Welcome to my Lensball photography guide for newbies!
The thing is:
Glass ball photography is a new and rapidly growing form of art. It has been around for over 30 years, but only in the last few years have people really started to take notice.
The style is all about creating beautiful abstract shots using an array of glass optics which are then captured on film or digitally.
In this Lensball guide, we will find answers to some questions that might be helpful for you who are interested in this genre:
- what does refraction photography look like?
- how do you set up your camera to shoot crystal ball photos?
- should beginners try out the zoom ball photography?
Let’s begin, shall we?
What Is a Lensball?
Simply put, it is a piece of clear glass, spherical in shape, that photographers use to transform ordinary scenes into artistic shots (but it is also a popular brand name for this product). This can act as a frame for various scenes, making it more dramatic than just capturing it out flat.
Also, this accessory gives you the “fisheye” effect without investing in a lens specifically made for that purpose. I think this is the biggest reason why this product has become so popular these days.
Moreover, it helps in creating beautiful bokeh effects without much effort. This is perfect for creatives who want to explore and experiment with different kinds of shots to show the world their artistic side.
Where to buy a Lensball online? Check price and availability on:
(Note: If you are in Canada, Australia, UK, you might want to check the Amazon stores of your country, or see if Lensball company ships anywhere else other than the US.)
What Is Lensball Photography?
Now that we got the definition out of the way, it is about time we talk about the specialized genre where you can make use of it.
So, what really is this so-called “crystal ball photography”?
If you want a short answer to this, then it’s: taking photos with the use of a spherical glass.
But, it’s never as simple as that. In order for you to better appreciate this genre, it is imperative to know how it works, what happens when you use this accessory, and how it can potentially affect the overall quality of your imagery.
This isn’t a really new concept. In fact, you have been using a similar technique without even realizing it. The only difference is that this genre uses the glass sphere as an extension of the camera optics (or an accessory per se).
It actually uses a technique called refraction. Since the glass is made of materials that are dense, when light passes through it, the resulting reflection is not the same as what your eyes see.
Instead, it is an upside-down image of the scene that you are shooting. That alone makes it a very interesting technique to use when doing your creative shoots.
But, what if I tell you that your camera does the same technique as this product? Would you believe me? Well, you certainly have to because it is a fact.
The glass inside gear will reflect light in the same manner, causing your images to flip upside down. However, you really don’t notice this because the images captured through the array of glasses are immediately reflected back to the imaging sensor, thus displaying the photo correctly on the LCD.
If you want to be sure about this, you can try removing the lens on your camera and look through it without the caps. You’ll see what I’m talking about.
Lensball Photography Tips
Original Lensball Pro 80mm
K9 CRYSTAL: This is the same crystal that is used for camera lenses and other optics because of its extremely high light transmittance and light-refracting characteristics.
ULTRA CLEAR: Polished and hardened, for a perfect and scratch-free surface. Every Lensball has been flawlessly crafted out of K9 crystal and made 100 percent scratch and bubble-free.
PERFECT FOR PHOTOGRAPHY: Lensball is made for beginners as well as for professional photographers. To make this accessible for all levels of photography, Lensball does not only work with professional cameras but it is also suited for any smartphone camera.
SECURE AND BEAUTIFUL PACKAGING: All Lensballs are put in a beautiful and secure box designed by Lensball in the Netherlands. The additional microfibre bag not only protects the Lensball from getting scratched but it also ensures that your Lensball is dust and fingerprint-free at all times.
QUALITY GUARANTEE: Every Lensball is flawlessly crafted and goes through multiple thorough quality checks. Therefore we can guarantee a high-grade optical crystal ball.
Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:
Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
I know that every photographer has their own style, and what works for one person might not work for another. More than that, knowing how to use a zoom ball for photo sessions might not be everyone’s forte. That’s why I’m sharing these tips on how to nail this special genre.
Of course, if you are planning to engage in this kind of activity, you have to make sure that you are aware of what equipment and accessories you will need before going out on the field.
The first thing you need to bring is your camera, regardless of the type. It could be a mirrorless, DSLR, or it could be a (large sensor) compact. Even your iOS camera will work.
It actually doesn’t matter much if you’re only doing this for fun. But, if you are trying to do this seriously, you might want to go for the first two types I mentioned.
Another important thing you must not forget is the lenses that you will be using for the shoot. For this type of session, it is best to use a wide-angle or macro to fully capture the stunning piece of art inside the glass.
Find the best glass sphere size
You are probably wondering are these products only available in one size? If not, then what could be the best size lensball for photoshoots?
Actually, they come in various sizes, but the most common ones are 60mm, 80mm, and 100mm. The perfect size will depend on what kind of subject you are planning to take pictures of. If you want to capture wide fields, then naturally, the 100mm size will be fit for the job.
However, you should bear in mind that a product of this size is quite heavier than the smaller ones. So if convenience is an issue, you’d rather go for the smaller versions which will work just fine as well.
The right venue = the perfect shot
Among the most important things you want to do is find the perfect location for your photoshoot. You want it to have a lot of natural light, but there can’t be any shadows cast in the background of your photo. In short, it is best to do this outdoors.
There are various locations that can become the best background for your images. This is extremely important if you want to captivate the world with your shots.
But hey, I’m not saying you can’t do this inside your house. It’s just that doing it outside while harnessing the sun’s natural light can produce really great results. Plus, you don’t need to go through all the hassle of setting up your lighting equipment.
Make use of available props
If you have some glitter or shiny objects lying around go ahead and use them! It will help make your photos stand out from all the other ones taken with just regular backgrounds. And if I’m being perfectly honest, it adds up to the artistry and drama of your images.
It wouldn’t hurt to try experimenting with props. Who knows? You might even find it surprisingly helpful.
Pro tip: If you are outdoors, the leaves could be perfect props, or even puddles of water (just be careful not to splash some of it on your gears!)
Be sure to use proper lighting
But don’t forget about lighting! If you’re taking pictures outside be sure to find a spot where there are no overhanging trees. The most important thing to effortlessly achieve refraction shooting techniques is to have the proper lighting.
But if you are doing it indoors, then you might want to use strobes and speedlights just to ensure that your subjects are well illuminated.
Speaking of doing it inside, below are some cool ideas you can try at home.
Lensball Photography Ideas at Home
Using wine glass instead of a crystal
If you still don’t have your very own crystal sphere, it doesn’t mean you can’t try refraction shooting techniques. The wine glass could be a great substitute for it. All you need to do is fill it with water, and you got yourself an improvised gear.
A fishbowl is also a great alternative for this product. Just like the first one, just fill it with water and put your subject behind it. The subject could be anything that is quite smaller than your bowl to ensure it fits. But if you love challenging yourself, then by all means get an item that is bigger than your bowl and try to be as artistic as possible.
Darkroom with glow sticks
If you have your own sphere, then you can try to do this. Try turning off the lights and place some glow-in-the-dark sticks behind the crystal. You will be amazed at how good the results can be.
Is the Lensball Worth It?
Now, about the actual Lensball product…
Is the Lensball worth investing in? Shouldn’t you invest in a real lens instead?
Well, I admit it is a bit pricey compared to other similar products (probably because of the branding?), but it doesn’t compare to the price of an actual fisheye glass.
(Or a Lensbaby lens.)
Lensball is actually a cheaper alternative to buying those special perspective control lenses, so it’s worth spending some bucks on. And it still allows you to be a bit more creative with your images.
==> Get the original Lensball Pro here.
If you are interested in this genre, then I would recommend getting yourself a 60mm and 80mm crystal ball.
You can start experimenting with these two and see how far your creativity takes you. It’s a really good opportunity for you to show people how much of an artist you are.
Now, I want to hear from YOU:
- What do you think about this lensball photography guide?
- Do you now want to get started and experiment on refraction shooting techniques?
Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!