generate visible fluorescent effects considering how short the wavelengths are.
If you want to capture a true ultraviolet-induced visible florescence photograph (per definition) using any camera, you will need to follow every one of these steps:
1. Eliminate all visible ambient light that may be shining onto the object being photographed.
This means that you will need to take pictures in a dark room with no lights on (except your UV light source, of course). If you are taking shots outside, take them at night, ideally without any moonlight, as moonlight emits visible light which can show up in your photo if your camera settings are set to to a sensitive enough setting.
2. Make sure your light source is emitting true UV-only light.
Most cheap blacklights you can find at some store emit some UV-A light and visible violet light. You need to eliminate any visible light in order for your photo to be a true UVIVF photo, per definition - I'll talk about how to do this later in this article.
3. Eliminate any UV or IR light from being recorded onto the camera's sensor.
Remember, your eyes cannot see UV or IR light, only visible light, which is the only type of light we want recorded on the camera's sensor. Your camera sensor, however, can detect/see/record UV, Visible, and Infrared light. Many cameras already have a rectangular UV/IR cut filter directly in front of the camera's sensor that significantly reduces the amount of UV/IR light transmission, however the amount varies from camera to camera, so in order to guarantee visible-only recorded images, you will need to place a UV/IR cut filter onto your lens.
With that being said, I personally don't follow these rules strictly.
I break rule 1 if my UV flashlight is powerful enough to over-power the moonlight; if it is, I take photos under the moon after taking a test shot with no UV light just to see how much moonlight is showing up in the exposure. If after taking a test shot I can see anything appear in the exposure, I know that is visible light coming from the moon, so I will shorten the shutter speed, close the aperture, and/or lower the ISO number then take another test shot until I can no longer see any moonlight show up in the exposure.
I break rule 2 when I want to add in other forms of light (usually visible light) to create a more interesting-looking image. You can still take images with popular blacklights that emit both ultraviolet and visible violet, there is nothing better or worse about doing this, it just doesn't qualify to be a true UVIVF photograph per definition. You can still see interesting fluorescent effects even when violet light is present and it can sometimes look even more aesthetically pleasing than a pure UVIVF photo, it just depends on what you want to do. Having a UV-only light source, however, will usually give you the most contrasty fluorescent effects possible.
I break rule 3 because the UV/IR cut filter that is already pre-installed in front of my camera's sensor seems to do a good job at blocking out most UV/IR frequencies, and am personally satisfied with the results. I'd also break this rule if I wanted to experiment with recording UV and IR light onto the sensor. UV LEDs made by Nichia do not emit IR light, so you don't have to worry about filtering out IR from your lens or at the light source itself when using them like you do with other lights.
"What camera and camera settings need to be used?"
You can use any camera you want to take a UVIVF photo. Cellphone, SLR, DSLR, GoPro, pocket camera, whatever. I use DSLRs because I can change lenses and can change the aperture, shutter speed, ISO, focus, and White Balance to anything I want. Using Manual Mode on your DSLR would probably be the most ideal mode to be in for UVIVF photography. For the white balance, that is up to you. I personally usually set it to Daylight/5,000k (this will give you photos that have a blue cast to them, which is one standard to use) or the warmest possible setting, which is 10,000k on my Nikon D810 DSLR (this will remove more of the overall blue overcast to the image and tends to maximize color diversity and is usually what I use). Shade also works fine.
I'd recommend shooting in RAW format so you can post-process the images without degrading the images as quickly, and to be able to change the white balance to anything you want (you can even change it above 10,000k). You could also make the argument that having a camera with good low-light capability would be ideal, because UV light sources tend to not be very bright at all, so you tend to be using high ISO numbers; the Nikon D5 would probably be the best option available that would produce very high quality images when raising the ISO number to greater numbers.
Here are two photographs showing two different white balance standards I use. The top image has a warmer custom white balance (10,000K), while the bottom image has the white balance set to Daylight (5,000K). I believe this photograph was shot using an SB-140 flash with its included UV filter, which does emit some violet light. Can you spot the two snails in the image?
WARNING: Short-term/long-term overexposure to ultraviolet radiation can contribute to causing sunburn, health problems, skin cancer, premature aging of the skin, eye damage, DNA damage, immune system suppression, etc. As a photographer, your eyes are very important, you don't want to damage them, shorten their lifespan, or get cataracts, so always wear proper eye protection whenever using UV lights. You also have to mindful of the things you photograph. Never look directly into a UV light source without proper eye protection and never shine a UV light into another person's eyes directly.
Some prescription glasses and contact lenses you may already be wearing may be advertised to block UV-A and UV-B, but I've found that for many glasses and contacts, the percentage of UV blocked usually isn't that much, light can still get through the sides, and if wearing contact lenses, light can still hit the white part of the eye.
The best solution for eye protection would be to wear UV Blocking , , or a that blocks 99%+ of UVA, UVB, and UVC rays. I like goggles the most because you don't have to worry about them falling off, they fit over prescription glasses, and light cannot enter in through the sides, so you are totally protected. I use the UVP face shield when working with UVB or UVC rays.
You can also get a cheap pair of that block blue+violet visible light (which can also be as well, believe it or not), in addition to UVA/B/C, and I recommend everyone wearing these after sundown to , however when photographing things, you may prefer to see in full color when taking shots at night, and in that case, the goggles by would be the best possible solution. The orange glasses fluoresce/glow bright orange when UV light is shined directly onto them.
If you want to test any safety glasses or goggles you may already have to see if they block UV rays, you can take a UV LED light source (or any other light source you are using, so long as it exclusively emits UV light and no visible light) and place it directly up to the glasses and turn it on. If you can see anything illuminate out the other side, then that means that material is fluorescing. Fluorescence would only be happening if UV light is passing through the glasses before hitting the object. If the material you are aiming the light at is fluorescing very dimly, then that means that the glasses are blocking most of the UV rays and its up to you if you want to use them or not. If nothing comes out the other side, then awesome, that means your glasses are doing a very good job at blocking ultraviolet light/radiation/photons/rays/waves/energy.
Pants and long sleeves are ideal when using UV LEDs or flashes. For extra protection, you can use . You could use in addition to gloves for even more protection.
is the best kind of sunblock for protecting against UV-A and UV-B rays and I would apply it to any model if you will be shining UV-A lights directly on them repeatedly over an extended period of time (I would never use UV-B or UV-C on a model). Any exposed skin (including eye lids and ) should have sunscreen applied. Application of sunscreen to the upper and lower eyelids and eye rim is complicated by trying to avoid inadvertently rubbing it into the eye, so you may prefer to have your model wear safety glasses instead or limit the amount of shots taken. You can use on the scalp instead of lotion if you want a cleaner look, as lotion does not mix well with hair. Take shots with their eyes either closed or with a protective UV-Blocking material over their eyes.
If using UV-B or UV-C light sources, all exposed skin is required to be completely covered with dense/thick material, including your hands, neck, feet, face, arms, legs, etc. - everything. I personally wear shoes, gloves, the LEAGY head balaclava, a beanie, and pants/sweatshirt/scarf (basically two layers of clothing for upper and lower body) and a UVP Face Shield that blocks UVA, UVB, and UVC rays when working with UVB or UVC rays. Do not use UVB or UVC when around pets or other people that may look at the light or be near it without wearing proper skin and eye protection.
is a supplement you can take orally that is said to increase the immunity of the negative effects associated with UV exposure (skin aging, etc). If you want an extra kick of UV protection, take one everyday for 2 weeks for it to first build up in your system. I would not recommend using Astaxanthin as a replacement to the other types of protection, only as an additional form of protection, although you can do what you want. This talks more about supplements used for UV-damage immunity.
Okay, now that safety is out of the way, I'm now going to share different types of ultraviolet light sources with you here. Some UV light sources on this page can roughly emit at least twice as much UV radiation that you would receive from continuous direct sunlight. Flashes blast out even more than that, but the exposure time lasts only a fraction of a second.
The - that can be found in hardware stores don't emit any usable amount of UV, they basically are just violet light bulbs and are not at all useful for UVIVF photography.
The common s that are next to the tungsten ones emit some UV-A and some violet light, meaning you can actually see some mild fluorescent glow effects from these. An even better solution, however, is a for , which is brighter and has a better ratio of ultraviolet:violet when compared to the screw-in bulb - this isn't a bad solution if you are looking for a cheap blacklight. They also make a 48" version.
Next up is the idea of inexpensive UV LEDs, which have the most potential. Right now, a high quality UV LED is probably going to cost you more than 0. UV LED torches that cost -0 are usually peaked at 395nm and emit a lot of violet light. The peak wavelength specifications of these UV LEDs that are being sold on eBay, Amazon, and other sites for -0 are often unreliable. LEDs specified/advertised as "365nm" or just as a "UV LED" often emit a large amount of visible light, and some even act similarly to the tungsten lightbulb by GE (ie. emit no useful amount of UV). The ones advertised to be peaked at 365nm (specifically ones made by Nichia) are the ones you want to go after and are probably going to be 0 or more. I'll talk about those in a bit.
That's all I have to say about the common everyday black-lights. The bottom line is that these lights can be used to get decent results if you are photographing material that fluoresces very brightly, specifically the one by American DJ. However, if you are photographing material that does not fluoresce very bright, or want to eliminate the violet light completely, you need a true, high quality UV light source that emits no visible violet light. Read below if that is you.
Portable speedlights are my favorite - you can literally mount one on top your camera, go outside at night hand-holding your camera with the shutter speed set to 1/250th of a second, and take pictures of all sorts of stuff very efficiently without having to worry about motion blur or lugging around tripods! The only downside is that you will probably need to use high ISO numbers when photographing things that glow more subtly, such as biological material. Think ISO3200-ISO12800 @ F2.8-F5.6. Material that fluoresces brightly will be no problem - you can use lower ISO numbers and smaller apertures for that.
Many xenon flashes, whether it is a strobe or portable speedlight, will have UV-Blocking material either coated on the flash bulb itself or on the plastic Fresnel lens that protects the bulb, so we need to mod the flash by removing the Fresnel lens or remove any uv-blocking coating that might be on the bulb itself, and then filter the light so only UV light gets emitted. If you are using a powerful studio strobe that has UV-blocking coating on the bulb, you could potentially and then filter it with one of the filters mentioned later on in this article, and then you'd have a bright UV-only light source that could be used for high quality UVIVF photography, where using lower ISO numbers and smaller apertures would be possible. Filtering any strobe could potentially be challenging and cost more money if you will be using a larger piece of filter glass.
My UV flash of choice, however, is the small and portable . You will need to . After that, tape the reflector underneath the black plastic of the flash to stop it from popping out. After that, you need to filter it so only UV light gets emitted. The Canon 199A should come with a detachable black rectangular frame with a diffuser in it. Pop the diffuser out of the black rectangular frame and replace it with , then slide the rectangular black frame onto the flash and BAM! You have yourself a UV-only flash! You could also just tape the filter to the front of the unit as well, if you don't have the plastic rectangular frame.
If the uviroptics filter for the 199A is temporarily unavailable/unlisted/out-of-stock, you can either , wait until it is re-listed, or with a screwed at the end of a instead - just wedge the funnel of step rings on the end of the flash and it will stay. Insert some black foam in the back or tape up the opening if you want to stop light from coming out the back end of the funnel, as this is important.
Make sure the switch on your 199A is set to white, as you will always want the flash to fire at full power. The voltage is at 5 volts by the way, so you don't have to worry about this old flash frying your camera; all Canon and Nikon DSLRs can handle 5V. The filter set comes with two filters; I sometimes like using just the U-340 alone if I am going after a certain look where there is just a bit of red/infrared added to the image. If you use both filters together, it is a good idea to tape them together on the edges using clear Scotch tape before putting it in the black rectangular frame.
I should note once more that if you are going to be photographing things with this flash that don't fluoresce extremely bright, such as organic/biological material (leafs, rocks, or moss), that you should start out with your camera set to ISO 3200, f5.6, and 1/160th sec. and then adjust the exposure settings up or down according to what you are seeing in the preview screen.
UV LED chips manufactured by are very high quality. These LEDs produce some visible violet light, but the visible light they do produce can be eliminated completely by placing a Hoya U-340 filter in front of the light source. Here is a list of torches that use 365nm Nichia UV LED chips:
5 - - This uses a powerful 365nm UV Nichia NVSU233A U365 diode, approximately 1030mw of UV LED Power. The 365nm U-303 is the most powerful 365nm UV flashlight I am aware of. You will want to filter it using a . An MTE torch or a modded Canon 199A flash is what I recommend to most people who want to start/experiment with UVIVF photography.
5 - - This uses the a 365nm UV Nichia NCSU033B diode, approximately 658mw of UV LED Power. I own the UK version of this torch which is called the "NightSearcher" and have replaced the clear filter that comes included with the torch with a to eliminate the little amount of visible light it does put out - the same filter can and should be placed inside the 303. The MTE 301 produces a bright hotspot in the middle of the beam, however the 303 produces a larger gradual hotspot. The 303 produces more visible violet light, so you should definitely filter it. Unscrewing the body off from the cap with wrenches on the square and hexagon parts of the metal casing will remove the head entirely and reveal the exposed LED chip, this will widen the beam and remove the hotspot entirely. I believe the 301 LED outputs roughly twice the amount of UV radiation than direct sunlight does when measured from 10" away.
If you are in a different country than the US and are trying to order a torch manufactured by MTE, .
6 - , uses Nichia NCSU033B diode (same as the MTE 301 at 658mw) and comes with a VIS-Blocking filter already on the front, and is waterproof. I personally would not use this due to the price, unless you are using it underwater.
0+ - - I have purchased one of these (the small titanium gray unit) and it has a phosphorescence power button on the back and a phosphorescence ring around the front of the unit that both glow green when exposed to UV light. About the same power as the MTE 301 and has a larger, gradual hotspot. The unit can fit in your pocket easier because of its small, minimalistic design. Didn't come with a battery. Uses same battery as the MTE 301/303. Emits violet light just like the 301/303. If you want to filter it, you would need to tape or glue a smaller glass-only U-340 filter on the outside of the unit (ask ebay seller uviroptics), and the filter can't be installed directly into the torch like it can in the MTE 301/303. Overall this torch is excellent, and is a cheaper alternative to the MTE torch. Filtering it is cheaper too.
$??? - ????????? - This torch would use the Nichia NVSU333A chip, which is currently the brightest Nichia chip at 3,640mW of power. I know of no LED torches that use this chip - if you do, please let us know the name of it in the comments. It would probably need to be cooled using fans. Once these powerful chips start being put into actual torches you can purchase, these torches will be the coolest thing ever because a brighter torch will enable a photographer to light paint entire landscapes and trees using ultraviolet light and photograph practically anything more efficiently.
UV light fixtures manufactured by is what I would recommend if you want to experiment using UV-B and UV-C. The UV-A 368nm bulbs they use look just like a filtered 365nm Nichia LED or a filtered flash. The only downside about these lights when compared to a UV LED or a portable flash is that they are larger, some are heavy, and all of them need to be plugged into an electrical outlet or a large battery, and there is no 1/4" tripod screw hole on any of the units, so they cannot be properly mounted to light stands unless you mod them yourself or hang them using the hooks. UV-B and UV-C is also more of a pain to work with due to the extra safety precautions that must be in place. The lights do emit IR. The UV-C bulbs Way Too Cool uses do not produce ozone. The light I've experimented with is the WTC 60SLM-110, which is a bit heavy and takes a few seconds to warm up. Here are the for that unit that I compiled after asking. Way Too Cool's official website is https://www.fluorescents.com/
The company UVP also makes ultraviolet light sources. The plugs into the wall and has about the same amount of light output as the MTE-301 LED torch - it can be . I strongly prefer the MTE over the Blak-Ray though. UltravioletPhotography.com has discussed the B-100 AP light in more detail .
The filter used was the Hoya U-340. The filtered UV LED may look ok, but it outputs barely anything at all. The Filtered MTE-301 image was F5.6 / ISO3200 / 1 sec and was held further away. Also notice how the stainless steel plug in the sink does not have any reflections when lit using ultraviolet-only light. You will see reflections on the plug if lit using visible light. Stainless steel does not re-emit any visible light when lit with UV light.
I recommend eBay seller to get any filter you may need. You can message uviroptics and request specific sizes/shapes of filters.
There are basically two filters you should have for UVIVF photography: a VIS/IR Blocking filter to put directly in front of your light source, and a UV/IR Blocking filter to place in front of your sensor or lens. As far as my recommendations on which specific filters to use, these are the ones:
: Passes 320nm-380nm wavelengths, with a peak at 365nm. This is the a very high quality filter that blocks visible light and infrared light, and only allows UV-A light to pass through it. The Baader-U filter was originally made to be used on telescopes, but can be used on camera lenses in order to only allow UV light to enter through the filter (placing the filter over the lens is not applicable to UVIVF photography however, sense the only light we want to record onto the sensor is visible-light only), and it can be placed in front of LED torches, and , or any other type of light in order to block visible and infrared light.
The largest size available for this filter is a 48mm threaded screw-on filter, so you will need to use a if you want to put it on a lens that uses a larger filter thread size on the front element of the lens (52mm or 55mm, for example). You can also get a and use the set as a funnel with a filter at the end of it, wedged around a Canon 199A flash - it fits and stays. The Baader-U is the de facto standard filter used on lenses for , which is a different area of photography altogether that requires special lenses and modded cameras.
: Good alternative to the Baader-U and can be placed on UV LED light sources to remove visible light. If you are using this filter in front of a modded flash, you will also need to stack it with a Schott S8612 1.5mm filter to further suppress infrared. Both filters (the U-340 and S8612) can be ordered in any shape or size from uviroptics. No one is selling 3D bulbulous rounded dome shaped filters at the moment (these would be useful for filtering some studio strobes).
: This filter is commonly used in combination with the U-340 filter above in order to suppress infrared light. When both filters are stacked together, the stack acts like the Baader-U filter. See test image below:
Note how in the first image the light source only has the U-340 filter and no S8612 filter - using this filter alone lets a little bit of red pass, and, depending on what you are shooting and what look you are going for, can potentially make your scene appear a bit more colorful and lively. Shooting with the U-340 filter alone also adds roughly .3-1 stop of light. See image below for another color difference example.
Left image is U-340 + S8612 filter. Right image is U-340 only.
: 48mm threaded screw-on filter that can be placed on the front of your lens in order to remove any UV/IR light from entering the camera and being recorded onto the sensor. Doing so can optimize your results if your camera's internal cut filter (ICF, the filter that sits right on top of the camera's sensor) does not block enough UV/IR light. There are , but I have not tried them. The Schott BG38 + GG400/GG420/GG435 filter glass could also be an alternative to the Baader UV/IR Cut if you needed a larger sized filter for your lens. To ensure you are recording only visible emitted fluorescence, you should place a UV/IR-blocking filter on the lens.
- This thing is expensive and if you look at the it does technically leak visible light and lots of IR. Not exactly the best thing in the world, but if you already have some Broncolor lights with bulbs that have no UV coating on them, then it could be efficient for you to use this.
Another place to order specialty filters is , but I have never done that. You can even create your own custom filters over at , but I have not done that.
As I said earlier, everything looks different under UV light than when under visible light. Things that can glow/fluoresce particularly bright, however, include UV-reactive , , , , biological material (plants, flowers, marine life, , bacteria, insects, scorpions, reptiles, jellyfish, coral, fungi, snails, etc.), , highlighter fluid (fluorscin), , uranium glass, quinine is in and glows bright blue, anything that looks neon (including certain plastics, paper, and clothing), teeth, urine and urine stains, old stamps, bank notes, passports, and dirty toilets and stove tops.
Parts of the same plant can fluoresce differently depending on age, sunlight exposure, etc. Individual leafs on the same plant can sometimes fluoresce very differently compared to other leafs.
One thing I've always wanted to experiment with is fluorescent smoke, fog, or vapor, but I could not find any products available like this. Some type of material that could be inhaled and exhaled from a vaporizer would be very cool. If anyone knows how this could be done safely, leave a comment down below. UV holi powder is a very fine dust that can look similar to smoke.
Tonic water in a clear glass bottle, lit using a modded Canon 199A flash on camera.
Various fluorescent dyes mixed with water inside of beakers and flasks.
In this example, the wig fluoresces brighter than anything else in the frame, including the UV makeup, tonic water bottle, and the paper label on the bottle which had highlighter ink on it. Always use zinc oxide sunblock when photographing any exposed skin (including eyelids) for an extended period of time. Black latex body paint can be used to get a cleaner/darker look. ISO800 / F5.6. Image was post-processed. Click to see original.
UV Blacklight Holi Powder, shot with one Canon 199A flash mounted on camera. A pile of red pigment powder was placed on his back and a person blew it upward from behind. Eyes are never to be opened. ISO1600, 1/160sec, f6.3
Collection of various fluorescent minerals under UV-A, UV-B and UV-C light. Image Credit: Hannes Grobe/AWI
Clear UV-blocking safety glasses should appear black when lit with a UV light in a dark room.
Glowing fungus on trees in a forest. Lit using MTE-303, multiple exposures combined.
Visible light in the upper background, lit from a campground, UVIVF on the foreground.
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