Using a Lensball for Photography

Every so often photography goes through a phrase of different things that are popular. Some last a while and others fade as quickly as they came.

One of these is the use of a lensball, they have been around for the best part of a year and if used correctly that can create some effective photos. The norm is for the photographer…or assistant to hold the globe in front of the subject and snap the photo.

While this looks impressive you can do more and done correctly it’ll wow people.

What is a Lensball?

A lensball is a clear crystal ball that gives you perfectly crisp wild-angle image. Inside a glass ball the light is bent until it is inverted within the ball. This creates an upside down image, which is one of the key characteristics of glass ball photography. I have seen people flip the image in Photoshop but for me that defeats the whole point of this type of photography.

Generally when you buy a ball they come in a couple of sizes, a pocket size at 60mm and a ‘pro’ size of 80mm. It’s worth noting that clear marbles can also be used.

I went for the 80mm which weighs in at 650 grams, and let me tell you this is quite a weight when in your camera bag. I wish I picked the 60mm one but that sounded too small…oh how wrong I was.

The two photos so far look ok and have a nice effect to them but I think the ones that stand out are when the ball is placed on top of a wall, stones or even the ground. It gives it a more dramatic feel and can really wow people.

When going for this just be careful, it’s a completely smooth ball and has a tendency to roll. Whilst balancing it on the railings of a bridge as I was setting it up a slight breeze made it roll but I noticed just in time.

To give you an idea of things that you can place your ball on below are a couple of my favourite photos that I’ve taken.

One was rested on rocks on the edge of Lake Windermere and the other on stones by Brighton West Pier. You can now get stands for them but I prefer the more natural approach.

A few tips for using a lensball for photography, keep the glass clear by using the pouch and cloth that should come with it when you buy it. Also focus on the subject in the ball and use an aperture that still shows the surrounds on the ball, you don’t want them pin sharp but a little blown out focuses the eye on the subject in the ball.

Above all enjoy the creativity and have fun.