Pixean
Mar 22, 2019

We have read about crystal balls in fairytales. We have seen characters peeking into the future with the help of these mystic objects. Gone are those days for sure or are they? Jumping back to reality, we suddenly have crystal balls in use. Crystal ball photography is a highly creative genre of photography wherein we enhance our images with the help of a crystal ball in the foreground. Obviously, they don’t let us see the future but they don’t seem any less magical though. Landscape photography is improving every day. We have brilliant photographers capturing several locations from their own viewpoints and perspectives. Even then, to some, it feels saturated. Some felt that landscape photography needs a new makeover, a new thought process, a revolution! Of course, they came up with something. They came up with this idea of using crystal balls to showcase the landscape instead of the normal traditional view. Let us take a look at how we can take a landscape photo with a crystal ball…

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  1. The concept of glass ball: We have always looked around for reflections since we love shooting them. How about you try refraction this time around? Without diving deep into Physics and boring you all, let us say that refraction happens when light passes through a dense mass like a glass ball. The light gets bent and this causes a lot of distortion in the ball. When this refraction is done on a spherical and transparent object, the entire image can be viewed in the ball albeit upside down. Landscape photography using crystal balls uses this concept of refraction to create magical images.

  2. The kit required: You will require a macro lens or a telephoto lens to shoot this kind of shots. Any DSLR camera will suffice. Some zoom lenses have macro abilities also. They need to be attached to the camera in the opposite direction. A reverse ring will be required for this connection. You can also achieve macro shots by using macro extension tubes.

  3. The process: The first kind of composition is the one in which the entire ball is clearly visible in the image. The background is completely blurry. You need to compose the image with the ball in mind and not the entire landscape behind. Place the ball using the rule of thirds and use surrounding objects to actually compliment the object. The background has to be entirely blurred and this can be easily achieved with a macro lens or a telephoto zoom lens. A wide open aperture will be required to throw the entire background into the blur. However, you need to keep in mind that a very shallow depth of field can actually cause focusing issues in and around the ball itself. Have an aperture that suits the entire scene. If you feel the need to emphasize the landscape behind, you can get closer and take a zoomed in shot of the crystal ball with the landscape. Even such a shot needs a proper composition. This kind of a close crop will help you in focusing on the details of the image and not the ball itself.

 

Now that we have seen the process of shooting a landscape with the help of a crystal ball, let us take a look at the different compositions we can plan for…

  1. Some foreground: Keep some amount of foreground in front of the crystal ball. This will bring in a realistic feel to the image. A close crop of the ball may look quite surreal.

  2. From height: Try to suspend the ball from a height. It will be better if it can be attached to some physical structure. Show this physical structure and the ball dangling from it. The motive behind this is to give the ball some sort of a vantage point over and above the landscape. When you shoot something with refraction, the image appears upside down. You can solve this issue here by shooting the ball with the camera upside down or by rotating the image in post-processing.

  3. The ground view: We have seen the view from above. It is time to check out the view from the ground level. The best position to do this must have tall structures around. The tall structures will look gigantic and dominating when shot from this kind of an angle.

  4. The human touch: You may also ask someone to hold the ball in their hand while you can take the shot you want. This human touch is often attractive. Try to find out more ways by which you can introduce the human feel into the image. One such way can be to have a portrait within the ball. This may seem easier said than done but if shot properly, can be worth all the extra efforts.

Let us go ahead and discuss the different pros and cons of shooting landscape with the crystal ball…

 

Pros:

  1. The ball becomes a natural frame to the image

  2. It looks highly creative and attractive. Crystal ball shots can add a completely different dimension to your portfolio. This can be your X-factor!

  3. The glass ball can give the fish-eye effect even when shot with a telephoto zoom lens. The ball being cheaper than the wide angle lens itself, can actually be a huge advantage.

  4. It offers a completely new perspective.

 

Cons:

  1. Carrying a glass ball can be a bit of a pain. The larger balls are quite heavy too. Portability is a major challenge here.

  2. It is quite difficult to get tack sharp images within the balls. A lot of patience and perseverance is required.

  3. The image by default is upside down. You will require reflections to actually get the upright image again.

  4. Since the ball is actually working like a fish-eye lens, there are a lot of distortions on the sides of the ball.

 

If you are into landscape photography, giving the crystal ball a shot is a must. Get out of your shell and try this new magical method!