Osteological photography

Tuesday, 08 August 2017 19:01

This part of my website is about "Osteological photography" or more simply the "Photography of bones". This is an area that I should be involved in given my background in anatomy and clinical photography. However, it is only recently that have have begun to look at the subject more closely. This is for a number of reasons; having access to osteological material and a need to develop teaching and learning materials for students and more importantly having seen the poor quality of the imaging of bones on television, in papers, books and conference presentations has led me to realise there is a need for instruction in "How to photograph bones".

The techniques behind this are standard and most scientific and technical photographers, including clinical photographers, already know the techniques and principles to use. The real issue then is the change in who takes photographs. It is now anyone with a camera on the incorrect assumption that cameras and photography is an automatic skill that everyone has or can easily acquire if they have access to a camera without additional training.

Published in Osteological


Tuesday, 08 August 2017 12:40

The whole idea of ‘black’ light would seem to be an impossibility yet using ‘blacklight’ is a common technique in science capturing not the reflection of light from the subject but the emission of light by the subject due to the action of the blacklight.

The oddest subjects emit light when hit by blacklight from tonic water to almonds, from the skin to eggs, from oils to paints. This is termed ‘fluorescence’ and the blacklight ‘ultraviolet’ radiation.

Professor RW Woods reported on his creation of a convenient source of blacklight in 1919 using a dense cobalt-blue glass, often called a Wood’s lamp in his honour. Since then the light has been used in medicine for the detection of clinical conditions like Tinea capitis (Ringworm) and in criminal investigations for the detection of forgeries and for finding bodily fluids at crime scenes.

In looking through a camera’s viewfinder without something that fluoresces under the blacklight nothing is visible. It is only when a fluorescing object comes near, from the photographer’s shirt or hands (as above) to the perennial bane of photographer’s life dust that something becomes visible. 

As the light captured by the camera, once the reflected ultraviolet has been removed, is that emitted by the subject the image is often soft in appearance.

My first introduction to blacklight was during my training and work as a medical photographer recording electrophoresis plates and later when teaching scientific photography trying as many subjects as I could find to fluoresce from the literature or trial and error.

One intriguing group of fluorescent materials in view of the growing concern over obesity are oils and fats. The oils in nuts fluoresce as does olive oil with colours depending on purity or additives and country of origin. 

Its use to enhance commerical products is inescapable as fluorescent paints and inks entice us as they visually jump out shouting ‘Buy me!’ and our bank notes are checked for forgeries at the till.

We may not ever see blacklight with our eyes except the very hint of indigo or violet but we can see and wonder at its effects.

This whole text with photographs is available as a pdf 

Confusion of terminology

In the literature luminescence, phosphorescence and fluorescence are often used interchangeably which can lead to confusion.


The emission of light from a substance when exposed to light.

Fluorescence and luminescence are generally used to describe the effect of excitation caused by ultraviolet and blue light. Luminescence is usually associated with infrared luminescence, which is stimulated by blue/green light.

In fluorescence and luminescence as soon as the light source is turned off the emission of light stops, ending within about 10-8 seconds after extinction if not faster. Substances that fluoresce on their own are said to ‘Autofluorescence’ in many uses of fluorescence fluorescent markers are used to make non-fluorescent things fluoresce.

Fluorescence can also include the action of blue or blue-green light on chemicals. One in common use is fluorescein which fluoresces green/yellow and is used in contact lens assessment and diagnostically in eye conditions.


The emission of light from a substance when exposed to light which continues after the light source is turned off.

In phosphorescence:

1. Light is absorbed by the material

2. Light is released over a period of time

Barium sulphide, calcium sulphide or strontium sulphide. A card painted with calcium sulphide well known as luminous paint - fluoresces greenish/blue. In a darkroom it will continue to glow for a time depending on the length of exposure and intensity of the exciting radiation.


Light is created by physiological or chemical means within a biological organism for example the Angler fish, glowworms and fireflies.


Light created by the mixing of two chemicals which react and energy is released in the form of light.


Emission of light brought about by grinding certain crystalline substances. Sugar when crushed luminescent sparkles are visible. 


Emission of light by a material solely because it is heated which occurs when thermal energy is transformed into light energy. For example carbon particle in candle flame, liquid molten metal, emits a continuous spectrum of colour.

Luminous materials were known in the times of the Greeks and Romans. Aristotle mentions the sea, meat and some fungi (rotting wood). 

Then in the 17th century phosphorescent substances were discovered “the marvellous light-absorbing and light-emitting luminous minerals”. 

Casciorolo (1602-4) working in Bologna, discovered that barium sulphide when put between red-hot coals became luminous.

In 1674 Christoph Adolph Balduin (1632–1682) first produced calcium nitrate. Everything in a glass vessel after being highly heated and dried up was found to be luminous. Named it ‘Balduin’s phosphorus’ (‘phosphorus’ means carrier of light).

Since these minerals were stimulated to phosphorescence by a preceding exposure to radiation or sunlight and emitted a fairly bright light, they were looked upon as a magnet or a kind of sponge which could suck up light and give it out again.

Dr. Brand in 1674-5 attempted to distil human urine and in this way discovered phosphorus. 

In 1801 JW Ritter (1776-1810) discovered ultraviolet rays. When he covered paper with damp freshly prepared silver chloride and let the solar spectrum act on it in a darkroom he saw that the action began first beyond the ultraviolet and only then proceeded towards the violet.

He also noted that silver chloride paper already exposed to diffused daylight that had turned slightly dark became darker in the violet end of the spectrum but lighter in the red end. This observation first pointed to the antagonism of the chemical effect of violet and red light.

Becquerel (1820-91) showed that nearly all fluorescent substances are phosphorescent although in some cases the phosphorescence may continue for only a fraction of a second. 

Phosphors are used on TV screens and monitors that used cathode ray tubes (CRT). Green phosphors are used with Oscilloscopes and for Scanning Electron Microscopy.

Two years after the invention of the daguerreotype, John William Draper (1811-1882) recognised that in every chemical change in a substance caused by light. Light rays of a definite wavelength are absorbed and that it is this absorption which produces the photochemical change.

Stokes, employing fluorescent substances in 1852 found that quartz transmits most ultraviolet rays which led Crookes (1854) to the spectrography of the ultraviolet region with the wet collodion process.

In 1901 Max Planck (1858-1947) demonstrated that the absorption and emission of light, which is of a photoelectric nature, takes place in so-called quanta or packets of energy.

Following on from Planck, in 1905, Albert Einstein (1879-1955) showed that radiation exists in packets in all circumstances and gave the name ‘photons’ to the free-travelling quanta of light.

When light is absorbed an electron or electrons move to higher energy levels. This increases the energy level of the molecule. 

The 1st Law of photochemistry is that no photochemical (or subsequent photobiologic) reactions can occur unless radiation is absorbed. 

Absorption of light involves the transfer of energy, hv, from light to individual molecules in the chemical.Substances all have their own absorption spectrum.

The longer the wavelength the less energy. The shorter the wavelength the more energy. This is the main reason why ultraviolet and blue light are more likely to cause fluorescence because they have a higher energy.

Ultraviolet light is directed onto the specimen by Woods Lamp so the fluorescence is visible or using an ultraviolet transmission filter over a flashgun termed the excitor. The barrier filter is an ultraviolet cut-off filter for example 2E. 

Effect of using different UV cut-off filters

By changing the ultraviolet cut-off filter to one which cuts off more ultraviolet light it is possible to enhance the quality and definition of the colour image produced.

1A Skylight - Not recommended

2B Useful for cutting off excessive UV from flash and sky easy to obtain for UV fluorescence work.

2E Usual barrier filter for fluorescence work.

3, 6,9 or 12 Increasing cut-off deeper yellow can however cut-off some blue fluorescence.

It is important to make sure your filters do not fluoresce under UV as this reduces image quality.

Kodak colour compensating filters can occasionally improve the purity of colours CC20Y + light balancing 81EF (Wratten 81EF is brownish used to lower colour temperature).

Exposure times are in the order of seconds 1 - 10 seconds, f/5.6 - f/8, but may be longer with faint fluorescence so would need to allow for the reciprocity characteristics of the film.

Routinely I use Velvia 50 ASA slide film for greater colour saturation but to begin with it is sensible to use a 400 ASA colour negative film which has a greater exposure latitude. 

Daylight film is the preferred choice but tungsten balanced film can also be used but it is more sensitive to blue light so gives a profound blue cast in the presence of any stray UV.

A digital camera can also be used but should be set on daylight rather than auto white balance. 

If doing comparative work it is also good to take a control photograph under normal light as above showing normal and fluorescent photographs of a stalagmite.

Subject  Colour
Colourless solution of eosin and acriflavine  Brilliant green
Mustard made into a solution and then dried  Green
Hen’s egg - brown fresh  Brilliant scarlet
Quinine detected weak solutions  Electric blue
Sodium salicylate  Like a star
Tinea - ringworm  Bright metallic green
Squamous cell carcinoma  Glows like hot coals
Secretions of the skin, fingers and nails  Delicate blue
Urine  Pale blue
Teeth  Bright white
Decay, plaque or false teeth   No fluorescence
Seborrheic eczema Dull brownish-yellow
Psoriasis (on underside of scales)  Silver white light, (pink)
Paraffin wax + paraffin oil  Blue
Quinine in drinks like tonic water Blue
Fluorspar Blue
Alcoholic solution of chlorophyll Red
Crystalline lens of eye under suitable conditions  Bright blue

Forensic uses include drugs e.g. Lysergic Acid (LSD) which can be detected by absorption and excretion of quite small quantities. Mineral oils fluoresce differently from vegetable oils e.g. compare mineral oil, linseed oil, paraffin, vaseline etc. using oil spots on paper. Precious stones and pearls fluoresce differently depending on their origins. Wool can be distinguished from cotton and silk.

Baudot P Andre JC. (1985) Identification and quantitative determination of LSD by fluorescence: new data United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Bulletin January 1st : 79 –93. Accessed July 5th 200 url http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/bulletin/bulletin_1985-01-01_1_page007.html

Berry J P Cheshire J D Woolf L I. (1954) The photography of paper chromatograms. Med Biol Illustr; 4: 223-8.

Biek L. (1969) Soil silhouettes. In: Brothwell D Higgs E., eds. Science in archaeology. 2nd Ed; 11-23. Plates 7 & 8. (54 refs). General interest archaeology, not specifically regarding ultraviolet techniques.

Blackman JR, Lanzafame RJ, Rogers DW et al. (1990) Fluorescence photography: A diagnostic tool for the surgical setting. J Biol Photogr; 5 (1): 1-10. 44 refs.

Blaker, Alfred A. (1989) Handbook for scientific photography. - 2nd ed. - Boston; London : Focal. 

Blaker, Alfred A., (1988). - Photography : art and technique. - 2nd ed. - Boston; London : Focal.

Bruun-Jenson J. (1969) Fluorescein angiography of the anterior segment. Am J Ophthalmol; 67: 842-5.

Ciuffreda KJ. (1975) Understanding fluorescein contact lens photography: equipment and materials. J Am Optom Assoc; 4 (7): 706-13. 33 refs.

Cowper G. (1990) The fluorescein dye disappearance test. Br J Photogr; Sept 13: 18-19.

Engel C E (Ed). (1968) Photography for the scientist. London: Academic Press.

Gates P. (1991) The plant anatomy light show. New Scientist; Feb 9: 42-3.

Kodak (1972) Ultraviolet and fluorescence photography. Rochester: Eastman KodakCo; Publication M-27.

Ritchie P R Pugh J. (1963) Ultraviolet radiation and excavation. Antiquity; 37: 259-63. Plates 34-37.

Ruddick R F. (1980) UV fluorescence photography. Photogr J; 119 (8): 381-3.

Webster R. (1973) Photographic techniques in forensic gemmology. Forensic Photogr; 2 (3): 2-8.

Wong D. Techniques of fundus photography. Kodak: Topics in biomedical photography M3-718.

Wood R W. (1920) Photography by invisible rays. Photogr J; 34 (10): 329-38.

Zuckerman AJ. (1983) Fluorescein fluorescence photography for the evaluation of burn injury. J Biol Photogr; 51 (2): 33-5. 9 refs. 

Published in Exhibitions


Sunday, 06 August 2017 18:04

1997 In a different light . . . . , Green Lane Cupboard Show, February 1997. (Demonstration of ultraviolet fluorescence)

1997 . . . . lichens again, Green Lane Cupboard Show, November 1997. (Show of colour photographs and lichens) 

1998 Flora of North-East Mallorca 1998 - Exhibition Green Lane Corridor, January 1999, with some student work, accompanied by a website. 

1999/2000 Green Lane - Joint staff and student exhibition, Mallorca 1999, December 3rd, 1999-January 14th of 2000. 

1999 Tiger Bay - Cardiff. Black and white infrared and solarized prints. Green Lane Staff Exhibition, September/October 1999.

2000 In a different light .  .  . new ultraviolet fluorescence work for Heads Exhibition, Derby Museum and Art Gallery, Jan 14th - Feb 27th.

2006 Blacklight, Ex Libris exhibition series, Open Studio, University of Derby, Green Lane Campus, March, http://photolibrary.cladonia.co.uk/-/galleries/scientific-images/ultraviolet-fluorescence.

2015 Photographs of Penguin Skull and Fluorescence of Eggs, International Images for Science, Royal Photographic Society, Dye House Gallery, Bradford. Touring exhibition 

2016 Photograph of 3rd Molar in Maxilla, International Images for Science, Royal Photographic Society/Seimens, https://rps-science.org/about/2016-winners/ .

Published in Research

Published photographs

Sunday, 06 August 2017 18:00

Boden, A. (1992) Three Choirs: A History of the Festival - Gloucester, Hereford, Worcester. Jersey: Sutton Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-0750900829.

Cassar-Pullicino V.N. MaCall I.W. Strover A.E. (1994) MRI of the knee following prosthetic anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction. Clin Radiol 49: 89-99.

Hurle P. & Winsor J. (1985) Portrait of Malvern. Chichester: Phillimore and Co Ltd. 978-0850335712 Portrait jacket cover and reproduction of black and white photographs.

Levick, P. (1989) Blepharoplasty and Rhinoplasty, “Your Life in their hands”, BBC TV, February. http://www.bmihealthcare.co.uk/consultant/consultantdetails?p_name=Paul-Levick&p_id=41678

Lightman, S., Prof. (ed)(1998) An Illustrated History of Acromegaly: Diagnosis and Treatment (Slide resource kit). Ipsen Ltd, Produced by Medical Action Communications Ltd. Uses information and pictures based on my research into the History of Acromegaly and Gigantism.

Loxton, H. (1990) The Noble Cat. London: Merehurst Press, London. ISBN 9781853911491.

McCann J. (2005) Material requirements for the design of performance sportswear. In: Shishoo R (ed), Textiles in sports. Cambridge: Woodhead Publishing Ltd.

Strover AE Rouholamin E Guirguis N Behdad H. (1991) An arthroscopic technique of demonstrating the pathomechanics of the suprapatellar plica. Arthroscopy 7(3): 308-10.

Strover, A. E. (1993) The ABC anterior cruciate ligament implant. In: Strover, A.E. (Ed) (1993) Intra-articular reconstruction of the anterior cruciate ligament. London: Butterworth Heinemann.

Vaishya R. Strover A. (1990) Bilateral cysts of the lateral femoral trochlea. Acta Orthopaedica Belgica 56(3-4): 617-9.

Range of photographs to support authors of chapters in McCann J & Bryson, D. (eds.) (2009) Smart Clothes and Wearable Technology. Cambridge: Woodhead Publishing Limited.

Cosmetic surgery -  Local and national newspapers, Worcester Evening News, Birmingham Evening Mail and Post, Western Mail, Woman’s Realm, Woman’s Own, BBC TV Glasgow, Sky TV, Central TV and other media.

Medico-legal - Central TV and ‘The Sun’, James Whale Radio Show.

General interest - Cat breeds, published nationally and internationally in books and magazines; Three Choirs Festival, Radio Times, English Choral Festivals. 

Published in Research

Digital imaging and image processing means that we now have capabilities far beyond what was possible with silver technologies including; High dynamic range imaging (HDRI), stitching and focus stacking and combinations of these techniques. This presentation will show examples of what is possible and how photography can aid your research and its visual impact.

“The sensitive photographic film is the true retina of the scientists . . . . for it possesses all the properties which science could want; it faithfully preserves images which deposit themselves upon it, and reproduces and multiplies them indefinitely on request; in the radiative spectrum (electromagnetic spectrum) it covers a range more than double that which the eye can perceive and soon perhaps will cover it all; finally it takes advantage of the admirable property which allows the accumulation of events, and whereas our retina erases all impressions more than a tenth of a second old, the photographic retina preserves them and accumulates them over a practically limitless time.” P.C.Janssen 1888

Recent presentation given to the Annual Conference of the Environmental and Sustainability Research Centre, University of Derby.

See presentation on SlideShare

Version 1.0 Silver technology
Version 2.0 The New Photography from 1895 i.e. X-rays
Version 3.0 The development of digital image processing

Published in Scientific

Frequently asked questions

Monday, 17 September 2012 02:32


Q Why are photographs necessary?

A The old saying "a picture is worth a thousand words" is especially true in personal injuries. Your consultant reports on your injuries with written descriptions but it can be difficult for a solcicitor, insurance company or ther courts to visualize what you are injuries look like from these. Photographs show the extent of the injuries including any deformity, scarring or lack of joint movement that no number of words can convey. Taken together with the consultant's report they enhance the medical evidence for your case.

Q When will I need to be photographed?

A This depends on your injuries. The usual time is from three months, six months to several years after the injury. This is to give time for your injuries to have settled and for the long terms effects (prognosis) to be clear so any compensation can be accurately calculated.  There are several exceptions to this; injuries that do not stay around for every long e.g. a skin condition or burns, where it is important to record the actual injury as this can help demonstrate your pain and suffering. These should be photographed as soon as possible and preferably before or while you are receiving treatment. You may even have these photographed in the hospital as part of your care. Your injuries may already have been photographed in Accient and Emergency or in the operating theatre and these will also be useful to your solicitor.  You may also have photographs taken at regular intervals as you undergo further surgery or treatment or some early on and another set once your injuries have settled.

Q Why should I come to you for photographs?

A As with any service you require it is best to see a specialist, whether it is a consultant or personal injury lawyer, the same applies to personal inujury photography. It is necessary to have a background in Clinical Photography to produce the best quality photographs and an understading of the additonal requirements for personal injuries to record features that help demonstrate not only the injuries but the effect they have on you and your life.  David Bryson has had over 30 years experience as a personal injury photographer and is a qualified clinical photographer. He has the range of specialist cameras and lenses that may be required e.g. for theatre and dental photography, and has written papers for journals and presented aspects of personal injury photography to train other photographers in the necessary techniques. To contact me e-mail me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Q How should I go about having my injuries photographed?

A If you are seeing a solicitor show them this webpage and ask for them to send you to us. They will then send a letter or e-mail instructing us and we will call you in for an appointment.

If you are seeking compensation through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/criminal-injuries-compensation-authority, and they have asked you to obtain photographs  (You shouldn't send photographs with your initial application to them) telephone or e-mail for an appointment and bring your CICA request form with you and any other informnation you have like a consultant's report as this helps us know what needs to be photographed.

If you are not seeing a solicitor yet you should contact the Law Society, http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/for-the-public/faqs/accident-and-injury-specialists/ or Association of Personal Injury Lawyers https://www.apil.org.uk/ who will give you a list of solicitors in your area. Your local library and Citizens Advice Bureau will have a list of solicitors and if it is work related and you are a member of a Trade Union they can help with your claim.

Q I don't live in the East Midlands so where can I find a photographer locally?

A There are many specialist personal injury photographers around the country and they can be found using the Find a professional page on the Institue of Medical Illustrators website http://www.imi.org.uk/find-a-professional or the Committee for Accreditation of Medical Illustration Practitioners Register http://www.camip.org.uk. It is likely that your local hospital will have a Clinical Photography or Medical Illustration department and they will either have the expertise themselves or recommend someone to you. These sites are best as it gives you details for a qualified professional clinical photographer rather than a social photographer.

Published in Personal Injury

What is personal injury photography?

Saturday, 05 August 2017 02:24

The term "Personal Injury Photography" covers a number of areas of specialisation under the same overall heading and often are called by them rather than personal injury photography. For example; medicolegal photography, scar photography and occasionally legal photography.

This type of photography fits in the area between Forensic Photography and Clincal Photography and covers similar areas of practice though with an emphasis on civil litigation rather than criminal as with Forensic practitioners.

Personal Injuries

Personal injuries are all too common whether from road traffic accidents, at work, due to negligence or attacks and the process of claiming compensation can cause additonal worry on top of the injury itself. The personal injury photographic service that we provide aims to ease one of the areas that can be embarrassing by providing a caring professional photographic service where confidentiality and your well-being are paramount.

Types of photography

Personal injury photography is not undertaken lightly and should only be done by qualified medical photographers who have then gone on to work and learn about the specialist requirements of personal injury photography.

Techniques used include; specialised lighting, photography of joint motion, operating theatre photography, qualified to take photographs in clinics, hospitals and prisons.

Who takes the photographs?

David Bryson: I have been involved in this specialist area of practice since 1983 when I set up in the Worcester & Bromsgrove area as a Medical and Medicolegal Photographer. Since then I have photographed a wide range of clients for solicitors. This includes photography in my own studio, hospital wards, clinics and operating theatres, clients' homes and visiting Winsome Green and Long Lartin prisons. I have published several journal papers and articles and presented at local, national and international meetings and conferences about the principles and practice of personal injury photography.  I have also developed and led study days on personal injury photography. 

Next Steps...

If you are looking to have photographs taken for a personal injury please pass on my details to your solicitor, more details via FAQs.

If you are a photographer and would like to know more about how to undertake Personal Injury Photography please look at my research papers and sign-up to my website and newsletter ready for more details about my Online Learning Materials.

Published in Personal Injury

Costs and charges

Monday, 17 September 2012 02:20

For any work we have an hourly rate of £100/hr with a minimum of 1 hour. For full days or longer periods please ask for a quote, we do not normally charge for traveling unless a long distance i.e. outside the East Midlands.

For Personal Injury Photography we produce 1 set of photographs on A4 sheets, £5/sheet. Each sheet will have between 1 and 2 photographs. We also provide an Adobe Acrobat pdf file for your use along with a licence and advice for printing further copies. We advise that colour photocopies may not be of high enough quality for court use.

Images for scientific photography or other projects are loaded for access directly from our online web gallery in client protected folders. Files available as RAW (Via dropbox) or jpg (http://photolibrary.cladonia.co.uk), unless you have the capability of converting from RAW e.g. NEF files we would advise accessing full-size jpgs.

For any specific projects we would recommend that you request a quotation.


Published in Personal Injury

Personal Injury Photography

Registered with the Academy of Healthcare Science, approved by the professional standards authority
Registered with the Academy of Healthcare Science, approved by the professional standards authority


Do you want to understand how your camera works so you can take better photographs?

Why not look at the learn2photograph website for courses from the "Introduction to Photographic Theory" through to Professional Courses for  "Personal Injury Photography".

Available soon