Tech Tip: Easy Fluorescence Photography Test

Many customers purchase fluorescence photography equipment to use in the field, often in exotic locations. It is a good idea to test your setup before you leave for your destination, and it is easy to do this with chlorophyll – the molecule that makes plants green and carries out photosynthesis. We like chlorophyll as a test subject because it is one of the weaker fluorescence sources you are going to commonly encounter and if you can capture a good image of chlorophyll fluorescence you’ll be fine for almost any fluorescing subject. Plus chlorophyll is easy to put your hands on – in your kitchen or in your yard.

Chlorophyll is all around us in green plants, including the greens you often have in your refrigerator – spinach, lettuce, scallion stalks, cucumbers, and more. You can also just grab a leaf off a bush. Every once in a while you’ll encounter a green plant that doesn’t have much fluorescence, but that’s the exception. If you have the NIGHTSEA lights and barrier filter glasses you can look at the subject by eye before you try your photography.

To take the test pictures put the subjects on a non-fluorescing background. (If in doubt, use something like an aluminum pan.) The two photos below both show a spinach leaf on the left and a leaf taken from a bush on the right. The photo on the left was shot using normal white light, and the photo on the right was shot using the NIGHTSEA filters. This deep red fluorescence is characteristic of chlorophyll. Once you get your settings right you should see good fluorescence from the leaves and little to no fluorescence from the background.