How To Take Amazing Landscape Photos With A Crystal Ball?
Landscape Photography
October 19, 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


1.  The Size of The Crystal Ball: 


We can safely assume that you are interested in this and want to give it a shot! Manage to get hold of a crystal ball that has a diameter of more than 100mm. If the crystal ball is too small, you will require proper macro lenses to get that much closer. A bigger crystal ball can be shot from a distance using a telephoto zoom lens.


2.    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.





3. The Kit Required:


You will require a macro lens or a telephoto lens to shoot this kind of shot. 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.


You can also include some other props for making the picture more interesting, like smoke guns and rice lights. The use of smoke guns to generate a little amount of smoke can look quite cool. Rice lights have often been used in crystal ball photography to surround the ball itself.


4.  The F-number And Depth of Field:


The depth of field depends on the aperture of the lens. If you are using a macro lens, you need to be very careful about the depth of field. The depth of field needs to be large enough to have the entire ball in focus but small enough to make sure that the entire background is completely blurry. 


If you are operating with the macro extension tubes, it is going to be tough to get the perfect depth of field. This requires a lot of patience and practice.





5. How To Use The Ball:


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.


  • Tackling the upside-down factor:

This is not a case of reflection. In fact, this is refraction photography. The image made within the ball appears upside down.


  • If shooting in darkness:

The background must be well lit since that is your subject here. You don’t want the ball to be placed in a well illuminated place since that might introduce several unwanted flares. It is quite similar to your lens. A lot of light sources placed near the lens results in a lot of lens flares.


  • Getting close:

It is generally advised to get as close to the crystal ball as possible. This is normal since that will magnify the image. The frame will get filled by the crystal ball and only then will the image within the ball be visible.





6. Composing A Photo Using Crystal Ball:


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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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 should have tall structures around. The tall structures will look gigantic and dominating when shot from this kind of angle.


  • The human touch:

You may also ask someone to hold the ball in their hands 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.


  • Alignment:

Now that you have chosen a background that is quite visually attractive, it is time to place the crystal ball in the foreground. To maintain a balance between the two, the horizon within the ball should be aligned with the actual horizon outside. The mismatch in the alignment of the horizons will render an artificial feel to the image.


7. Post- Processing:


One of the key aspects of photography, post-processing plays a vital role in this kind of photography as well. You need to enhance the looks within the ball first. Use selective saturation and process the image within the ball. 


You may keep it that way with the general image in black and white and the ball in colors. If not, go ahead and process the rest of the image accordingly. Use the crop option to decide the composition for one final time.         







However, maintaining the crystal ball is a task itself.  You will have to purchase a glass cleaner. A clean cloth will also be required. Before every single shot, it is advised that you clean the crystal ball with the cleaning liquid. 


Although not mandatory, cleaning the ball regularly will get you the sharpest of images. The crystal ball needs protection too. You should consider buying a stand for the ball. It cannot be kept without care. It is always advisable to wear gloves while handling the crystal ball.

Landscape Photography
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