Prisming // Photography Techniques “Hurding”

Now that I’ve moved on a developed a few other photography techniques it’s time for me to explain an older one I used a good bit throughout the 2012 wedding season. I call it prisming (others are starting to call it “hurding”) but it’s really just reflecting images in front of your camera lens using a prism. It took me a while to try a variety of prisms before I found the perfect one (for me).

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Many photographes have used things such as iphone screens or mirrors to create interesting and artistic looking images, but I’ve found that using a 6 inch triangular prism works best for me because you can twist the prism into creating a curve and bend-like distortion of your surroundings. It takes a little more practice than just holding it up to your camera lens and reflecting stuff. This makes things look much more natural in my opinion. It doesn’t scream “cheesy!” “something done in photoshop!” because, well it isn’t done in photoshop.

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You also get the ability to create a natural rainbow effect in the right angle and lighting situations

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But it’s also proven to be a very versatile tool for me. You don’t have to go crazy with bending and rainbows for it to create really unique looking images.

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It’s a pretty simple techinque, but much like freelensing and the brenizer method it takes a LOT of practice to pick up on the nuances and characteristics of using it.

I find it works best with a 24mm, 35mm, or 50mm lens and I’ve ONLY ever used it with live view… because live view is freaking amazing.

Here is a video taken with my nikon d4 demonstrating the real time effects of the technique

I talk a lot more about how I actually rotate the prism and look for situations that it’ll yeild the best results at my workshops (yes I will also be having one in the US this year), but I encourage you to go out and give it a try yourself. The key is just having it with you all the time so when the right situations arise… you’re ready for it.

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I can’t recommend trying this enough. Pick up a prism (heck – pick up anything you can shoot through) but decide on something and stick with it. It’s fun to try tons of different objects to shoot through and almost anything will make an image look “different,” but the key is actually sticking with the same item over and over so you start to pick up in the unique characteristics of it and eventually learn to use it quickly and effectivly — which we all know is incredibly important in the field of wedding photography.

This prism is just what’s worked best for me. I got mine here.

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Photography by Washington DC Wedding Photographer Sam Hurd

About Sam Hurd

Sam is a professional wedding and editorial photographer based in the Washington DC area. He photographs 40+ weddings a year, press events, commercial portraiture, and regularly hosts workshops in his Baltimore MD studio and around the world. His work has been published internationally including the Wall Street Journal, the NYTimes, and the Washington Post. He's available for commissions worldwide.

Blog Comments

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  1. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I loved your use of prisms and I can’t wait to try it out. Amazing photography. Thank you for the inspiration.

  2. awesome-sauce… love this. thanks for sharing oh great master :)

  3. When I saw that first image in your 2012 review, it bent my mind. I’m so glad you shared your secret :)

  4. An amazing photographer that shares his secrets? What is this craziness??

    Thanks for sharing, Sam. Can’t wait to hear the details on your US workshop.

  5. a method so good you named your band after it..

  6. I dig. Thanks for sharing!!!!

  7. You are the Best!

  8. Awesome, thank you so much Sam! And… Come to europe for a workshop please?! I’ll keep asking until you say yes ;-)

  9. Thanks a bunch for sharing this Sam! Really appreciate it dude. Can’t wait to give “The Hurd Method” a shot.

  10. you’ve been doing this forever! i remember you had a prism at the wedding we did with ryan. cool stuff, sam, and nice of you to share.

  11. I’m disappointed. I genuinely thought you were magic

    ;)

  12. Science!!

  13. GOOD FREAKING GOLLY. I’ve been trying to find this technique for so long ever since I saw the Nastia Liukin photoshoot. BLESS YOU for posting this up, this is HUGE!

  14. Very interesting idea. Thanks for sharing!

  15. I appreciate your creativity. Well done

  16. haha…and now they’re sold out on Amazon. You must have quite the following…
    I’ve gotten some neat results using an old loupe as my lens, though it’s not recommended since you’re pulling in dust, etc with every shutter release. But a cool trick if you have an old DSLR lying around.

  17. Looking at these images had been making my head hurd! Thanks for sharing the ‘secret’!

  18. Wow, this is amazing. Now I’ve got something new I need to try! Thanks for all the sample images and instructions. I can’t wait to test this one out!

  19. Dude this is excellent and so generous of you to share your secrets. I had recently been drawn to doing this before seeing your work just using wine glasses on a table and such but now…gotta step my game up!

  20. So beautiful shoots, adorable indeed! Colors of the shots are amazing!

  21. Great post! But how the heck do you hold a D4 one-handed for any length of time to do this regularly? Maybe my hand is just incredibly weak :)

  22. Thx Sam

    I’ll give this a try. I like using a cheap pieace of costume jewlery you can finad at any arts and craft store to infect the lens with some cool colors and light. A little cruder but out of 4-6 shots I alweays get one thats really interesting.

  23. totally picking this up and practicing, practicing, practicing! thanks for posting. lovely images too!

  24. Simple yet stunning results, amazed at how simple this is. Definitely worth a try. Thank you, something else to put in the camera bag!

  25. WOWOWOWOW!
    I read about your technique on fstoppers a few days ago and immediately ordered a prism. Thanks a lot for sharing your experience!
    The prism really gave me some “creative mojo” back, that I thought I was loosing somehow. :D
    Keep up your awesome work! And if you ever plan to hold a workshop in Germany, count me in :)

  26. Nice technique and awesome results. cant wait to try.

  27. This all looks so dreamy! I love the light up lettering.

  28. Stunning images. Keep up the amazing captures. Very cool effect.

    Cheers!

    J

  29. Good Sam, this is amazing really! So i finally purchased a prism…but now I have a silly question….how do you hold it on the lens…meaning do you just lean it on the lens border and flip the prism…anyhow, would it be possible to just get a pic on how you actually play with it on the lens ?

    regards

  30. Thank you. I just got my prism today and can’t wait to play with it.

  31. Just picked up my 6″ prism. Pretty excited about messing around with it. Hope I can some solid shots like the ones you have posted :) thanks for the help!

  32. Hi mates, its great post about tutoringand entirely defined,
    keep it up all the time.

  33. Wow, love those effects! Thanks so much for sharing.

  34. When it comes to wedding photography in Surrey
    boasts of many firms and individual professionals who would get the job
    done for you. For this photography trip I choose to visit the heart of
    the city (and the country), have a quick tour through Theater land, after which I walked part of the Thames path, before ending the day with a great dinner around Covent Garden.
    Weddings may be held indoors, outdoors, daytime, nighttime,
    in large churches or small churches, halls, small rooms, or some combination of those
    conditions.

  35. What a fantastic idea! I will be trying this out soon. exciting stuff thank you

  36. This is a very good tip particularly to those fresh
    to the blogosphere. Simple but very accurate information… Many thanks for
    sharing this one. A must read post!

  37. As a Newbie, I am always searching online for articles that
    can

    aid me. Thank you

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  39. Go for it!

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  41. Daniela - Brasil says:

    this is amazing !! Thank you so much for sharing it !

  42. I just like the valuable info you supply to your articles.

    I’ll bookmark your blog and take a look at once more here frequently.
    I’m reasonably certain I’ll be informed many new stuff right right
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  43. Nils Morata says:

    This is a fantastic effect to add to photographs , I just finished ordering my prism from Amazon and can’t wait to give this unique effect a try, thanks for sharing your creativity.

  44. Jhol Caballes says:

    Hi bro.

    Do you a tutorial for setting up that kinds of effect?

    Thanks

  45. Jhol Caballes says:

    Hi bro.

    Do you have a tutorial for setting up that kinds of effect?

    Thanks

  46. Thank you for sharing these, it is the first time in a while that I have been very impressed with this technique and inspired to create & experiment with different techniques. Thank you, beautiful, diverse and unique images here, best of luck!

  47. Aw, this was a really nice post. Taking the time and
    actual effort to generate a really good article… but what
    can I say… I procrastinate a lot and don’t manage to get nearly anything done.

  48. Have you ever considered writing an ebook or guest authoring on other blogs?
    I have a blog based upon on the same information you discuss and would love to
    have you share some stories/information. I know my viewers would value your work.
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  49. Hmm it appears like your website ate my first comment (it was
    super long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.
    I too am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to the whole
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  50. Really cool technique – I’m getting a prism on order now

  51. This looks amazing. I can’t wait to experiment with this. I’m going off to Amazon now to buy my own piece of glass.

    Thanks for sharing.

  52. Remarkable! Its really awesome article, I have got
    much clear idea regarding from this piece of writing.

  53. Sam,
    You have some really nice prismatics photographs. I myself played a lot with similar techniques about 40 years ago. Some works can be found at http://www.mirokraetzl.com/p648640850#h65c21a15. My home page photograph was made in Cincinnati OH in winter of 1982 using a couple of prism filters. I used other filters in combination with prisms as well. Of course, like many other photographers of that time, we were inspired by David Douglas Duncan’s work with prismatic filters.

  54. Yes I am too among hound of Flash tutorials, since I would favor apt learn more concerning flash,thus whether you have beguile post it by this district.

  55. Do you use acrylic prism or glass?

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Sam Hurd describes on his blog how to use this simple object you learned about in primary school to produce some stunning results. [...]

  2. [...] I’ve been wanting to try prisming for the. longest. time. I talked Anna into letting me test shoot on her, and we accidentally [...]

  3. [...] on acid and shrooms. The idea has become popular thanks to Washington DC-based wedding photographer Sam Hurd. This young fellow has done quite a bit of experimentation using an 6″ equilateral prism — [...]

  4. [...] more: http://www.samhurdphotography.com/2013/wedding/prisming-photography-techniques#ixzz2Iu6kKc7R Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. Image | This entry was posted [...]

  5. [...] this technique isn’t going to appeal to everybody. Just like prisming it has a time and place. I just like sharing really cheap and easy ways to get more out of your [...]

  6. [...] by Sam and I was intrigued by the techniques I heard he used. Shortly after this Sam released a blog post sharing his method of Prisming and his secrets were out of the bag. I have given his method a try [...]

  7. [...] by Sam and I was intrigued by the techniques I heard he used. Shortly after this Sam released a blog post sharing his method of Prisming and his secrets were out of the bag. I have given his method a try [...]

  8. [...] by Sam and I was intrigued by the techniques I heard he used. Shortly after this Sam released a blog post sharing his method of Prisming and his secrets were out of the bag. I have given his method a try [...]

  9. [...] work lately and experimenting with some new techniques and styles. Recently, I was inspired by Sam Hurd regarding the use of prisms. I’m glad to see that photographers are thinking “outside [...]

  10. [...] and natural lighting for the majority of the photos. Also, with this session I experimented with Prisming which had a fantastic reflective rainbow effect. The paper flower set design was a nice contrast to [...]

  11. [...] acid and shrooms. The idea has become popular thanks to Washington DC-based wedding photographer Sam Hurd. This young fellow has done quite a bit of experimentation using an 6″ equilateral prism — [...]

  12. [...] course using the technique of “Prisming/Hurding” by Sam Hurd, helped creating the magic straight within the camera. View Portfolio | Connect on [...]

  13. [...] características es su creatividad… nos sorprendió al mostrarnos como trabaja con un prisma, técnica del prisma (Hurding), para producir distorsión y descomposición de la luz que al aplicarlo en la captura de [...]

  14. [...] The photograph below was shot using  technique called ‘Prisming’ or ‘Hurding’ that I learnt from one of my favorite photographers, Sam Hurd. His blog post on the technique can be found here. [...]

  15. [...] Head on over to Hurd’s website if you’d like to see more of his prisming photographs. [...]

  16. [...] Head on over to Hurd’s website if you’d like to see more of his prisming photographs. [...]

  17. [...] it’s reassuring to come across photographers like the Washington, D.C.-based wedding shooter Sam Hurd. He describes himself as a hardcore digital photographer who also happens to like using [...]

  18. [...] be happier with how these turned out. I got to use the prism technique, which Sam Hurd talks about here. I really liked it, and I will continue to use it. Makes really neat reflections. Thanks Melanie [...]

  19. [...] try to share something new with everyone and i love seeing what other photographers have done with prisming, freelensing, and brenizer methods (aka bokeh [...]

  20. […] These images were shot using a prism in front of the lens to create interesting and unusual effects. Big thanks to my photographer friend Lucy Baber of Lucy Baber Photography for letting me play with her prism during out get-together at the 30th street station in Philadelphia. This technique was first described by Samuel Herd. […]

  21. […] & interesting images in photos. You can see some great examples here, or read about it on Sam Hurd’s website. It looked fun, so I decided to give it a go. As with anything worth doing well, practice is […]

  22. […] with news ways of making City Hall look photographically interesting. I also played around with Sam Hurd’s prisiming technique for a few shots and I was pleased with the results. I love photographing elopements because the day […]

  23. […] The South Sea Port in New York is a fantastic place to shoot portraits. It was a perfect place to play around with my friend Sam Hurd’s prisming technique. […]

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