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Matt Dorey

A bird is sitting on the grass with a kite

What does Prisma do for your photos?

Original image to which I applied each of the Prisma filters

I am a bit addicted to putting my photos through Prisma at the moment. I’m not the only one judging by how often I get the message “Prisma is too busy right now”. The different filters of the app render your photos in ways that imitate the styles of various painters and illustrators.

In this post I’ve applied all the filters to the same image: the cover image at the top of this post. I had to crop my image of the Torres del Paine in Chile to a square and my biggest wish for Prisma is for it to work with rectangular images in the future. Anyway, over the course of several hours I got the app to render me some new versions of my photo. My favourite is “Udnie” which is a good all-purpose watercolour style filter. I’ve captioned each with the name of the filter, but the gallery is ordered randomly each time the page is loaded.

Prisma claim that the app uses AI to render the new image (similar to deep dream). The problem is that it compresses your image to 1080 by 1080, which these days is a pretty tiny photo. Obviously to have fun with the various renders the features present need to be fairly large. You’ll notice that in my picture the mountains often get rendered in interesting ways but that some filters miss the trees in the foreground altogether.

In this case the “Dreams” filter falls asleep, keeps on dreaming and obliterates all the detail in the photo. The “Mondrian” feature is interesting but I’ve yet to find a photo that it doesn’t destroy – perhaps its geometric nature works well on city skylines and other rectangular forms. The black and white filters that imitate pen or pencil drawing cover a range of options, one usually works and the other two will seem either too slight or too over the top. In this case “Heisenberg” works well but it was too strong for some of my other photos.

Just as with more conventional filters in apps like Litely or Instagram, different settings work better for different photos. As you can see from this gallery, Prisma gives you a lot of options to play with.

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