Photographer Captures The 'Invisible Light' That Plants Emit In Stunning Photos

Photographer Captures The 'Invisible Light' That Plants Emit In Stunning Photos

Craig Burrows clicks flowers emitting light glow during the process of photosynthesis and they make for a magical sight.

If you remember your biology class from middle school, you will know all plants have this process called photosynthesis where they turn sunlight into chemical energy to fuel their regular activities.



The interesting part here is during this process they emit effervescent light—light that glows in rare, inconceivable and often, magical hues. Photographer Craig Burrows recently captured the natural fluorescence of flowers with a  special UV imaging technique to bring us an unbelievably vivid set of photographs.




According to This is Colossal, the process, known as ultraviolet-induced visible fluorescence (UVIVF) photography, involves projecting electromagnetic radiation on to the flower and then capturing the visible light briefly emitted by the plant. 


Burrows was inspired by the work of Swedish artist Oleksandr Holovachov, who shared his own version of UVIVF recently that wowed us all. Explaining the process on Bored Panda, Burrows said, "Each time I do a set of UVIVF photos, it starts with going out under the cover of darkness to snatch unsuspecting flowers growing around the neighborhood. I rarely know what to expect from a flower before I get it back to shoot. Some I think will dazzle end up flopping, and others I am surprised by their colors or light. Every one is a surprise!" This glow is so real and magical, it may remind you of the scene from Avatar where Jake Sully and Neytiri sprint through the forest while the plants glow in the background.


Shooting with UVIVF is so hard to master that it took Burrows close to four years to learn the nuances of its style. The light captured in Burrows’ photographs appears within nanoseconds of projecting the UV light and decays just as soon as it arrives—within ten nanoseconds. This very tiny window of illumination goes unnoticed by the naked eye because the glow is often surrounded by far brighter and powerful light sources.




"In the same way a tee-shirt blue glows under a black light, most organic material glows at least a little with UV stimulation and in all kinds of colors. To make the most of it, I make sure I'm working in the darkest environment I can and use a 365nm light so the camera can't see the UV light," explains Burrows.


"Any time the flowers are hit by sunlight, they're letting off their own glow in response and it's simply overwhelmed by the sunlight we can see. These photos capture something we always see but never can observe." Burrows' photographs is so impressive that his work was recently featured on National Geographic.



"It’s definitely not an especially easy type of photography," he says. "Reflected ultraviolet and infrared photography reveal secrets which we can’t see, but are nonetheless very important in nature,” says Burrows. “I think it’s important that these things remind us to keep exploring and looking for things that go ignored or unobserved."


Recommended for you