Through the years I have enjoyed shooting under black light. Originally at Goth Clubs and others that I would explore with my camera. Once I built my studio, I installed black lights immediately to the right and left of the stage plus two banks overhead in front of the stage. I also have 2 other banks that I move around as needed to get close to the object or person I am photographing.
Initially in my studio and other locations I have been fortunate enough to be allowed to borrow for my concepts, I have primarily used clothing to get neon greens, reds, pinks, yellows, blues, etc against black skin. It gives the impression of the "Invisible Man" but in fishnet stockings, panties, scrunchies, etc. For an advanced photography class, I covered the model "Madrid" from head to toe in glow in the dark make-up and then applied non glow in the dark make-up for a tribal appearance as well as making her the hour and minute hands of a clock. But, I never thought of Tonic Water.
A model that I worked a lot with in 2008-2009 recently said we should use tonic water for a glow in the dark shoot. She recently returned from Germany and was living near where I was located for an assignment. Robin brought the black lights, tonic water, detergent (yes, it glows at a different color). This time, I provided the location (In 2008-2009, she provided me access to her dungeon every Wednesday for nearly a year as my photography studio in exchange for doing shots she needed occasionally - a huge bargain for me as the shots for her were amazing). But, I digress.
The problem with shooting with Robin was the shower was converted into the studio. All the equipment, the angles needed, keeping the room black, and the camera and the electrical equipment dry was extremely difficult. Although some of the shots were very cool, I needed to continue exploring this way to light the figure.
Once I returned home, I reached out to Carol Ballard whom I have photographed numerous times. For those of you familiar with my art, you probably recall the woman with the tattoo of a snake on the left breast with its mouth open striking at her areola. Carol said yes and asked what make-up and clothing would I need. This was the simplest of shoot requirements! No model preparation needed.
The stage consisted of a black velvet backdrop, a galvanized tub sitting on top of a plastic tarp, two banks of black lights standing vertically & moved to within 2 feet from Carol each flanking Carol at 45 degrees. I had the Canon 5D Mark 2 on a tripod with a remote trigger set to 1/15 second at f3.2. And 5 quarts of tonic water!
For those of you who do not know what tonic water is, it can be found as a mixer with alcohol, such as a gin and tonic. It is slightly bitter, but is carbonated and contains corn syrup so you will feel sticky as when you spill a Coke on your lap.
When it was time to shoot, the remote trigger decided to malfunction. And the cable release was too short. Why were these required you ask? Have you ever tried to get into a pose so that a liquid will run down your nude body, in a slippery tub, and hold a quart bottle above your shoulder and pour, while holding your head up yet try to see of it is flowing down your body in a solid stream, lighting your tattoo? Try it, I'll wait...........
Setting the trigger to go off in 10 seconds, I had the honor of bracing (not embracing) Carol from behind (not her behind) so she would not slip. When the camera was about to fire, I would pour the tonic water. After several shots, we changed the pose.
Sitting Carol down in the tub simplified the shoot and provided us between control. I prefer this image above over the other tonic water images. Even at 1/15th of a second, you can see the snake tattoo through the bubbles of the tonic water, yet the 15th of a second allows enough movement of the fluid to yield a creamier texture on her body.
Does anyone have a pool I can borrow and fill with tonic water? After the shoot, you can add gin and onions, not olives!