Door County Through a Crystal Ball
A Photography Expedition

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My husband and I chase the sunset along a Door County creek. He carries a camera like a normal person, I carry a crystal ball like a half-crazed wizard-wannabe ready to recreate a scene from The Lord of the Rings. But that’s not the mission – we’re not sorcerers (though he bought the crystal ball for $14. 95 from a ‘magical supply’ company), we’re photographers. Well, Luke’s the professional, I’m the amateur.


I’ve learned a few tricks of the trade since Luke took up photography a few years ago. Number one: the rule of thirds is a real thing and makes for aesthetically pleasing photos. Number two: more is less – packing in too much (say, a goat by a cherry tree beside a lighthouse with a sunset in the background) will confuse and overload your viewers’ eyes. Take it easy. Number three: soft light is key. Therefore, the best times to shoot are cloudy, overcast days; around sunset; and much to my dismay, sunrise.

Hence, the chasing of the sunset. We’re searching for something to focus the crystal ball on to achieve a ‘fisheye’ effect and it’s trickier than we both expected. We take turns handling the slippery sphere, holding it up to the sky like we’re searching for answers from a divine spirit, holding it close to the ground like we’re searching for hiding voles. It’s awkward. The crystal throws everything upside down and pulls reflections this way and that.


Once we get our bearings, we decide to take turns shooting photos and ordering the crystal ball bearer around – ‘Move your thumb.’ ‘Hold it higher.’ ‘Stay still!’ (In the chilly November, it’s hard to do any of those things before your bare hand starts to feel numb.) Luke focuses his photographic effort on a bare tree silhouetted by the sunset while I focus on the creek reflecting the orange sunset. It takes some finking around, some blurry photos, but once the camera zeros in on the scene in the ball we start to see interesting results.


‘Hey, that’s kinda cool,’ I say. And iPhone friendly. And an amusing, peculiar way to explore the county (as long as you don’t mind a few intrigued glances in your direction). And if you’re an overachiever, like my husband, you can edit out the hands, flip the image upside down, and create some gorgeous scenes that look trapped in a drop of water.


We walk home, camera and crystal ball in hand, satisfied with our experiment. ‘Anything you want me tell the readers?’ I ask. ‘Just make sure they don’t hold the ball up to the sun – it acts as a magnifying glass, so be careful.’ You’ve been warned. Who knew photography could be so dangerous…and magical?

For more ideas, simply search ‘crystal ball photography.’