(Updated Jan 12, 2020.)
Beginning your lensball photography with some tried and tested lensball tricks from other lensball pro photographers is the way to go. At Lensball Australia we’re happy to have you start your journey with lensball tricks by diving in the deep end and sharing our tutorials and advice. We reckon the best way to learn about your lensball is by getting out there and taking images.
Lensball photography tips
1, Protect your lensball in a sock or one of our canvas drawstring carry pouches for transport. Have a soft cloth to hand to wipe off fingerprints.
2, Watch out for damaging your glass photography ball. If there’s just one small surface one, you can work round that with the damaged bit placing it on the ground or stand. Best tip is to keep damage to a minimum.
3, For the best lensball photos you want to understand and be able to change aperture. For the best results you want to have a low enough F stop to get the background blurry (bokeh) and the image in the ball sharp. F4 usually works fine.
4, Macro or wide angle lens will work best because you need to get near enough to the subject for it to be large enough in the sphere.
5, Don’t be scared of editing – sometimes you need to sharpen, and most people prefer to flip the image so the subject is back up the right way.
6, You can hold the ball, or use a lensball stand or support where it can sit up above the stand. You can also use natural ‘beds’ for it – leaves, grass, tree stumps. If you’re using it in a ‘bed’, you can try a bit of blue tack to hold it in place (just watch it doesn’t show in the photo).
7, Be aware of where the light is because the lens ball will easily pick up your reflection, and the sunlight spots on the surface. You can edit out the latter.
Lensball Photo Ideas
Shooting with a lensball is easy, but you have to be mindful that you are composing with TWO Frames, the Inner Frame and the Outer Frame. This is very important to remember when you are out looking for photo ideas. As you can see clearly in the lensball image here, this splits the image into two subject areas.
The Inner Frame is what is inside the lensball and the Outer Frame is what is outside around the lensball. This is the most important of the lensball tricks you need to know as a beginner. The other is that you can safely and securely Buy Lensballs Online here.
It really helps to keep this in mind as you will notice many reviews of the most intriguing lensball photography images get this balance just right.
Our advice is to treat the inner lensball frame as the focal point – this is where the eye is drawn and you want the detail in here. Then it just follows that you treat the exterior, the surrounding outer frame as a supporting role. The outer frame literally acts as a frame for the inner frame.
The outer frame adds context, and makes the intricate detail of the inner frame meaningful and easier to understand. Let’s not forget that photography is about telling a story. You want the “reader” or viewer to be able to make sense of what you are portraying.
Keep this “inner frame and outer frame” awareness top of mind for all your lensball tricks. It’s really effective to get the balance right by drilling into the crystal ball and leaving the outer frame a little softer and out of focus, though still recognizable. (We’ll share more detail on this later in this post) This way you achieve a kind of tunnel effect, where the lensball tricks acts as a filter and the real world outer frame is the contrast.
This focus on the Inner and Outer Frames leads to what we consider the most important aspect of lensball photography. The magic of the contrast between what’s inside the ball versus what’s outside the ball. In art it’s like the difference between the big picture and an obsession with minutiae.
When we first started our lensball photography, this aspect of lensball photo ideas was so appealing – it really drew us in. There is something about using a glass ball for creating a hyper-real effect where you are virtually peering into this make believe inner world of fantasy and unreality. We compared it to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, where once you begin to see things “Curiouser and curiouser!”
And the real world is on the outer, softer and blurred and in the distance. It’s as though by using a lensball you are inviting the viewer to enter into your own private world of magic and mystery.
1 Super Wide Shots
Super wide Lensball shots are where you take in a super wide Outer Frame, in focus and the lensball Inner Frame is a detail in the centre.
This shot works effectively to translate the outer landscape frame and almost hints at the possibilities of the lensball as a minor detail or focal point. This particular shot also uses some clever subject tips as we explain below. You can find plenty more glass ball photography ideas.
Notice how the lines and repeating patterns add consistency and a sense of form across both the Inner and Outer Frames? This is intended, and one of many established lensball tricks.
2 Medium Focus Shots
Medium focus shots – where the lensball takes up around a third of the width of the frame. The medium shot is another favourite – as there is so much more detail to reveal inside the ball. See in this lensball photography shot how much detail is visible in the grains of sand and the foam of the surf?
Plus you get the contrast between the outer frame and the inner frame. With some playing around with depth and focal length you can really get a lensball to look much larger and visually absorbing so that it really takes centre stage. In this classic #icecreamlensball shot, the inversion of the inner frame sits well alongside the outer frame.
3 Macro Shots
Macro Shots – Where the lensball takes up around 50% or more of the width of the frame – really draw the mind’s eye into the world of lensball tricks.
The outer frame is blurred but still able to be made out, like hazy smoke in the distance and your eye is invited into the lensball, like going into a secret inner world. Love macro shots using a lensball!
Everything is Upside Down!
Yes! Everything is upside down when you are using lensball photography. So here’s what we do to overcome that. Depending on the style of image you are shooting, it mightn’t even matter that you subject within the lendball frame is indeed upside down. It can simply be part of the lensball effect.
BUT many photographers turn the actual image upside down to make the lensball inner image take centre stage. This is especially powerful on medium focus shots and macro shots. But don’t feel as though you have to edit your images just yet – you can take perfectly acceptable lensball trick shots and make a stunning impression on your social media feed.
If you do want to go the extra step and edit your lensball photo ideas, that’s the first things to do, simply invert the image. It is amazing how effective this simple lensball trick is for offering a different perspective on a photography glass ball.
Choosing Lensball Subjects
Go for contrast number one. Choose a subject that has deep contrast so you can get some real definition within your lensball photography. Things like dark objects in the foreground against a bright setting sun, or light objects in the foreground against the darkness of the city skyline work well.
Getting your contrast awareness raised so that you can really see what happens inside your lensball is where the action takes place. Give your viewer a stark contrast that is easy to define, and the little world you create inside your lensball will be so inviting. Another tip we have to share is Australian Delivery, which we offer.
Ann Young suggests Landscapes are the first and the most obvious choice for ball photography. The spacious field or a secluded beach works just fine. The only challenge is to find a surface to place a ball that will contribute to an amazing photo. Sunset on the water, roads, trees, and mountains – a broad variety of places to inspire you.
She also recommends crystal ball portrait photography is also very popular. There are endless ways to highlight the peculiarities of a person’s appearance. Even the same person can bring out a completely different vibe the other day. The point to revise is to avoid the background noise as much as possible. It can be attained through the blurring out or using a “bokeh” filter. The glass ball can be also a good frame for the model, in such a way an observer’s attention gets concentrated purely on the person.
Third, Young advises to seek out architecture. The sharp lines or sleek geometrical shapes, be it a Ferris wheel, flight of stairs or interior photograph in a long corridor with the high ceiling, the lens ball guarantees the impressive images. The suspension bridges are a common theme for the lensball photos.
Lensball photography won’t do much good for the family photoshoots, action images or, obviously, crime scene pictures. This is a unique style that is popular among true artists and Instagram bloggers, who aren’t afraid to experiment.
The horizontal or vertical distortion isn’t always noticeable in the photos. It depends a lot on the object and personal taste. A camera position and view angle also play a big role in the final result. For instance, looking down on the ground and shooting a relatively small object like a flower, surrounded by the grass stalks, won’t have a visible upside down effect. The opposite is true for the city scenery with the buildings that would be inevitably transformed; the difference is easy to notice.
Look out for patterns and repetition in your urban and natural environment. Stairs, tall buildings, streetlights, poles, things like this are good to build a micro-frame inside the lensball and then extrapolate out into the exteriro frame.
Holding your lensball is important, as we learned the hard way when we dropped our onto the rocks at the beach. It meant our first lensball was chipped and scratched and we weren’t able to just point and shoot anymore – without expecting some blemishes in the resulting image. When you read enough lensball reviews you will appreciate that handling your lensball is very important and takes some skill to master.
Keep your fingers and hands and your skin generally away from the lensball. Your skin is layered with a natural oil and this blurs your images or adds a high likelihood that your lensball will fog up. This means your lensball doesn’t act like a natural lens – allowing maximum flow of light through it – and instead acts as a barrier to light and creates ugly distortions.
Ideally, carry your lensball in one of our handy carry pouches. These act as a protective barrier as well as polish the lensball as the ball moves around within it. Additionally, we advise placing the lensball carry pouch into a large sock, like a football sock or a hiking sock, so that it has an extra layer of protection as well as some physical barrier to lessen damage should you drop it.