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Unusual Glass Ball Photography at Stowe Pool, Lichfield using Panasonic G80

ByKevin Simon

Oct 20, 2023

I Like the more usual photography and the one thing I wanted to try out was the glass ball / lens ball photography, but because it is me and I like something different instead of a normal glass ball, I have been collecting different glass balls that I have been busing off car boot sales etc.

So in this video I try out a few different ones that I have including one with tiny air bubbles in that are in the shape of dolphins coming out of the water, One with a blue flower and a large one with just air bubbles in.

Now because of my spinal problems I haven’t really been able to travel that far in the camper for overnight stays etc. I though a good place to try this effect out was at Stow pool in Lichfield at sunset, as I though would be able to get the images across the pool , including Lichfield cathedral as well as the colours in the sky in the same shot.

To see how I got on see the video below, also at the bottom of this article are the images you see in the video, though these have been downsized for upload purposes.

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The camera I was using was a Panasonic G80/G85 with 12-60mm Panasonic lens, which is a micro four thirds camera 16mp, in post just really enhanced colours a little

How Lens ball photography works.

The technique goes under different names like lens ball photography, crystal ball photography , but i use the term glass ball photography. You can get special photography lens balls ion different sizes, Though this affect can be done with any solid glass as the video proves this can have air bubbles or shapes etc in the ball. NOTE this can not be done with a hollow ball.

The glass ball inverts the image and also distorts it, you can see for yourself by just holding the ball up in front of you, You will find it gives the effect of a fish eye lens that can distort the edges and gives for a more panoramic affect.

As I have said the image you see is upside down this is caused due to refraction, Refraction is caused when light bends as it passes through the ball due to its dense mass, and the view is upside down as this a spherical shape bends light. Most camera lens have this affect ie the image is upside down, but we just don’t notice as the camera flips the image on screen and in the image you see on your computer.

Tips for doing glass ball photography.

Now as you can see I’m an armature at this and really in the video above was only my 2nd time of trying this type of photography, but will give you a few tips that I have.

Clean Your Balls
No im not being rude with this one, make sure you have a cloth with you, any soft cloth will do, so before you go to take your image just give the ball a clean as any mark including finger prints etc on the ball can affect the end result.

Size of ball:
Well this really depends on you, 1st the larger balls the more they weigh and in turns this means more space in backpack etc, so then you would think the smaller ones are better, which in weight and size they are, but then there is a trade off.

Which is focus, as the smaller the ball the harder it maybe to focus either in my case whats inside or the view beyond. For me personally I now in the camper keep a large and small one so when out and about before go out for the shoot I then decide which one would suit the scene i will be taking.

So my advice would be to try different sizes yourself as like with me if you can get them 2nd hand or cheap for various sizes you can find the best one that suits what you want.

Camera settings
Now for a lot of the images I did the camera and the ball was hand held and the camera was on autofocus, as for me I found taking serval shots I got a few good ones. The others when the ball was still I was using manual focus, setting the focus and then taking a shot then just moving the camera either slightly forward and back and each time taking a shot.

Now I should have thought my camera has auto focus bracket, which most modern cameras have a setting like this though you will need to use a tripod, as the camera can take multiple shoots at different focus points then merge together. I would recommend you look at the documentation for your camera for this function.

As this kind of photography there is no right or wrong way of doing this, so this means do whatever feels right to you, push the colouring of your images so that the colour within the ball has more contrast etc, or if shot your ball on and stand remove that in post processing or even flip it upside down or is that the right way 🙂

Basically just have fun, I did on that shoot, which was just for this , but I know a bit more every time i go out will at least take one of the ones I have got to see how far i can push my own creativity.

By Kevin Simon

I run this blog & also self employed cleaning out fish ponds, but due to spinal problems not able to do as much, now started a youtube channel showing my converted Peugeot Partner micro camper also as interest in photography so now vlog about the trips and of course Lego figures out in the wild photos.

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