Photography Workshops

How to shoot prism photography: Prisming for Beginners in the Streets of New Orleans by Zack Smith

Do you want to learn how to use prisms for photography? Look no further

 

Before you read this NOTE! I will be bringing ALL OF MY PRISMS with me for the Mardi Gras Photography Workshop in New Orleans on Saturday, February 3rd. CLICK HERE to learn more and sign up!

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As a photographer do you ever get stuck in a creative rut? Creative gridlock happens to me more often than I care to admit, but luckily I found my new muse to get the ideas running full speed again. I discovered prism photography by happenstance one day while on Instagram and it ignited one of those infectious Google Search Time Warps where I was searching and researching Google on prism photography, prisms, and photographers who use prisms. I found so much great inspiration in those searches, and I came away with buying a set of old school original prisms from Amlong Crystals and some very new school prisms from Get Fractals.

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Prism photography is easy, just experiment!

Yes, you probably recognize this type of prism from physics class in grade school.  Did you know that when held up to your lens you can not only project the full spectrum of light into your lens but reflect anything within a 180 degree radius into your lens? Creative rut be damned! I also bought a Crystal Sphere set as well and have been experimenting with that. Normally, prisms are sometimes used for the internal reflection at the surfaces rather than for dispersion. (duh!) If light inside the prism hits one of the surfaces at a sufficiently steep angle, total internal reflection occurs as all of the light is reflected. This makes a prism a useful substitute for a mirror in some situations. (did you know you can also use a mirror?) Does this make you want to walk the streets with one of these? Me too!

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For me, whenever I get my hands on a new way of seeing, like a prism for photography, I immediately take to the streets and the swamps of Louisiana to try it out. What better environment to get out of your creative rut!

Street Walking Documentary In New Orleans With Prism Photography

There are so many variations you can make to your composition by the way you hold the prism to your lens. I suggest (and many other prism photographers) to use at least a 50mm, or something close to that so you can cover the full front of the lens and focal length with your prism. In most cases I was using the cylindrical prism held horizontally in front of the lens. I was holding it directly up to the UV filter so I could balance and stabilize the prism. This I found very hard to do, because you only have so many hands to hold the camera stable, hold the prism stable, and create a good composition at the same time. This was a challenge, but I managed.

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Prism Photography Of Musicians In The Sweaty Swamps Of New Orleans' Couterie Forest

As you all know me by now, or are just learning, I shoot ALOT of New Orleans and Louisiana musicians. Being a musician most of my life, it's the circle of people I have been around the longest and can effectively communicate their visual needs and creative ideas with ease. One of the longest relationships I've had in this manner is with the Lafayette based Lost Bayou Ramblers. I have been photographing this band's promotional photography since 2000 and anytime they need new imagery for an album release, new member add, or a big gig - they call me. I am very grateful to have this relationship because these guys let me get as creative and "out there" as I want. There's a certain trust afforded here, and I am thankful for that...because I get to use prisms!

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How to Use Prisms with Photography

But what exactly is prism photography? Prism photography, also known as prisming, uses a prism-shaped, clear object in conjunction with a camera lens to produce artistic distortions. Using a prism while photographing is relatively simple. You just have to twist the prism in front of your lenses to give the illusion of a curve or bend in your surroundings on your camera. It does take some practice, but using a prism works a lot better than using mirrors or photoshoot techniques because it actually looks pretty natural.

Most photographers prefer to use a wider lens between 24 mm and 50 mm. You should start by using a wider aperture to let light into the lens. You can expect to see things like rainbows, prism-shaped light flares, curves in your image, and so much more. Using a prism in your creative photoshoots can leave you or your client with breath-taking photos that will be great for your portfolio and their personal keepsake.

If you are eager to try and use a prism in your photography, you can purchase one for as little as $12 on Amazon. Be sure to get one that isn’t too big. Most photographers are happy with a 6-inch prism. Sometimes, you may find that your fingers are getting in the way of your shot. Move your fingers to a point on the prism where they aren’t visible. Just be cautious when you are photographing your subject and you will be fine.

6" Amlong Prism held vertical

6" Amlong Prism held vertical

6" Amlong Prism held vertical.

6" Amlong Prism held vertical.

6" Amlong Prism held vertical

6" Amlong Prism held vertical

Circular Sphere - Amlong

Circular Sphere - Amlong

Amlong 6" crystal prism held horizontally

Amlong 6" crystal prism held horizontally

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Get Fractal Filter Set

I was really able to control and master my prism photography with the set of "finger filter" prisms from Get Fractal. The set came in three and were housed in a pouch you can lock on your belt. I brought the filter set to photograph Satchmo Summerfest in New Orleans and was loving the way it made my portraits of musicians like no one else's. 

Jams seen through my fractal filter from Get Fractals. These filters allow you to have more control with the filter. So cool!

Jams seen through my fractal filter from Get Fractals. These filters allow you to have more control with the filter. So cool!

Pscyh-a-Tuba!!! Jon and Jason at French Quarter Fest shot through a Fractal Filter.

Pscyh-a-Tuba!!! Jon and Jason at French Quarter Fest shot through a Fractal Filter.

Dancin Man 504 - Birthday Boy shot in Prisms during Satchmo Fest in New Orleans!

Dancin Man 504 - Birthday Boy shot in Prisms during Satchmo Fest in New Orleans!

Freddie Lonzo photographed through my Fractal Filter Prism!

Freddie Lonzo photographed through my Fractal Filter Prism!

EXCLUSIVE LIGHTROOM CONFESSIONAL "I was lost and now am found" One of Zack Smith's stock images breaks it's silence! by Zack Smith

I have seen the light and in it's a room. It's Lightroom....

I have seen the light and in it's a room. It's Lightroom....

I never knew life could be so easy, I never knew life could be so grand..Now that I am setup with Lightroom my archives are in Command!

Ya like that? I just wrote that. Inspired by the last 365 days of using Lightroom to manage my archives, tag and star my favorite photos, and really rock my Global Edit WORLD I am a new man. What finally brought me to bite the bullet and totally throw my workflow into the waiting bosom of Lightroom was a day last year that I will never, ever forget...

I received a call from a potential client looking for Louisiana stock imagery for a limited use agreement. The images needed contained no visible people, private residences or business store fronts. It was a dream stock job from heaven! The only catch was that the client needed to see gallery of Louisiana stock images and New Orleans cultural galleries by the end of day. Sure, I thought, I'll just go through my Louisiana Stock hard drive and find what they needed. But lo and behold all of my New Orleans and Louisiana images were in separate folders and in multiple drives. The only way to find specific themed images was to open each folder, inspect the images and drag them to a new destination folder. I had no time for that!

It was time to learn Lightroom for myself...

It was then that I needed to get my workflow "act" together. I was shooting more client work than ever from music festivals, corporate head shots, conferences, and events - I needed a better way to archive, keyword, and edit my files in a way i could find them fast and easy! Welcome in my buddy and yours, David Marx. (www.davidmarx.com)

David and I attended the Rocky Mountain School of Photography during the same summer of 2000 and became fast friends. Our love of PHISH, slide film, and music set us on a path to friendship going on 17 years strong. Not only has Dave helped me improve my workflow management, he has helped me with my Lightroom techniques and archiving prowess. Thanks Dave, I owe you alot!

I began using Lightroom to SAVE my workflow, now it's a part of my lifeflow...now teaching it to beginners who were right where I was!

For the past 15 years I have taught what I know. Concert, Portrait, Long Exposure, all types of photography that I do..i teach. That's why I thought it was a no-brainer to begin teaching Lightroom in New Orleans. I taught my first class (15 people) in the Summer of 2016 and begin my second one this Saturday, March 18th where I will unleash tons of new helpful tips, presets, and editing techniques.  For me, giving it away is the ultimate treasure and balance to receiving so many rich insights from others. 

I teach Lightroom with the same philosophy I have had for photography since day 1: Shoot for the Wall! I teach and preach non-destructive editing, fine tuning your images for print, and using Photoshop as a file, not a chainsaw. If we can shoot RAW and get what we need with our initial exposure, then there are only a few edits we need to do in Lightroom to get our images print ready. 

What are you waiting for? Get a Philosophy! Learn Lightroom with me!!! SIGN UP HERE~!

 

Watch My Lightroom Workflow Edits from our Facebook Live Workshop in New Orleans! by Zack Smith

Wow what a day! On Saturday, January 14th we completed a successful FACEBOOK Live broadcast of my "One Block in New Orleans" photography workshop! Yes, this was all a promotional opportunity to help drive traffic to my website to promote my New Orleans photography workshops, and it was a blast!

See the Re-Cast of the Video HERE

See the Lightroom Workflow Edit Below:

See the full final Photo Gallery Here with the Edits as shown above:

It is time to begin your life as a photographer and create your own reality. by Zack Smith

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Take one moment with me and reflect on the words you are about to read. I want you to think about your day so far...how did you wake up? Did you step out of bed with your left foot, or right? Did you step out of bed with both feet, walk to the bathroom or kitchen to start your daily routine? What was the next thing you did?

You access your digital information on a daily basis without even looking, thinking, or reacting. It's just Second Nature.

I want you to reflect with me one more time. Did you check your email today? Did you check a text message or a website you frequent? I wonder if you even have to remind yourself how to swipe your smartphone, wake up your computer, and access the daily digital information you use every day...without thinking, without having to remember how to.

In my 15 years of teaching photography and almost 20 years as a professional photographer, I feel that what we want most is to use the camera to see like we do - and in turn see like a lens does. We want replicate the visual feelings we have in our real life, and recreate them seamlessly and without hesitation in our photographic life.

Whether we post our images online, make books, or make prints - we want the photographic process to be second nature. There is a way to get there...

If you really want to see like your camera and allow your photographic life to become as second nature and as fluid as a smartphone swipe, you need to start making photographs EVERY DAY starting RIGHT NOW. They don't have to be works of art or even an image you love. Start by shooting around your house every day, and just the motions of turing the camera on, selecting apertures and spinning dials will be good for you.

Make sure you photograph with intention, purpose, and a clear goal in mind. OWN YOUR IMAGE!

What are you waiting for? Get out there and create your own reality and see your world they way you always have wanted. TTL....You can always SEARCH my blog (see, upper right hand corner?) for the content you want to read up on. Go ahead try me~

Hey You! Yes You. Want to be a great photographer? Get a philosophy. by Zack Smith

Do you like to look at photographs? Do you have a photographer whose work you look up to?

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Take a minute and think of your favorite photographer. It doesn't matter who this person is or what style of photography they do, their work only has to inspire you. I guarantee that when you find articles, interviews, or bio's about your favorite photographer the reason they got into photographer wasn't for the money. What was it for? When I first became attached to my first camera I was obsessed with Henri Cartier-Bresson. I couldn't get enough of his work. I would stare at his works like "Héyres France 1932" and read books on him until I could see like him or so I thought. I loved his mastery of exploring space and setting his compositions up in a way that begged for the interaction of life. I read veraciously - any book I could get on Robert Capa I would read it. His photographs were great, but his story interested me more. 

Why do photographers pick up the camera?

Why is it that a camera became the tool of your favorite photographer's mode of expression? Why not a paint brush or a computer or even a pencil? I am asking you to find this out because it will be these words and inspirations of your favorite photographers that will help guide you to yours.

In my 10 years of teaching photography to beginners, amateurs, and professionals I find that the photographer that shows the most drive and determination to learn are the ones guided by a force and fire that can't be taught. They have a reason to create. They have a purpose for their vision and they have a story to tell. You can say they found religion. You can say they found a meaning behind their reasons to pickup the camera. Whatever they found...you should too.

Why do you photograph? Is it the rush of "nailing the shot"? Is it the experiences before and after the 1/125 of a second shutter opening? If the camera is your tool, if photography is your canvas then it's time to figure out your WHY...

Spend some time in a new Environment

I often wish I had one purpose with the camera, but it was about 14 years ago I realized I wanted to share my knowledge instead of keeping it inside. When I was first learning photography I relied on the kindness of other photographers who let me into their busy lives to answer all of my really dumb questions. I realized fast that photography can be an all inclusive adventure, and the more we share about what we know can only propel us further on our path. I wanted to create a place where photographers go to learn how to tell their story and make great photographs. 

Photo tip's and tricks are fads, and fads fade like your uncle's washed out family photo. My goal has always been to help people learn their cameras, but I also want to help forge a photographic philosophy and help people understand the "why" of what you photograph and the "where" that photograph will go. 

I am very exited to get my Fall 2016 Photography Workshop Series underway. It's my most ambitious photography workshop calendar yet: 12 workshops in a unique collaborative partnership with Crescent Park, French Market Corporation, and 5 Press Gallery to bring the New Orleans photo community it's most comprehensive photography workshop offering ever. 

I hope you can check it out and take a course - CLICK HERE to find out more