Prisms, crystal balls, and fractal filters for photographers

Tools for new ways of manipulating light.

reflective ball in hand
Manipulate your photography the old-fashioned way.Dawid Zawila via Unsplash

Long before people started using digital filters to make their pics look like old-school Polaroids, photographers employed analog prisms and fractal filters to play with light. You still can. Create your own signature style with just a camera, crystal glass, and your imagination—whether you’re using 35mm film or a DSLR. If you’re going to use them with your phone’s camera, keep in mind that results can be limited.

A&M Film and Photo Photography Prism

A&M Film and Photo Photography Prism

You are at the end of this rainbow.Amazon

This polyhedron is a classic prism made from professional-grade optical crystal glass. If you’ve never used a prism before, you’ll enjoy splitting the different wavelengths that make up light into red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Hold the prism in different positions in front of your lens to get hazy, ghostly, or double exposure effects, and of course, add rainbows to your subjects. This prism is six inches by one inch and comes with a microfiber cloth bag to wipe off fingerprints (which will show up in your photo). A handy PDF is included with tips to get you started, and the special scratch-resistant glass is hardy and forgiving.

Original Lensball Pocket Crystal Ball

Original Lensball Pocket Crystal Ball
It can’t tell your future.Amazon

Hold fate in the palm of your hand (or at least control the fate of your pictures) when you use this sphere to get creative on a shoot. The lens ball is made from optical glass and goes through multiple quality checks to ensure your pictures remain flawless. Capture landscapes and portraits with a 180-degree view of your subject’s surroundings, which will appear inverted when you look into the ball. Simply flip the image when editing. The curved shape acts as a magnifying glass and can cause a fire or burns if you aren’t careful—so keep it out of direct sunlight, snug in its microfiber bag, or in the shade as much as possible.

Fractal Filters Classic Prismatic Camera Filters

Fractal Filters Classic Prismatic Camera Filters
Infinite fun.Amazon

The repeating patterns in kaleidoscopes are also fractals, and are just one of the effects you can achieve with these unique filters. Designed by photographer Nikk Wong to make prism-ing less clunky and to enhance clarity and vibrancy, this set comes with three prismatic filters and a carrying case. There are multiple tutorials on the product website to give you ideas. Make sure the lenses and camera you plan to use have a focal length of 30mm-85mm, with an f-stop of f/1.4 - f/5.6.