Saturday, April 18, 2009

Infrared Flowers

The fun thing about infrared photos is how unpredictable the images can be.

In San Diego's Balboa Park (where I visited a couple of times over the last few weeks), some of the planters were filled with blue and purple delphiniums. Now -- if you remember your physics and your studies of the electromagnetic spectrum, an object appears blue when it reflects blue light and absorbs green and, especially, red light.

Following this line of thought, one might expect blue flowers to absorb infrared radiation as well, since this part of the spectrum lies next to the red frequencies. Nope!! As the accompanying pictures show, blue flowers DO reflect infrared.

I'm not an expert on insects, but I believe they're sensitive to infrared. Thus, if flowers want to be pollinated, they must do their best to attract the pollinators. In this case, it appears that the flower colors we see may not be that important to the bugs. Reflection of infrared may be all insects care about, as well as the scent flowers give off.

I wonder if the infrared photo is closer to what the insects see than what we see.

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