Getting Creative With Your Camera and a Glass Sphere

If you've never heard of Lensball before, don't sweat it. I had not heard that particular term used until now, either. I'd be willing to bet, however, that you've seen some of the cool shots people are taking with these accessories though.

Ilia Alexanderson's YouTube video has some straight-to-the-point tips on ways you can get started with your new toy. He makes a great point about composition and reflections (the main thing that a Lensball does). A Lensball allows you to play around with what is essentially two frames in one image, and this deliberate two-frame composition is what's going to help create an eye-catching image. You have your background, whatever that may be, and then you have your flipped scene being shown inside the sphere. Choosing an appropriate location or subject that allows the background and the reverse image to compliment each other (with lines, colors, or lighting) leaves you with a pretty sweet shot.  

Something that is quite a popular image style on Instagram is a really simple concept that anyone can experiment with. If you're a fan of eye-catching images or shooting with a very shallow depth of field, this might be for you. A cell phone can do well if you're looking for a cool shot and you're in a pinch, too, so get creative.

Is this something that you've tried before? Surely you've seen these kinds of images circulating Instagram, usually rocking a sunset or ocean reflection of some kind? Personally, I think they are pretty sweet. Anything that takes something incredibly simple (a sphere of glass) and allows people to put it to work and create something that people want to see is always awesome in my book.

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11 Comments

Evan Kane's picture

That's pretty much what they are haha, that or garden decorations. People are doing cool things though, so more power to them.

Two things:
1- Be careful in full sunlight. It will burn the crap out of your hand if the sunlight hits it just right.
2- When going through airport security the lens ball will appear as solid black in the scanners and TSA will want you to take it out because they will have no idea what it is.

Evan Kane's picture

Great tips, definitely be aware the the "magnifying glass" effect.

Interesting to know about the airport, I hadn't considered what a ball of pure glass would look like on x-ray haha.

Randy bott's picture

Funny, I suffered all those with mine. When I first got it, the sun was shining and wasn't paying attention. My hand got real hot real fast. Then I was stopped at TSA with the ball.

Miha S's picture

Are you glad the TSA stepped in to save your hand?

Vincent Alongi's picture

Did a TSA agent happen to wander by when said giant marble was scorching your hand, knocking it out of your clutch?

Jeff McCollough's picture

I went to Patagonia last month and on only one of the flights did they want to see my lensball.

Randy bott's picture

I have been using one for about a year now and have a lot fun when I remember to get it out. Here is a shot of Mt. Shuksan.

Evan Kane's picture

Nice, that looks awesome :)

Richard Kralicek's picture

"reflections (the main thing that a Lensball does)"

Nope. All glass that produces images makes them by refracting rays of light. Mirrors reflect, and lenses produce lens reflections we sometimes use but mostly try to avoid, but those reflections don't appear inside the ball when you look through a bright ball. Reflections are seen when you have a black background, as most glass roughly reflects about 4% of the light.

Anyway, no need to order it in China. You can get optically pure glass spheres for quite low prices like here in Germany: http://www.glas-per-klick.de/optisch-reines-glas/glaskugeln/index.html

I guess they are produced in many countries.

I got mine from Refractique their website is www.lensballs.com and they shipped locally however you can also find them on Amazon for less than the lensball company - comes with a similar hard box but with some cool photos around it and also a microfibre pouch. The ball was top notch clear.