Photography Project: Photographing through a Prisim


Prism photography San Francisco Financial District

I was recently inspired by a Lindsey Adler image,  It was a geometrical abstract portrait she shot on a rooftop in New York City.  Never someone to pass up the opportunity for a project that requires my favorite handy man’s help, I set out to explore this technique with my own interpretation.

The images in this post are from a city walk in San Francisco.  Yes, I walked around for 6 hours with this football-sized prisim in my hand getting stopped by perplexed pedestrians wanting to see what I was up to.  If you’d like to try, here are some tips to get you started:

  • Using duct tape, tape together 3 square mirror approximately 6×6 inches into a triangle shape.  I think it would be better if you can find mirrors without a beveled edge.  I was not successful.  The ones I found at my local craft store had a bevel, and a very tenacious sticker right in the middle that took me 1 hour to remove with solvent.

  • Use a wide angle lens.  I found that 10-16mm on my XT2 was about right.  At the 10mm range you will get distinct multiple triangles.  At the 16 mm range you will get a strong focus on the center subject with narrow “fringe” images.
  • Have a strong subject in the center.
  • Tilt and rotate the prism to make sure you are maximizing interest in every section.  I found photographing with blue sky or street made boring images.

Overall, remember you are framing several images at the same time.  This is the hard part.  I spent most of the day with the pointy part of the triangle facing down.  I found that when I processed the images it was a severe line at the bottom of my frame.  I wished I would have tried more with the flat side parallel with the camera.

Prism image of San Francisco TransAmerica Building


As if I didn’t have enough, I took my prism to Las Vegas a few weeks later.  I’ll post those images in a follow-up post.

Tourists in San Francisco’s Financial District
San Francisco Lunar New Year
San Francisco Lunar New Year
Prism of San Francisco’s Embarcadero Center

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