Wide Angle Photography Tips: A Kaleidoscope Makes Your Fisheye Crazy


You know those toys that make you think someone gave you drugs when you look into them? Why not recreate the psychedelic patterns on your photos?

One day I decided to create a kaleidoscope to shoot Lomographs with. I was all excited and ran to the DIY store. I quickly found some plastic mirror and got one in the shape of Toblerone chocolate. It’s really awesome to look into; everything you see through it reflects inside and splits your view into many triangles.

Unlike the one in the picture below, my kaleidoscope was open so you can see the real world through it.

Photos from workshops.nodebox.net and thechocolatemuffintree.com

I encountered a big disappointment when I did test shots with a digital camera: the depth of field was far too short to get sharp pictures. I still don’t really understand why but I wasn’t able to focus both with what you see through the kaleidoscope and what is being reflected inside. In reality it wasn’t bad for close-up shots, but I wasn’t really satisfied.

Fortunately at this point an idea popped up: Fisheye lenses have a huge depth of field!

Moreover, the wider the angle, the more reflections you get from a kaleidoscope with the same dimensions. In other words, you’ll get similar results with a shorter kaleidoscope.

Illustration of the relation between focal length and reflections inside the kaleidoscope

I decided to build a new kaleidoscope adapted to the lens of my *Lomography Fisheye No. 2*, and here are the results:

Credits: aguillem

How to build the kaleidoscope:

Youl’ll need:

  • Plastic mirror (glass gives better quality but is difficult to cut and dangerous)
  • Duct tape
  • A camera with a fisheye lens


1. First of all, cut 3 rectangles out of the plastic mirror. For the Fisheye No. 2, I used 10.4 × 16.5 cm (4 × 6.5 inches).

2. You should adapt the rectangles width to your lens diameter, so it fits snugly on it. The proportions will change the size and number of triangles on the pictures. Longer kaleidoscope will give more triangles but smaller images.

3. Then tape them together with duct tape. You should get a kind of Toblerone box shape.

4. You’re done! Now you can fit it around your lens and start shooting.

How to shoot with the kaleidoscope

When you shoot with this kaleidoscope, you will get a triangle at the center which is “direct” and sharp. Around it, there are many reflections which are a bit distorted and less sharp, because of the poor quality of the mirrors.

That means the best photos will be achieved with your subject at the center. It can be quite tricky because there is no proper viewfinder (unless you use a SLR of course).

With the kaleidoscope mounted on the Fisheye No. 2, you have a space above the camera to look through the kaleidoscope. Just use it to ensure that you point in the right direction!

Please give it a try, and you’ll see how easy it is!

written by aguillem on 2014-06-16 #gear #tutorials #camera #mirror #reflection #tipster #depth-of-field #pattern #kaleidoscope #triangle #fisheye #psychedelic #dof #select-type-of-tipster #select-what-this-tipster-is-about

Mentioned Product

Lomography Fisheye No. 2

Lomography Fisheye No. 2

See the world through 170⁰ of fabulous Fisheye distortion. Our Fisheye cameras use regular 35mm film. A built-in flash can be switched on so you could have more coverage in underwater depths or even at late night parties.


  1. hervinsyah
    hervinsyah ·

    THIS IS ORIGINAL <3 <3 <3

  2. jimjimm
    jimjimm ·

    brilliant..!!!!....:)...this deserves a big big prize..!!..:)

  3. stouf
    stouf ·

    Super idea!

  4. weleasewoger72
    weleasewoger72 ·

    Fantastic! I'm making one!

  5. aguillem
    aguillem ·

    @weleasewoger72 And don't forget to post a link to your results here, we want to see it!

  6. dotted_dress
    dotted_dress ·

    This looks really awesome! Thanks for sharing :)

  7. inherdarkroom
    inherdarkroom ·

    Wow! This is fantastic!

  8. inherdarkroom
    inherdarkroom ·

    Wow! This is fantastic!

  9. mafiosa
    mafiosa ·

    Fantastic <3

  10. monoton-minimal
    monoton-minimal ·

    Don't know where to buy this plastic mirror but it's so brilliant :) I will totally try it out some day.

  11. aguillem
    aguillem ·

    @monoton-minimal I found it in the neared=st DIY shop, even if it surprised me!

  12. jsurpre
    jsurpre ·

    @aguillem, Thank you for the tutorial! Great idea. I need to redo with better mirror.

  13. aguillem
    aguillem ·

    @jsurpre, you're welcome, I'm happy if it's useful :)

  14. pedrogalvez
    pedrogalvez ·


  15. george-salt
    george-salt ·

    You've rediscovered the Vortograph, invented by Alvin Langdon Coburn in 1916! Definitely worth a come-back in time for it's centenary next year.

  16. crowdizzle
    crowdizzle ·

    Would this work on, say, a sardina or Lc-wide? I love your results and have been wanting to try this. Great read!

    Also, you can search auto sections in places like walmart, etc. They usually have plastic replacement mirrors for cars and are a bit more cheaper than one from autozone, etc.

  17. aguillem
    aguillem ·

    I guess it would work with a LC-Wide, but you should be close from the subject. Otherwise I think you would not get both the central triangle and the reflections on focus.
    La sardina has a larger focal length so it would be even more difficult.
    Also, when the focal length os larger (less wide angle), you get larger triangles (or you need a longer /narrower kaleidoscope).
    Let us know if you try it out!

  18. p8n8lop8
    p8n8lop8 ·

    I have been doing similar tests with a teleidescope which is the cheap, plastic distortion toy you can buy for about $2.99.its clear and gives you a bug-eye effect. I took one apart and merely attached it to my 35mm lens with washi tape and it's given me some interesting results. It's completely different on my digital camera vs my 35mm using B&W film. I wish I could share the images on here to show you because, although it doesn't show a great depth of field, you end up creating really incredible images that force the viewer to question what they are seeing.

  19. aguillem
    aguillem ·

    @P8N8LOP8 I'd love to see it!
    If you uploaded the pictures on Lomography you could post the links here ;)
    with a quick search I found these pics from @clickiemcpete :

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