One of the great challenges of photography is location scouting. This is true of all forms of photography, but it’s particular true of crystal ball photography. The two defining features of lensball photography really limit the number of places that work well. These features are the fish-eye like effect in the ball, and the inversion of the background image within the ball. This is why searching locations for lensball photography becomes very important.

Looking for locations for lensball photography

Those looking for a more general look at how to take photos with a crystal ball can find that at digital photography school. Here you’ll see some of the ideas that will give you great locations for lensball photography. Remember it’s not always necessary to have the ball with you when looking for your location.

Locations for lensball photography often appear on return visits. This is kek lok si during Chinese new year. The lanterns that are only put up during the period make this photo.

1 – Visit places of interest

Visiting a local landmark is often a good start when looking for a place to photograph with your lensball. Even when the place is new to you, looking for these locations through sites like 500px and flickr will be a great first step. These landmarks can be natural or man-made, but ideally will fill the frame of a wide angle lens.

  • Get close – Cab you get close enough to the landmark so that it will fill the lensball? If the answer is yes then you have a good location.
  • The background – This depends on whether you use a wide angle lens, or a macro. When using macro is there a background that you can aim at that contains nice bokeh? This is the desirable aim. Alternatively using a wide angle lens will show much more of your scene. The chances are you won’t flip the image upside down when photographing with a wide lens.
The balls here are sat on the edge of the wall. The red tiles give an added element of interest to this photo.

2 – Places the lensball can sit

So you have your location, the question is can you find a good place to place the ball without it rolling off? This is the acid test, a great location where the ball can sit will make or break your photo. To get a truly interesting photo it’s not enough to place the ball anywhere an photograph it, the elements that surround it are an important part of the image. Lets take a look at some of the best options out there, when considering this.

A tree

These offer some of the best opportunities. What you’re looking for here is a strong sturdy branch that you can reach from the ground, not much above head height. Is there a natural sitting position in the fork between branches? This can look great as the frame will also show the natural shapes of the tree.

A fence or wall

This will often be at around waist height, an ideal location for lensball photography. The best walls will be those with a design that can be incorporated into your photo. A really good type of fence is the wrought iron fence, if the ball will sit in one of the loops in the fence it will make an amazing photo.

In this photo the ball is resting at the bottom of a circular section of a gate.

A rock

There’s almost always a divot on a rock that will support a lensball. This needs to be at the top of the rock, so you get a clear view of the background you wish to photograph behind it. This makes for a great natural tone to your photo, and locations around rivers or coast make for good hunting grounds.

Lensball holder

Your lensball will come with a holder, and this is an option for placing the ball. Whether this looks attractive in a photograph will depend on how you contextualize the ball. If you’re adventurous you could try making your own lensball holder out of some wire, and wrap the wire around the ball. The wire can then suspend the ball mid-air.

Using the hand to hold the ball is an excellent option. This woms eye view puts the ball at the centre of the rising apartment buildings.

A hand

The hand is a great option, and although often a last resort when the above have failed, it can often lead to a great photo. There are many ways to hold the ball, if you want to know more how about checking out “globalise” the crystal ball photography course?

The ground

This is the option that usually should be avoided. Photos taken from the ground will have half the ball filled with the ground, and a distorted image of your subject in the other half of the ball. That’s not always the case though, when the ground is attractive and contains something like a bed of leaves then on the ground works great.

3 – Think about the correct time of day

Visiting a place at the right time of day is essential to lensball photography. Your image will be coming through the glass, so when your main subject is well lit this will result in a better photo. Whether you’re scouting without the ball, or you’re ready to take the photo you need to plan. The chances are you’ll know which side of the landmark you’ll be prior to photographing it. When you know that you can plan the correct time of day, and even year to visit your location. One of the best websites out there for getting this knowledge is suncalc. This will let you simulate the direction of the sun at your given location, so you then know between which hours of the day you’ll need to visit.

The ball here is resting in the gap of a wooden barrier, with a landscape image behind it.

4 – Why the return visit makes sense.

There is a lot to be said for returning to locations for lensball photography. The hard working is doing the scouting, so once you have the location it’s time to nail that photo.

  • Perfect weather – Going back to the location another day means you can go when the weather is amazing! You can even go more than once, until you get just the right sky. A combination of just checking the sky, and then also weather website will help here.
  • Lighten the load – Camera equipment can be heavy, add in a heavy glass ball and this can really weigh you down. Looking for locations to photograph lensball without your camera bag, or while photographing for other things makes sense. Added to this using a macro lens for these photos is desirable, and this is not a lens you’d typically carry for landscape photography.
Placing the ball on the ground can work. Here the interesting lines in the sand makes the photo.

Do you want to learn more?

Do you enjoy photographing with the lensball? It’s a fun piece of equipment for any photographer, and there is much to learn. The “Globalise” photography course has been created just for you, and you can really make photos that have impact. Those that are new and want to get into this exciting form of photography, take a look at the options available for buying a lensball along with Globalise.

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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!