For ages I have wanted to do full-spectrum photography, which captures light from Infrared (IR) all the way to ultraviolet (UV), but the UV aspect of it is bloody expensive! DSLR sensors, both CCD and CMOS, capture light slightly outside the visible spectrum (VIS) but use things like hot mirrors and UV filters to narrow the band closer to 390-700nm. The sensors use channeling methods like a Bayer filter to give us the very useful RGB channels, in this post we will work with extra channels for IR and UV.
I am always looking for cheap alternatives for UV and I thought I’d test out a bit of a long shot – using a UV filter to maths my way to a UV image. To do this I bought a daylight simulating bulb that emits UVA (400-315nm) and some flowers from the local gas station. It’s a simple idea, the extra light that the UV filter blocks must be UV light so if we subtract all the other light we are left with UV.
No Filter – UV Filter = UV ResidueI subtracted each colour separately for each pixel: [r1-r2, g1-g2, b1-b2], it was rather red so I used the red channel for the new R,G and B making a brighter grayscaled image (see below). Then I used that new “UV” image along with the colour image to map channels [GBU to RGB] like the images Infrachrome makes using this technique. For infrared and ultraviolet he uses an adapted camera specifically for full-spectrum, infact he uses two in a fantastical and magical set up. Unfortunately mine didn’t work very well, my first guess was that the lower range of blue light being reflected as there is no sign of a nectar guide. But after consulting a pro UV photographer I was told it is due to infrared-leakage.