Fun Project: Shoot Through A Kaleidoscope

Fun Project: Shoot Through A Kaleidoscope


We all need to shake things up once in a while to keep our inspiration fresh. Few things are as damaging for any artist as feeling as if they are in a rut, the same old, same old. Nothing new or exciting.

When that feeling starts to enter my artistic endeavors, I try new things to get me thinking differently or looking at the same subject in a new light.

Enter the magical kaleidoscope!

This is a cheap, gimmicky kid’s toy to mix up your creative side. I first used one when asked by a client to employ one for a portrait shoot. He was looking for something different for promo shots and his music (under the band name The Cheebacabra) has a physchadelic feel to it, which works well with a kaleidoscope.

Here then are some tips for shooting with a kaleidoscope to get your creative juices flowing again.

  • Use both sides of the kaleidoscope. They produce different patterns.
  • When holding the scope at a distance, it can be helpful to focus on the rim of the scope if your autofocus is freaking out from all the images.
  • Manual focus will often be your friend with the shifting patterns.
  • Hold the scope close to your camera for lesser multiples and further for more.
  • Vary the angle to let images ‘bleed’ off one direction or the other.
  • Purchase only a kaleidoscope which is clear all the way through if you want multiple images. The longer versions, with cool stuff on the inside, don’t allow for as much playing.
  • Take a photo with the kaleidoscope, then transfer it to your computer. With that image on the screen, take another shot through the kaleidoscope for even more multiples. Rinse and repeat.
  • Most of all, have fun!

This is a technique that works with high-end DSLRs or simple point and shoots. And kaleidoscopes are cheap; mine cost all of $4USD (here is a link to the manufacture’s website).

Post a link to your images below if you have good results with this technique.






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Peter West Carey leads photo tours and workshops in Nepal, Bhutan, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles and beyond. He is also the creator of Photography Basics - A 43 Day Adventure & 40 Photography Experiments, web-based tutorials taking curious photographers on a fun ride through the basics of learning photography.

Some Older Comments

  • Linda September 8, 2012 09:00 am

    I agree, playing with a kaleidoscope is lots of fun, I bought one last winter and spent some time during a freezing rain storm..wonderful effects can be created!



  • Sandy Norman September 7, 2012 06:14 am

    Just had some fun playing with a 25¢ kaleidoscope and my iPhone. Guess I know what I'm going to be doing for a little while today.... PLAYING.

  • raghavendra September 6, 2012 11:35 am

    Yeah, everyone misses the fun part in photography :)

  • chris k September 6, 2012 06:35 am

    One of the Daily Deviations (highlighted works) on a couple of days back was a macro frame taken through a budget macro lens; namely, a common magnifying glass.
    I had shot at using one myself but found that keeping reflected light off the cheap lens was more trouble than it was worth.
    It's good to see truly creative ideas being shared tho.

  • Tasha O'Neill September 6, 2012 06:33 am

    I had a whole show on photos taken through a kaleidoscope. It was a lot of fun.

  • timgray September 6, 2012 02:06 am

    You can buy lens filters that do the same thing. I had several from my old film days.

  • Mridula September 6, 2012 01:43 am

    My daughter has one and this is o my to do list :D