Have you heard or tried to take crystal ball photography? If not, you should definitely try this kind of shooting, especially if you are taking landscape and street photos. Many people often ask me how did I get that photo, how does crystal ball refraction work, and can I give some crystal ball photography tips or recommend tutorials about how to start taking refraction photos. If you are one of them, find all the answers below.
Crystal ball refraction photography is when the light is bent through the glass sphere, and inverts the photo. When the light goes through the water or glass, it is curved and distorted. The result is amazing, as you can get the turned image of the object that is placed behind the ball.
Pour some water into the glass and watch an amazing effect. The image is upside down in the glass. It is something that you will experience with the help of a crystal ball for photography.
If you’ve bought this magical crystal ball, you should mind some basic rules that will help you take amazing photos. The focus should be on the crystal ball to make the scene in the crystal ball clear. For a magnificent look, use a large aperture. If you find that the fingerprint on the crystal ball is not clear, use a scrubbing cloth to shoot with water. Read more about these and other crystal ball photography tips for beginners.
Therefore, it is often an issue what lens ball size is the best? You shouldn’t hurry up and take a big one you have found. The large size is essential for the most camera stuff but it doesn’t work with these lens balls. The smaller the ball is, the more convenient it is to carry. Besides, you will get a sharper image of the background with smaller orbs. There are many balls, so have a look at them and choose the one that fits your needs.
The little crystal ball photography size starts from 60 mm or even less.
The medium size of glass ball is 80 mm in diameter.Lots of photographers consider it the best size for the refracting shooting.
The large size crystal balls are those featuring 100 mm and more in diameter. It is not an ordinary size used by photographers, but it is the one I have got. You should think over if you want to have extra weight in your backpack before buying this lens ball. It weighs approximately the same as the regular lens. So, think twice whether you really need using a crystal ball in photography or not.
This is the smallest 30mm crystal ball you can buy. Together with a macro lens it allows you to fill your frame with the ball, and also to blur out the background.
This is a triangular prism that is made from photography glass to show beautiful rainbows by splitting beams of light into its different spectral components.
To choose the best glass ball is almost the same challenge as buying the best quality tripod. It is obvious that the strong one is the best among tripods but it is unhandy to carry it with you all day around. The same is about crystal ball photography size. The 80 mm crystal ball is the perfect variant if you need the optimal weight and want to get good results. To store the 100 mm ball, you need a spacious compartment in your camera bag. Besides, such orbs are heavy enough. But at the same time, it is the best option if you wish to take high quality shots.
Anyone, who tries to master a new photography style like crystal ball photography, often wonders what gear to get. Fortunately, there’s nothing special that you couldn’t find in the photography store. All you need is a crystal ball for photography, camera body, and lenses.
First of all, the main crystal ball photography prop would be a crystal ball itself. There are numerous options, for every demand and budget so you’ll probably find something suitable. They range from $10 to $50 per one. You can easily get a few balls of different sizes and colors for different purposes. It is also very useful if your basic photography crystal ball suddenly gets lost or damaged - the backup orb is never out of place.
The second key tool is a camera body. Luckily, there isn’t any specific request for the photography with a crystal ball - any camera you have will suit. If you’re just planning to buy a camera body, check out my list where you will find the best camera for amateur photographer.
The next important element is the lens. It is literally the secret of the impressive shots. Remember to choose the shortest focus distance. This will come in handy for the handheld kind of shooting. The experts traditionally advise using two types of lenses.
A long-focal length or, as they are frequently called, the macro lens. Their width is more than 50 mm, which is ideal for crystal ball photography images. It makes the background blurred and brings forward an object inside the ball. Actually, this technique is one of the most useful crystal ball photography tips. The macro lens was actually created for shooting small things at the short distance. Such lenses have a more precise focus. That’s why it’s possible to come near to the ball and get a bokeh effect around it.
Thus you can make any object pop, framing it into the ball. Macro lens offer different focal length variants, so you have to remember that this will influence a working length, blur strength, and general distance view.
A wide angle lens is an alternative to the long-focus length when using a crystal ball in photography. They are designed to emphasize the background and provide a broader perspective. If you want to try out such a lens, you should bring harmony into the image. There are two ways to achieve this. Either, you correlate the landscape lines with a ball frame and make a ball stand out or you place it out of center just to accentuate something. Both crystal ball photography ideas are quite impressive if they are realized properly.
What about additional props? Of course, there are some extra tools to make the process more enjoyable. You can use a tripod or a ball holder that can be quite helpful. You should invest only if you’re really interested in this style of photography.
A storage bag is a protection for your crystal ball and essential if your orbs cost a lot. It’s usually sold together with the ball itself, if not you can always type a “crystal ball Amazon” and browse the possible options. If you don’t want to buy a bag at all, you can simply use a sock.
Microfiber cloth is another thing worth mentioning. It helps remove any fingerprints and dust that can potentially ruin a shot. It doesn’t cost much but can make an astonishing difference.
You’ll probably need a crystal ball stand. It’s suitable for the photos when there’s no natural stabilizing surface to place a ball on it. Such a stand helps avoid any movement on the surface. It depends on the crystal ball photography size you use, but the majority of professionals agree that a natural stand looks better.
You can use a crystal ball holder together with a tripod. The same piece of advice is relevant here: it’s better to use a natural surface to place the glass ball. If there isn’t any, then a tripod will be very useful. Find your best tripod for DSLR. Just look for the one with a flat top.
The creative approach is everything when it comes to photography. It doesn’t matter, how much equipment you have or where you decide to take pictures. Studio, wild nature or urban areas can turn out to be equally intriguing and vivid. Nevertheless, there are certain places that suit this photography genre best of all. Check out my crystal ball photography ideas to try.
Landscapes are the first and the most obvious choice for ball photography. The spacious field or a secluded beach works just fine. The only challenge is to find a surface to place a ball that will contribute to an amazing photo. Sunset on the water, roads, trees, and mountains – a broad variety of places to inspire you.
The crystal ball portrait photography is also very popular. There are endless ways to highlight the peculiarities of a person’s appearance. Even the same person can bring out a completely different vibe the other day. The point to revise is to avoid the background noise as much as possible. It can be attained through the blurring out or using a “bokeh” filter. The glass ball can be also a good frame for the model, in such a way an observer’s attention gets concentrated purely on the person.
Last but not least is the architecture. The sharp lines or sleek geometrical shapes, be it a Ferris wheel, flight of stairs or interior photograph in a long corridor with the high ceiling, the lens ball guarantees the impressive images. The suspension bridges are a common theme for the lensball photos.
Lensball photography won’t do much good for the family photoshoots, action images or, obviously, crime scene pictures. This is a unique style that is popular among true artists and Instagram bloggers, who aren’t afraid to experiment.
The horizontal or vertical distortion isn’t always noticeable in the photos. It depends a lot on the object and personal taste. A camera position and view angle also play a big role in the final result. For instance, looking down on the ground and shooting a relatively small object like a flower, surrounded by the grass stalks, won’t have a visible upside down effect. The opposite is true for the city scenery with the buildings that would be inevitably transformed; the difference is easy to notice.
Those, who are starting out, from time to time have trouble imagining a final shot. The simple decision would be to carry a glass ball and use it for various types of photography. It’s recommended to start with everything you see and then sort out, look for the regularities. What kind of view looks the best in a camera? Which angle shows an interesting frame? The answers will push you in the right direction and help you find the individual style.
The important step, after you’ve chosen the object in crystal ball refraction photography is a glass ball position. If there’s nobody helping you, it becomes your responsibility to stabilize it. The relation to an object is of a great importance. Here are a few lensball photography tips to follow.
Tip 1. Prepare everything in advance. Going for the scout walk gives you time and possibility to get acquainted with the location and its characteristics. You can examine the area and pick out something to explore later.
Tip 2. Place a ball a little higher. If a crystal ball is raised, you can capture the sky without concentrating on the ground.
Tip 3. Bring salt with you to strew over the surface if a ball is in danger of rolling down.
Tip 4. Try to make the ball static. The more it moves, the more unevenly the light will be reflected. It will bounce off the edges and will be inevitably noticeable in the pictures.
Tip 5. Placing a glass ball up to the horizon line is a great idea to take into account. But try to avoid rough surfaces like beaches or holes in the grass.
Lighting plays a vital role. It’s a golden principle of photography, in general, that is hard to overestimate. The light in front of the photographer should be brighter than behind him/her so that an object is illuminated evenly. If you remember this, you’re unlikely to fail.
A clean glass ball is a detail that adds sharpness to the photo. All you need is a free minute and a microfiber towel. It’s strongly recommended to get rid of the dirt and dust after or before use indoors.
To continue the cleanness motive, we should wear the gloves when you hold the ball. Otherwise, your hands will leave the unwanted fingerprints, which are hard to see and which can destroy a potentially promising shot having zoomed it in.
Doing two things at the same time is difficult, especially, when they both require your hands. Why not ask someone to hold a crystal ball for you? It gives you more freedom and enables to perfectly position the ball.
While using a lens, you should always remember about safety rules. The magnifying glass will concentrate the light and can cause fire eventually. Remember, it doesn’t take long to start a fire. Besides, it may lead to bad consequences such as camera damages. It would be too frustrating especially if you’ve invested a lot in the camera equipment. That’s why it is really reasonable to keep a ball in the storage bag or a sock. Just keep in mind: don’t expose it to the direct sunrays. To solve the dilemma, simply cut down on the shooting time as much as possible and put a ball back to the case.
A round shape is tricky to tackle. It rolls over almost every surface. The tree branches, stones, and other unstable places may cause a lot of troubles. It seems like an obvious thing to do but you’ll be surprised how often it is forgotten. A stand for the ball was designed specifically to solve this problem. It doesn’t cost much but saves a lot in the long run.
The peculiarity of the crystal ball photography is an accent on the thing in the ball. To achieve this, you have to get as close to the subject as you can and then you take a right shot. Otherwise, it would appear too small and get lost in the ball.
Crystal ball photography isn’t a common photo genre, still, it becomes more and more popular among the shooters, who look for new creative techniques and ideas. If you just want to diversify your pictures in social networks, you can also try to shoot using a glass orb. Besides, if you are just beginning your career, lensball photos may help you attract potential clients.
Hi there, I'm Ann Young - a photographer, photo retoucher and of course, journalist. Here on FixThePhoto blog you can find all of my reviews, photography and photo editing tips, pricing guides, and photography experiments.