A lensball is a popular photography accessory in the form of a crystal ball.
You may be surprised to know that a lensball has the same optic quality as a professional camera lens, making it the perfect addition to your photography pack. With its unique spherical shape, a lensball creates stunning imagery through the technique of refraction.
Refraction occurs when light passes through an object of denser mass, such as water or glass. When refraction occurs, light is bent, and a distortion of the imagery occurs inside the lensball. It is important you purchase from a retailer that ensures a good quality crystal is obtained as quality can differ markedly.
A lensball adds an additional wow factor that will make your photos stand out from the rest!
Having a lensball increases the potential of every photograph you take and provides an endless sense of novelty and fun to your journey in photography.
To start using your lensball simply hold up the ball or if you purchased one use the lensball stand (with or without a tripod). Just position yourself in front of the subject you want to capture and then shoot through the ball with your camera. Once you have tried this out, you are on the journey to taking some great crystal ball photos!
Now all you need to do is find some inspiration for your photographs. Lensballs are great for capturing nature such as forests, beaches, mountains and other incredible landscapes.
A lensball can also turn the ordinary into extraordinary, so you can also try using this photo accessory on simple scenes and be amazed by the creative outcomes. A few tips will help you out further though so let's dive straight in!
Refraction Photography using a lensball is not a simple art. However, that is what makes it so unique. By practising and mastering the technique of refraction with your lensball, you will not only be impressing your audience, but also yourself! Here’s what to do…
When taking a photo with a crystal ball, positioning can be the difference between ordinary and amazing. Think about the distance between the lensball and the object you are shooting. Why does this matter?
If your camera is further away from the ball, you will notice a crisper and more defined image; however, if you are looking to eliminate background, you can get close up to the subject to create a more distorted look.
Also, since you will be close to the lensball during the photography such as holding the lensball, there is a chance that your hands or other body parts could be captured in the image so just be aware of this. To avoid this, you can simply play around with the positioning and even try using a prop/object to hold the lensball instead.
If you rest your lensball on something raised above the object and shoot the image from a lower angle, you can avoid excess background in your image.
A good alternative to holding the lensball is using a lensball stand, with the stand sitting on a flat surface or have the crystal ball and stand sitting on a tripod.
Shade and sunlight play a high part in impacting your lensball photo. Crystal will pick up any reflections from sunlight, which can negatively impact your image. So try to avoid having a lot of sunlight right over the ball (harsh mid-day sun for example can cause too many unwanted reflections on top of the ball), instead having light coming at the front of the subject for example when the sun is behind your back will mean you can capture the image very clearly. For this reason often better lighting conditions can be found at sunrise or sunset due to the diretion the light is coming into the ball.
Conversely using shade in the right areas will mean you can avoid some reflections or glare.
We discuss lighting a bit further in tip 5!
To take a quality shot with a lensball, the focus of the camera should be on the lensball not on the background or another object.
Picking the right depth of field has a huge impact on the quality of your image and this may take a few practice rounds and camera adjustments; however, it is crucial to the final result of your image, so remember to keep this in mind.
Start with an f/4 an adjust from there. The right aperture depends on the specific photo however getting the balance is critical and only that can be found through trial and error as well as experience. An aperture too small will not blur out the background enough or at all and a aperture too big will mean you can't focus sharply enough on the subject.
The editing of your lensball photo is just as important as any other photograph, however, since the lensball is an amazing element in itself, it is important not to overdo it.
If you want to bring more attention to the lensball in the image, a great crop can be the perfect finishing touch to bring that focus to your audience and amaze them! Saturation or desaturation of colours can also improve the photo.
Aside from these basic editing functions there are more advanced lensball specific post editing techniques such as flipping the image in the lensball, making the crystal ball appear to float and making it look like it is shattering into tiny pieces!
To learn more about lensball-specific post production techniques check out our lensball photography post production guide.
Light as with all photography is even more critical with the lensball. The subject in the ball must be well lit or else you take the risk of not having anything turn out as intended. Similarly, the background is also important however this may be more defined by the weather and the time of day. You want light coming through the ball from behind or in front of the ball ideally.
You may need to return to your intended spot at the right time of day and the right day if you want the perfect shot! If you can control any of the lighting elements particularly on the subject do so, this may be as simple as changing the direction of the photo and/or positioning yourself slightly differently.
A lensball is a very unique object which is why we love it so much and you will too, however, everything special needs to be taken care of to last and keep safe.
Keep in mind the weight and material of the lensball.
When owning a lensball it is important to keep in mind that you are carrying around a crystal sphere that weighs up to 650g for the larger 80mm Lensball Vivid. Ensure that when carrying around your lensball, the bag you have is keeping the lensball supported and secure. Also, hold the bottom of the ball not the drawstring or top of the bag.
Use the microfiber bag to also clean the ball before use. The rest of the time use our box to house the ball in its bag to avoid any scratches or potential unwanted damage or dust.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the lensball can be a hazard if left in direct sunlight as it can start a fire, very similar to a magnifying glass. So when you’re not using the lensball, make it a habit to ensure it is kept in a secure bag away from sunlight.
Have you seen the awesome shared lensball photos from our customers?
There’s a lot of people on social media sharing which in itself can be a great way to connect with other photographers. You may be able to find other photographers around your area in Australia and get out and about together.
If you are part of a group of photographers or even have a photographer friend, why not introduce the lensball and head out for a shoot together!
In that environment often great learning can occur as photographers with different strengths can share their thoughts on techniques and settings such as some of those we’ve discussed in this article already.
We hope you’ve enjoyed these tips from the Refractique team. As mentioned we will follow up from time to time from now on.
We appreciate all the interest in our enjoyable, niche product and appreciate your support of our local small Australian business! Enjoy the lensball photography!
For more information visit the Refractique website.
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