Fri, 23 Feb 2018
It’s hard to believe, but Burrow’s work isn’t fiction-it’s science.
To capture these otherworldly images he uses a technique called ultraviolet-induced visible fluorescence photography, or UVIVF for short. The process uses ultraviolet light to cause substances to fluoresce, so the light being imaged is actually radiating from the subject itself. Think: the way your white t-shirt glows while cosmic golfing.
“It’s definitely not an especially easy type of photography,” says Burrows. Typically, he’ll mount his floral subject to a metal stand and use a remote trigger to sound off a 10 to 20 second exposure-holding his breath while the shutter is open. Even the smallest air movement or petal droop will result in motion blur.
The tricky nature of Burrows’ method is what make flowers an attractive subject. “They can’t run away,” jokes Burrows. Though he says that one of the most well-known uses for UVIVF is spotting arachnids, notably scorpions. His next objective is to work on photographing full scenes rather than singular subjects.
Though the outcome is always unpredictable, he’s found that compound flowers such as daisies and sunflowers often have the strongest pollen fluorescence. One of the biggest surprises he’s found while photographing flowers is a cucumber flower glowing a bright orange and blue with very bright pollen. Burrows says he collects his specimens while roaming around his neighborhood, inspecting flowers with a portable light and plucking up promising subjects.
Burrows has been approached by a STEM fair to exhibit his photographs, and has also been tapped to participate in a forensic photography program using UVIVF. He believes that the real benefit of his photography, though, is that it sparks an interest in people to learn about the physical processes that allows the pictures to be taken.