The vortograph was invented to demonstrate that photography could be an abstract medium despite it’s helplessness to avoid capturing unfettered reality. Described as the first completely abstract kind of photography, it was popularised by Alvin Langdon Coburn in the early 1900’s.

Basically it’s a kaleidoscope idea made up of three mirrors and some sticky tape which you can hold in front of your lens.


We took this idea as inspiration for an Edinburgh Lo-Fi photography Group outing last year and these are some of my results.


Composition could be a challenge, but the best technique was to point directly at something interesting and move around until the surrounding image looked interesting.


I think it worked well in the context of the city centre architecture. It was like looking in all directions at once with the floor and walls around you making up as much of the image as your central subject.

My favourite image is the featured one at the top of this post, a close-up tessellation of a gas main marker sign. I like the way successive reflections of the sign get softer and softer as they radiate out from the centre of the image.


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