Photography 1001 : Crystal Ball Photography

The use of crystal ball offers a twist to your nature and cityscape skyline photos; It gives a fisheye and slight wide-angle effect to your creation, and puts a tranquil feeling to the image.

Generally, we want to use the crystal ball as a frame and focus on the subject that is captured in the glass. The image inside will be upside down, so you may either want to use a vertial flip during post-processing, or render the background out of focus by tweaking the settings on your camera.

After you get your crystal ball online (which should be cheaper than you get from those mystic shops), it’s time to start experimenting with it! If you have a macro lens, use it to close up on the crystal ball and create bokeh (the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image) around it. You can also use a long lens or a telephoto setting on your zoom lens to magnify on the crystal ball and make use of the narrow field of view. But if you don’t have these two types of lenses, other lenses will work too. After all, the most important thing in photography is about playing around with different settings, angles and equipments in creating the effect you want.


Most photographers who do crystal ball photography recommend beginners to shoot wide open; but what does wide open mean? It means using the maximum possible aperture for the shoot. A large aperture will give you shallow depth of field and will help blurring the background. This will put emphasis on the image within the ball as the main subject; the wider open you shoot, and the further way your background, the more bokeh you will have surrounding your ball.

It is important to note that you should be careful and do not hold the orb in the sun for too long. It may become very hot and could burn you! Also, it’s like a magnifying glass, you may set fire accidentally if you leave it under the sun without caution.

Also, don’t touch the crystal ball with your bare hands. Fingerprints will show easily and are distracting in your photo. Bring along a glasses cloth to clean it if necessary.


Here are some other tips:

  • Get the ball off ground and level it with the subject of your picture. This gives less distortion to the subject.
  • Get close to your subject. Fill up your image with the orb if possible.
  •  Get a cloth or a stand for your crystal ball. This allows the ball to stand on its own without moving while you are playing with the settings and trying out different angles and distances. But you can also find a friend to hold the orb up for you.
  • Make sure your subject is well-lit. A strongly lit subject will shine through the ball with less reflection appearing on the ball.
  • Try to shoot in the shade. If the sun is shining on the ball you will pick up that sun shine and the light reflections all around in the ball.
  • Forget all of the above when you want to try out new effects, and have fun 🙂


Photo Credits: Sean Creamer ; Andrius Aleksandravičius ; KAGAYA

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s