Much fun can be had with a camera, but your tools don’t always have to be just lenses and filters. A few years back I experienced the pleasure of experimenting with a crystal ball. Other than burning a hole through my jeans, and nearly my leg (please do be careful when using a crystal ball in the sun), I had a lot of fun with it and found that using the orb provided a good deal of creative inspiration and added a new dimension to my portfolio.
Solid quartz crystal balls can be purchased in any new age shop in your local city or via Amazon online. They came in 50mm, 80mm, and 110mm. I do recommend that you purchase solid quartz balls to get the best quality for your photos – some balls are glass and contain imperfections. When ordering the crystal ball, most come with a plexiglass or wooden base which is handy for setting the ball on something which prevents its rolling away.
Here’s the rundown on sizing: My first orb was 110mm and it photographed beautifully. The downside was that it was pretty heavy in my camera bag. Regardless, the 110mm provides a really full reflection and also takes up more of your lens space giving a larger view of your scene.
The 50mm is ball is easy to transport but I found that for most photos I needed to hold the ball in one hand and so my fingers would be depicted in the photograph. This is not terrible but it might not always a welcome addition to your images, and it doesn’t leave two hands-free for the camera. Alternatively, placing the 50mm on the ground or on a ledge, one must get up quite close or use your zoom to ensure the shot.
My new 80mm is just about perfect. It gives a nice reflected view and is more manageable in my bag. I like it a lot and have found that already it is my main Go-To ball.
Techniques for shooting with a crystal ball can be as varied as your imagination. The easiest way is to place the ball in a spot which reflects a gorgeous otherworldly upside-down view and also leaves both hands free for photographing. Photos can be shot from straight on, at angles, from on top or below.
Because the view through the ball provides an upside down reflection of your world, you can rotate the image in post process to get the image right side up. I’ve also really wanted to experiment with several balls placed together and see how that works out but having just received my 80mm last week, that will have to be this weekend’s project. I’ve also recently acquired a black ball which reflects outwardly images and that is also something you can experiment with to provide a different viewpoint.
Experimentation is key here. Try walking around with your ball and gazing through it to find a composition which works for you. It can either be a detailed image or a whole scene. I’ve tried all manner of experiments – shooting florals, architecture, at the beach, on the street, and I even shot my 110mm under the garden hose.
So go ahead and have a ball. I’d be happy to see your crystal ball experiments in the comments below.