PEI·Photos

Instagram takeover: Brian Wagner, the 'fluorescent chemist'

There's a reason Brian Wagner's Instagram handle is @flurescent_chemist — he's a chemistry professor at UPEI and a spectroscopist, someone who studies the way light interacts with matter.

'I like to use photography to try to capture images that might be different'

Brian Wagner, a chemistry professor at UPEI, says he enjoys photography because taking photos is a science. (Jesara Sinclair/CBC)

CBC P.E.I. is featuring a local photographer on our Instagram page every Wednesday this summer. This week, we're showcasing the work of Brian Wagner.

There's a reason Brian Wagner's Instagram handle is @flurescent_chemist — he's a chemistry professor at UPEI and a spectroscopist, someone who studies the way light interacts with matter.

"I'm very interested in capturing light, and really to me, photography is a science. It's about capturing light," he said.

"My work is on fluorescence, which is the light that molecules give off, so photography is a natural here because I can capture that light in a photograph and show very nicely and very representatively what I'm doing in the research lab."

'Science is an everyday thing'

Wagner says a big part of what he posts to Instagram is with the aim of sharing science with the public, but he also enjoys being able to put an artistic slant on his chemistry work.

This photo shows a fluorescence rainbow inside Wagner's laboratory. It's a series of seven different chemical solutions, with different fluorescent molecules, to create the colours of the rainbow. (Brian Wagner)

The photo of the fluorescent rainbow shows what happens when different molecules are put into chemical solutions, but can also take on a different meaning.

He posted a photo of a different rainbow in his lab to show love, support and solidarity for the LGBTQ community following the Orlando shootings.

Experimenting to get the best shot

Wagner used to take photographs on film, but about two years ago he got a digital SLR camera — a Nikon 5200 — and developed a new passion for photography.

As a scientist, he plays around with different settings in an experiment to get the best shot.

Brian Wagner used a long exposure to create a different effect on the water of this bubbling brook in Winsloe. (Brian Wagner)

This photo shows a brook just off the Confederation Trail in Winsloe, taken with the camera positioned on a tripod and a long exposure.

"I like to use photography to try to capture images that might be different from what you would just see when you're looking at something," said Wagner.

A different perspective

This photo of Confederation Centre was taken from the roof of Fishbones Oyster Bar & Grill in Charlottetown on Canada Day.

This photo shows off the perfect blue skies over Charlottetown's Confederation Centre on Canada Day, as well as the flowers in full bloom on the plaza. (Brian Wagner)

"It gave a perspective on Charlottetown and the Confederation Centre that you normally don't have from street level," he said.

In the backyard

This fox is a regular in Wagner's backyard in West Royalty, and since his camera is "always at the ready," he says he's been getting a bit of a reputation for capturing a lot of fox photos.

This photo was taken in March, while the fox that frequents Wagner's backyard in West Royalty was taking a snooze. (Brian Wagner)

"It was very contentedly sleeping under a bush in my backyard so I was able to get fairly close and, with a telephoto lens, get a very nice close-up portrait of this fox," he said.

The strawberry full moon

Another of Wagner's hobbies is astronomy — but the lack of light poses a challenge for photographers.

He's learned to "shoot the moon" at dusk or dawn, so he can get detail of both the moon and of the foreground without over-exposing the moon.

Wagner photographed the strawberry full moon in June as it rose over Stratford, P.E.I. (Brian Wagner)

This photo is of the strawberry full moon in June, taken in Victoria Park, looking across at Stratford, P.E.I.

Are you snapping photos of the Island as well? Tag @cbcpei in your photos to share them with us. If you're interested in doing a take-over of our account this summer, send us a direct message.

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