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How to photograph AfterDark™ under UV Black Lights.

Ultraviolet lights, or “black lights,” cause objects that contain or are coated with a fluorescent element to glow in the dark. If you want to photograph an object that is placed under UV light, you can do so with any digital camera, including SLR digital cameras. Because the UV light is the only light being emitted, however, there are a few rules you will need to follow in order to capture a clean black-light photograph.


  1. Remove the camera’s UV filter.  Many cameras do not come with a UV filter.  If your camera has a UV filter it would be screwed onto the end of the camera’s lens. Grip the lens and the filter and turn the filter counterclockwise to unscrew it from the lens.

  2. Set the camera’s shutter speed to 1/8 of a second and set the camera’s ISO to 200. This is done differently with every camera, but it usually involves setting the camera to “Manual” and adjusting the settings from the camera’s menu. See the camera’s owner’s manual for specific details. With the camera’s ISO and shutter speed properly set, place the camera on a tripod.  Keep in mind, a tripod is needed to position the camera so there is no movement while the shutter is open.

  3. Plug in and turn on the UV black light. Turn off all of the lights in the room so that the UV light is the only light being emitted.   You will also want to remove all light from windows. Place the UV reactive object you wish to photograph directly under the black light.  

  4. The closer the UV black light is to the object, the better the glow will photograph.  You may want more than one UV black light and have an assist hold a UV light close to the subject.

  5. Position the tripod and the camera so that the object being photographed can be seen through the camera’s viewfinder or on the camera’s digital screen.  

  6. Press the camera’s shutter release to take the picture. With the ISO set at 200, the shutter speed set at 1/8 of a second and the camera mounted on a steady tripod, the picture should come out with the UV reactive object in glowing detail. 

Tips:  You may want to experiment with increasing the ISO and decreasing shutter speed in order to achieve special effects.  Picas is a great FREE software application that can enhance your photograhs with editing features.


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Under UV light  Under UV light  1-1-j12-001

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