Two days until I head off to the frozen wonderland of Yellowstone for 10 days. I can’t wait! Hot springs, geysers, buffalo, wolves, snow, colorful bacteria, and even a total lunar eclipse! That’s right, there’s a total Lunar Eclipse on the night of Dec 20th (the early hours of the 21st), visible throughout all of the United States.. don’t miss it: lunar eclipse!

Anyways, before I take off I would like to share one last image from a trip I made with my girlfriend to Death Valley over Thanksgiving break. Many years ago my dad and I used to come to this mine to collect fluorescent minerals (it is not inside the national park), and recently I rediscovered my interest in this incredible phenomenon. I wrote a longer post about it earlier this year, so if you’re curious to know exactly what is going on here please read: Fluorescent Minerals. This time I came with the intent of fine tuning my composition, as well as making sure to get the entire image in a single exposure. What took me between 4 and 10 exposures for my last two attempts, I’ve now accomplished in a single 20 minute exposure (with dark frame subtraction for noise reduction). I’m not at all opposed to blending exposures, but some competitions are very strict about it, so now I can use this for some submissions next year.

"Fluorescent Treasures" ~ Darwin, CA
The Tech: Canon 5D2, 16-35mm mkII, tripod, handheld UV lamp
Exposure: iso 1600, f/8, 20 minutes
Notes: I used a 'dark frame' to remove the long exposure noise. A dark frame is an exposure the same length as the primary exposure, but taken with the lens cap on, so all you capture is the noise, which you can then subtract out. It does miracles on these kinds of images.

What you see here are some mine tailings of a Tungsten mine, with the dilapidated wood ore transport structure. All of the illumination is from fluorescence caused by a high powered handheld ultraviolet lamp, including the blues on the wood structure. The minerals in the foreground include scheelite (blue/white), calcite (red), silica coatings containing uranyl ions (green), fluorite (pink), and ‘desert varnish’ (yellow/orange). I spent several hours collecting the minerals all over the mining area to create a compelling and rich combination of colorful rocks. The fuzzy blob in the sky is actually the milky way. Again, for more details, check out my older post: Fluorescent Minerals.

I wish you all happy holidays, and hope that nature has a variety of colorful and fascinating presents to offer!

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4 Comments to “Fluorescent Treasures”

  1. John Wall says:

    Inventive and well-executed, as usual. Excellent!

  2. That is just amazing! Great composition and the fluorescent minerals are really special.

  3. Miles Morgan says:

    Fantastic. It’s great to see you starting to get out shooting again. I certainly missed your creativity. I’ve been studying dark frame subtraction for a bit… Is it primarily only for longer exposures like this one? Do you think for several hour star trails the results would be superior to blending a bunch of 5 min exposures? Lastly, is it really as simple as just using a “difference” mode before doing any sharpening, contrast, or color work?

    Thanks! Hope that your studies have been going well. When are we going to be seeing you in the PacNW??

  4. Chris says:

    Thanks for the heads up on the eclipse! I am totally out of the photography loop lately.

    I really love your time lapse and night photography exposures. You have this down to an art! Thanks for posting!