Sometimes an Idea Works, Other Times it Fails

I had a brilliant idea to use dinoflagellates (bioluminescent plankton) for water droplet photography. The dinoflagellates glow when stimulated (i.e. shaken, dropped, impact each other), so I figured they could be used for a unique water drop photo.   However, there was a problem, while I could see the glow of the dinoflagellates; the camera senor even when cranked up to ISO 6400 could not detect the glow at a useful shutter speed to freeze the water drop.   Usually when I do water drop photography, I am somewhere between ISO 100 – 400 with an aperture of F4 - F8 and shutter speed of 1/250 or faster. When using the dinoflagellates I was at ISO 1000 – 3200, with an aperture of F2.8 and a shutter speed of 5 seconds or slower just capture the light the dinoflagellates produced.  Thus, I could not freeze any drops, and the resulting pictures look more like blurry atomic partial traces or abstract art.  Below are a few of the better images after they were edited to get rid of grain and artifacts. 

ISO 6400,  Aperture F2.8, Shutter 2 seconds

ISO 6400,  Aperture F2.8, Shutter 2 seconds

ISO 1000,  Aperture F2.8, Shutter 5 seconds

ISO 1000,  Aperture F5, Shutter 30 seconds

ISO 1600,  Aperture F2.8, Shutter 5 seconds


  1. i am sure you will be able to figure out how to take the pictures especially if you can see the electric interaction with the naked eye. i am sure your final result will be interesting to medical research.


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