Playing with Toys

In Inspiration
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In my classroom, I inherited a cabinet full of toys and props to use for my photography classes. Even though my students have made great use out of them, I hadn’t really played with them for myself. Over our school’s spring break, I decided to bring home 2 of the items and see if I could make something interesting. The first one I grabbed was the lens ball.

It’s quite heavy and around 4.5 inches in diameter. It comes with a little stand and if you don’t use it, the lens ball has a tendency to roll away. Sort-of like right after this picture was taken:

I was feeling very lucky that I had worn my rain boots because the lens ball rolled down from the edge of the mound and into the creek (!!!). I spent the next 5 minutes with my hands in the freezing water feeling around for a round piece of glass. Luckily, I was able to find it and despite it taking a tumble and getting wet, the lens ball was unharmed.

If you look at the lens ball straight on, you’ll see that everything it shows is upside down. I thought this was a perfect opportunity to show my students how different the same image can look when flipped vertically.

Besides using the stand for the lens ball so it doesn’t roll away, I also make sure to tell my students to be very careful using it on a sunny day because, just like a magnifying glass, the lens ball will concentrate the sunlight into a direct spot and can very easily burn your hand (if you’re holding it) or start a fire if it’s dry. I purposely picked an overcast, wet day to do my playing, but the sun peeked out for a few moments right before the snow started again.

The 2nd toy I brought home was a pyramid shaped prism. I wasn’t really sure what to do with it at first and so I set it on the floor in the hallway to look through. The light from the window in the background became a lot more interesting when I turned the pyramid around and lowered my aperture to blur out the clutter.

My daughter and I decided to take it along when we went for a walk along the trail behind our neighborhood. She noticed that if you look through it a certain way, the rainbow patterns were very distinct. I decided to try holding it very close to my lens and I experimented with turning it slowly so I could capture the surreal patterns and colors that showed up as I moved down the trail.

In the process of editing the images, I was curious about how the prism effect would look when turned black and white, so I made the switch and it left an eery, spooky image as the result. Another great learning experience to share with my students.

All in all, my playtime was successful and I’m looking forward to using more of the toys that my students have access to in my classroom. Even Jack the Cat was a fan of the toys – he kept checking out what I was doing as I experimented and managed to photo bomb my lens ball shots.

Are there any other photo toys I should consider investing in for my students? Let me know in the comments and I will check them out!

Forever playing – Angie


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