Consider your subject matter when choosing between a long or wide-angle lens. Longer (over 50mm) lenses compress a small area of the background (and display as a larger scene in the ball), while wide-angle lenses better showcase the background in your frame. For added visual interest, you can even fill in an object behind the ball, like a flower.
For free-hand shooting, we recommended shooting on a focal length of anything between 24 and 35mm, maximum exposure time of 1/250 – 2/125 and aperture of f/2.8 to achieve a typical low depth of field that blurs the background. (If you’re using a DSLR, switch to manual focus.) For longer exposure times, place the ball on a stand, bottle cap, rubber o-ring, or in a natural divot. Keep a safe distance so that neither the stand nor the photographer is reflected in the glass ball.
When composing your shot, the texture beneath the ball is not only practical but also aesthetic. Use it to create visual interest (e.g. foliage), contrast (colour) or brilliant reflections (when placed in water). TIP: Keep the ball in the shade to avoid distracting reflections from the sun or sky.