How to Create and Photograph Gorgeous Refractographs

Refractographs are photographs of the beautiful patterns formed when light reflects and refracts through an object. Stunning as they look, you would think that there was a lot of post processing or digital manipulation involved, but there’s not, and in the above video, photographer Rob Turney gives you a step-by-step guide to taking them yourself.


All you’ll need to take a refractograph is an SLR sans lens, a tripod, a glass or plastic refracting object, a bright light source (e.g. LED flashlight), a piece of cardboard with a pin hole in it, some tape, something to attach your light source to, and something to hold your refracting object in place with. If you want to add color to your refractographs you’ll also need to use some colored gels.


Once you’ve got everything, just point your light source at your refracting object (placed right in front of the lens-less SLR) and shoot some long exposures while you use the gels to inject color. You’ll have to play around with light source distance and object positioning, but once you get it right, the final products should look something like the examples spread throughout this post.


Head over to Turney’s website for a whole gallery of breathtaking refractographs, and if that’s not enough, you can always check out the refractography group on Flickr.

Image credits: Photographs by Rob Turney