Soratama | 宙玉

Aerial ball shooting technique : 宙に浮かぶ玉の中の光景を撮影できる宙玉(そらたま)。撮影のためにはどんな機材が必要になるのか? 撮影のコツや作例などを紹介。


How to Photograph

There are no specific rules for soratama photography. Follow your senses and shoot photos however you like. Take as many photos as you can and make many mistakes until you could establish your own style of soratama photography.

However, because the background image would be upside-down and the other way around, it is recommended to select the best one after taking several patterns.

What Kind of Object to Choose

Choose whatever object you like. It could be people, flowers or a scenery. Just frame your favorites in the sphere. Objects with vivid colors or high contrast is more likely to be soratama worthy, but pastel colors also do produce marvelous images.

Shining objects such as illuminations and city lights make your soratama photo even more beautiful. By controlling the aperture, circular bokeh produced by light source and reflections change its nuance. Please adjust the aperture until you find your beautiful bokeh.

Also, depending on the direction, reflection of the sun adds a shining accent to the edge. This is interesting when you do it on purpose.

There are some examples in gallery for your reference.

Aperture Value is the Most Important Factor

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 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.

The aperture value is increased (f22). The edge of the sphere is clear but the background does not get blurred.


The aperture value is decreased (f3.5). The background got beautifully blurred but the edge of the sphere also got blurred.


Below are the results of some tests using cameras with different sensor size changing the aperture value.

Aperture and Portraits/OLYMPUS, M4/3, 17mm F1.8
Aperture and Portraits/OLYMPUS, M4/3, 30mm F3.5 Macro
Aperture and Portraits/SONY APS-C 28mm
Aperture and Portraits/SONY APS-C 30mm
Aperture and Portraits/SONY Full 50mm

When you increase the aperture value, the shutter speed slows down. Please be careful of the camera shake by increasing the sensitivity of your camera or using the tripod.

How to focus

How to focus

Other Techniques

Another way to make the sphere clear is to “stack focus” By stacking focus, several photos are taken by slightly changing the focus and merging them for a single photo afterwards. There are cameras and applications which automatically do those works for you. By using these functions, you are able to make the sphere clear yet the background blurred.

There are many other techniques to enjoy soratama photography such as using live composite and long exposure functions to shoot fireworks. Find new ways to capture beautiful soratama images of your own!