Home Photography Ideas: Use a prism to take dazzling images

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A simple prism is designed to split the spectrum of white light into separate wavelengths. When white light passes through, we can see the visible spectrum of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.

This stimulated the interest of the Romans and later of various European scientists, notably Sir Isaac Newton. After the establishment of spectroscopy in the 17th century, there were a variety of applications for prisms – one of the most common being, of course, photography.

Many DSLRs have a five-sided prism inside; light enters through the lens, bounces off the mirror and then reflects through the pentaprism, before appearing in the viewfinder.

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However, prisms don’t just help us see what we’re filming; we can also use them to create funky and creative distortions in front of the lens. They diffuse light, reflect the environment, and even add flare and flare to your shots. And of course you can use them traditionally, and have light pass through them in front of a dark background.

It is surprisingly accessible to everyone to try. If you don’t already have one, you can get a prism online inexpensively – you’ll find some links below, or you can try the Lensbaby Omni creative filter system with multiple prism attachments for artistic images.

Buy prism on Amazon US

Buy prism on Amazon UK

How to use a prism for photography

01 GB manual

Use manual mode to set your aperture to f/5.6 and auto ISO, so your camera adjusts sensitivity depending on whether you’re shooting indoors or outdoors. Shooting outdoors or in a bright indoor location works best because there are plenty of light sources to reflect and refract.

02 Framing

When holding the prism in front of the lens for highlights and highlights, hold it close to the front element so you can fill the frame to affect the entire scene. We’ve found a focal length of around 50mm to provide some of the most pleasing results, but don’t be afraid to experiment; you can get different prism sizes and use alternative lenses to vary the effect.

03 Filming the spectrum

Maybe you want to capture the light as it bends through the prism? If so, get a plain, dark background, like a piece of cardboard, on which to place your prism and shine a light with a torch (a phone torch will also do). Just make sure the area is dark so you can see the colors easily.

04 Experiment further

Now that you’re ready, try playing with the prism in a variety of places, both light and dark. It’s fun to add highlights and highlights to portraits, but other scenes can become ethereal when the light is spread widely to produce areas of spectral highlights. There’s really no crazy method here – experimentation is key!

Read more:

The best Lensbaby glasses: the best glasses with funky effects
The best 50mm lens: Which “standard lens” is right for you?
Lensbaby Omni adds a psychedelic twist to its funky effects box

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