Prism photography Essential tips you need to know about prism photography


Prism photography has recently seen a surge in popularity and rightly so! Photographers love using prisms to create creative, unique photography that sets your photos set apart from other photographers.  Using prisms is so special because you can create amazing effects without the need for prism photography editing in Photoshop, with natural results that are even more impressive than using photo-editing software. 

All you need is a prism to scatter light, which your lens’ optical system receives beautifully. Some photographers even consider their prism photography as ‘prism photography art’.

If you’re wondering how to take great prism photos, we will break it down for you. If you’re interested in prism photography ideas, this article will cover:

    • What is prism photography?
    • How it works
    • Types of prism photography
    • How to take great prism photos


What is prism photography?

Prism photography is photography using prisms to refract and scatter light on the subject of your photograph. 


Prism photography

How it works

White light is a blend of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet, but the different frequencies mix and appear white; travelling at the same speed. The prism works by bending the light and causing the different colours to travel at different speeds inside the prism.  

So, the prism bends and refracts the white light, which disperses into the full spectrum of colours as it bends the spectral colours by different degrees, causing them to split into different wavelengths. By holding a prism in front of your camera, it will refract and scatter the light and you can capture these light distortions on camera to create some cool effects using rainbows and distortions such as lens flares.


Types of prism photography

All prism photography has the same basic principle, using a prism made from glass, plastic or another material to create an in-camera effect. A prism is a clever tool for a photographer to keep as part of their tool kit as it can add some versatility to your images without much need for hard work to make your photos look unique.  Here are the different types of prism you can use for your photography:

Pyramid prism

This is the typical prism that comes to mind. Playing with this kind of prism you can get some great results for creative photography.

Dispersion prism

A dispersion prism doesn’t look like your typical prism – in fact, it is shaped like a cube. The cube has colours inserts into pockets on different sides of the cube’s surface. When light enters the cube, it causes the light to disperse creating a rainbow from all sides. This is great if you want a sensational rainbow effect in your photo.

Sphere prism

Technically, crystal ball photography is a category of its own, and photographers tend to use it to create distortions and a fish-eye effect. However, it can also be used to refract light. If you are looking to create a lot of scattered light, it may not be the ideal option, but if you are looking to use a crystal ball, it can also be used for prismatic effects. 

Fractal filters

A fractal filter is an ingenious camera lens filter that you hold by hand. Fractal filters are made of glass and can be used to create reflections, rainbows, and a kaleidoscope effect. 


Prism photography essentials


How to take great prism photos 

Here are our best tips for taking prism photos.

    • Using a prime lens and a hand-held prism in front is the best option for prism photography. A zoom lens may get too distorted.
    • Using a wide aperture is very important for prism photography. You need your aperture to be wide enough to let the light in, and to create a shallower depth of field, which helps the camera to focus on the subject and not the prism. f2.8 is a good aperture, but feel free to experiment to see how your pictures vary. 
    • Long focal lengths are great for prism photography as it helps the camera to focus on the prism’s reflections. 50mm or longer is ideal for prism photography.
    • Try using artificial lighting, such as a torch. The harsh overhead light that the noonday sun produces is not desirable for prism photography. Using artificial lights such as a torch or other lights will produce a much better effect.
    • Hold your prism at different angles. To create an effect that you like and think you can work with; slowly move your prism to different angles to see whether you like the effect that it produces.
    • Shoot with release priority. The distortions produced by the glass can confuse your camera’s focus settings and then prevents your shutter from releasing. To help this you should use release priority to give you more control.

We hope you enjoyed our essential tips for prism photography! 

If you require a photographer for prism photography or other photography projects, book with Splento. At Splento, we provide you with professional, experienced photographers, per your requirement. Contact a member of the team today to chat about your photography needs. 

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