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The application of science to photography is a great way of getting creative results with your work. The camera itself is, of course, a product of scientific endeavor. One that brings everyone here to learn more about it. Inside the camera are a series of optics that use refraction to render the image onto your camera sensor, though refraction can be used even more creatively in photography.
To take refraction photographs you will need to find an object that produces this effect, such as a glass ball. The effect happens when light passes through an object of denser mass, and the light is bent as it goes through.
Any transparent object that has a different mass to air will cause refraction. The most useful objects that refract are those which are spherical. While it’s possible to get refraction through transparent plastic objects, for the best image quality you’ll want to be shooting through glass.
As you can read in my previous article: 7 Tips for Doing Crystal Ball Refraction Photography, glass balls are a favorite for this type of effect, though not everyone has one on hand. There are other objects that you can use for refraction such as; wine glasses, marbles, and water drops.
The glass ball is probably the most popular item used in refraction and is what you immediately think of if someone says refraction photography. This is a great piece of extra kit to have in your camera bag and can do wonders for creating a unique looking landscape photo.
The ball can also be good for architecture and even portrait photos if you now how to use it properly. You need to think of the ball as an external fish-eye lens. The ball then needs to be carefully placed on a wall, so it’s elevated to the same level as the object you’re shooting.
A smaller alternative to a glass ball is the marble. Photographing a marble is in many ways the same as photographing its larger counterpart. The key difference is that it’s much smaller, and using a macro lens becomes important. There are a few key points you need to consider when photographing a marble versus a glass ball.
A glass ball is not the only medium you can use to create refraction, water makes a great alternative. The key to using water in this way is photographing it as a droplet. There are a few ways to do this, you could try all of them!
The real reason wine glasses are round is because they can be used for refraction photography! Okay, they are for wine, but that doesn’t mean photographers can’t use them as well.
The spherical nature of this type of glass means filling them with water will allow you to see a refracted image inside the glass. The wine glass is, of course, better than the glass ball for placing on a flat surface, as it’s not going to roll off. You can use a wine glass in portrait photos as well. In that scenario, the wine glass acts as a great prop, which also shows the refracted image in the background.
There are multiple ways you can go about starting a series of refraction photos, and this type of photography makes a very interesting project. Let’s see your work if you have taken these types of photos before.
Are there any other refraction type photos you can recommend? Those who have never tried this technique before, give it a go! The community looks forward to seeing your photos, and it could become your project for the year!