Rainbow reflection photos was the theme of a recent challenge in our Grad’s group, and we were so inspired by the fabulous images, so rich in vibrant colour and fun effects, that we decided it would be the subject of this week’s highlights reel and tutorial.
All of the images were created using either a CD (remember those?), a glass prism or coloured pipe cleaners. And the amazing thing is all of the photos that were taken using a CD all came up with completely different effects simply by changing either the direction of the light source, the angle of the CD in relation to their lens, or the distance between the CD and their lens.
So there are many ways to create a rainbow reflection and many varied effects you can create. But there is one overriding element that needs to be present no matter what you’re using or what effect you’re aiming for – and that’s strong, direct light. So open shade or an overcast day simply won’t work, but if you don’t have direct bright sunlight, BYO light with a torch or similar.
Check em out, grab the tips, and go try it yourself!
Jess created this fantastic portrait by holding brightly coloured, metallic pipe cleaners just in front of the lens so that they were out of focus. He was backlit and this ensured lots of bright directional light was available to catch the pipe cleaners.
Same same but different… same technique, different effect. Experiment with the position of the pipe cleaners, and distance from lens, and even the colours you use to vary the effects.
Lenna created her rainbow by standing near window light and holding the prism next to her lens, angling it until the light hit it in a way that threw the reflection onto the wall. She leveled up her image to something even more special by using a wall that was awash with patterns created by hard light filtering through venetian blinds.
Prisms are inexpensive and easy to find on Ebay, Amazon etc.
It’s not all about portraits and abstracts! Katie held a prism to the side of her lens in bright sunlight to cast a rainbow across this delicate dandelion.
Use a CD to create a rainbow reflection photo simply by positioning it near your lens, metallic side facing in, and experiment with the angle until the light hits it and throws a reflection where you want it. The following photos show how much variation you can get with really small adjustments!
Bek took this at midday with the sun high in the sky and a little to her right, and with the CD slightly in front of the lens she experimented with angles until the sun caught the CD and created a rainbow reflection frame around her daughter.
For this very close up portrait Jess propped a CD against a glass to hold it up, in front of a window with bright light streaming through. She experimented with the angle until it cast a reflection on the floor, then she had her son lay down in the rainbow.
For this beautiful pop of light bokeh, Julie hung some twinkle lights in the background. Then she held her phone with the flashlight on, and a CD in the same hand in a way that can only be described with a photo (see below!). She experimented with the angles until she saw the rainbow falling across her daughter’s face in the way she envisioned for the shot.
For great light bokeh like this, put as much distance between the lights and your subject as you can.
Another way to create a rainbow reflection photo using a CD is to shoot through the CD hole. I know right? Crazy town!
In all of the following images, the CD was held directly in front of the lens (metallic side in), and the only thing that varied was the distance from lens to CD, and in some instances, the light source.
This fabulous rainbow eye effect was created by holding the CD approximately 2 inches away in front of the lens, shooting directly into the sun during the golden hour. In processing, Emma cropped the corners to remove the vignette which was created by the CD, and used split toning to accentuate the colours in the reflection.
This beautifully abstract photo was shot in a similar manner to the rainbow eye above, but the CD was held closer to the lens (approximately 0.5 inch) so the rainbow was less defined, and the colours were richer. The CD also caught part of Emma’s reflection and you can see her arms and tattoos kaleidoscoped into the colours.
Danielle created this effect by using the torchlight on her phone, which she placed on a table next to her and aimed it at the CD which she was holding in front of her lens. She then played around with the position and angle of the CD until she was happy with the reflection and the position of daughter through the hole of the CD. This image was elevated by the backlight coming through the window, and paper hearts which mirrored the colours of her rainbow reflection.
Megan took this photo in full sun around lunchtime with the sun a little behind and to the left of her subject. She held the CD at arm’s length away, and her daughter stood around 50cm away from the CD and looked through the hole. She cropped the original image to remove her own reflection and to highlight the colours which were stronger on the right.
For this shot Kirsty held the CD close enough that it was touching the end of her lens, and angled it very slightly to achieve different effects. Her daughter was backlight in quite bright sunlight which you can see just behind her head.
Join our FREE Mini Photography Course
Learn how to take photos you LOVE
5 Days = 5 Video Lessons
Join the Fun + Take Gorgeous Photos