I’ve been experimenting with the idea of vortography after looking at some vortographs by Alvin Langdon Coburn. After my second tutorial I was thinking about the way to represent the fracturing of the UK that has occurred in the wake of the Brexit vote. First I cut up an image. Then I thought about shooting a reflection captured in a broken mirror or using a cheap lens filter that I could crack to shoot through. They’re all ideas I might try eventually, but vortography really appeals to me because the way the planes in the image are fractured and broken up seem to reflect more accurately the message I am trying to convey. I think there’s something about breaking the strength of lines in an image.

At first I couldn’t work out how the arrangement of mirrors was supposed to work, but eventually I realised that they’d be like a kaleidoscope. I wanted to try it out, so I lined a Toblerone packet with tin foil to have a look at the reflections to see if I was on the right track (see the results here). Then I brought a few cheap compact mirrors in Boots and taped them together. The first thing I did was to place them over an instant image I’d just taken of St Paul’s Cathedral.

An instant image I’d just taken of St Paul’s with a test mirror set up for a vortograph

I also had a few attempts at shooting through them. So I know some problems now – you can’t zoom in using a the mirrors in front of the lens. But, perhaps the solution is to take an image, print it and then take a photo using the mirrors on a printed image.

Anyway, I got some mirrors cut – four 2″ by 6″ mirrors (one spare as I’m only using 3). So it’s basically a kaleidoscope.


I really like using the edges of mirrors stacked on top of each other too.

Self portrait using stacked edges of mirrors

I’m not sure whether it will work in terms of the assignment, I think it’s so random I’ll just have to try it. But I really like some of the results I’ve had from just playing with the technique.

Taken with my iPhone, then re-taken as a vortograph using my iPhone to display the original image.


This image was originally taken without mirrors, then re-taken with mirrors using my iPhone to display the original image.