A Year With a Lensball — Lens-Artists Challenge #142: You Pick It!

Hi all 😃 My entry for this weeks Lens-Artists Challenge, set by Leya.

This post was originally to be for Challenge #140 — A Change of Scenery, set by guest host, Wandering Dawgs, but my day job got in the way 😩

Under lockdown rules, travel was prohibited & I found myself with the same scenery. I thought of going with changes in the seasons, a natural changing scenery, but hit, instead, on the idea of changing the scene we see with a lensball. That has now morphed into my experience with Lensy (yes, I name everything 🥸) over the year; so here we go.

I first got Lensy a little over a year ago & as with any new bit of kit started palying around with him indoors. Lesson number one: lensballs do not lend themselves too well to indoor photography. The lighting is difficult to set up, lots of unwanted reflections, & unwanted parts of the room creep into the periphery of the ball. At the end of the day, Lensy doesn’t really add anything to the shots, although I quite like the AT-AT.

My first proper outing with Lensy was to Cumbernauld House Park. A lot of my first shots were taken freehand, holding the camera with one hand, & Lensy in the other, this requires a degree of patience & controlled breathing as you try to combat camera shake as well as lensball shake. I ended up drawing on my military training & the breathing cycles used on the firing range; several deep breaths, a slow exhalation & shooting at the point of stillness that follows the lungs emptying. What I also found works for me was shooting on full auto in landscape mode (maximum focal points), with my lens set at about 40mm (seems to work with the length of my arm). Being able to find something to sit Lensy on is beneficial, although there aren’t that many suitable surfaces once you start looking; & I did have to chase after him a couple of times 🤣) Also, lensy loves landscapes, & a bit of architecture.

I found as well that lighting conditions are quite important when shooting with Lensy, particularly free hand. He doesn’t like low light as you will see from some of the next shots — harder to combat the dual shake issue. That being said, he does like being directly between a light source & Snappy (he’s the camera 😂).

These next shots were Bushboy’s fault when he found out I had a second lensball, & challenged me to shoot a lensball through a lensball; challenge accepted 😉 The cool effect here was the double inversion; the image in the second lensball is the correct way up!

It’s now summertime, & I’m back at the park. This time with a monopod & a suction holder for Lensy. This enabled me concentrate more on setting up the image more accurately & not wear my arms out — the images are definately a lot crisper with one source of shake negated; a bit of a green theme going on here.

I was still experimenting with smaller objects, but still with only limited success. Some of the sunflower shots do become almost abstract & one thing I found was that a dark object in Lensy can turn him into a mirror. I was pleaed with the last 2 shots that were of one of my Lilliput Lane models — Daisy Cottage, sat in amongst some daisies 😎

Autumn finally saw me up at Palacerigg Country Park, starting to put together all I had learnt so far — sitting Lensy on something, or using the monopod for low light shots, focusing on landscapes & good breath control for free hand shots in bright conditions.

I also found a tree with a hole in it that was the perfect size for Lensy to sit in without rolling away!

A couple of outings in the winter allowed me to play with the low angle sun for some great shots, particularly the ones on the mossy branch. I was also starting to look at different effects. In general, the lensball is in focus & the background blurred (2nd to last shot). I thought I’d try the opposite (see the last shot). I kind of like the effect but I don’t think it really adds anything other than maybe gets in the way of a decent sun through the trees shot — more experimantation needed 😉

My final outing (yes, the post is nearly at an end) was on New Years Day, a race to beat the sunrise & some great lighting conditions. I came across a couple of ideal “seats” for Lensy that allowed me to really concentrate on sharp focus & composition. Originally I’d pretty much stuck Lensy in the middle of the shot, but as I’ve gained experience have started to play with composition more, often using the rule of thirds to place him in the shot. You can also get some great flare effects with a lensball!

…and finally, to wrap up — A bit frustrating at first, but I was shooting the wrong subject. Lensy loves landscapes & architecture; I’m looking forward to getting him to Glasgow or Falkirk (I think the Falkirk Wheel & Kelpies would be quite cool as seen through Lensy). Finding something to sit him on in low light conditions is key to negating image shake as much as possible, & controlled breathing during free hand shooting is important. A lot of fun to experiment & play with 😃

22 thoughts on “A Year With a Lensball — Lens-Artists Challenge #142: You Pick It!

  1. I love the progress and how you are developing some great ideas in to photos. The suction stand does make things easier too. Using a tripod as well?
    Thanks for the shout out with the two at once idea. They are fab images Jez 🙂 🙂

  2. WOW! These are all fabulous! I admire your patience in trying out all these different techniques. Great interpretation of the change of scenery theme. Thanks for participating!

  3. Beautiful images Jez and I’m really enjoying your journey with Lensy through the seasons. My favourites are the landscapes with the low sun and I look forward to seeing you experiment more! 🤗🙏

  4. You and Lensy are the reason I got a lensball several months ago. Thanks for introducing me to a new tool to help make unique photos. Nice collection of images!

  5. Wow. Great fun and effects! I wonder if an o-ring would be a suitable base to hold it still. Don’t know if it would show.

  6. Cool, Jez – love your progress and thoughts about it – almost a natural tutorial! Totally love them, and the last session is my favourite.

  7. You are absolutely KILLING me with the lensy shots Jez – I am SO ready to give it a try but haven’t yet done so. I loved your images as well as your description of the learning process (damn Brian – as if we don’t have ENOUGH to challenge us!!) I did some really fun work at a beautiful landscape area yesterday and am so annoyed I didn’t see your post first as I’d definitely have given it a try if I’d have thought of it. Oh well, I shall just have to go back. BTW I do love your snow shots with lensy although that one if totally out of my control here in the south! Glad our You Pick It gave you the opportunity to share this one Jez.

  8. As you know I am a fan of the lensball. What a fabulous collection of Lensy photos! My favorites are Lensy in the tree hole and Lensy on the mossy tree.

  9. Hapy 1st Birthday Lensy 😀 Great photos and loving this for his birthday 😀

    Haha looking forward to getting to Glasgow myself. Not been in ages!

Great to hear your thoughts 😃