Fun Photo Activity Using a Crystal Ball

When you get in a rut, it’s fun to try new photo activities.  If you aren’t doing our Photo A Day Challenges, we’d love you to join in.  It isn’t too late.

Beyond photo challenges, picking up a new technique can spark creativity.  In that light, here’s a great photography project to try:

Crystal Ball Photography

To start, you need to start with a crystal ball.  It needs to be solid, clear, and colorless. We recommend one 3″ (80mm) in size.  You can try larger or small if you wish.



Next you need to find a scene that you’d like in the ball.  You can experiment with images that are far away for a wide angle view or closeup for a fisheye look.

Lay the ball down on a steady object, in a stand or even hold it. You decide.  Then back up until you see what you want to inside the globe shaped crystal. Set your exposure, focus, and start shooting.


The principal is the same as shooting dew drops on a flower with a macro lens.  But this you can do anytime.  It is not dependent on nature. The photo above was edited with MCP Inspire Photoshop actions.

Here are some tips from Sue on getting the best results with your crystal ball:

  1. Make sure it is a solid crystal ball.
  2. Try to shoot in the shade. If the sun is shining on the ball you will pick up that sun shine all around in the ball. The main thing to watch for it is the light reflections on the ball. Remember, if you see it so will your camera.
  3. Don’t hold the crystal ball in the sun as it becomes very hot and could burn you!
  4. Focus only on the ball, but pay attention to your background.  The wider open you shoot, and the further way your background, the more bokeh or blur you will have surrounding your ball.
  5. Position your ball with knowing you will have to turn your photo upside down.
  6. The distance between the ball, subject and camera does matter. Move the ball around until you find the picture you are looking for.
  7. If you have a macro lens, use it.  But other lenses will work too.  I often use a 85mm for these images. Any lens will work, but shooting shooting fairly wide open helps.
  8. Since you are shooting through the ball, you do not have to worry about your own reflection on the ball.  You will be far enough away that it should not be an issue.

 Here are some more shots from Sue Zellers.  Thanks Sue for your help on this activity.




Jodi Friedman, MCP Actions

Jodi Friedman is the founder of MCP Actions. She designs popular Photoshop actions and Lightroom presets that make editing faster, easier and more fun.

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  1. 3


    So cool!! I immediately purchased the ball you linked to and I can’t wait for it to arrive to try this out. Thanks for sharing this trick!

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