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Sam Hurd's New Photography Trick

About a year ago, portrait and wedding photographer, Sam Hurd, shared his prisming technique and practically sold out prisms across the internet. Sam is always pushing his work to the next level and staying ahead of the curve. Here is his latest technique, "Lens Chimping", and some advice on trying it yourself.

Sam's new technique is accomplished by holding a convex lens in front of your camera lens much like the prism. However, instead of pulling from the top or bottom (or left and right depending on how you hold it) plane of your image the convex lens pulls and distorts light evenly from the side.
Sam has reported that this lens does much better through airport security checks and can fit in your pocket. It really puts some movement in a static image.

If you need a macro in a pinch, you can simply place the convex glass flush to your lens. The example below is shot with a 50mm 1.2 lens.

Like any photography technique, too much of it will overload your photos, but with a little effort and some uses here and there this could become a very useful tool to turn boring images into some for your portfolio.

Thanks for sharing the information with the crowd Sam. Check out Sam's original post on Chimping.

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Tam Nguyen's picture

THIS IS CRAZY!!! Must get myself a convex lens and try it!

Brad Kearns's picture

Can someone tell me why theres black dots in the bokeh balls? Is that dust?

Tam Nguyen's picture

You mean this picture? Yeah, I *think* they're dust, or oil spots if he has a Nikon D600 like I do :(


Fetching image ...
sam hurd's picture

yup, dirty lens (or sensor) on this one

Cody Griffin Edger's picture

I think the dust adds to the photo.

Jerrit Pruyn's picture

I think the lens has some impurties. Just my guess.

Arjun Kartha's picture

Wow, great stuff. Thanks for sharing!

The_Michael's picture

Everything old is new again.

sam hurd's picture

haha, i heard the same thing about prisming, but can you point me to any examples of these old photos?

The_Michael's picture

Kodak had a series of books out, early 80s that had lots of these techniques. Along with couples in glasses, selective color, black nylon scarves as star filters, and so on. Pick up most any book on color photography from the 80s. Especially wedding photography and darkroom books.

sam hurd's picture

haha... oh kodak. i'd love to see that.

The_Michael's picture

You do know what a real book is right? How about libraries?

sam hurd's picture

what's a library? is my sarcasm coming through yet?

PanMarian's picture

next thing you know, people will start shooting through pantyhose and smearing vaseline onto their uv filters, and calling it new technique

FroKnowsNothing's picture

I'm a HUGE fan of Sam's work, heck, he's probably one of my biggest inspirations, but I will admit, that "new" techniques aren't new at all. Things like this have been done for many years, my father used to use this method sometimes for portraits and he used his spare prism from his old camera to do some interesting prisming techniques. To label any technique in photography these days as your own is in my opinion arrogant. These pictures are amazing but the technique isn't unique. (PanMarian, the good old vaseline on the lens technique! One of the very first my photojournalism professor taught me back in university!)

sam hurd's picture

really appreciate the kind words and understand where you're coming from. this technique is new to me and i'm not familiar with there being a name for it so i just created one. is there a name for it that i'm not aware of? likewise i didn't invent freelensing OR the name, but blogged about it and furthered the technique by breaking a lens to get extreme effects with it. i'm also legitimately curious to see old examples of photographs where prisming or chimping were used i always read that they've been used before but don't ever recall seeing examples of the same look that i get. in the end all i'm trying to do is educate people and get them thinking outside the box. even if you don't like the look i hope i've at least inspired you to think about photography from an alternative perspective.

Tanya Musgrave's picture

I saw some of the chimping in a nature photography magazine about 8 years ago or so; wasn't used in the exact same way tho. As far as prisming, check out Patrick Demarchelier (older French fashion gentleman) as well as Guy Aroch. Very cool gents.

Though you're getting a little heat from that air of passive-arrogance in the photography community (Lol, you know the vibe), and though you acknowledge that the ideas didn't originate with you, I DO have to say that even though I prefer a more subtle use of these techniques, you Sam were the first to actually display and explain your technique and helped get me around the first learning curve (particularly with that video that showed the effects in real-time).

We're all learning from each other, people -- You can't tell me that you've never "stolen like an artist" and made someone else's technique your own. Take a rest and chill.

Andre Goulet's picture

I think it's just because the article's title says "New Photography Trick" in it. Some people seem to get riled by that. Few here would give you credit that it means new to you. It's a tough crowd.

Simon Yong's picture

Hi Sam
I love all the photography, inspired and creative!!! By the way I bought the double convex lenses with ground edges too, but when I attached on 50mm and 85mm lens, the effects will turn it into a macro lens. Can I know what is the lens to attach just can get the effects like the photos you show as below your blog. Appreciate your kindly answer

Jason Vinson's picture

where in the article did he say he was the first one to invent this and label it as his own? all he did was give it a name because there is not a readily known name for it. and if this technique is not unique like you say, i am also curious for some examples of others using this technique...

Kyle Goulden's picture

" Here is his latest technique, “Lens Chimping”, and some advice on trying it yourself. "

Brian Reese's picture

LMAO... "FroKnowsNothing"... awesome.

David Johnson's picture

It's a bit cheeky for a name but honestly I think it's fair.

EnticingHavoc's picture

Some of them exude an artsy sensation however it's one of those techniques that quickly turn into an annoyance. Apart from that PS enables me to do the same in post therefore not forcing me to tinker with the image itself. Additionally post processing gives me way more latitude but still retains the original unadulterated file which might itself be worth to be kept.

Simon_sez's picture

I think if people would learn to fill the entire frame with meaning they wouldn't need to add props to the remaining 2/3 of their image.

Simon_sez's picture

Someone's sure starving for attention.. that might change when you graduate from middle school.

sam hurd's picture


Simon_sez's picture

You made yourself hurd..

Andrew Strother's picture

Literally every comment this guy has posted is some form of trolling or failed attempt at wit.

Jamie Schneider's picture

Whole lotta 'know it alls' around these parts.
If ya don't like it, don't do it.
I'll try it out, looks interesting.

Jason Vinson's picture


Nicholas gonzalez's picture

Cool trick! Thanks for sharing!

Ryan Cooper's picture

Love it, will probably give a try if I can get my hands on one of the lenses. Anyone know of a source that is "ship to Canada" friendly? Amazon rudely refuses to ship them here. :(

The_Michael's picture

Go get a simple round magnifying glass. Cheap plastic crap ones with optical distortions with have more of an "art" look.

Alexander Potiomkin's picture

J.J. Abrams would be proud.

Jamie Gellings's picture


Kyle Goulden's picture

But... this isnt his technique. Nor is it new.

I feel like Ive been told Im about to eat a gourmet meal and rather I got a McDonalds happy meal.

Chris Durnin's picture

Sam, can you or anyone else confirm if and how this works with a magnifying glass?? I am trying and cannot for the life of me get a focused image using this technique with a magnifying glass unless it is on the lens itself, at which point it becomes a macro lens as you mention in the post. I have tried different lengths from the lens and used manual focusing from as close as possible to infinity and no image would come In clear whatsoever :(

Guest's picture

Does anyone know where he gets a double convex lens that big? The link in the article is to a 75mm diameter one. The photo looks like one 2-3x bigger than that. Haven't been able to find any companies that make them that large,

Jim Crabtree's picture

Every new person to hit the photography scene, uses these "techniques" the prisms and the attachments. Using old lenses on new lenses, holding things in front of cameras and these folks call it the latest new thing that they "personally" created, albeit invented.

I must say myself and tons of others did these very same things each and every time we shot through out the 70's. 80's and 90's. Mostly due to the lack of funds and the need to create and always for the fun of it. Nothing here is new at all.

Only difference we didn't act like we invented the stuff. (even though in many times we actually did.) Everything from toys and beer bottles, exposed film, glass ash trays, old german lenses and even the plastic off of the easter candy, you name it. We just used our creativity.

Simon Yong's picture

I love all the photography, inspired and creative!!! By the way I bought the double convex lenses with ground edges too, but when I attached on 50mm and 85mm lens, the effects will turn it into a macro lens. Can I know what is the lens to attach just can get the effects like the photos you show as below your blog. Appreciate your kindly answer