I’ll be honest, I know I’m nowhere near to being a professional photographer but I do love getting out with my Canon DSLR in tow and trying new ways to capture moments.
Last month, I purchased a Lens Balls as I wanted to try something different. For those of you who don’t know a Lens Ball is an ultra-clear sphere made out of crystal that is hard, scratch resistant and usually made from the same materials that are used in lenses and optics.
After finally being able to get out and about with the one I purchased, I thought I would offer up some tips for anyone that is interested in trying.
Which ball is the best?
I ended up purchasing a medium size lens ball. The median size, refers to balls at 80mm in diameter. When I did my research before purchasing one, I saw many photographers recommending this size as ideal for refraction photography.
Some of the reasons that were put forth from other photographers in regards to reason why this was the optimal size was as follows:
- Weight – A little on the heavy side, but still not noticeable. Easy to carry around in your bag.
- Size – This is a decent size, though you might not fit this ball into a small space. The ball will fill a nice portion of your frame with a standard lens, using a macro is optional at this size.
- Focus and distortion – By this size, the sweet spot area of focus within the ball dominates the scene inside the ball, and distortions at the edge are much less noticeable.
Tips on photographing with the Lens Ball:
- Keep your ball in the shade. Of course this isn’t going to always be an option but do try to avoid distracting reflections from the sun or sky.
- Use a long lens or a telephoto setting on your zoom lens. This will give you a more pleasing perspective and a better effect. This will also allow for less shadowing from yourself.
- Shoot at a wide open aperture. A small f/stop number will give you shallow depth of field and will help render the background out of focus. This will emphasize the image within the ball as the main subject.
- Try not to get finger prints all over your sphere, if you do. Clean it before using.
- When you look through the glass ball, the image will be upside down. You may choose to leave the image this way when editing the photos or you can change.
Please be aware:
Now a few downsides to the Lens Ball itself. Nothing photography wise but things to be aware of.
- Fire Hazard. Do note this ball can create a huge fire hazard. I have almost burnt myself quite a few times with it. The glass ball works in the same way as a magnifying glass. Given enough time, it can start a fire.
- Rolling risk. This is pretty much a given. Becareful where you place the ball. Make sure the ball is secure in its position before moving away from it, especially on a windy day.
At the end of the day, if Crystal Ball Photography is something you would love to try, give it a go. I know it’s not for everyone but it will lead to a lot of creativity in your work.