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Crystal Ball

behind the lens badge

Model: Aim Stage

Model: Aim Stage
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Top Shot Award 22
Contest Finalist in Creative Moments Photo Contest
Honorable Mention in Capture Layers Photo Contest
Peer Award
Outstanding Creativity
Absolute Masterpiece
Clinton_Ermey CaptureKing1 ArtbySteve57 gymmybob chintakanalin 73kasson Leopoi +34
Superb Composition
vitor aikawakazuhiko teamadcor brandonfluhr 33_1M4G3RY Matthewnoelphoto s3ij4s +22
Top Choice
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Superior Skill
RebartImagine SEE_PODIO_LKPHOTOS sohinighosh angeladavies_3803 RAPJones Loucas markcunningham650 +6
Magnificent Capture
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bobbycurtiss throughmycamera StephanKravitz macnowak Aspirephotography1 BtBates OBRonTyan
All Star
AnastasiaO maciejczuchra HermannKlecker dj8065 scottsmallie
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KevinGPhotography dantaylor_3680 Ivar-Ola Flo_Throughmyeyes annmor JoaoLavadinho OBRonTyan +41

Top Ranks

Monthly Pro Photo Contest Volume19Top 30 rank
Image Of The Month Photo Contest Vol 64Top 20 rank
Monthly Pro Photo Contest Volume19Top 30 rank week 2
Capture Layers Photo ContestTop 20 rank week 1
Image Of The Month Photo Contest Vol 64Top 20 rank week 2
A Shallow Depth Photo ContestTop 30 rank
A Shallow Depth Photo ContestTop 20 rank week 1
Image Of The Month Photo Contest Vol 64Top 10 rank week 1


CRICKETTHARRIS222 January 10, 2021
stephenwong January 30, 2021
Thank you.
WRieselbach Platinum
WRieselbach January 24, 2021
Well seen!
stephenwong January 30, 2021
Thank you very much.
RichardAnthonyLee January 30, 2021
Congratulations on your honery award in the layers competition, great compensation.
stephenwong January 30, 2021
Thank you very much, Richard.
bogheadben72 January 31, 2021
Stunning image, just stunning. Love the concept.
streetravelportrait January 31, 2021
this is so beautiful
Aspirephotography1 February 01, 2021
Amazing image ❤️
mrsvilkic February 03, 2021
Love this one.
deebennion February 18, 2021
wow, awesome photo
The-Venerable-Stan PRO+
The-Venerable-Stan February 26, 2021
Nice Work!
StephanKravitz Ultimate
StephanKravitz March 10, 2021
Great composition!
stephenwong March 10, 2021
Thanks, everyone for your kind comments. Much appreciated.
williamshipman Platinum
williamshipman August 15, 2021
Awesome photo
stephenwong August 16, 2021
Thank you very much!
shirleymarshall PRO+
shirleymarshall March 13, 2022
Stunning photography !!!
Lilakate Platinum
Lilakate March 13, 2022
debasish_pal February 23, 2023
lovely shot
See all

Behind The Lens


I made this photo at my friend’s studio, Mullens Street Studio, in Sydney, Australia. While I prefer shooting on location, I enjoy the challenges of a studio shoot.


I shot this ten days before Christmas 2020 at 2:10 pm using artificial lights, so the time of day doesn’t make any difference. Here in Sydney, we’ve been lucky with the COVID19 pandemic. Despite restrictions, we’ve been able to resume many activities provided we observe social distancing. Shooting in the studio was permitted.


I positioned two gridded 30cm x 160cm softboxes mounted on Godox QS400 studio strobes at each side of the model. I like side lighting as it creates shadows, highlighting a subject’s shape, accentuates form and texture and adds drama. In the studio, I lock my camera settings to one-stop below the flash sync speed (1/160 sec for Canon), fix the aperture at f/8 (for good depth of field. I don’t need the bokeh effect in the studio), and ISO 100 (for best image quality). I build my lighting scenarios step-by-step, adding one light source at a time. To achieve the desired lighting ratios, I adjust the power settings on the strobes. Changing the lighting outputs and the camera settings at the same time adds unnecessary complication.


I captured this image with a Canon 5D Mark III DSLR and a Canon EF100mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens. I needed the macro lens to get close to the 10 cm glass ball. My first attempts were uninspiring, so I tried using a mirror, but the reflection wasn’t clean because of the double reflection from the silver surface and the glass surface. Luckily, I found a sheet of black perspex. It gave a clean reflection and had the bonus of being less luminous. I could not get the glass ball close to the surface of the perspex using the supplied stand. So I made a makeshift stand from a loop of rolled up gaffer tape. I placed the perspex sheet on the floor and made the shot at floor level. I framed the image so that the softboxes were only visible in the glass ball. I kept the softboxes in the photo because they add interest, giving the image an almost sci-fi motif.


I accepted my daughter’s challenge to create an art nude image with a glass ball. It’s the first time that I’ve shot with a glass ball.


I only needed to apply basic post-processing by increasing the brightness, reducing the highlights, enhancing the shadow details and adding a little saturation. I cropped the image a little to hide some distracting background elements. I strive to get my expose correct in the camera. That’s not always possible, especially if the dynamic range is beyond the range of the camera.

In my camera bag

My favourite gear is my Canon 5D Mark III with the Canon EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM lens. I carry a second 5D Mark III body as a backup with a Canon EF70-200mm f/4L USM lens. While I love lens with wide f/2.8 apertures, I compromise because of cost and weight considerations. I carry the 50mm f/1.4 lens to shoot in low light or if I want a strong bokeh effect. I take a Godox AD200Pro battery-powered strobe and an X1Pro trigger for off-camera flash. A lighting spigot on my tripod doubles as a light stand, which has the added advantage that the adjustable tripod legs allow me to position my strobe on uneven surfaces.


Take creative risks. Never be afraid to experiment. If you don’t try, you won’t succeed. Just do it safely. No photo is worth putting yourself or your subject in danger. I’ve seen many beautiful images shot with a glass ball—too many, in fact. Initially, I was reluctant because I couldn’t see how to make an image that hadn’t been done before. I went into the shoot with an open mind. Being relaxed and having fun helped me to recognise new opportunities and possibilities.

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