Crystal Ball Photography Tips – A Different Perspective!

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crystal ball

This post is about how to take some fun and unusual shots by using the crystal ball photography technique. It’s always fun to learn a new technique and challenge yourself, using a crystal ball (it is also called a glass orb) will do just that. A crystal ball inverts the scenery so everything inside it looks upside down, and it captures a really wide angle. The shots taken using a crystal ball look very similar to those taken by the fisheye lens. Here are some photos that were taken by using the crystal ball technique:

Light refraction

Refraction occurs when light strikes the surface of the new medium. As the light enters a dense medium slows the light wave down. The light is passing through an optical medium (like air) to another optical medium (like glass).

Refraction is the phenomenon that causes a light ray to bend when it hits an optical lens surface (or another medium that can act to transmit light e.g. water droplet).

When refraction occurs with a transparent spherical object something magical happens. An inverted image (upside down) of the scene behind the ball is seen. The lens of your camera actually works the same way as well. You can use a glass ball as an extra lens element, one you can move around your scene.

crystal ball


Safety and handling of crystal balls

Before you take your crystal ball out of its box you need to remind yourself that you are using a magnifying lens that will concentrate the light rays and may start a fire if you give it enough time. You don’t need a lot of sunlight to do damage either. If you aren’t very careful you may also damage your camera. So it is very important to keep your crystal ball in a sock or fabric pouch to avoid any unfortunate accidents. Never display it in direct sunlight. Also, remember to keep your shooting time as short as possible, and returned it back into its casing.

Using a pair of gloves is recommended when handling the crystal ball, with bare hands, you may leave unwanted fingers prints on the surface of the glass of the ball, and you can’t even see it during shooting. These marks can ruin your photos.

The Crystal Ball Photography

What is the perfect size for a photographing crystal ball?

There are many sizes of crystal balls available in the market; the table below shows some common sizes, weights, and approximated prices.

The Crystal Ball Photography

Using larger sizes are easier to photograph. The larger size better fills your image and reflects more of the scene, and it will cost you more. The downside to the larger crystal ball is it’s comparatively heavyweight and its difficult portability. These are solid quartz crystals, which gives them surprising heft for their size. The smaller size allows you to take shots while hand-holding the ball and it will cost you less. For the larger size, it is much more suitable for shooting while the crystal ball is resting on a stand. The decision is yours, for me, I prefer to use 100mm with a stand and have my hands free for the shooting, and use a zoom lens from further back.

Where to position your crystal ball?

  • Look around and find a shady spot, if there is too much direct light, your crystal ball will pick up reflections and these can ruin your image.
  • Try to find a place that is elevated, relative to your subject. Rest your ball on something raised and shoots from below to avoid too much ground in your image. A crystal ball flips and distorts the scene that is behind it. If you place the ball down on the ground, much of your reflection will simply be the ground. By getting the crystal ball up higher and shooting from below it, you emphasize the sky and above-ground features of your subject.
  • Remember that moving the ball closer to your subject will emphasize the distortion and bending while moving the ball further away will render the subject in a more realistic manner.

The Crystal Ball Photography

Camera setting

  • The distance between your camera and the crystal ball is critical to your image. Move your camera away from the ball for a crisper image and closer to it for a more distorted look.
  • Use a long lens or a telephoto setting on your zoom lens. This will give you a more pleasing perspective and a better effect. A lens that covers between around 20 to 60mm is suitable for this type of shooting.
  • Make sure you focus on your ball to take the shot and not the background.
  • Decide on whether to make the background bluer or in focus. Setting the F-stop allows you to control the depth of the field. A small f/stop number will give you a shallow depth of field and will help render the background out of focus. This will emphasize the image within the ball as the main subject. I have found that a good mid-range aperture, in the f/8 to f/10 range, works well. If you want the background to be more in focus and distinguishable, choose a narrower aperture. (Narrower than f/11.)

The Crystal Ball Photography

Dealing with the upside-down image

As I mentioned earlier, the image in the crystal ball is always inverted upside down, to do something about that, you have three options: the first is to keep it and blur the background or invert the all image with also blurring the background, and finally the third option is to use a photo editing software like Photoshop to invert a part of the photo, which is the scene in the crystal ball. All the options are available, it is up to you to decide.

You can enjoy yourself by watching my videos

Where do I get a crystal ball for photography?

I recommend HBlife Clear Crystal Ball 4 Inch (100mm) with wooden stand

crystal ball photography

Product highlights:

  • PERFECT WORKMANSHIP – Ball Diameter: 4 inches (100mm); Made of Re-constituted Quartz Crystal. Flawless Quality, No lead, 100% Clear; Free of bubbles and inclusions.
  • IDEAL FOR PHOTOGRAPHY – Great for taking pictures. Makes for interesting subject matter and unusual photos. Explore their more creative side in photography.

You can buy HBlife Clear Crystal Ball 4 Inch (100mm) Including Wooden Stand from <<Here>>

Or LONGWIN 110mm Feng Shui Crystal Ball Sphere Wooden stand Photography Tool


crystal ball

Product highlights:

  • Handcraft, without impurity, comes with a wooden stand.
  • The diameter of the ball:110mm(4.3″)
  • will be a great photography tool

You can buy LONGWIN 110mm Feng Shui Crystal Ball Sphere Wooden stand Photography Tool from <<Here>>

Clear Crystal Ball with Stand, MerryNine 3-1/5″ /80mm Art Decor K9 Crystal Prop for Photography Decoration

Clear Crystal Ball with Stand, MerryNine 3-1/5" /80mm Art Decor K9 Crystal Prop for Photography Decoration

Product highlights

  • JEWELRY LEVEL MATERIALS – Handcrafted from crystal material. Flawless and lead-free. Can serve as part of a high-precision Heliograph
  • EXQUISITE CRAFTWORK – Crafted by proficient artificers who possess a minimum of 10 years of experience. Handpicked from polished end products to guarantee no scratches and no bubbles residual. Use shock cushioning package to avoid damages during delivery
  • POLISHING WITH HIGHLIGHT – The 3-1/5″ size is perfect for holding with a sole hand in any costume play or street art. The flawless orb is ideal for creating inverted reflections by photographers
  • POWERFUL PURIFY FUNCTION – The clear crystal is believed to clear your mind and absorb sunshine and moonlight to enhance the divination ability
  • ENDLESS GLAMOUR – A luxuriant clear crystal centerpiece or collection may add brightness and harmony to your living space or studio

Crystal Ball Sphere Photography Prop 70mm (2.75″) Clear

crystal ball for photography

Product highlights

  • Crystal ball size:70mm=2.75 inches with a crystal stand
  • Solid K9 crystal glass ball high quality, flawless, no bubbles, no scratch
  • No lead, 100% clear in a nice gift-packing box
  • Great for Feng Shui, fortune teller ball, divination, photography props, home & office decor
  • Only seller”JIHUI” is the owner of the brand “JIHUI’, please recognize before placing an order

COCOScent Clear Crystal Ball, Art Decor K9 Crystal Prop for Sphere Photography

crystal ball

Related post

The Photography Techniques- 15 Amazing Techniques


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    • Actually, I cannot tell the difference, but the crystal ball that is used for photography is made from the same crystal that is used for camera lenses and other optics because of its extremely high light transmittance and light-refracting characteristics. The real one should have a perfect and scratch-free surface and are 100 percent free of scratch and bubble.

  • Thanks for sharing so much information about taking good images with Lensball. It’s so important to get good composition and for me that means using a stand and even a tripod for perfect stillness of the camera. It’s important to use a swirl free and blur free glass ball – and K9 glass is good for shooting images with too.

  • I enjoyed reading your post and hope you continue to add more, I just got a Chrystal ball and can hardly wait to see what I can do with it, Judy

    • Thank you very much for your nice comment, wish you happy photographing with your new ball.

  • I’ve just bought a MerryNine 60mm crystal ball and I’m having fun experimenting with it. One of the problems I have is that my own or my camera’s reflection often appears in it and spoils my photos – which I obviously don’t want (although I have managed to turn a few of them into artworks by post-processing). I’m not sure how to avoid that. Can you give me any tips please?

    • Hi Caroline
      Sorry, you had some trouble in shooting through your crystal ball, you may try to get your camera a little bit far away from the crystal ball. I think this will reduce your camera reflection

  • My cousin is a photographer but I don’t know if she ever did this type of photography. It sounds interesting. I myself am not an artist at all. I more have a scientific brain rather than an artistic one but that doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate and enjoy other people’s artistic work!

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