Fluorescent Photography Elevates Flowers to Fantastical

'Silk Floss Tree Flower'. (Photo: Craig Burrows)

Whether planted in a garden or arranged in a bouquet, flowers please the eye. And while some varieties are more colorful than others, photographer Craig Burrows likes to toy with what Mother Nature started. With the use of fluorescent photography, even the most mundane greenery can become vibrant.

Burrows uses custom ultraviolet (UV) light sources to capture these stunning images. The flowers appear to glow against the stark, black background. But what's causes those intense colors? This is where art meets science. Fluorescence occurs when either visible or invisible radiation is emitted from the flowers and is exposed by UV light. The radiation allows us to see the fluorescent colors, which otherwise wouldn't be visible to the naked eye.

"I like that they are a way to get people interested in the physical process and science rather than just the output of the images themselves."

'Magnolia'. (Photo: Craig Burrows)

Burrows first spoke to MNN in 2017, when he said he was inspired to create his unique photography while walking around his Los Angeles neighborhood. "Outdoors there's a lot of light from street lights, moon, stars, etc. which would overwhelm the fluorescent glow," he said. "It requires either a near-total-dark setting, or very powerful UV source to ensure that the fluorescence is much brighter than any ambient light."

'Koelreuteria'. (Photo: Craig Burrows)

Since then, his work has been featured in art galleries across the United States. The reaction from those who have discovered his work is fascination — some have told him it reminds them of the movie "Avatar."

"I think it brightens people's world view to know that things are perceived as pleasant but mundane can have such a stunning and alien side to them," Burrows said. "I think that indicates people are seeing the fantastical and knowing there are still things undiscovered in the world."

'Bee Balm Flower'. (Photo: Craig Burrows)

Burrows said his interest for photographing flowers comes from his love of nature. "Without interacting with my garden or spending time paying attention to the behaviors of bees, ants, flowers, etc., I would not have the same interest or idea of things to photograph."

To see more of his work, check out his flickr and Facebook pages.

'String of Pearls'. (Photo: Craig Burrows)
'Evening Primrose'. (Photo: Craig Burrows)
'Amaryllis'. (Photo: Craig Burrows)
'Jade Plant Flower'. (Photo: Craig Burrows)
'Cereus Flower Comparison'. (Photo: Craig Burrows)