How to Create Refractograph Abstract Photography

Ever look through a kaleidoscope as a kid? You would hold the tube up to your eye, twist the end, and see an array of wild colors and patterns move about. Well refractory photography works somewhat on the same concept. Using a refractory object such as glass or plastic, you can create your own abstract images. Rob Turney created this helpful tutorial for us to follow:

What you need for refractory photography:

  • Fine Light Source – A small light is best, but anything can work so long as it’s bright and adjusted to a fine point of light. To do this you can simply place a piece of cardboard or other opaque material across the light and poke a very small hole in the center. A fine light source equals a sharp image.
  • Camera sans Lens – Your refractory object will be acting as your lens in a sense, so a lens is not needed.
  • Refractory Object – This can be anything made out of glass, plastic, or any other object that refracts light. The shape and position of this object will determine the pattern you capture.
  • Stands – You’ll need a stand to hold your light and your refractory object, as well as a tripod to keep you camera steady.
  • Colored Gels – These are handy for adding color to your abstract image. A refractory image without color could be rather dull, but by adding different gels you can create images like the one below.
refractory photography abstract image

Refractory photography is great for creating abstract photos

refractory photography diagram

Make sure there is no ambient light when shooting your refractory object

For further training on light painting: The Photography Tricks Chapters

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One Comment

  1. olajide steve olatunbosun says:

    Amazing! Thanks for this opportunity it is fantastic to see this photo process.

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