When you get involved in natural photography, you probably hope that your images will startle your audience. You want your portfolio to make them take a step back and re-evaluate nature as they know it.

In order to garner this reaction, you might experiment with angles or the lenses that you use. But it is difficult to create an image that is uniquely impactful. How do you separate a flower from the billions of flowers that your viewer has already seen?

Craig Burrows, a California-based photographer, answered this dilemma by making flowers look practically unearthly:

ultraviolet, light, flower

ultraviolet, flower

ultraviolet, flower, light

No, these are not creatures of the deep.  And they did not travel across galaxies to land in this photographer’s lap. These flowers grew from sunlight, water and our very earthly soil. Their luminescent appearance is simply a trick of the light. A manipulation of color and form created by Burrows himself.

Burrows states on his website that he is fascinated with the manipulation of light. He is consistently searching for new ways to approach light in his photos. For this series, Burrows used a lens that is typically used for crime scene investigations. The lens uses a Ruvis, also known as a “Reflected Ultraviolet Light System” to ensure that it only picks up ultraviolet wavelengths that are around 254nm.  

Burrows combined this lens with a 365nm LED light to capture these entrancing images. His unique technique takes the viewer out of the context that they typically see flowers in, and allows them to view them from another angle.

The flowers become objectively beautiful.  They are no longer enchanting because they are flowers, but because they earn a new identity all together. His images allow us to relearn the shapes and patterns of the common plant. Suddenly, the buds of pollen seem all the more fascinating, and the veins in the petals more intricate.

Burrows’ images remind us that there is always room for discovering new techniques in our field. He did not follow the typical practices of plant photography, but experimented with new lenses and lighting to achieve an interesting visual effect.  Photography is an ongoing experiment, so the techniques that we use should never be stagnant.

ultraviolet, light, flower

The series also serves as a reminder that photography doesn’t always have to reflect what the human eyes see. Sometimes, photography can be used as a tool to show us what we don’t typically see. It’s one thing when explorers capture images in the deep, unreachable corners of the earth. It’s another when a photographer can reveal the images that we miss in our very own backyards.

Burrows is a commercial and independent photographer.  You can see more of his portfolio on his Website or Instagram.