In this module, we’ll discuss how to take stunning portrait photographs with the lensball. For this, you need to take care of various elements of refraction photography such as the inverted images and Bokeh effect.

Following are the ways to capture lensball portraits:

  • Placing the model inside the lensball.
  • Placing the model outside the lensball and use the lensball as an accent in the frame.
  • Using the lensball as a prop.

PART A: Photographing the model inside the lensball (3:09)

Section 1: Equipment used

  • Large lensball (the larger the better)
  • DSLR Camera
  • Telephoto or Zoom or Macro lens

You can also use a point-and-shoot camera but you need to have the ability to use a long focal length in the order of 200 mm.

Section 2: Posing the Model (4:07)

Placing the model inside the lensball is tricky. The fish-eye effect which the ball creates can produce a lot of distortion on the edges. Also, taking the photograph of a person in a standing position is not a good option unless they are a long way back. They also appear fairly small in the ball.

So you need to place your model in the center of the ball so that their upper body especially face is the main focus of your shot.

If you want to capture the face of your model (a headshot), then have the person’s face closer to the ball roughly at the centre so that the facial features are in proportion and not distorted.

If you want to take the photo of the whole body, make your model sit down. This way their body will be more compressed and fit better in the frame.

Section 3: Positioning the Lensball (6:18)

The lensball should always be placed on an elevated position to create a better composition. The subject and the background should be well lit so that the refracted image inside the ball is clear.

You can choose to introduce some external strobes to enhance your photograph. However, be careful with the positions of those strobes since the flash can bounce off the surface of the ball and create ugly reflection marks. So keep the strobes to the side of the ball and shining onto your model from right angles. You can have one or two light strobes.

Section 4: Alternatives to Eclipsing Your Model (7:59)

If you’re not able to eclipse your model behind the ball, you can opt for other options with longer focal length.

  • 1st Option:Move the position of the angle very slightly so that your model is visible inside the ball but remain out of the frame.
  • 2nd Option:Keep the composition as it is. Then take two photographs: one with both the model and lensball in the frame and the other with just the lensball. Use the two images in post-processing.

2nd Option Post-processing:

Import the two images in photoshop and layer them together. The image with just the lensball will be the base image (layer 0).

  • Step 1:Drag the image with the model inside the ball over the base image. Photoshop will automatically create a new layer (layer 1).
  • Step 2:Create a black mask on the new layer 1. It will hide layer 1 and reveal the base image underneath it.
  • Step 3:Use the white paintbrush to paint inside the lensball and reveal the model in it.

Section 5: Camera Settings (11:45)

You essentially want to blur the background to take the lensball photograph. You can use the bokeh effect with long telephoto lens combined with a medium aperture to achieve this. Avoid using large aperture as it will create a lot of distortion around the edge of the ball.

You can choose the aperture f8, ISO setting at 100, and the shutter speed at 1/250 per second. These settings can vary according to the lighting conditions and the way you take photos. So adjust the settings accordingly and pay more attention to the aperture.

Use a long focal length at least 200 mm to compress the scene. Other option is to use a macro lens where you can get closer to the ball. But with macro lens, the focal length will be limited to 60 mm or 100 mm which makes it difficult to compress the scene.

By compressing the scene, the lensball eclipses the model. You’ll just see the ball and the model refracted inside it.


PART B: Photographing with People in the Background (14:50)

Section 1: Introduction

In this type of photography, you place the model outside the lensball and use the ball as an accent in the frame. The photograph will be of wider angle so that the background is also included in the frame.

Use a smaller aperture since you don’t want to blur the background too much. Also, the background should not be too sharp. The photograph should have that slightly blurry soft feel but not fully blurred.

Section 2: The Equipment and Camera Settings (16:02)

Following are the equipment required for this type of photography:

  • Lensball
  • DSLR Camera
  • Wide angle lens (anywhere from 50 mm or wider)

Use a medium aperture (around f8) to achieve soft blurry background. Larger aperture means more blurred-out background and smaller aperture means more clear background.

Section 3: Taking the Photo (17:15)

Before taking the photo, ensure that the clothes your model wears blends with the background scene.

Since the lensball is an accent in the composition, ensure that it occupies between 10-20% of the frame.

PART C: Using the Lensball as a Prop (18:56)

Section 1: Camera Settings

Use the lensball as a prop and make your model interact with it in various ways. Lensball or glassball is historically linked with mysticism and fortune telling. So you can work with these concepts to integrate some kind of story into your photograph.

Here, it’s not essentially important to achieve the refraction. The lensball will work in other ways to tell the stories with your photograph. For example, you can take a refraction photograph where your model is looking into the refracting ball.

Section 2: Taking the Photo (20:58)

The lensball could be heavy to hold still, so be nice to your model. Instruct your model to lift the lensball at the face level and look at the ball. Make sure some structure is behind the model to capture its refracted image inside the ball.

Normally a lens with long focal length is used for this type of photography but you can choose the lens according to the photo which you wish to capture.

Use a large aperture to blur out the background to achieve a crystal clear composition.


Thanks for your attention during this 4th module. I hope the creative ideas you learned in this module will help you create stunning portraits with your lensball.