If you look around online you’ll notice an increase in “Crystal Ball” or “Glass Ball” images. They have become so popular that there are now social media groups dedicated to them.
When it comes to Glass Ball photography, most people fall into 3 catergories:
#1. You Love it.
#2. You don’t really care either way.
#3. You hate it.
If you fall into category’s #1 or #2, keep reading. If you are #3, you should probably leave now and go to Youtube. I hear they have a cool video of a Mermaid riding Unicorn.
Okay, still with me?
Glass Ball Photography is really simple, …If….you…have…a…Glass…Ball. You kinda knew that though, right?
Glass Balls, or Crystal Balls used to be pricey, but now they are quite inexpensive. The one I picked up I got on Amazon for $10. Now there are all sorts of sizes and types out there. I ended up with a 60mm, which is easy to carry. The one I selected did not come with a stand, but if you have the chance to get the clear stand it could be handy.
The trick to shooting a Glass Ball is in the focus and the Depth of Field. I’ve tried several different lenses, but in the end I found I like using the Lensbaby Velvet85 the best. First, it’s manual focus, and second it has that great softness to the areas that are not in focus. As for Depth of Field, I shot most of my stuff at f4.0 . I have seen images made with a wider depth of field to show more of whats around the Ball, and they look interesting, so you’ll have to decide which you like better.
Now a few things to consider;
When you shoot your Glass Ball, remember to compose the image inside the area of the Ball. If you are shooting with a narrow DOF, the background will not show.
The image in the Glass Ball is going to be upside down.
In many cases you can just rotate the image and get a good look.
Or, if you want to spend a little time in Photoshop, you can rotate the image inside the ball, like this.
The next thing to consider is how to position the Ball. The last two images above were made in Isla Mujeres, Mexico during our last workshop, and there were plenty of shells and jagged rocks to position the Ball on. When that won’t work, you may want to hand hold the Ball.
If you are going to hand hold the Ball, I strongly suggest putting your camera on a tripod. The first image in the piece was made in Santa Cruz, and was one of … way too many mess ups. I tried to hold the Ball in one and camera in the other, and … it didn’t go well. One, my arm wasn’t long enough to get the ball away from the lens, and two, I couldn’t keep everything steady. Using a tripod made things allot easier.
The best option is to have someone else hold the Ball for you.
You can position yourself anyway you’d like, and in my case, my wife has way prettier hands that I do.
So, if you want an inexpensive way to have some fun with your photography, get a Glass Ball.
..or you can go to Youtube and watch the mermaid video.