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14 Essential Crystal Ball Photography Tips


Reflection photography is an exercise for photographers, but have you ever seen refraction photography? A crystal lens ball is a starter photography prop that bends light to create curious and awe-inspiring pictures, and I made this list of basic crystal ball photography tips so you can plan ideas for crystal ball photos.


1. What size crystal ball for photography?





Let’s assume you don’t own one, so you are looking to buy a crystal ball for photography.We recommend looking for a ball like this one on Amazon with a 100mm diameter or larger.When you buy a lens ball, think about getting a stand too. But you don’t need it, and some crystal balls even come with a stand for free!There are cheaper and smaller crystal balls, but be warned: you need a macro lens to get  close enough to a 60mm crystal ball to take stunning photos.

2. Clean your crystal ball (every time)




Before you shoot, use a simple glass cleaner and microfiber rag to get any dust, dirt, and fingerprints off of the ball. It only takes a minute.Clean your crystal ball before each use.You don’t have to, but dust and dirt build up on the surface. This can cause smudges in your pictures. A clean crystal ball will get the sharpest photos.

3. Protect your ball!





Crystal balls are round, so they roll. Don’t put your crystal ball on rocks, tree limbs, or perilous places. It is a recipe for disaster.This might sound obvious, but it didn’t stop me from accidentally placing my crystal ball on a fence post, and guess what happened next.It rolled off! Fortunately, it landed on a soft patch of dirt.So it is worth repeating, consider buying a stand for your crystal ball.

4.Choose the best lens for crystal ball photos





The good news is that glass ball photography works with any lens.Some photographers prefer a long lens, but I think that wide angle shots look cool too.A macro lens lets you focus on your lens ball even if your are very close to it. The closer you get to your lens ball, the more exaggerated the background bokeh will become. This technique draws the viewer’s attention directly to the image in the crystal.But a wide angle lens can work too! There are many examples where the relationship between the glass ball and the other elements in the photo actually enhances the scene.

5. Choose the right aperture





Where do you want your viewers to focus? Open up the aperture (smaller numbers) to bring your viewer’s focus to the crystal ball. Wide apertures will blur out the background. Open it up to f/1.8 and the only “focused” part of the picture will be the image inside the crystal ball.
Narrow the aperture (bigger numbers) to bring the background in to focus. This is useful when the composition of the crystal ball is enhanced by the scene.There is no “wrong or right” aperture for crystal ball photography, but it can have a dramatic effect on the final outcome of your work.

6. Crystal Ball Photography Upside Down?




The glass ball refraction inverts the image. This flips the image in the glass ball upside down. It is a little bit confusing at first, but you might recognize the effect:

Photographers deal with this problem a few ways.
  1. Embrace it!
Sometimes, it actually looks pretty cool, so roll with it.
  1. Flip the picture
Take your glass ball photo, and flip it 180 degrees in lightroom or photoshop.
The background is upside down now, but that is ok because it is blurred out for the most part. The image inside the ball is right side up, and your photos are lookin’ good.
  1. Get creative
So the glass ball refracts light to turn the image upside down, but you can reflect that image again to capture a right side up picture!

7. Photograph in the shadows


The best lighting for crystal ball photography is in the shadows.It is ok for your background to be well lit, but the actual crystal ball should be kept in the shadows.That is because strong light can create unwanted flares in your image. It is also difficult to properly expose an image when the ball is well lit but your background is not.

8. Keep it clean


So you cleaned your crystal ball for your next photoshoot.Now keep it clean while you shoot! Don’t handle the crystal ball with your bare hands. Try to use a pair of gloves or a clean rag when you are handling your crystal ball.
You probably don’t want fingerprint smudges muddying up your pictures.The crystal ball is like a lens because it refracts light. You don’t want fingerprints and debris on your camera lens either. It will have the same effect.
I don’t ever touch the bare glass elements of my camera lens with my hand, so you should take similar care of your lens ball.Crystal ball photographs look their best when the ball is, well… crystal clear, so keep it sparkly clean.

9. Get close

Most crystal balls are relatively small, and the larger ones are very expensive.Get closer to the ball lens and fill the frame with the image from the crystal.Your background is going to be out of focus anyways, so scoot in tight (don’t worry, the ball doesn’t bite) and snap your pic!This emphasizes the image in the crystal ball and gives your audience the most detail.

10. Choose Stunning Ball Lens Backdrops




“Where should I photograph my crystal ball?”Your lens ball is really cool, so you definitely need to find an awesome place to photograph it.Most unique crystal ball photos use wide open natural vistas and beautiful sunset lighting to emphasize the dramatic and curious effects of the.The wide angle effect of the crystal ball captures a much wider scene than your lens, so look for city overlooks, forest clearings, and sunny horizons.

11. A Helping hand




Enlist a friend’s help to hold the ball steady while you take your picture.
The hand adds a human touch to the crystal ball photo, and it makes it much easier to position the ball exactly where you need it.

12. Align the Horizon


Get level and align the horizon of the image in the the crystal ball with the horizon outside.This creative positioning creates a sense of balance in crystal ball photography.

13. Additional Props for crystal ball photography


The crystal ball is a cool prop on its own, but you can create even more surreal and mysterious images by combining it with other props.
Smoke bombs, or even just haze in a can, add the ambient effects that cause an emotional response from your audience.

14. Post-Processing


Don’t forget to process your images in lightroom or photoshop after you take your picture.There are plenty of creative ways to process crystal ball photography, but you can try these for starters
  1. Selective saturation
Desaturate the the edges of the image and only leave color inside the crystal ball.
  1. Cropping
Do not underestimate the difference that a good crop can make. Use the crop tool to “get closer” to the crystal ball.

The tips in this list are guaranteed to help protect your crystal ball and take amazing photos with it.
Do you take crystal ball photos? Share a link to your favorite lens ball photos in the comments below will be feature on our Instagram Page!

Source | Kinetic.ink



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