Prism photography isn’t exactly a new thing. In fact, many photographers have been taking advantage of the unique, light bending properties of glass and clear resins to add an artistic flare to their images for some time now. The issue previously had been finding a prism that would work for you and fit neatly into your kit. Fractal Filters has recently released their latest set of prisms designed specifically for photographers that meet the need for convenient photo-prisms.
Intro to Prisms
First of all, what is a prism? Prisms, in regards to optics, are transparent elements with flat, polished surfaces with angles between them that refract light.
According to Wikipedia, light changes speed as it moves from one medium to another (for example, from air into the glass of the prism). This speed change causes the light to be refracted and to enter the new medium at a different angle. The degree of bending of the light's path depends on the angle that the incident beam of light makes with the surface, and on the ratio between the refractive indices of the two media. The refractive index of many materials (such as glass) varies with the wavelength or color of the light used, a phenomenon known as dispersion. This causes light of different colors to be refracted differently and to leave the prism at different angles, creating an effect similar to a rainbow.
Prisms and Photography
Since day-one, photographers have been seeking ways to transform their images before ever going into post production. In recent years, wedding and portrait photographers have been creating spectacular and unique images using prisms to catch and bend light coming from off camera flashes and the festive lighting often present at events.
Fractal Filters recently released their latest set of prism filters for photographers, which includes three unique hand-held prism filters.
- Creates blurs/prism effects; optimal for photography and very useful for videography.
- Optimal performance from a focal length of 40mm or longer.
- Optimal performance from a wide aperture (f/5.6 or wider)
- Refractive index of 1.6
- Thin profile ring (7mm)—helping to reduce possibility of vignetting or optical obstruction at wide angles
- Reflective chrome finish—reflecting light and creating bokeh that's a perfect addition to your shots!
- 100mm total diameter—93mm glass diameter + 7mm profile ring. One size fits all.
- Dimensions: 5" x 5.5" x .2" ~.6"
- Filter factor: 1
- Proportion of light transmitted (1/FF): 95-100%
- Number of stops reduced: 0.
- Weight: 20g - 100g
- 3 Pack of Fractals for DSLRs.
- Carrying bag.
- 30 day return, no questions asked.
- Ships in 7-10 business days
What I Like
I received the kit on a Friday, and got out to play with them for a little while on Saturday. Upon opening the box, I was pleased to see that they were packaged in their own carrying case. I’m sure I could have found somewhere to fit them had they not come with the case, but it’s certainly welcome.
If you’re anything like me, just the thought of fingerprints on shiny surfaces gives you anxiety. Thankfully, the prism filters are contained within a metal frame/handle with three finger loops for a secure grip.
Though my time using these filters is limited, I did enjoy using them. I can see myself bringing them along to wedding receptions and for details like ring shots, when there's a little extra time to experiment.
Company owner and creator of these unique filters, Nikk Wong, has sparked a creative interest among a younger generation of photographers. One visit to the Fractal Filters website or their Instragram and you’ll see that they have formed a community of like-minded photographers with an interest in prism photography. Here you can gain inspiration by seeing what other photographers are creating using Fractal Filters. There’s also a quick reference guide to help you get the most out of the kit.
The Fractal Three Pack mentioned above will run you $79.00 USD. Not a bad price at all considering the impact they may have on your images.
I did find that certain effects were difficult to duplicate. It’s sort of a crap shoot when it comes to how an image will turn out. I'd frame a shot, think it was cool, then try to do it again and wouldn't be able to find the right angle to duplicate it. There is a lot of moving the filters back and forth, rotating, and holding them at just the right angle to get an image that’s pleasing and I never felt like I had much control over the outcome. I’m sure the more I use them, the more I’ll get a feel for what each prism is capable of.
I received one filter with a sizeable chip in it and another with a scratch. This was likely caused during shipping, but it made me consider their durability. Not that I expect them to have the properties of steel, but I do get a sense of delicacy when handling them and I'm sure that if one took a fall, it'd likely meet a similar fate to Humpty Dumpty, only I wouldn't be interested in putting it back together again.
Landscapes and Cityscapes
These prism-filters are a great addition to any photographers kit and I look forward to using them during both my portrait sessions and upcoming weddings. I think landscape photographers will have fun with them, bending light and creating reflections, while portrait and event photographers will come up with an unlimited number of ways to add flare to their images. In closing, I think these filters are fun, and that's my take-away.
Do you have experience with shooting through prisms? Show your prism creations in the comments below.