Kaleidoscope Filters for Abstract Landscapes


This website consists primarily of Lomography style methods like double exposures or light leaks. The techniques discussed below includes tips and example images for using handheld kaleidoscope filters for abstract landscapes photography. The information below is meant to benefit intermediate as well as beginner photography enthusiasts, hobbyists, and maybe even professionals. So, if you don’t necessarily have the luxury of film developing equipment or a Sony digital camera that has a double exposure features, then you have come to the right place.

Reasons to Shoot Abstract Landscapes

Shortly after I first picked up a camera at the age of 16 I had coincidently discovered how to create a double exposure on film for the first time. It was one of those “ahahh” moments that resonated with me enough to learn more about photography. For a short period of time, I used nothing but double exposure techniques, among other techniques, to obscure an image. Eventually, I decided to set my film camera aside in order to adapt to the darkroom being replaced by photoshop. I looked for ways to mimic the double exposure with PS but it was never the same. There was no element of surprise and digital cameras did not have double exposure features until recent years. In 2020 I switched back to shooting with the very same film camera I started off with. The nostalgia that comes from using a film camera is hard to explain. Today my beloved DSLR sits on a shelf except for when I am tasked with assignments.

I still use double exposure photography with my ever nostalgic Canon AE-1 but in order to avoid having it lose it’s luster I have started using alternate methods of creating obscure visuals. One of my recent favorites is to use kaleidoscope filters for abstract landscapes.

What are kaleidoscope filters?

In consideration for those not familiar, lens filters are additional camera attachments. There are many types of filters but the ones I use are primarily Corrective Filters & Special Effect Filters. Most common filters are threaded securely onto the end of the camera lens. The downfall of these is that the thread size has to match the size of the that lens only. Others are square shaped and can be dropped into a slot. My favorite special effects workhorses are the handheld filters since they offer the most flexibility and can still be attached with articulating arms. They operate as light modifiers by refracting or bending the light through prism behaviors and sometimes result in the double exposure effect. Filters can be utilized for creative special effects as an in-camera technique. In some cases this alleviates the need for studio lights or photoshop.

Special Effects Lens Filters

These types of creative lens filters are prisms in the way they can distort the image projected onto the digital censor or film. Keep in mind that using a rangefinder vs. single-lens-reflex (SLR ) can dictates how these pre-visualized images are composed in-camera.

The best lens filters for abstract landscape photography are the handheld prisms. They provide a wide range of versatility and durability. Even the accessories available to them, such as articulating arm attachments, allow you to clamp them to the tripod at any angle in front of the lens. Not only can I mimic the double exposure effect on my DSLR but I can also add lens flares, light leak effects, or soft focus. With that being said, they do affect image quality such as barrel distortion or chromatic aberration. That sort of edge was widely used since the pictorial era or even dadaism. So, they allow a different kind of painting with light just like a Pictorialist of the 1920’s; a modern day Steichen. Both film as well as digital platforms can benefit from these in-camera techniques and never even touch photoshop.


Tips for Prism Effects

Use the prisms sparingly. It can take a while to compose the image perfectly just the way you want it. Sometimes I find it is best to be as subtle as possible with the prism so I can take the shot quickly and move on. More often than not the prism effect will overwhelm the image. It’s also a good idea to take one straight shot and one prism photo. The prisms not only refract the light but they also reflect what’s around you, creating an end result image to look like it was shot through a window. I will either avoid this by opening the aperture to soften the edges like a lens flare or I might try to use whatever is behind me as a direct double exposure or a simple texture.

Key Takeaways:

  • Use Sparingly – Especially with portraits or when traveling. Don’t linger when others might be waiting. If you are by yourself then you can practice while taking your time.
  • Keep It Subtle – Don’t diminish the integrity of your subject.The effects are only meant to add a moody touch.
  • Include Straight shots – This way you can compare the effects. On many occasion the straight shot is plenty and might be the better option.

Example Images using Prism Filters

Here I have included a small collection of 35mm black and white film photographs using prismlensFX filters to demonstrate the kaleidoscope filters for abstract landscapes. I’ve included a couple of secondary filter types as well. As a personal preference, I did use a film camera, but these are all single exposures so the same effect can be achieved using digital. I have tried it with a twin lens TLR, however, it doesn’t turn out the same since you need to be able to see exactly what the lens is seeing.

Illusive projection

Kessler Park, Kansas City

photograph taken with Kaleidoscope Filters for Abstract Landscapes

Royal Point

Edinburgh, Scotland – See my Kirkyard Post for more examples.

photograph taken with Kaleidoscope Filters for Abstract Landscapes

Ruined Peninsula

Edinburgh, Scotland

  • Handheld Subtle Kaleidoscope
  • ilford HP5+ | box speed
  • Microphen Developer
  • Canon AE-1
  • Canon 50mm f1.8
  • Sekonic L-308X-U
  • Tiffen Red Filter #25
  • Epson Perfection v600 Flatbed Scanner

Images from the Roll

The images from this collection are original creations I chose for demonstration purposes. The locations in which they were captured are below.

  • Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Cancun, Mexico
  • Tulum, Mexico
  • Kessler Park, Kansas City
  • West Bottoms, Kansas City

Image Collection

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