Sunday, November 5, 2017

Crystal Ball Photography

You are probably seeing a lot of photos lately through
crystal balls!
It's becoming a popular and very creative photography technique.

I bought my crystal ball three years ago and want to share
some tips and some WARNINGS!

My crystal ball is 4-iches and made from heavy crystal.
Just google crystal balls and you will find places to purchase them.

Crystal balls can be extremely dangerous in direct sunlight!

After I bought my crystal ball, I thought it was so pretty,
I displayed it on a family room shelf with my photo albums.

One day, I was dusting that shelf and noticed a burn hole in the
album behind the crystal ball!

I was stunned!
This shelf is across the room from any windows and I never
realized that direct sun hit the crystal ball.

Can you imagine the tragedy if that photo album had caught on
fire?   It could have burned the house down if we were not home!

Never put a crystal ball on display inside your home!

This really frightened me, but I didn't realize how truly serious
this burn issue is until I took the ball outside into direct sunlight
to photograph my pink flowers.

I placed the ball on this wooden stool covered with a pink cloth.
You can see where the sun is concentrated on the pink cloth.

In the time it took me to lift my camera to take the photo, I smelled burning!
It had already singed through the pink cloth and burned the wood stool
in a matter of seconds!

If you are holding the crystal ball in the direct sunshine, it can burn your skin
or catch your clothing on fire!

I brought my crystal ball on a fall photo outing.  You can see that it was
a bright, sunny day.  I kept the crystal ball in its box until I found
some shade and only took it out in the shade!

Now that you are warned about the hazards...let me tell you about the fun
you can have photographing with the crystal ball.

The idea is to put the ball in a location where it will frame something
you want to photograph like this landscape.

This is the scene I was shooting through the crystal ball!

As you can see, the crystal ball FLIPS your scene upside down.
The sky is on the bottom of the ball and the landscape is on the top.

You can flip over the entire photo and crop out the stand that came with the crystal ball like this:

Or, you can flip the scene inside the globe.
I show you how to do that in my video tutorial.

I brought my crystal ball on a Christmas outing with our photo club.

I used my Canon 50mm 1.4 lens,
but others used different try several and see which you like best.
I tried my macro lens and was able to get closer...worked great!

Focus on the scene inside the crystal ball.

To capture the star glow around the lights,
shoot at night on tripod using a very small aperture.

Set your camera on aperture priority
100 ISO

This will create a very long shutter, but since you are on tripod, that's no problem.
You will love your STARS!

We really enjoyed using the crystal ball at night
and didn't have to worry about any fire dangers.

Your Christmas tree is a wonderful subject
for practicing with your crystal ball!

Not only will your tree look great in the ball,
the lights will turn to bokeh in the background.

This was my set up with the tree in the background.

The further the crystal ball is from the tree, the bigger your bokeh will be
in the background of your photo.

Start with these settings:

Aperture Priority
(or if your lens doesn't get that wide, the widest your aperture will go.)

ISO 100

You will have a long shutter, but that's fine on tripod.

Once you get a focus and lock it by clicking to manual focus on your lens, 
turn off all the lights in the room except for your Christmas tree.

Take the shot, then
Adjust your settings if needed to meet your light conditions.

Notice that I flipped this entire photo so the tree is right-side-up in the ball.

If you move the crystal ball closer to the tree,
your bokeh will be smaller and the tree will be bigger inside the ball.

You can see here, I flipped the tree inside the ball as
I demonstrate in the above video tutorial.

If you don't want to invest in a crystal ball...mine cost $40,
you can get a similar effect with a wine goblet filled with water.

I tried photographing my daughter through the crystal ball.

She looked a bit distorted, but this distortion
could make for some fun people photos...especially with kids!

Try a fun composite like this one I created to post on Christmas Eve s few years ago.

I photographed my daughter in the garage and moved the ball
and her to a snowy background.

You can have somebody hold the crystal ball or place it on different surfaces.

Use your imagination and have a BALL!


  1. What size is your ball? Does it need to be crystal or would the clear quartz ones on EBay work? They are quite a bit cheaper.

  2. Hi Carol,

    Mine is a 4" heavy crystal ball. I have never tried the clear quartz, so I have no experience with them. Can anyone else tell us their experience with a quartz crystal ball? Thanks!