Prism is a small, inexpensive and very easy to use tool that helps you create creative photos. How to use a prism to create special effects without Photoshop and hide a non-photogenic urn at the edge of the frame, read in our material.
Prisms are used in photography when you want to make your photos more interesting. Their ability to refract light helps create beautiful iridescent highlights, surreal reflections, and other optical effects in photos. Depending on which prism you use, you can achieve different results.
How a prism works
Types of prisms for photos
How to choose a prism for a photo
How to take a photo with a prism
Simulate prism effects in Photoshop
In short, in physics, a prism is a transparent object with several faces — rectangles or rhombuses, and two faces — polygons. More than one chapter is devoted to how prisms are arranged and work in physics textbooks. We will be interested in two prism effects:
- a prism is able to divide white light into separate components and create a rainbow (we will use it to create rainbow highlights);
- the prism is able to create internal reflections (to create surreal shots.
Prisms can be quadrangular, pentagonal and hexagonal. The most common is a simple triangular prism. You probably saw these in your school years at a physics lesson.
Prisms are made of glass, crystal and plastic. There are prisms with a more complex composition, but they are usually used for strictly scientific purposes and they cost more than a camera.
For photography, a regular glass prism is suitable. This can be bought, for example, on marketplaces. The cost will be from 900 to 3000 rubles, depending on the size, material and seller.
Suitable for shooting and plastic prisms. The only point is that they can quickly scratch.
Spherical prisms are also often used in photography. Strictly speaking, from the point of view of physics, this is not a prism. But nevertheless, such an accessory is used in photography and allows you to create similar interesting effects in pictures.
There are drop-shaped prisms and prisms of complex shapes. They also give an interesting effect.
There are also lens filters with small prisms built into them and fractal filters. They screw directly onto the lens and also allow you to create creative effects when shooting.
There are filters that have small prisms built into them. They also allow you to create interesting effects. Using these, by the way, is much easier and more convenient than shooting with a conventional triangular prism, which you have to constantly hold in your hand.
If you’ve never shot with a prism and don’t know exactly what result you want, it’s best to start with a simple triangular prism. Unlike fractal filters, it allows you to create more different effects and better master working with prisms in general.
The main question when choosing a prism is what you are going to shoot with. Shooting with a prism in this regard is very democratic. With its help, you can get a spectacular picture both on a cool DSLR and on a budget smartphone.
The size of the prism depends on the lens size of the gadget you are going to shoot with. For optimum effect, the prism should cover one-third to one-half of the lens. If you want to shoot complete surrealism, you need to take a prism that completely hides the lens.
The first thing to do when working with a prism is to wipe it. It doesn’t matter if it’s crystal, glass or plastic. Fingerprints or dirt on the prism will get in your way. To clean the prism, a regular optics cloth will do.
Rainbow highlights. To get a flare, the prism must be held near the lens, but not brought into the frame. You can create a photo with a rainbow highlight only if there is a light source: the sun or artificial.
To get a flare, we bring the prism into the beam of light and twist until the flare appears in the frame.
Lanterns and other sources of artificial light are a little more difficult. To get a rainbow, you need the light that flies into the prism to have a full spectrum. This means that the composition must contain waves of different lengths — otherwise the prism will have nothing to scatter and there will be no rainbow. And for inexpensive flashlights, the light may not contain waves of the entire spectrum, so sometimes instead of rainbow highlights, white ones are obtained.
Reflections. To get reflections, the prism must cover part of the frame. Bring it to the camera and try to move and rotate. The effect that a prism will have is very dependent on the angle of rotation, the direction of the light, and the proximity to the lens.
The distance to the lens, by the way, is very important. If you twist the prism, but you can’t achieve a beautiful reflection, try removing the hood. The picture will change a lot.
The prism can be brought to the lens from different sides and at different angles. And each time the effects will be different.
Kaleidoscope. An interesting surreal frame can be obtained if the prism is brought to the camera with a straight butt.
This effect is easiest to achieve with a smartphone. Because in order to get a kaleidoscope, it is necessary that the prism completely covers the lens.
Prism is like a mirror. With the help of a prism, you can create such surreal shots:
There is another non-obvious way to use a prism: for example, when you need to hide some object at the edge of the frame. We bring the prism in such a way that there is a reflection in place of an unsympathetic urn or something else. And that’s it, no problem.
Also, the prism can be used to shoot events, from which the photos are often quite monotonous. For example, such a problem can arise when shooting concerts.
Some prism effects can be easily simulated in Photoshop. They will be even more manageable than the highlights and reflections that are created with a prism. But on the other hand, for this addition of effects in post-processing, they don’t like it — this approach deprives the photo of some spontaneity and an element of the game, which just gives work with a prism.
Add highlights to photos using Adobe Photoshop. To begin with, we need a frame on which we will apply highlights, and some pictures with isolated highlights. The easiest way to find them is on one of the photo stocks. For example, similar images can be downloaded for free at unsplash.com and pixabay.com. We enter “light leaks” in the search query, and the stock gives several hundred options that can be used.
Open our image in Photoshop, add the downloaded highlight to it as a new layer (read how to work with layers here). Set it to blend mode Screen
You can also try to simulate other prism effects in Photoshop, using the possibilities of layers and masks, experimenting with blending modes. But this requires more time and skills in dealing with graphic editors.
So the best way to get the prism effect is to shoot with a prism. Above all else, it’s fun.