The lensball is a beautiful creative photography accessory that not only acts as a wide-angle lens and has a refractive effect (image in the crystal ball is inverted, however this can be turned the right way up also using digital editing - note this is covered in our free video course "Globalize" and is covered in the final module covering post processing.
Asking someone to hold the lensball is probably the best way to create composition. This is great because now the crystal ball will be at an elevated position above the ground, which makes for a better image of the subject inside the ball. Aside from this having someone hold the lensball we believe not only looks beautiful say for example with some of the beautiful creative holds shared below. It can look elegant and artistic with the interaction between human and the beautiful crystal as well as the image in and behind the ball.
There are a few different ways to hold the lensball with some illustrations provided.
1) The cup: It is one of the simplest ways to hold the ball by using just one hand. The ball is held side on, and the hand cups the bottom half of the ball. Usually, it’s not a good idea to flip the image in post processing for this type of shot, and the angle is most effective if there is reflection in front of the ball.
2.) The “perfect”: You have to hold the ball in between the thumb and the index finger, so if the ball is large, this may be difficult. The other fingers can fan out, or be held closer to the ball. Again, just one hand is used and the arm is usually straight up. Flipping the image upside can work with this hold, as the hand could be “holding” the ball to prevent the fall.
3.) The Lotus: The idea is to use the fingers to create a flower-like shape. So, you need to use 2 hands for this type of hold. The person holding the ball will have to hold the ball above his/her head, and it’s best to crop just around the wrist of the person holding the ball.
4.) Symmetry: It is an adaption of “the cup” and requires 2 people to hold the ball. To make this image one person cups the ball from the bottom, while another person cups the ball from the top. The best thing about symmetry is that it is created by using 2 hands, so this makes flipping the image in post-processing easier as the image will now look the “right way up” and the ball is being supported by the “bottom hand”.
5.) The pincer: You need to use 3 fingers to hold the ball on a “finger plinth”. Push the thumb, index and middle finger together to create a “platform” to hold the ball. If the ball is big and heavy this might be a tricky hold. The advantage is you can hold the ball up and your hand will be a minimal part of the composition.
6.) Wrapping wire: If you have a wire that is both strong and pliable then wrapping it around the ball to hold it in place can create an interesting image. This allows you to hold the ball up, but be careful as the weight of the ball can make this setup unstable and difficult to hold in position.
7.) Other holds: There are plenty of other ways to hold the ball. Imaginative ways of using the hand or possibly other parts of the body can create other compositions, for example, balancing the ball on your forehead while lying down.
Who would have thought there are just so many creative ways to hold a lensball all of which obviously visually change the photo through viewing the hold itself but also influences factors such as reflection, height and post-processing considerations such as whether to flip the ball or not.
So what will you try out next time - the cup, the perfect, the pincer or perhaps the beautiful lotus? Experiment with a few and perhaps come up with some of your own ideas! Remember if you don't have someone to hold your lensball than utilising a lensball stand (with or without a tripod) will mean your lensball will not roll away or get scratched!