Prism Photography: A Step-By-Step Information

Prism Photography: A Step-By-Step Guide

A guide to creative prism photography

Looking to generate stunning photos using prisms? You’ve come to the right location.

In this post, I explain everything you need to understand prism photography, including:

  • How the prism effect works
  • The equipment you need for prism images
  • Easy step-by-step instructions for recording creative prism photos
  • Much more!

By the time you’re done reading, you’ll know how to use prisms like a pro, therefore let’s dive right in, starting with:

What exactly is prism photography?

Prism photography refers to any photographic method that uses a prism to make rainbows, flare, and/or blur effects .

Many prism photographers use standard triangular prisms to make their images:

prism photography guide

But you can also make use of suncatchers, toys, and other innovative prismatic items:

Remember that prism photography tends to make use of prism effects , yet it hardly ever features the prism by itself in the image. For instance, I created this next image simply by positioning the prism therefore close to the lens – around the right-hand side of the framework – that it became a blur:

prism photography guide

As you can see, the offers a effect appears, but the prism itself isn’t really visible.

That said, you can create beautiful prism photos by including the prism within the frame. There’s no correct or wrong method; it’s all about experimentation!

How does prism photography work?

You may be acquainted with triangular prisms from high-school demonstrations on the characteristics of light.  

The physics goes something like this: When a beam of light (made up of different electromagnetic dunes with various wavelengths) strikes a piece of glass straight on, the light passes right through this. But if the beam of light comes into connection with a glass surface into the angle, the waves bend; it is a phenomenon called refraction .

When a beam of light hits a prism at an angle, the lightwaves bend. Then, when the beam exits through the some other side of the prism, the lightwaves bend again. The particular amount that the light bends depends on the wavelengths contained inside the beam of light. Red bends at one angle, violet bends at another angle, and so forth – and  so each color is bent in a different way, producing a rainbow effect.

prism photography guide

Standard lens are not really designed to refract light into a rainbow design. Instead, they’re created for accuracy and optical clarity, and for the most part, this functions very well.

But if you want to capture prismatic effects, you can simply hold a prism in front of your zoom lens. Then, by adjusting the particular prism’s position and angle, you can add some creative results to your photos, including flare-like splashes of color, interesting blur, and even intentional camera movement looks:

prism photography guide

Prism photography: the particular step-by-step guide

In this section, I clarify how to create beautiful prism shots from start to complete.

Step 1 : Gather your materials

Prism photography requires a few simple items. While you might expect, you need a prism of some sort, and I’d really recommend you buy a typical triangular prism. These are highly reliable, and you can grab one for cheap off Amazon or eBay.

Actually many of the images taken in this informative article used a prism I bought on eBay for just some dollars:

What dimension prism is best? You want to keep your prism small enough to be manageable (as you’ll have to hold it in front of the camera with just one hand). I personally like small, 3×1 within (8×2. 5 cm) prisms, though feel free to purchase a few different prisms if you want to test your options.

I’d also recommend transporting a lens cloth; after a bit of shooting, your prism will be covered in finger prints, and you’ll need an easy way to wipe its areas clean.

Step two: Find a nice (stationary) issue

You can do prism photography with any issue, but when just starting out, I’d recommend photographing a close-up, stationary nature subject (such as being a flower or leaf).

prism photography guide

That way, you’ll have plenty of time to experiment with prism positioning – a place won’t run away or obtain impatient! – and if a person shoot outdoors when the lighting is good, you won’t have to worry about using a tripod.

Then, as you become more skilled, you can try using the prism effect on live subjects and in various lighting conditions. For instance, you could have lots of fun with family portrait prism photography. You might also try out dog or cat prism picture taking, assuming your animal will stay in position while you focus plus shoot!

Step 3: Position the prism ahead of the lens

Once you’ve picked a subject, it’s time to position the prism. This is where the fun starts; creating interesting effects having a prism requires a little learning from mistakes, so you’ll need to be patient.

Switch on your camera, then hold the prism a few inches in front of the zoom lens. I’d recommend switching your own lens over to manual focus (lenses don’t do a best wishes autofocusing through glass materials). Then focus on your subject.

Rotate plus adjust the prism, observing carefully until you see the colours appear. I’d recommend making use of Live Look at , which will give you a more accurate sense of the prism’s effect. I’d also recommend placing your camera on a tripod, as juggling the camera in one hand and the prism in the other can be annoying!

prism photography guide

Note that angling the prism far from the lens or altering your position in relation to the sun may also add different effects. Test out the distance between the prism as well as the camera lens, too. Following a few minutes – or times, if you’re lucky! – you will see prismatic effects.

Step 4: Take some shots!

As soon as you get an effect you like, it’s time to shoot. If you’ve followed the advice I offered above, your lens should be focusing (manually) on your main subject, but do 1 last check to ensure you have nailed the point of concentrate.

prism photography guide

Select a relatively wide aperture – you want to blur the prism until the glass itself is not visible – make sure your shutter speed is fast enough for a sharp image, then shoot!

Naturally , before continuing, do a fast review of your image on the camera LCD. Ask yourself: Should i like the effect? To blur the prism further, move it closer to the zoom lens or widen the aperture. To give the prism glass greater presence, move it nearer to the subject or narrow the aperture.

prism photography guide

And once you can create a gorgeous prism effect consistently, try changing up the prisms! We constantly switch between the triangular prism and a cup wine stopper I found while shopping. The wine-stopper prism adds an interesting kaleidoscopic effect, but it also tends to distort the more – so it is fun to experiment and find out what works best!

prism photography guide
My wine-stopper prism!

Prism photography: final words and phrases

prism photography guide

Now that you’ve finished this article, you’re ready to capture some gorgeous prism photos of your own!

So pick up the glass prism and give it a try. Above all, have fun!

Now over to you:

What subjects do you plan to picture with a prism? Share your thoughts (and prism photos! ) in the comments below!

Learning much more from our Ideas & Tutorials category

Megan Kennedy

Megan Kennedy

is a photographer and article writer based in Canberra, Australia. Both her writing and picture taking has been featured in numerous books. More of Megan’s work can be seen at her website or on Instagram at MK_photodiary .

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