I’m finding ultraviolet photography to be one of the biggest challenges I’ve come across in the photographic process in years. Such a huge learning curve.
Due to the short bandwidth of ultraviolet light, the reflective transmittance doesn’t seem to travel as far as visible light, plus this also causes a focus shift issue as photographing in infrared does.
With the sensitivity of the converted camera, I have been able to pick up the ultraviolet spectrum at a decent iso (around 800 – 1600 as opposed to 200 – 400) and live view permits achieving a fine focus if I take the time to really review and adjust before I shoot.
More of the problem seems to be in the lenses. Glass, air space and the cement used to join elements in a lens all interfere with the UV transmission. True UV transmission lenses (made with quartz-fluorite elements instead of glass) are still manufactured and a few older ones can be found second hand but these are way beyond my price range at an approximate cost of $3000US and up.
Fortunately ultravioletphotgraphy.com has a list of true and “accidental” lenses for ultraviolet photography work. I managed to pick up one of the Steinheil 50mm Cassarits recently and imediately noticed a difference. While not a spectacular shot, it is the first time I’ve been able to achieve focus on any subject farther away than about six inches.
This was shot midday 1/4 second, f8, iso 1600 using a Hoya U360 and S8612 bringing it to around a 360-365nm light source. The Steinheil triplets have been tested to have a cutoff of around 320nm. I am looking forward to testing this lens (as well as an older Cassarit 100mm) with a Hoya U340 to see if I can achieve a deeper UV cutoff point.
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.
As I’ve mentioned on my macros page, I’m not a macro photography purist.
I don’t focus on achieving a 1:1 life-size ratio when photographing a subject.
I do prefer using dedicated macro lenses (at least close focus) or macro techniques while doing close focus work as I find there is less distortion than with wide angle lenses.
I also enjoy trying anything that will spur my creativity.
This last winter, I was reading a website on extreme macro photography lens stacking and came across an article about using the Pentax M200/4 as a barrel lens for micro-photograpy work. Extreme-Macro is a fantastic site for studying anything to do with close focus work. There is a wealth of information ranging from techniques to lenses, lighting or magnification calculations.
The page I stumbled upon mentioned the Pentax M200/4 as a wonderful lens to couple with a microscope objective for extreme work.
As I have an old M200 that doesn’t get used in this digital age, I decided to pull it out and see what I might be able to do with what I already had on hand or at least low cost investment.
A 52mm-52mm coupling ring, a 52mm-40.5mm step-down ring (which I did have to buy) and my old Rodagon 105/5.6 enlarging lens reverse mounted.
I must admit here that I am often lazy about using a tripod unless doing night shots and still prefer using an optical viewfinder over the rear lcd so achieving and maintaining focus with any depth of field would be a challenge.
I was surprised at how easy this combination was to hand hold and still achieve nice photos with a magnification of approx. 1.9:1.
Also, it was a fantastic pleasure to view something larger than life and try to see it in an artistic style.
Next I tried a reverse mount combination of the M200 with a Sigma 24/2.8 for a magnification ratio of approx. 8.3:1.
The added weight of the Sigma made it much harder to handhold but still produced nice results, though even at f16 the depth of field is very shallow.
This will take a lot more practice to get the my creative sight going.
I have been enjoying this new artistic view of the world so much that I just purchased an old EL-Nikkor 50/2.8 enlarging lens to use in the field (don’t want to take my Rodenstock out into the elements)
and am now on the hunt for an infinity focus objective plus adapter.
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.
Recently pulled out the old Pentax A50 f2.8 macro for a few shots of autumn leaves in the back yard.
This lens performs wonderfully on the new Pentax K-1. Though not a “true macro” with a reproduction of 1:2, I find the scale adequate and the IQ superb; plus it is such a joy to use.
I can see why vintage Pentax glass was noted for it’s quality, the colors are brilliant and the IQ is sharp for the area of focus. Bokeh is pleasantly pleasing also. This doesn’t seem to change on the new digital sensors either.
In fact, I find their performance is equal to or better than the newer digitally enhanced lenses.
Like most sports, players/contestants rely on knowing the strong points of their teammates and try to decipher the strengths, weaknesses and personalities of their opponents’.
Unlike most sports, rodeo is fascinating in that the teammates and opponents don’t think or act as humans.
The communication between rider and horse during a barrel racing or roping event is incredible.
Understanding their opponents’ traits during the bronc, bull or roping events is critical.
Rodeo contestants are true athletes and deserve far more recognition than they often receive.
This place is amazing. It contains vintage automobiles in pristine and restored condition from the Harrah’s collection.
Era’s start with the early horseless carriages and vehicles built for commercial and race uses to the mid 1960’s. The history behind many of these vehicle is fascinating in itself but the architecture and art in their designs is beautiful.
Highly recommend this place for a visit. Entrance is in and out for the day and seldom more than a half dozen visitors at a time. Allows plenty of time to read, view and photograph this impressive collection.
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.