Creative Projects and Challenges DIY Technology

How to Make Beautiful & Unique Refracted Light Photography

Stunning shot of a cityscape taken through a crystal ball displaying beautiful refracted light

In at present’s article you’ll find out how to use refraction for artistic photographs with just some easy gadgets you have already got available. Let’s discover how to make lovely and distinctive photographs with refracted mild.

What Is Refracted Light Photography?

Refracted mild images is available in a number of totally different types. The impact is prompted when mild passes by way of an object of denser mass. This makes the sunshine bend.

There are a number of alternative ways you need to use this in your images:

  • Crystal ball – The basic refraction photograph is with the crystal ball. You invert your world with this superb images trick.
  • Wine glass – You should use a wine glass in an identical method to a crystal ball, when you fill it with water.
  • Water droplets – Water droplets may also refract mild. They’re spherical so it will work in an identical means to a glass ball.
  • Prism – Prisms don’t simply bend the sunshine, they cut up it! Use this to create your personal rainbow, or redirect the sunshine for fascinating results.
Stunning shot of a cityscape taken through a crystal ball displaying beautiful refracted light

Among the best gadgets you should use for refraction images is the crystal ball.

Refracted Light Via a Glass Ball

Probably the greatest types of refraction images you’ll be able to attempt includes utilizing a glass ball. When refraction happens inside a spherical glass ball you’ll give you the option to see the inverted picture of the background behind the glass ball.

This impact might be nice for panorama pictures, the place the picture contained in the ball shows fish-eye like traits. However you’re photographing with a daily digital camera lens.

There are two foremost forms of glass balls you should use, marble and the crystal ball.

We cowl crystal ball images on this in-depth article.

Refraction Photography With Marbles

A good cheaper and available type of glass ball is the marble! These even are available bigger sizes that strategy these of a small crystal ball.

There are a number of good causes for utilizing marbles in your refraction images, however there are a number of drawbacks.

The Execs

  • Weight – Marbles are a lot lighter than crystal balls. This provides you the prospect to carry round a number of marbles for extra creativity.
  • Placement – The smaller measurement makes marbles lots simpler to place. They’ll match into gaps a bigger glass ball gained’t. They usually’ll keep nonetheless on smaller measurement divots.
  • Measurement – The smaller measurement makes them a lot simpler to carry round if you’re not utilizing them. Relying on the photograph you need to take, the smaller measurement may also be a bonus.

A close up of a hand wirth marbles in between each finger - refracted light photography

The Cons

  • Sharpness – One of many huge disadvantages is the sharpness of the picture inside a marble. It’s because the glass used isn’t as excessive in high quality. The dimensions will even imply the sweet-spot of sharpest focus contained in the ball is relatively smaller as properly. However utilizing a smaller aperture can go someway to fixing this difficulty.
  • Lens requirement – There are alternatives for utilizing totally different lens varieties with bigger crystal balls. However when it comes to marbles, the smaller sizes means you’ll have to use a macro lens.

Utilizing a Wine Glass for Refraction Photography

A fantastic various to a glass ball is a wine glass. The extra spherical the wine glass, the higher. An empty wine glass gained’t produce a refracted picture, so first you’ll want to fill it with water.

The water within the glass now supplies an space of denser mass. When mild passes by means of it, refraction occurs.

Simply as with the glass ball, your picture contained in the wine glass can be inverted. What makes a wine glass a superb viable various to a glass ball then?

  • Low cost – A wine glass is nice because it doesn’t value a lot cash. And also you doubtless have one already in your cabinet.
  • Regular base – Wine glasses gained’t roll everywhere on a flat floor. In some instances, this may give them the sting.
  • Prop – It’s a pure prop for somebody to maintain for a refracted mild photograph.
A silhouette of a female model against a beach sunset, holding a wine glass for the purpose of light refraction photography

A wine glass might be numerous enjoyable to experiment with for refraction based mostly imagery.

There are downsides to the wine glass although.

It’s much more fragile to carry round than a strong piece of glass. And also you’ll want a prepared provide of water with you to make it refract.

The stem and base of the glass additionally signifies that rotating the picture in publish processing is just not an choice. These parts can be very clearly the wrong way up within the flipped picture.

Utilizing Water Droplets for Refraction Pictures

When water types a spherical drop you’ll give you the option to see an inverted picture inside it. The truth is refraction happens in any container of water. It’s because it’s denser in mass than air.

When it comes to an fascinating impact for images although, concentrating on water droplets works greatest.

How are you able to make use of those then? Right here’s an inventory of potential situations.

You’ll want a macro lens for droplet images. That is due to how small the water drops are.

Water Droplets on Glass

Including rain X to a transparent sheet of glass will make the water type droplets. Alternatively you need to use glycerine, a transparent liquid that may even type droplets which you’ll be able to then photograph.

Make a pleasant sample of droplets in your glass. Now make two piles of books, with a niche between then. Bridge the glass throughout this hole.

Now you can place a picture beneath the glass, which can then be refracted into the water droplets.

Cool water droplet photography on top of the South Korean flag

I used the South Korean flag right here, due to its round central image.

Water Droplet Photography

Producing water droplets is a enjoyable experiment you possibly can attempt at house. However capturing these water droplets is just a little trickier. You’ll want to use off digital camera flash to obtain these photographs.

You’ll be able to both attempt to catch a droplet mid-air because it falls from a faucet. Or you possibly can seize a droplet because it splashes into a bathtub of water.

For probably the most skilled water droplet photographs attempt utilizing the dripkit.

Water Drops on a CD

A enjoyable experiment to attempt at house is water droplets on CDs. No want for rain X with a CD, the water will naturally type a droplet on a CD floor.

You should use refracted mild to create some fascinating rainbow results in a darkish room, together with a torch and lengthy publicity images.

Combine Water and Oil

An analogous experiment is mixing water with oil. On this case you’ll want to combine oil and water collectively in a shallow glass container, and as soon as once more bridge two piles of books together with your container. Now you’ll want to put some fascinating backgrounds beneath it.

Lastly, arrange your digital camera on a tripod overlooking the container, and use a macro lens to photograph fascinating patterns.

Beautiful photo created by mixing oil and water for very interesting patterns and refracted light for a more artistic effect.

Mixing oil and water can create some very fascinating patterns, and you need to use refracted mild for a extra inventive impact.

Discover Water Drops in Nature

In fact it’s potential to discover water droplets in nature, after it’s rained. Consider water drops on a spider net, or maybe on the sting of a leaf. Photographing a flower behind these naturally forming droplets is usually a very fashionable sort of photograph.

Not affected person sufficient to anticipate the rain? You possibly can all the time simulate the rain through the use of a sprig can, and spraying water onto a spiders net or onto a plant.

Water drop photography using refracted light against a blue and red background

Water drop images is a variety of enjoyable to attempt, particularly once you use it to produce refraction as seen proper to left on this picture.

Splitting Refracted Light Utilizing a Prism

Yet one more piece of glass you need to use for refraction is the prism. This works in another way to the spherical ball, because it splits and redirects the sunshine.

This can be utilized creatively in your images to produce pictures that may have your folks questioning how you probably did it!

Redirecting Refracted Light

Whenever you take pictures utilizing the prism on this approach it should appear to be a double publicity, or a Photoshop manipulation.

Neither of these are true although. You’ll be able to take this kind of picture in a single photograph.

This can be a tough sort of photograph to produce although. You’re taking two, probably three photographs in a single photograph. So how do you go about doing this?

  1. Use a lens of applicable focal size. If the background scene seems to be fascinating use a focal size of round 40mm. If you would like to compress the scene use a macro lens, with a focal size of 100mm.
  2. Search for a background on your picture that’s both not too busy, or one that may praise the picture you’re going to show contained in the prism.
  3. Now maintain the prism in entrance of you. Rotate the prism together with your hand, and observe the pictures you’ll be able to see within the prism. These can be pictures maybe at a 45 diploma angle away from you. Relying on the way you twist the prism chances are you’ll find a way to see 2 photographs by means of it, if the surfaces line up appropriately.
  4. Now you’ve got the prism lined up you should use it to seize one thing else. Maybe an individual inside the prism towards a pleasant background?
a black and white street photo taken with a prism for creative effect

You should use a prism in some actually artistic methods. Here’s a road photograph taken with a prism.

How to Create a Rainbow With a Prism

Most individuals affiliate a prism with rainbows. To seek out the place the rainbow is being projected by the prism, rotate it till you’ll be able to see it.

Now you can direct the rainbow onto one thing that may make for an fascinating photograph.

This could be a textured background, or maybe you need to use this in your portrait images. You’ll clearly want a sunny day for this, but in addition take into consideration the angle of the sunshine and the time of day you photograph at.

Keep in mind that the smaller the prism is, the smaller the rainbow can be. It will get bigger the additional away the item you’re projecting onto is.

Yet another way to use the prism is creating your own rainbows! Where will you project yours?

Get Even Extra Artistic With Refractography

I’ll finish this text with yet one more method you need to use refractive mild creatively.

This can be a method referred to as refractography. On this technique you’ll use a glass object as a lens!

Learn on to learn how you are able to do it as nicely.

What You Will Want

To create one in every of these pictures you’ll want the next photographic, or home items.

  • A digital camera physique – This wants to be one that permits you to take the lens off, and expose the sensor to the refracted mild supply. Most dSLRs will work for this.
  • A torch – As shiny as attainable is right, and one that permits you to focus the sunshine is best. DO NOT use a laser for this, it is going to injury your digital camera sensor.
  • Three tripods – You’ll want one in your digital camera physique, one in your torch, and one in your refraction object. You may give you the chance to get away with much less tripods, however you do want to discover a method of securing each the torch and refraction object in place. The digital camera have to be on a tripod, that is lengthy publicity.
  • A bit of card – The much less mild this lets via, the higher.
  • Some tape – Gaffer tape works greatest for this. It’ll block the sunshine coming from the aspect of the torch higher.
  • A pin – You’ll use this to put a small gap in your card.
  • Scissors – Wanted for chopping the cardboard, and the tape to the right measurement.
  • Refractive object – This may be something clear, that causes refraction. A wine glass is a superb object to begin off with.
  • Color gels – A choice of color gels will allow you to change the color of the sunshine, to create extra fascinating refractographs.
Refractograph made by light passing through the stem of a wine glass.

Refractographs may be loads of enjoyable to create, and look very summary. On this picture mild was handed by way of the stem of a wine glass.

Getting ready to Take the Photograph

  1. Take your piece of card, and minimize it right into a sq. form that may match excessive of the entrance of your torch. It wants to be giant sufficient to block the sunshine.
  2. Reduce a bit of tape, and place your card onto the tape. Now use the pin to make a gap within the card, pull the pin via the opening and make sure the gap within the card and tape may be seen via.
  3. Place the cardboard over the torch, guarantee the opening sits within the centre of the sunshine supply. Lastly use extra tape to block any aspect mild that the torch may emit.
  4. Check the torch in a darkish room to be sure to can see the beam of sunshine it emits.
  5. Now connect the torch to a tripod. Use tape to safe the torch so it doesn’t transfer.
  6. Put your digital camera on a tripod. When you’re establishing make sure that the digital camera physique has its cap on.
  7. Connect the refractive object to the third tripod. It’s greatest to use a clamp to maintain the refractive object in place.
Stunning purple reflected light patterns on black background

Utilizing the identical setup, however repositioning the wine glass can create totally different mild patterns.

Taking the Refractograph

  1. Take all of your gear right into a darkish room. This room ought to be completely darkish, with no ambient mild coming in from outdoors.
  2. Now place the sunshine supply about two metres from the refractive object. Purpose the sunshine on the glass.
  3. Place your digital camera at proper angles to the refractive object, in relation to the place the sunshine is aimed.
  4. Flip off the lights in your room. You need to see your refractive object lit up by the torch beam.
  5. Put your digital camera into reside view, and take a look at the again display.
  6. Subsequent modify the place of the refractive object till you possibly can see a light-weight sample in your LCD display in your digital camera.
  7. Now expose your photograph. Publicity time is determined by how vibrant the sunshine is. Use the color gels to color the sunshine sample to your liking.


There are various methods you possibly can take beautiful artistic photographs utilizing refractive mild. Have you ever ever tried one of many methods talked about on this article?

We’d love to see your work, so go forward and present us or inform us within the feedback part under.

Which of those methods do you discover most inspiring? As soon as once more use the feedback part to speak about which of those methods you’ll attempt, and submit your outcomes when you’re carried out!

So now it’s over to you, to get out and use refractive mild as creatively as you’ll be able to!

A notice from Josh, ExpertPhotography’s Photographer-In-Chief:

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Simon Bond

Simon is a journey photographer who has been featured in lots of magazines, together with the duvet of Nationwide Geographic traveler. His signature fashion of images is with the crystal ball, and you may obtain his free information to crystal ball images simply CLICK HERE. Are you interested by studying extra about crystal ball images? Globalize is a video course made only for you! Study crystal ball photograph by means of his video course AVAILABLE NOW! . Use this code to get 20% off: EP20.