Crystal Ball Photography Tutorial
How to Photograph a Crystal Ball
Have you seen this cool effect in photographs on Facebook? Shooting through a crystal ball has been done before, but it's grown in popularity after several crystal ball photographs have gone viral online. If you want to try this neat photography trick, get your camera ready.
Setting Up Your Shot
Understand the role refraction plays in your final shot.As with any other crystal, what makes the crystal ball so fascinating is the way that it refracts light and images. Refraction is what explains the upside-down image that you see on the ball.
Decide on your subject.The most popular themes for this are landscape, portrait, flower, and architecture. The best way is to walk around with the ball and look through it. You will get your best ideas that way. You could see a tree that you never thought of using. Look around.
Don't shoot it from the ground.Most of the time that won't work. You need to have it lifted high enough that subjects are a distance away so you can photograph them through the ball. If you take your photos on the ground, what you will get is grass - lots of grass.
- Try to shoot from above your subject. The angle will vary depending on what you are shooting.
Position the ball in the shade.While your target can be in the sun, you want your ball to be in the shade, if at all possible.
Position yourself, so the sun or light is behind you.It should be lighting whatever your ball is 'aimed.'
- Light the subject, not the ball if you must use extra light. There will be fewer hotspots. It is much better to use ambient light, instead of artificial light.
Find a good location to place your ball.You could put it on a stand, a bottle cap, a shallow puddle, a hand, a fence, just about anything that will support it.
- Take advantage of any natural divots in whatever you are using to support the ball.
Taking the Shot
Look through the ball and fill it up with your intended shot.You will need to get relatively close to it. Understand that that distance will vary. For instance, the relative distance that a flower will require is very different from what a city line will require. This shot has something that could be interesting (the baby), but it takes up too small a space in the image.
Start with an aperture of approximately F4.You want enough so that most of your subject in the ball is in focus. You should try to keep it between F4 and F8. In this way, you will blur the background while allowing the ball to be mostly in focus.
Once the ball is in place, move around and look at different perspectives.If your subject isn't large enough in the ball, move the ball. Angle is everything when shooting crystals of any type.
Start taking photographs.A longer lens will allow you to be further away from your ball and completely change the perspective. A macro lens will only show the ball. It will also have significantly less depth of field.
Practice.You will not pick up your camera and your crystal ball and make this stunning shot. Unless you are lucky or fairly skilled.
Shooting a Landscape with the Crystal Ball
Set up the crystal ball with the sun behind you but lighting your subject.
Place your crystal ball in the shade.You will want your target in the sun, but your ball needs to be in the shade.
Ensure that wherever you place the crystal ball, that it is secure.
Focus on the ball until it is sharp.You will need an aperture of F4 to F8 to get the clarity that you want. Your background will be pretty out of focus.
Decide on how much you want to show in your shot.Do you want just the ball with the landscape, or do you want your landscape to show as well?
- Make sure the landscape in the ball lines up with the actual landscape.
- Get close to the ball. You want the scene to fill up your ball and the ball to fill the lens.
- Step back and show the ball and the landscape. It is a favorite theme for many photographers.
- Use a wide angle lens. This will give you a whole new look.
- If you live in a large city, get in a high spot at night and photograph the lights.
- If you have a cluster of tall structures, like buildings or trees, have someone hold the ball, while you get on the ground and look up and photograph the ball from there.
- Lay it on the ground, carefully. Obviously, whether or not you can do this, will depend on the topic.
- Be sure the crystal ball is secure. If it is in a high location, someone can get severely injured if hit with it.
- You can do any number of things involving a crystal ball and photography. Just let your mind go and try out any wild ideas you get.
- Clean the ball. Every time you use it, you will want it clean. The appearance of dust will be greatly magnified in a crystal ball.
- You will want to apply the rule of thirds when doing any landscape photography, to include this one.
Things You'll Need
Macro lens or wide angle lens (over 50mm). A longer lens will work with larger balls. You will be focusing on your crystal ball, not the landscape, or whatever your target is.
Do not use any artificial lights to light your crystal ball. They will cause severe hotspots.
Something to secure your crystal ball. You can use a crystal base, a bottle cap, or really, whatever you have handy.
Crystal ball(s). They come in various sizes, so be aware of that and get what you think will work best. If you have a ball of 100mm or more, you can do a lot more than you can with a small one.
A tripod. You will want crystal clear focus since this is a crystal ball.
A sock or something that will securely hold your ball. Make sure that it is a natural material so that it won't scratch it.
Video: Crystal Ball Photography - Best Camera Settings?
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