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30 Top Tips for Photography through a Crystal Ball

30 Tips for Lensball Photography Banner

 A lensball is a simple, yet amazing, addition to your photography kit. It takes any natural scenery, lifestyle, fashion, travel, or wedding shoot to the next level by inspiring stunning, out-of-the-box photos. It’s also a wonderful tool to spark your imagination and get back into action if you’ve fallen into a creative slump.

 

Below is a guide of clever tips and strategies for lensball photography, but first, here is some essential information you’ll want to know before you choose, purchase, and use your Lensball.

 

What Is a Lensball and How Does It Work?

 

A lensball is a high-quality K9 crystal ball that is commonly used as a photography accessory. Its spherical shape creates a fish-eye effect, but it costs significantly less than a fish-eye lens. It also allows for abstract photos and imaginative composition through refraction.


Light is bent and distorted as it passes through the ball, resulting in an upside-down image of the subject. The refraction effect is especially vivid when using high-density glass, which is why our lensballs at Refractique are carved, polished, and hardened to the highest standard for the sharpest image. We have a brilliant range of lensballsto choose from. 

 

There are several benefits to crystal ball photography from its WOW factor to its accessibility. They are inexpensive, easy to carry, and can even be used with a smartphone. So, whether you’re a professional photographer looking for something to amaze your clients with or a hobbyist looking for a fun gadget, a lensball is the perfect addition to your gear.

 

Which Size Is Best?

 

When selecting a lensball, you’ll want to consider size, weight, how you plan to use it, and what gear you’ll be shooting it with.

 

The 80mm Lensball Vivid is a great size that allows for the most versatility regarding composition and angles. The 60mm Lensball Mini is lighter and best for traveling but creates a tighter frame.

 

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30 Crystal Ball Photography Tips

 

Here are 30 different ways to ignite your creativity and help your work stand out.

 

How to Use a Lensball

 

Let’s start off with some basic tips on how to properly position and shoot through the ball.

 

  1. Keep it steady.As excited as you may be to quickly whip your new lensball out of your camera bag and start snapping away, remember that it is made out of crystal, after all, so please handle it with care! Take your time to gently position the ball on a level surface so that it doesn’t roll away as you step back to get your shot. Be aware of your surroundings and be careful not to let it fall onto hard surfaces such as rocks or asphalt that may cause it to shatter. Even a gust of wind may cause your ball to stray, so keep an eye out and be ready to re-adjust when needed. 
  1. Get a helping hand. If you have a model or travel partner, a beautiful way to experiment with angles and perspective is to have someone hold the ball in the palm of their hand. Get creative by having your model try out a few different methods of holding the lensball. You can also hold it in front of your camera yourself, but you may want to use a tripod in order to avoid camera shake from balancing both the weight of the camera and the weight of the ball.

  2. Prop the ball on a stand.If you want to be especially cautious, or if you simply want the convenience of keeping the ball perfectly still, use a stand to hold it in place. You can purchase a decorative pedestal, or even make your own using upcycled materials such as a bottle cap or shower curtain ring. To make the look more cohesive, you can make your stand blend into the scene. For example, you can surround the ball in a nest of twigs and pebbles for nature shots. You can also nestle the ball into natural divots in the ground or beach sand. 
  1. Go Closer. The subject in the lensball will seem further away commonly than what it actually is so try shooting closer to the subject than you would normally as remember the crystal ball is creating a super wide angle.

 

Composition

 So, what makes for a great shot? Here are some tricks to achieving that stunning, professional look.

 

  1. Make the refraction work to your liking.Remember that the physical properties of refracted light will cause your subject to appear upside down. You can always flip the image in post-processing or simply embrace the inverted look.

 

  1. Frame your subject inside the ball.Whether shooting portraits, landscapes, or architecture, fill up the ball with your subject and focus the shot on the front of the ball.

 

  1. Use manual focus.To have more creative control of your shot, use manual focus to achieve ultimate precision for a sharp photo.

 

  1. Set the aperture wide open.In most cases, you’ll want a very shallow depth of field to bring the viewer’s attention directly to the sharp and mesmerizing image inside the crystal ball. To do this, set your aperture to its lowest f/stop in order to render the background out of focus and create beautiful bokeh around your globe. 

 

  1. Alternatively, try a narrow depth of field.There’s no right or wrong, and the possibilities of lensball photography are endless! Try a narrow depth of field with a wide angle lens. Step a bit farther back from the lensball and see what kind of creative shots you can come up with both the ball and background in focus. This is especially great for landscapes or beach photography.
  2. Experiment with distance.The further away you are from the ball, the crisper and more defined the image will be. If you’re looking to eliminate background, get up close to the ball or use a lens with a long focal length to zoom up to the ball for a distorted effect. Remember that objects are closer than they appear in reflective surfaces, so you may need to get even closer to the ball then you would with most subjects. The image inside the ball will still appear far away. 
  1. Find the right light.While you’ll want your subject to be well-lit, you want to keep the ball itself in the shade to avoid distracting sun flares or reflections. You may find it helpful to use a polarizing filter as well. If you’re having trouble finding the right amount of non-direct sunlight in the middle of the day, try coming back to your location closer to sundown or even at night (i.e. golden hour or blue hour). 
  1. Find a new angle.The lensball effect can be amazing from any angle, but try shooting from above or below the ball to add even more visual drama. You can hold the ball up to the horizon line or directly above the camera to capture a canopy of enchanting tree cover. Remember that if you choose to leave the ball on the ground, the ground will also be reflected in the lensball and take up a considerate amount of the frame. However, this is often ideal when shooting nature or landscapes, or when there are lots of leading lines in architectural or urban photography.

 

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Post-Processing

 

You’ve gone out on a successful shoot and are coming home with incredible photos. Now, what to do with them in Photoshop? Here are a few editing techniques that will take your images the extra mile.

 

  1. Crop close.Cut out distracting background to amplify the refracted image and create a snowglobe effect.

 

  1. Create a floating ball effect.If you or another person was holding the ball, try photoshopping the hand out of the shot to create a magical image. During the shoot, set the camera on a tripod to take two images with identical light and focal settings: one with the ball and one without. Then, merge the two photos together in Photoshop and erase the hand, revealing the background from the photo without the ball.

  

  1. Use selective desaturation. If you don’t want to crop the background out of a photo, another way to set the ball as the image’s main focal point is to use selective desaturation. You can also experiment with changing the hue and tones of the image inside the ball.

 

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Creative Ideas for Photography Through a Crystal Ball

 

As if using a crystal ball for photography wasn’t ingenious enough, here are even more ways to create truly unique art.

 

  1. Take a video.Capture movement inside the ball such as ocean waves, a breezy nature setting, or even a time-lapse.

 

  1. Take a self-portrait.What a clever idea for a new headshot to have on your website! Use a tripod and a ball stand for a hands-free method, or have someone hold the ball in front of you.

 

  1. Mix and Match There will be certain longer travel days where you will find the weight of the smaller lensball such as a 60mm more convenient while shorter trips you will fine the 80mm more than fine. Bigger is not always better especially if you intend to do a lot of outstretched holding shots so its best to have a couple of ball sizes to suit your needs.

 

  1. Color and B&Ws. Black and white results in some stunning alternative imagery with the lensball and likewise working with colors and particularly post-editing colors to make them brighter or darker for example (or even changing them) can result in some very creative outcomes.

 

  1. Bring battery-operated fairy lights. When shooting after sundown, adding a thin string of white lights can brighten up an image with beautiful, romantic bokeh.

 

  1. Send a snowglobe holiday card.Whether you live in a snowy winter wonderland or on the beach, use your lensball to capture your world in a fun way to show friends and family.

 

  1. Play on the crystal ball theme.How can you use your ball to tell the future? Perhaps by shooting an engagement or maternity session to create fun wedding or birth announcements for your clients.

 

  1. Create double refraction.Place your ball against another reflective surface such as water or wet beach sand to mirror the refracted image. This can make for some really creative creative shots and you will get a double refraction effect which may eliminate the need for photo shop editing if you want it the standard way up.

 

  1. Cast a beautiful silhouette.There are so many ways to add to the mystery of a crystal ball and one idea is to capture shadows and silhouettes. You can also add a deep vignette in post-processing for a more dramatic fish-eye effect.
  2. Keep a travel diary.The 60mm Lensball Vivid is such as great size to carry with you, that you could create an endless series of travel and on-the-go pictures. If you’re an Instagram photographer, you could even set up a separate account or hashtag to feature all of your lensball photography with captions as travel journal entries.

 

How to Clean and Care for Your Crystal Ball

Last, but certainly not least, here are important tips for taking care of your lensball after a day of shooting.

  1. Use a microfiber cloth. Be sure to clean the ball before and after each use to avoid fingerprints, smudges, and scratches – the Refractique bag provided is made out of microfiber cloth and is suited to cleaning the ball.

 

  1. Store the ball inside its original packaging when not in use.All Refractique lensballs come safely nested inside a micro fiber bag and a rigid box to protect against any scratches or potential unwanted damage or dust. The box even features high-gloss images of lensball photography on each side, so it’s a box you’ll want to keep regardless!

 

  1. No protective pouch? Use a sock.If you already have a lensball and it didn’t come with a protective pouch—or if you happened to lose it—a sock will do in the meantime. Just make sure the ball is additionally supported inside of a secure, padded camera bag when being carried around.

 

  1. Do not leave the ball exposed to direct sunlight!Although it’s unlikely, another thing to keep in mind is that the lensball can be a hazard if left in direct sunlight. Very much like a magnifying glass, it has the ability to start a fire, so be sure to carefully store your lensball in a closed bag when not in use.
  2. Most importantly, have fun!A lensball is a very unique object, which is why we love it so much and you will too. Let us know what tips you’re most excited to try or if you have discovered any great techniques yourself!

We hope these tips help you out. You can check out further handy advice on our blog. There is also a heap of external information out there such as this article from the Digital Photography School. 

 


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