7 tips for crystal ball photography

Glass ball images is a improbable approach to create compelling pictures, the type that may depart your viewers each wowed and curious.

However how do glass ball pictures work? How do you arrange lovely pictures? And the way do you utilize a easy crystal ball to seize such hanging results?

On this article, I share all the things it is advisable get began, together with a lensball advice, loads of suggestions, and even a couple of crystal ball images concepts.

Let’s dive proper in.

Doing Crystal Ball Refraction Photography - house inside glass ballDoing Crystal Ball Refraction Photography - house inside glass ball

How does glass ball images work?

Glass ball images, often known as crystal ball images, makes use of refraction to seize distinctive pictures. A crystal ball (lensball) is positioned in entrance of a scene; the scene is then refracted within the ball. Because of the magic of physics, you find yourself with an inverted picture within the ball, which you’ll be able to then seize together with your digicam.

Because the photographer, you’ve final management over your lensball picture. For example, by repositioning the ball (and by repositioning the digicam with respect to the ball), you’ll seize completely different views. You may as well regulate the aperture for shallow depth of subject results (the place the ball is framed by a blurry background), and you’ll change the space from the digicam to the ball for an attention-grabbing close-up impact. I focus on these strategies in larger element under.

1. Think about flipping the the wrong way up picture

Because of refraction, the picture inside a glass ball is flipped. Which implies you’ve two choices:

  1. You’ll be able to depart the inverted picture and incorporate it into the composition. For example, you may juxtapose the flipped picture with the true scene within the background.
  2. You’ll be able to rotate the picture throughout post-processing, in order that the ball’s picture seems proper facet up. Right here, you might need to blur out the background with a large aperture; that means, the flipped background isn’t apparent.

As you’ll see all through this text, I exploit a mixture of strategies. Typically, I prefer to preserve the inverted crystal ball picture. Different instances, I flip the picture for a much less disorienting impact.

By the way in which, if you wish to create a pointy, proper facet up picture however you don’t need to do any rotation in post-processing, there’s an alternative choice:

You need to use the ball to {photograph} reflections. In spite of everything, reflections are naturally the wrong way up, however the ball will invert them for a normal-looking outcome.

upside-down image in a crystal ball.upside-down image in a crystal ball.

The picture contained in the ball will probably be the wrong way up.

2. Get on a degree together with your topic

It may be tempting to place your glass ball on the bottom and shoot into it, however it will really trigger important distortion, plus it is going to create much less compositional affect.

As a substitute, I like to recommend getting your ball up off the bottom and on a degree together with your topic. The important thing right here is to make sure your topic is centered within the ball, so be happy to maneuver the setup round till you get the composition you’re after.

Observe that you just’ll need to preserve your fingers out of the body, so you may both stand up shut and solely {photograph} a part of the ball, or you may perch the ball on an elevated platform, like a rock, a automotive, or a bench.

In fact, there are exceptions to this recommendation. Typically, it pays to put the ball on the bottom, particularly should you plan to {photograph} puddles or leaf beds.

3. Fill the glass ball together with your topic

Except you get near your topic, it is going to seem very small contained in the ball. So do what you may to shut the space, till your topic looms giant within the ball (and consequently the body).

This may contain cautious planning and even some creativity. The ball is sort of a wide-angle lens, so strive to consider your shot as should you’re photographing it at 16mm or so. Would the scene fill the body at 16mm? In that case, you’re golden!

cityscape crystal ball photographycityscape crystal ball photography

On this photograph, the cityscape is captured contained in the ball.

4. Select the proper lens

Sure, you are able to do glass ball images with actually any lens, from ultra-wide to super-telephoto. However if you wish to maximize the affect of the ball, I’d actually suggest utilizing a macro lens (or a telephoto lens with important close-focusing capabilities).

Because of a macro lens, you will get near the ball, which does two issues:

  1. It helps you to improve the dimensions of the ball in your shot (in different phrases, you will get shut for plenty of element).
  2. It helps you create sturdy background bokeh, which is essential if you wish to flip the picture and preserve it pure wanting (mentioned in Tip 1).

A large-angle lens can work, too, however provided that the scene permits it. I like to recommend experimenting with a macro lens and a wide-angle lens to find out the impact you want greatest.

5. Select the proper aperture

The aperture influences the depth of subject (i.e., the quantity of the scene that’s in focus).

Set an ultra-wide aperture, and also you’ll find yourself with a superbly blurred background and a pointy foreground. Set an ultra-narrow aperture, and also you’ll find yourself with a crisp foreground and a crisp background.

Neither is clearly higher than the opposite; it simply will depend on the impact you need. In the event you’d want to create a blurry background (for instance, you need to flip the picture with no disorienting outcome), you may strive utilizing an aperture of f/Four or so. This can usually blur out the background whereas creating a pointy picture contained in the ball.

However you’ll want to evaluate the picture in your LCD afterward to ensure you get the outcome you need. In the event you go too huge, even the ball will probably be blurred, and all the things will turn into an out-of-focus mess. Additionally, the depth of subject will depend on different components as effectively, equivalent to the space between the lensball and the digicam, so experimentation is all the time a good suggestion.

lensball close uplensball close up

6. Discover a protected place to place the ball

This is essential, particularly in case you are photographing from a excessive vantage level. Balls are, effectively, balls, which signifies that they prefer to roll, and also you actually don’t need your crystal ball rolling off a bench (or worse, a constructing). Greatest case state of affairs, it’ll find yourself with scratches – and worst case state of affairs, it’ll smash and also you’ll want to purchase a brand new one.

That’s why I like to recommend placing the ball on a flat floor, and a crevice is healthier (if you could find one). Place the ball rigorously, then let it sit for a couple of seconds. Even when the ball appears steady, preserve your (or a buddy’s) fingers close by, and watch it like a hawk, particularly on windy days. You do not need the ball to blow off in the course of a photograph!

In the event you can’t discover a good resting place, you may simply ask a buddy to carry the ball for you. Or, with some follow, you may maintain the ball your self (although that is all the time tough; except you’re working with a tripod, you’ll want to carry the ball in a single hand whereas focusing and firing the shutter with the opposite!).

using reflections for a natural resultusing reflections for a natural result

On this photograph of the Taj Mahal, there’s a reflection within the background, and this mirrored picture is the truth is the wrong way up.

7. Ensure that your topic is well-lit

Just about each photograph can profit from a well-lit topic, but it surely’s particularly vital for crystal ball images.

Why? A strongly lit topic will shine by the ball whereas minimizing reflections. (Sure, these pesky reflections that come from in entrance of the ball and might present undesirable parts such because the digicam lens!)

That’s why I like to recommend you {photograph} with the solar behind you and hanging your topic straight. Alternatively, you may {photograph} through the blue hour or at evening, however goal to {photograph} buildings with brightly lit facades.

(Alternatively, reflections can create attention-grabbing results, so don’t be afraid to check out completely different lighting eventualities should you’re feeling artistic.)

Glass ball images vs commonplace images

Are you questioning whether or not it is sensible to pursue glass ball images? In spite of everything, do you actually need to mess around with a lensball when you possibly can be capturing a lovely wide-angle shot of the identical scene?

On this part, I’ve put collectively a fast checklist of professionals and cons – which is able to assist you to resolve whether or not crystal ball images is sensible for you.

Glass ball professionals

  • A glass ball is cheaper than a lens and lets you create a singular fisheye impact
  • A ball affords flexibility; you may transfer it to completely different positions in your scene
  • You need to use a big aperture at the side of the ball to create bokeh
  • Scenes created with a crystal ball usually have a extra creative really feel
  • The ball creates a pure body to your scene

Glass ball cons

  • Bigger glass balls are heavy to hold (in an already heavy digicam bag)
  • You want a macro lens to get the very best outcomes
  • The sting of a glass ball produces distortion
  • Getting a pointy picture contained in the ball may be troublesome
  • The picture within the ball is the wrong way up, which provides you one other downside to cope with

In reality, right here’s a fast illustration of a crystal ball impact. First, we have now an ordinary wide-angle picture of a scene:

A wide angle photo of a famous road junction in Shanghai.A wide angle photo of a famous road junction in Shanghai.

And right here’s the identical scene, however shot with a glass ball:

Lensball road junctionLensball road junction

What do you assume? Which shot do you favor? The selection to make use of a glass ball is yours to make, although I extremely suggest attempting it out. Personally, I really feel the professionals majorly outweigh the cons (plus, you’ve made it this far within the article, which implies you recognize all kinds of useful suggestions!)

In the event you discover crystal balls too heavy to hold on a regular basis, you may strive scouting scenes upfront, then returning for a second go to with solely the gear it is advisable get your photograph.

Glass ball images: closing phrases

Effectively, there you’ve it:

Loads of tricks to get began with crystal ball images. You’ll, in fact, want a crystal ball – which you should buy simply on Amazon for round $27 USD. As soon as the ball arrives, head to an area landmark and begin experimenting. The checklist of topics actually is infinite; you can begin with a lone tree, a church, or perhaps a cityscape scene.

Now over to you:

Have you ever tried lensball images? Do you assume you’ll begin? Share your ideas and pictures within the feedback under!

Volcanic lake found in Indonesia in glass ballVolcanic lake found in Indonesia in glass ball

Pure landscapes look nice contained in the ball. This can be a volcanic lake present in Indonesia.


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