I think trying new things is an important exercise in staying passionate about your art and how you express it. Photography is, thankfully, a visual playground that allows us all types of latitude when exploring new techniques. This past weekend I decided to bring along a few new toys when heading to the city to take photos – a glass prism and an anamorphic lens filter.
I saw a video from another street photographer I really admire using an anamorphic lens filter and I thought it would be fun to give it a shot for myself. The glass prism is something I had actually bought years ago for something completely different but stumbled upon its use as a lens modifier by accident. I would later find out that using a prism in front of your lens to distort, refract, and reflect is actually quite popular and the reasons why are pretty evident.
I started shooting photos the moment I got into the city and I immediately fell in love with the prism. Using it can be fairly cumbersome, you just hold it in front of your lens with one hand while operating your camera with the other, but the results can be stunning. Prisms work by reflecting and refracting light from various angles back into the lens itself. You can achieve different amounts of this effect by simply twisting and turning the prism in front of the lens at varying angles. Depending on that angle, and your surroundings, you can get a variety of cool effects ranging from simple spectral rainbows to complex overlays which look a lot like double exposures.
On the other hand, I found the anamorphic lens filter to be a little less dramatic as it really only affects areas of your photo that are overwhelmingly contrasty. While you can use the prism in any lighting conditions, the anamorphic filter really relies on small areas of bright light against large swaths of darkness to really work its magic. In some cases, you can use the filter to add a cool bloom effect to over-exposed skies but you need contrast on the horizon of your photo to really make this work. Because I went to the city during the early parts of the evening, before sunset, I didn’t get the best performance from this filter. I’ll have to visit again in the evening and test it out under more favorable conditions.
In regards to the camera equipment, I was rolling with my Canon R5 and the superb 35mm f/1.8. This 35mm has become one of my favorite lenses of all time, so much so that it’s hard to imagine a time without it.
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