Aerial ball shooting | Soratama


The birth of Soratama

I took a picture of these cats using a filter called Soratama.



Soratama is a filter with a transparent sphere, and it enables us to shoot a scene reflected in a ball floating in the air.

Soratama has the meaning of an aerial ball in Japanese, which I devised in 2009.


At first, I was shooting with a transparent sphere instead of a lens.

At that time, a transparent ball was attached to the blackboard, so the area around the ball appeared black.




Then one day I came up with an idea: “Can’t I photograph the background at the same time?” and started the experiment.
The first work was to make a hole in two thin transparent films and then sandwich the ball from both sides.

However, this method had a problem of the boundary between the film and the ball was captured.


The idea was to make a small hole in a transparent acrylic plate and bond the ball on it.

By taking a picture from the side where the ball protruded, the boundary part disappeared.

I released a method for making Soratama using a chips package, and many people started to enjoy using Soratama.

However, this work was a little cheap, and the acrylic board was prone to dust due to static electricity.


So I produced a glass filter with an optical glass ball lens attached and had a factory make it.

A strong and high-resolution Soratama filter has been completed.
The product name is “soratama 72”.



How to set up

In order to shoot with soratama, it is necessary to take a close-up shot of the sight on the ball.
This requires a macro lens or close-up ring.

If a 1x macro lens is used, a 20mm diameter transparent sphere can be magnified.
Also if you want to shoot with a normal lens, you can use an extension tube.


Lenses with a focal distance of 24–50mm (35mm equivalent length) are recommended when using soratama 72.

In order to shoot a ball in an appropriate size in the photo, it is necessary to adjust the distance from the lens by the focal length.
When using a telephoto lens, the transparent sphere must be spaced from the lens, which increases the length of the extension tube and places a burden on the lens.


宙玉とレンズの距離はExtension Tube 72で調整するが、これだと長すぎでおすすめではない


However, there are no rules, so please try with different types of lenses.
Please use the production of soratama 72 with Extension Tube 72 to adjust the distance from the lens.
Since the filter diameter of soratama 72 is 72mm, for example, in the case of a lens with a filter diameter of 52mm, please attach a step-up ring of 52-72mm.



How to shoot

Since the image looks upside down inside the ball, rotate the image after shooting.

The biggest point in soratama photography is the aperture value. When the aperture value is increased, the depth of field gets deep, and the center sphere gets clear. However, the background will not be blurred.
On the other hand, the depth of field gets shallow and the background will be blurred when the aperture value is decreased. However, the edge of the center sphere will also be blurred. For this, you have to choose whether taking priority over making the sphere clear or blurring the whole image.




Example of shooting

The subjects suitable for shooting with Soratama include objects with high color or tone contrast and objects that emit light such as illumination.










Also, if you shoot in a movie, it will be interesting because the movement will be opposite on the inside and outside of the ball.
As an example, the sun setting inside the ball goes up on the actual outside.


Soratama Time Lapse



Anyway, there is no rule to shoot with Soratama, so feel free to experiment!