A Fairy Tale Beginning...

Have you ever seen those Disney movies with all the beautiful flowers opening and dancing – growing from seed to full bloom before your eyes? Then you’ve seen the work of Dr. John Nash Ott. Dr. Ott is known as the father of time lapse photography. In fact, he was asked by the Walt Disney Company to film the entire growth of a pumpkin for Disney animators to draw the transformation of Cinderella’s pumpkin into a carriage.

Filming had to take place indoors to protect the extensive camera equipment. At first the plant would grow and then die. Dr. Ott tried several things, but nothing would work. Then he changed the lighting. What he found was that under some lighting conditions, only male pumpkin flowers grew, but no females. The lights were adjusted and then only females were produced, but no males. After several experiments, Dr. Ott was able to provide the proper range of light wavelengths and the pumpkin grew.

Not only did he help Cinderella arrive at the ball, but this remarkable work sparked his imagination leading him to explore the benefits of natural daylight and how it can help people see and feel better. Learn more about OttLite's healthy lighting.

Dr. Ott Fun Facts

  • Time-lapse photography work featured in Walt Disney’s Secrets of Life (1956)
  • Known as the father of full-spectrum lighting
  • Developed the first sunlight lamp
  • Born October 23, 1909 and lived to be 90 years old
  • Was in the US Navy
  • Retired from banking in 1948 to pursue time-lapse photography full time
  • Rumor has it that in the 1980s, Dr. Ott told Cincinnati Reds' scout Rex Bowen that the green underside of the visor in most baseball caps could hamper player's performance. He recommended a switch to gray. The same year the Reds went on to win the National League pennant!


  • Dancing Flowers (1950)
  • Exploring The Spectrum (1960)

Published Works

  • Exploring the Spectrum
  • Health and Light: The Effects of Natural Daylight and Artificial Light on Man and Other Living Things
  • Health and Light: The Extraordinary Study that Shows How Light Affects Your Health and Emotional Well Being
  • Light, Radiation and You - How to Stay Healthy
  • My Ivory Cellar - The Story of Time-Lapse Photography


  • National Eye Research Foundation - Grand Honour Award
  • Light & Health Research Council, London - Appointed as Trustee
  • The Society for Clinical Ecology - The Jonathan Forman Gold Medal