Learning Ultraviolet Photography is proving to be such a challenge it reminds me of when I first picked up a camera. How wonderful to be able to shoot 35 photos and not find a single keeper. Reminds me of the film days. I’m finding that trying to imagine how an image will appear, when the focus is using non visible light, has many variables that can affect the outcome.
One of course is the light source. If you don’t have full sun cover, using a dedicated light for a specific bandwidth or a full spectrum flash is essential. Next is choosing quality filters that absorb all light not wanted to affect the image. Also, I’m finding that the lens choice is just as important as the light source itself. Very few lenses are truly dedicated UV lenses made from quartz rather than glass, so the challenge is finding “accidental” lenses that permit good UV transmission.
Below is a basic test I used to determine which of my older lenses would permit the best UV transmission in the 360-365nm bandwidth. I used a pinhole cover with a dedicated Hoya U360 and BG40 filter stack to eliminate all light in the visible and IR range. I used a white plastic as the background and focused a dedicated 365nm light on it. White balance was done on the background. Exposure time was 15 sec and iso 1600. All phtos were post processed with the same settings.
All lenses tested were set to f4 and the rear of the lens was set at 2 1/2 inches from the background. Lenses tested were the Lensbaby Sweet 35 and Edge 80 optics, the Lensbaby Twist 60 and Selective Focus optics, an El-Nikkor 50/4 and Meyer Optik Domiplan 50/2.8 and Helios 44M 58/2. The Domiplan is supposed to transmit down to 345nm from other test located on ultravioletphotography.com (great reference site). The El-Nikkor is also supposed to be a good transmitter. The clearer the light through the lens itself signifies better UV transmission, purple signifies the worst.
From my basic, non-scientific test I was suprised to see the Lensbaby Soft Focus optic seems to perform as well as the Domiplan and both the Lensbaby and Zeniton 35mm lenses performed well. The Zeniton 135 performed poorly, even though it is the same optical construction (4 element / 4 groups) as the Zeniton 35.
Recently I have begun trying to work with UltraViolet light and my full spectrum K1. I’m enjoying it very much as the learning curve is proving to be a real challenge.
Most of my older lenses (and non of my newer digital) transmit the UV spectrum very well but I’ve been lucky enough to come across a few that are permitting me to do a some hand held shots. I’m finding simpler lenses with fewer elements and cemented groups seem to be working best so far. I’ve picked up a few 4/4 Zenitons and hope to show the results later in the spring during the wildflower season.
Here are a few using an older Lensbaby Soft Focus optic. It is 2 elements in 1 group.
The following are the exposure settings, filters and light source I used while photographing a White Geranium.
All were shot at f5.6 and on a 25mm tube.
1st image is shot with U360 & Kolarivision hotmirror filter stack, FS converted speed-light, iso 800, 1/90th.
2nd with U360/Kolari hotmirror and a dedicated 365nm flashlight, iso 800, 1/45.
3rd with BG3/Kolari hotmirror and dedicated 365nm flashlight, iso 1600, 1/90th.
Last month I purchased the Lensbaby Twist 60 Optic.
It is based on the Petzval design and is supposed to produce a swirl of bokeh, much like the older Helios lenses. I had been curious about it since it was released but also very hesitant as most of the uses seemed to be focused around portraiture photography. As I rarely shoot pictures of people, I wondered how this style of lens effect would work with inanimate objects also.
At wide open f2.5 & f2.8 the swirl effect of the Twist 60 optic is very pronounced.
It does mild down significantly by f4 – f5.6 and is almost non existent by f8 producing a normal view from any standard lens. I found the wide open swirl effect to be a little distracting but really do like how a minute amount of swirl from the f4 – f5.6 range does make the subject stand out a bit more.
Where this optic really shines for me is mounted on a 25mm extension tube, bringing it up to almost a 1:2.4 magnification macro.
I did try it on a 44mm tube but didn’t like the effect as much as the 1:2 ratio.
Though I occasionally find a use for the Sweet Spot or Slice Focus of my other Lensbaby optics, my favorite optics so far have been the Zoneplate and Plastic. I’m quickly seeing the Lensbaby Twist 60 optic will join those two.
Something about the “so called” imperfections of early film photography appeals to me.
Been busy with work and dealing with the cold weather so haven’t been able to do much in photography this month.
I did get enough time to take the older Lensbaby optics out and play with them a bit on the Pentax k-1.
Very different using the double glass and single glass instead of the newer Edge or Sweet models but found them very enjoyable to work with. Fun to have to think about the aperture one wants first and then install the disk as opposed to setting the aperture in the lens.
I did get lucky one day and had an Egret land in the artisian well I was working around using the double glass.
Spending time this month reading about lenses and the Pentax K-1.
I find Pentax Forums a very nice resource for all sorts of material, lenses, cameras, flash, techniques – and not necessarily related to solely Pentax.
Easy to research articles and always someone willing to give a helpful reply.
Shots taken this month with the Pentax K-1 and various lenses or optics.
Last month I was fortunate enough to get out of the snow and head to Death Valley for a well enjoyed photography trip.
For the past couple of years I have really been enjoying working with zone plates and decided to try my luck in the desert landscape.
Zone plates are very similar to pinhole photography in there is no lens and the resulting photo is from light diffraction rather than refraction through a glass element.
Zone plates however use a pattern of opaque and solid concentric circles resulting in a softer (less sharp) image caused by a larger amount of undiffracted light to reach the image plane. They are often reduced in contrast and produce a distinct glow or halo in the highlights. Continue reading →
One of the cool things about where I live is the distinction of the western terminus of Historic US Route 6.
The route starts in Provincetown MA and follows a cross country track to become the second longest highway in the United States.
Originally the western terminus was in Long Beach CA and in 1937 it was the longest highway in America with a total of 3652 miles.
ND Filters, often used to slow exposure times can also achieve great effects with flash.
Being a loyal Pentaxian, one of the biggest limitations to my setup is the flash sync speed of 1/180.
I often wonder where Pentax came up with this exposure and why they hadn’t developed a higher sync speed of 200 or 250 like many of their competitors.
Then I remember my film days and cameras that only had a sync of 125 and realize that even a shutter of 800 is slow compared to the speed of flash.
Flash or strobe work is really the balance of two exposures simultaneously.
Background or intent – exposed with ambient light, controlled by shutter, ISO and aperture plus Subject – exposed by flash, controlled by ISO and aperture.
Shutter speeds don’t really come into play during the flash part of the exposure, as most flash units fire much faster than the top sync speeds in cameras today.
Often, I find the strength of my studio strobes and non-ttl speedlights powerful enough on their lowest settings, that even with a low ISO 100 and the fastest sync speed of 180
I must still use an aperture of f11 or f16 to keep the highlights from blowing out beyond recovery.
When I have my ideal exposure setting for the flash, these small lens openings often cause an undesired effect,
they create a greater depth of field, taking focus away from the subject. Continue reading →
Don’t get me wrong, I love working is PS and have been enjoying learning new tricks in LR.
Also, it’s been over three years since I’ve even picked up any of my trusted film cameras.
Selective & soft focus through the lens.
My passion for photography actually started in the darkroom and not behind the lens, so I’ve always been enamored by the tricks and techniques for post production.
The ease and speed of being able to burn/dodge, fine tune, stack, create multiple exposures or mask for precise detailed exposure; almost every software now provides these tools for the photographic enthusiast.
When I first started with a digital camera I thought instant preview (so long polaroid backs) and eliminating developing chemicals was the only real advantage over film.
Now so much more data is recorded at the same time & in the same place, it’s incredible. Shutter & f-stop, exposure, copyright info, location, even star tracking.
No more pocket notebook and tear sheets that I would misplace and desperately look for a month later.
The digital age has brought more of photography to the masses than anything since Kodak’s “a camera for every household.” Continue reading →
I was fortunate enough to attend “Shooting the West Photography Symposium” again this year and take a workshop offered by Mark Citret on creating B&W utilizing Lightroom for global adjustments and then PS for individual or spot work.
In the past I usually thought about my subject in greyscale and then shot as I imagined the final to be in my mind. I would post process in greyscale, then burn or dodge in layers/curves to bring the grey tones into the zones I desired. Finally, I would import into LR for final adjustments of blacks, whites, shadows/highlights and for any toning or sharpening I wished to add.
Mark’s technique is exactly the opposite and one I find to be interesting (as well as useful) evolving from many of the simple practices we used with film. Continue reading →