As a creative photographer you’ll always be looking for new ways to experiment. The addition of a crystal ball to your repertoire will certainly have given you lots of fresh perspectives and new ways to photograph a scene. Those who have G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) will be pleased to know there is yet more gear to purchase in the world of crystal ball photography! That’s right, because one ball is never enough! The use of multiple crystal balls in your photo can lead to some great new images. It can even re-invent the way in which you approach crystal ball photography. Let’s take a look at how more than one ball can change your crystal ball photography then.

More than one ball can allow you to play around with concepts like alternate reality.

1 – Repetition of your scene.

Adding at least one more crystal ball to your photo means you get a repeated image. That’s because the additional crystal ball will be refracting the exact same scene, and you will be seeing double! As we all know repetition is a design element that always looks great when it comes to photography. So is it as easy as just adding that extra ball? Not quite, there are a few things to be aware of.

  • Shallow depth of field –  In order to have a sharp image in both balls you have to have them lined up perfectly within the plain of the camera. This means they need to be in a perfect horizontal line, along the line of focus. That said having one focused image with one out of focus image can add depth to a photo. Control of depth of field is of course by using your aperture, and this can improve your chances of getting both balls to be focused.
  • Positioning two balls – This can be hard, as positioning one ball is hard enough. That said having one ball steady may open up the possibility to rest the second ball against the first crystal ball. Even when the balls are in position, will they be in the same plain of focus? This might be where you need to accept only one of the images will be sharp, and use that withing your image.
  • Composition – Using more than one ball in your frame is going to change the composition of your photo. This can be a challenge if the balls are too far apart, and sometimes if they’re too close. Look to other elements in the frame either in the foreground or the background to help balance out your photo.
This is a village on the cinque terre coast of Italy, even nicer when seen twice!

2 – Refraction within refraction!

Now of course having two balls offers you the chance to double your refraction! An alternative to lining your balls up horizontally is to line them up one behind the other. Now you will see the refracted image in the ball furthest away from the camera refracted the right way up! How mind bending is that! Once again though this is not quite as easy at it sounds.

  • The correct way up image – Straight away the thought comes that you can have the background scene the correct way up without needing to use post processing! Yes this is true, however the background ball that has the scene the correct way up will appear as a small ball inside the crystal ball closest to the camera. This can still be an interesting effect, and there are yet more possibilities.
  • The size of the ball – With the background ball so small in your photo one solution is to have a large ball behind a small ball. This will help, but you will find you’ll need a massive ball if you want it to appear to fill the area of the first ball. What’s more interesting is you will appear to have 3 balls in the same photo, when in fact there are two.
  • The proximity of the balls – You can’t place the balls too close to each other, doing so will mean a blurry image in the background ball. Placing the balls further apart though means the background ball will be even smaller. So play around with positioning, and perspectives. You may wish to use a longer focal length to compress the background ball behind the foreground ball.
Yes refraction within refraction can be done! This shows how small the second ball becomes though.

3 – The use of multiple crystal balls of different sizes

Repetition is great, but adding some variety to that repetition can be a great effect. To do that using balls of different sizes is a nice creative approach. Lining up two or more balls of different size in a line can add interest to your photo, and through the appropriate title give the photo more meaning. You may also experiment with lining balls up one behind the other, and refracting one or more balls within the first ball in the foreground. Once again different sized balls adds to your repertoire, so why not buy a smaller and a larger crystal ball?

Balls of different sizes can be utilized for better composition. The ball on the left allows this photo to follow the rule of thirds, and provides nice curved lines throughout the scene.

4 – How about different colored balls?

Most crystal ball photographers will start with a clear glass ball, and for sure this is the most effective. Using multiple crystal balls gives you the option of adding a colored one to your scene. Crystal ball photography already lends itself to the idea of a world in your hand. Using two different colored crystal balls allows you to play around with the idea of alternate worlds and parallel universes. The color of ball you use could also be significant. A red ball and a clear ball could come to mean heaven and hell, tarnished vs pure.

Just for fun why not try more than one colored ball!

Now it’s your turn to try out multiple crystal balls!

In the pursuit of creativity exploring more ways to add variety to your concept is always a good idea. As a crystal ball photographer eventually you’ll find the types of photography you can do will run out, you end up with repetition of standard crystal ball compositions. Now there are quite a few ways to keep the creative ball photography rolling, and adding an extra crystal ball is but one. Have you tried photographing with more than one glass ball? How was the experience for you? I’d love to see some photos of your multiple crystal ball photography!


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Simon Bond
Simon Bond

Simon Bond is a professional photographer from the UK, his work has featured on the front page of National Geographic Traveler and numerous other magazines. He is most well known for his work with the lensball, for which he has featured in national newspapers in the UK. You can find out more about lensball photography by downloading his free e-book! Simon has also produced a video course on lensball photography called Globalise, which you can buy here!