Ever since I read FStoppers’ 2013 article about Sam Hurd’s prisming technique I wanted to try it in my own work. Finally last week I gave in and my own brand new triangular glass prism has been arrived from Amazon. I took it with me to Midsteeple Quarter Community Society launch to test how it would fit my urban event photography visual vocabulary.

I noticed many enquiring looks as I held and rotated an 8-inch chunk of glass in front of my 70-200 mm lens. Dumfries Town Crier Douglas Meechan came up and asked me what it was for. I decided to write a blog post for those who saw me using the prism and was either curious or just wanted to see the results. There is an excellent reference guide to prisming online already, so this is only my personal take.

Firstly, I used the prism to disrupt my routine. I shoot quite often in Midsteeple Quarter area as it is the centre of many Dumfries civic activities so I hoped prisming would inject some variety into my craft.

I managed to induce the tell-tale rainbow diffraction in this photo of coloured balloons outside the Midsteeple People popup stall although it was quite difficult on a dull overcast day.

Balloons at Midsteeple Quarter information desk with rainbow diffraction from the prism
Rainbow diffraction

There were many peaceful protest signs decorating the “Soapbox” stage where local politicians were about to appear. I wanted to document the signage as the Stovies invested a lot of work painting them. After a series of fairly matter-of-fact shots for the record  I used the prism to introduce a layer of “subjectivity” into my image.

A photo of signs decorating the stage on the Plainstanes, prisming used to disrupt "objective" point of view
Prisming as a tool for subjective vision

I took advantage of the prism’s reflective facets to mask distracting columns in the background of two protest singers on the stage.

Prism reflection hiding distracting columns behind two musicians on stage
Blocking the unwanted element

Low contrast haze “prismed”  into the bottom half of this mingling snap produced a potential space for type for editorial use.

Dull sky reflected into the bottom the image to allow type
Creating space for type

Priming allows to create in-camera effects similar to double exposure without fiddling with buttons and modes. Here I brought words and people together in the same frame as a compositional device.

In-camera prisming technique as a double exposure simulation
Uniting people and words

And finally, prisming makes you appreciate the imperfect. In the photo below I arbitrarily blurred the edge of the frame depicting the street performer outside the Midsteeple.

Charlie Burns performing during Midsteeple Quarter Community Benefit, the edge of the frame blurred arbitrarily
The charm of imperfection


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