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Authors: Prof. Robin Williams and Gigi Williams

Important contributions to the field (1800-2000)

There is a substantial base of published literature on invisible radiation photography - although most of it relates to infrared photography. Unfortunately, much of it is repetitive, out-of-date, or inaccurate, and to record them all here would serve no useful purpose. This review serves only to highlight those significant "milestones" in the development of the reflected ultraviolet photographic technique. Key references to applications of the technique can be found in the biomedical applications and in the applications gallery.

The beginnings of reflected ultraviolet photography can be found back in 1801, when Ritter discovered the ultraviolet spectrum. It wasn't until the twentieth century, however, that any photographic records in these spectra were made.

In February 1903, Professor Robert Wood described the invention of a filter for ultraviolet transmission which would exclude all visible light. In his paper he presented landscapes, lunarscapes and geological photographs all taken with the reflected ultraviolet method.

In 1919 Wood was the first to present ultraviolet photographs of the human body. The first photograph with the reflected ultraviolet technique showed a face, while another two photographs of hands demonstrated the beginnings of a fluorescence technique. Robert Wood has also been one of the first to record infrared images and was therefore truly the founder of all invisible radiation photography.

Other key dates have been:

1938 - Dent presented the first documented use of the reflected ultraviolet method in medicine.

1951 - Dement and Culbertson were the first to apply reflected ultraviolet photography to dentistry.

1959 - Lunnon and Lindenstam, working independently, were the first to use electronic flash for reflected ultraviolet photography.

1966 - Mustakallio and Korhonen were the first to use an ultraviolet sensitive television tube to record the reflected ultraviolet image.

1973 - Cameron et al .demonstated that it was possible to record "old" injuries in forensic medicine by the reflected ultraviolet method.

1975 - Goldstein et al. Published large-scale studies of skin cancer using reflected ultraviolet photography.

1982 - Marshall applied electronic techniques to both ultraviolet and infrared recording of pigmented lesions of the skin.

1988 - Murray was the first to use digital image capture & analysis techniques on the reflected ultraviolet image for the diagnosis and assessment of pigmented lesions.


  • Cameron, J., Ruddick, R. and Grant, J., 1973, "Ultraviolet photography in medicine," Forensic Photogr. 2 (3):9-12.
  • DeMent, J. and Culbertson, R., 1951, "Comparative photography in dental science,' Dent. Radiogr. Photogr. 24 (2):28-34.
  • Dent, R., 1938, "The photographic illustration of medical subjects," Photogr. J.78:197-207.
  • Goldstein, N., Wilder, N. Mita, R. and Chinn, D., 1975, "Ultraviolet photography of skin cancers and nevi," Cutis 16:858-865.
  • Lindenstam, B., 1959, "The use of ultraviolet light in dental photography," Med. Biol. Illustr. 9 (1):26-29.
  • Lunnon, R., 1959, "Direct ultraviolet photography of the skin," Med. Biol. Illustr 9 (3):150-154.
  • Marshall, R., 1982, " A television method for measuring infrared and ultraviolet reflectances of pigmented lesions," J. Audiovis. Media Med. 5:51-55.
  • Murray, A., 1988, "A routine method for the quantification of physical change in melanocytic naevi using digital image processing," J. Audiovis. Media Med. 11:52-57.
  • Mustakallio, K. & Korhonen, P., 1966, "Monochromatic ultraviolet photography in dermatology," J. Investig. Derm. 47:351-356.

< Biomedical applications: Miscellaneous

References in the published literature >

© 2002 Prof. Robin Williams and Gigi Williams - Disclaimer
Last modified: 3 May 2002