If you're expecting to read this and figuring out how to take photos like this using your 4-6W lamp and your smartphone just turn off. Not possible 2015.
There are currently many things that prevent smartphones from being able to take proper fluorescent photos. This post will explain some of the nuances and how to best correct for them
- Lack of long exposures. Most smartphones today only allow you to take exposures that are a fraction of a second long. The best I've seen is 1 second. I've seen a couple apps that advertise being able to control this but I had no success with this. It'd be great if you could just take a 10-20 second exposure on a phone!
- Lack of aperture control. You don't want to allow any mineral photo to have an aperture of f/2 or however low your camera allows you to go. This will result in lost detail of your specimen. Unfortunately you don't have a choice. In order to properly compensate for the low light your phone has to do something!
- Small sensor size. Smaller sensor = less light gathered.
However, there are things that one can do to take better photos with their smartphone of choice. Below is an outline of several things that will improve your photos despite your lack of proper photographic equipment.
- Pick a smaller specimen. Less surface area to light up.
- Bring your UV light source much closer. In the photo on the left I had my lamp about 2 inches away from the specimen with the photo taken at a 45° angle.
- Stabilization. Either use a tripod or wedge your phone between something that'll keep it steady as soon as you tap the button.
Features to look for in a smartphone app:
- Noise reduction stacking (?) Hard to phrase it as every company tends to give it a different name. I've seen it called night mode, smart stabilization, etc. Basically what this does is take multiple photos and stack the images to reduce ISO noise. You can tell your app is doing this when your phone stutters after taking the photo. In some cases it might show an animation to illustrate that several photos are being taken or have a processing bar.
- ISO control. Go from high to low and see which one looks best. Be as greedy as possible and select the lowest ISO number you can get away with. The lower the number the more detail is in your photo.