Crystal photography balls, or ‘lens balls’ have been getting more and more popular recently, and so we at People of the Planet decided it was only right to try one out!

Let me start by saying, we’ve really enjoyed using it! Yes, it is not suitable for all locations and yes it can be a pain to carry one around if you’re travelling, but it also can give you some great results like the one below!

lens ball positioned next to a fire pit, capturing the flame from the fire.
We made a Campfire on the beach to keep us warm… and to get this photo!

After using our lens ball for some time now, we feel like we’re in a position to offer some useful tips and tricks on how to use them.

Now onto the advice for how to get the best out of your Lens Ball:

1. Get Low

The thing we like most about these balls is that they allow you to capture a completely different type of photo than you can get with just your camera. There are several advantages to this such as: It allows you to mix up your portfolio, blog content or Instagram profile with a different type of shot thrown in there. 

The classic photography ball photos are the ones where you can see the ball in focus and the background blurred out. The best ones of these include an interesting landscape or event, which you can see through the ball itself. 

One thing we realised very quickly is that to get this type of shot you need the camera to be at least exactly behind the ball, and preferably slightly lower down than the ball. If the camera is higher than the lens ball, the image that you pick up inside the ball will be mainly of the floor and not the landscape that you want.

Sometimes it can be difficult to get your camera down low enough to fully pick up the background. My advice is, be creative with where you place your lens ball. If possible, try to find or build something that can elevate the position of the lens ball, so that you can easily get your camera behind it.

lens ball positioned on some raised sand on top of peoples on the beach.
To elevate the Lens ball we built a little platform out of sand to place it on!

2. Focus on the Ball

Generally speaking, the use of a lens ball is only warranted if you always get up nice and close to the ball and have it in focus, with the background blurred out. If you don’t go for this then you’ll just end up with a photo of a glass ball, not very interesting.

Sometimes it can be difficult to get the lens ball in focus, especially if you are using Auto Focus on your camera. If you are comfortable using manual focus then I would definitely recommend that here. 

In terms of lenses on your camera, you’re going to ideally want to use a Macro Lens. This will make it easier to get closer to the ball and remain in focus. That said, if you don’t own a Macro Lens I wouldn’t go out and get one just because you have a lens ball. You can still get very good photos with a wide-angle lens, it is just a bit more challenging.

3. Keep the Camera Still

The clearer the image inside the lens ball, the better the photo will turn out. If you can keep your camera still, you won’t have any motion blur in your image and therefore you have a better chance of keeping the lens ball image clear and focused.

Lens ball photography can be unorthodox at times as you bend over to get your camera down low or start trying to balance your ball on some ledge etc. If possible, use a tripod to stabilise your camera.

4. Get Trippy

One of the main benefits of using a lens ball is that it gives you the opportunity to get unique, sometimes trippy results. Take advantage of light displays and unusual surroundings. Zoom right into your lens ball and capture something fascinating. You could even take a video through a lens ball to really get people guessing what’s going on! 

lens ball positioned in front of neon lights.
Photo by Aachal Lal on Unsplash

5. Dealing with the upside-down image

When you take a photo with a lens ball, the image inside the ball will be flipped due to refraction. Now, I personally don’t mind this as it can make the photo even more interesting, but I get that sometimes, you’ll want the image in the lens ball the right way up.

To achieve this you have a few options:

  1. Blur the hell out of the background. Ideally blur the background out to the extent that you can’t make it out. Then just rotate the entire image 180 degrees, or even take it with your camera upside down!
  2. Use Photoshop or some other software, grab the image inside and rotate it 180 degrees.
  3. Take advantage of reflections. If you take the photo of reflection, it will flip the image again.

Summary

We’ve really enjoyed using the lens ball recently, and it has given us some unique content for our Instagram page. The thing we like most about them is that they allow you to get great content in a place that otherwise you may struggle. For example, the first place that we took our lens ball to was a beach on a cold, dull and grey day. Normally we’d have come away from the beach with no content on that day, but because we had the lens ball we were able to capture a unique photo (the second photo in this article).

Tag us on Instagram @_peopleoftheplanet_ in any lens ball shots you take! We’d love to see what you can all come up with!

Like this article? Check out some of our other photography articles!

One half of People of the Planet. Sharing our adventures, best travel tips and travel photography! We created People of the Planet to provide a place for all travellers to learn, explore and find travel inspiration.

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One half of People of the Planet. Sharing our adventures, best travel tips and travel photography! We created People of the Planet to provide a place for all travellers to learn, explore and find travel inspiration.

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