Photography using a glass ball – upside down worlds
There has been a growing trend amongst a few photographers to try photography using a glass ball. The reason? Well, I guess we are all looking for something different that can help us to stand out. It is not something that everybody does, so the images can seem fresher or more eye-catching. It can also be a lot of fun! Sometimes we simply need to try something new to keep our enjoyment alive. So, in this post we are going to take a look at just a handful of examples of photography using a glass ball to give you some inspiration to try it for yourself. They are not expensive to buy and can make an unusual ornament when not in use.
Glass doesn’t just reflect light, it also refracts it. Glass balls do so to the extent that what is behind them can appear to be upside down. The image with the egg in the eggcup at the top of the page was just one photo. Yes, you could have combined 2 images in Photoshop. However, in this case there really was no need for the hassle. The eggcup was simply placed behind the glass ball so that it was obscured from view. What you then saw in the ball is as the image shows – the eggcup upside down.
If you look at the images on this page, you will see that the glass has produced an upside down version of what is behind it. Also, it creates a wider angle of view, drawing in more of the surroundings. This is more obvious in the watering can image above. You can see the gate and shed either side of the path where the can was standing. This double shift in perspective creates opportunities for bizarre effects and unusual photos without the need for complicated Photoshop skills.
If you use a wider aperture or a long lens to create a shallow depth of field you can give the impression that the glass ball contains a world of its own. You could later Photoshop this in to a portrait, for example, to suggest a vision in a crystal ball. Use your imagination and play around. You could also try something a bit more extreme such as this:
This image features a small glass of water with a splash exploding out of it. The glass appears upside down in the glass ball. The splash appears at the bottom of the ball but also above it as it sprays out further. Try and come up with ideas for things that you could photograph using a glass ball to make them appear upside down.
I hope this has inspired you to try photography using a glass ball yourself. Yes, it can be a bit of a gimmick. But it can also be something fun and different to try on a day when you might otherwise be feeling bored. Why not create your own upside down worlds?!
© Joe Lenton, November 2016