Photographer Craig Burrows Reveals the Hidden Glow of Flowers and Plants Using the HP ZBook X2
Artist Craig Burrows (previously) captures the natural fluorescence of flowers using a unique UV imaging technique, resulting in spectacularly luminescent photographs. The process, known as ultraviolet-induced visible fluorescence photography, involves projecting electromagnetic radiation on to the flower, and then capturing the visible light briefly emitted by the plant. Lest you think everything around us is secretly glowing all the time, the light shown in Burrows’ photographs appears within nanoseconds of the UV light projection, and decays within ten nanoseconds. Objects that emit a longer afterglow are referred to as phosphorescent. The incredibly brief window of illumination is usually not observable to the human eye not because it is itself invisible, but because the glow is so brief, and generally surrounded by much more powerful, atmospheric sunlight.
To create his seemingly magical—but actually all-natural—photographs, Burrows first collects local flowers from his lush Southern California neighborhood, or purchases specific species he’s interested in experimenting with. He works with them in an extremely dark environment, to prevent any competing light from dulling the flowers’ glow, and places each stem in a stand that’s covered in light-absorbing matte black electrical tape. Burrows uses long exposures, and moves his UV-filtered LED evenly over each blossom to ensure that every petal, stamen, and pollen grain gets its moment in the spotlight. Despite all the technical details and varied equipment involved in each shoot, Burrows never knows how—or if—a photograph will turn out until he’s finished shooting.
The photographer, who credits Swedish artist Oleksandr Holovachov with his own inspiration for UVIVF, has been working in this mode for just four years, and has taught himself the intricate process. His work has paid off, with a recent feature in National Geographic. Considering Burrows’ unique perspective on blending art and science, we asked him to turn his precision-focused lens to the HP ZBook x2.
“Regarding the laptop, there are a lot of things I was pretty impressed with. For one thing, it’s got an aluminum and magnesium body and is made to meet MIL-STD-810G specs. This makes me feel comfortable bringing valuable equipment like the ZBook x2 with me—it really feels like a quality piece of hardware. I normally use a large laptop with a full-size keyboard, and I was pleasantly surprised by the detachable one for the ZBook x2. Once I got used to the Quick Keys, it was pretty sweet to use.”
“In actually using it, it was incredibly snappy—definitely one of the quickest laptops or computers I’ve had my hands on, including some workstation desktops I’ve used. When it comes to navigating around large 16bit images, rendering a video from them, or creating a focus stack, that power and speed makes it a true delight to use.”
“I work around a lot of people in the design industry and I kept getting compliments from everyone on the looks of the tablet. It looks confident and classy, and doesn’t sacrifice ports and functionality to make it happen. I will admit, I was pretty gleeful that I could use USB devices and SD cards without needing external dongles and adapters!”
“While it would certainly be of more use to an illustrator, I found the pen interface pretty excellent. My workflow for photo editing demands abundant keyboard shortcuts so I struggled with using it in pure tablet mode, but I found it quite adept for sketching and drawing. The fact that the tablet has the functionality of a Cintiq in a compact and portable form makes it extremely useful in photo-editing for both masking and making adjustments. The Zbook has definitely made me rethink what a laptop can be and changed my expectations.”
You can purchase prints of Burrows’ fluorescent flowers on his website, and follow him on Flickr and Instagram, where he shares interesting floral facts alongside his photography.
Learn more about the HP ZBook x2 at hp.com.
This post was sponsored by HP.