The ring light is an easy, relatively inexpensive way to begin with studio photography – current right approach, it can seem really, actually good. Listed below are just a few photos I’ve taken using a ring light:
Yet how can you use a ring light to create portraits like these? And in addition, how can you go beyond standard band light photography to capture photos that stand out from the crowd?
In this article, I’m going to take you through all the ring light basics. I’m going to describe what a ring light can be and how to use it. Then, if you are interested in more advanced ring lighting applications, I’m going to share five unconventional approaches (such as using a ring light as being a prop).
So by the time you’re done with this article, you’ll know how to use a ring light like a pro – and you’ll even have a couple of tricks up your sleeve for the next time you’re after special images.
Let us jump right in.
What is a ring gentle?
A band light is a circular, ring-shaped light designed to be positioned directly in front of a subject. You then position your camera in the center of the ring and capture your photos.
Here is a standard external band light, photographed from the back (left) and front (right):
Generally speaking, ring lights are used as on-axis, even lighting. Since the subject is illuminated from every direction, ring gentle photography tends to be a bit smooth.
Check out the example below, where the bright ring illuminates the subject from all sides:
Ring-lit portraits don’t feature interesting dark areas – for that, you’ll wish to look at options such as Rembrandt lighting and loop lighting – but they have a certain flat, vibrant, in-your-face attraction. Some photographers love the flat look, and other photographers dislike it; it’s really all about personal preference, and it is certainly possible to use a ring light to great impact.
By the way, continuous ring lights offer a main bonus for portrait photographers: Because the output is constant, your subject’s pupils obtain constricted. That way, you’ll notice more of the color of their eye in your photos – which generally looks great!
The two types of ring lamps
There are two types of ring lights you need to be familiar with:
Off-camera ring lights, which attach to an external light stand, offer a wide band of lighting, and include a large aperture in to which a camera can fit. This is the type of ring light featured throughout the content.
And on-camera ring lights (sometimes called ring flashes ), which attach to the front of your lens and provide a narrow band of light.
For portrait photography plus videography, off-camera ring lights (as pictured throughout this article) are more versatile; you are able to position them however you like, plus they offer a wider band of light, which is helpful for larger subjects. Off-camera ring lights also generally provide continuous lighting only , which makes all of them highly useful for videography and studio photography, but less useful for situations where you need a powerful burst of gentle in a dark setting (e. g., when photographing the frog at night).
On-camera ring flashes are more commonly used by macro photographers or for scientific purposes (you’ll sometimes find crime-scene photographers shooting using a ring flash on TV! ). You mount an on-camera ring flash to the front side of your lens, then you can quickly carry the entire setup into the field (to photograph insects and flowers or, yes, dead bodies). Because a band light sits on the end of the lens, there’s no concern about the camera or zoom lens barrel casting shadows on the subject, and it lets you sparkle light in dark, shadowy places.
Note that ring flashes often provide some sort of flash (i. electronic., strobe) setting, and some of these only work as flashes. Should you be after a powerful burst of light, this is ideal. But be careful before purchasing a ring flash for videography, as you won’t be able to use it unless it offers a continuous setting.
How to do ring light photography: the basics
As you’re likely now aware, using a ring light is insanely simple. It can be boiled down to a simple, four-step process:
- Mount the ring light to a light stand or on the front of the lens (depending on the kind of ring light you own).
- Position the ring light in front of your subject (and if you’re using an off-camera ring light, place your camera through the center).
- By hand dial in your camera’s publicity settings (I recommend f/5. 6 at 1/160s as a good starting point).
- Take a shot. If this looks good, then open fire away. If it’s too bright or too dark, make the necessary adjustments, either by darkening/brightening the ring lighting output, or by increasing/decreasing your
aperture , shutter speed , or ISO .
And that is it!
But what if you want to take your ring light photography to the next degree? What if you want to create distinctive, more unusual ring-lit pictures?
As long as you own an off-camera ring light, one with a constant output, you can use the five unconventional ring light methods I share in the next section:
5 unconventional ideas for ring light photography
It’s time to get a bit experimental – and have lots of fun with ring lights within the studio! Starting with option number 1:
1 . Occurs ring light as a standard studio light
Despite their circular shape, ring lights work excellent as normal lights; simply raise the light, angle this toward your subject, also it essentially becomes a small
A standard 45-45 lighting pattern looks excellent:
Though you may also use other basic light patterns, such as loop lighting:
Should you have more than one ring light, you can use them together to create virtually any two-light setup that you can think about. And if the ring lighting you own offer an changeable output, managing your key-to-fill ratios should be pretty simple.
2 . Occurs ring light as a prop
LED band lights don’t get hot – so if you own a single, test out the temperature, after that feel free to let your subject matter pose with the ring for some unique images.
The results will vary with ring lights of different sizes, and you do have to worry about the particular plug and the cables, but it’s still a fun technique. Just make sure not to overuse it (the light has a tendency to illuminate your subject from below, which isn’t the most complementary angle).
three or more. Use your ring light as ambient fill
These days, ring lights are usually pretty darn powerful – so you can add them into a studio lighting setup as a gentle, natural-looking fill light.
A couple of things you’ll want to bear in mind:
While ring lights are powerful, your strobes will probably blow all of them out of the water if left unadjusted, so set the strength (both on the strobes and on the ring lights) accordingly.
Furthermore, if you’re going to be combining light sources, you’ll possibly want a ring light having an adjustable color temperature.
For an much more experimental approach, you can try utilizing the ring light as your major light source and your strobes since fill. To make this work, however , you’ll need to take the particular strobe power way lower, so make sure the power in your strobes can drop that far before committing to the particular technique.
4. Use your ring lighting as a compositional device
I love creating compositions that actually consist of the band light in the shot; take a look at this photo, where We framed my subject’s face with the circle of lighting:
And you’re not limited to putting the light behind your issue. You can place it anywhere in your frame to create cool results – try putting a ring light above your subject for a halo impact, or placing a band light at an angle just within your frame for a curved music group of light running through the composition.
five. Try dragging the shutter
Dragging the shutter is a fun method that can result in beautiful pictures, but it generally involves the use of both a flash and a few ambient light.
However , with a ring lighting and a strobe, you can allow the ring light act as background fill, fire your strobe, and decrease the shutter speed for some stunning effects.
A little warning: If you’re a technically-minded photographer, you’re probably going to hate this tip, as the results tend to be a little soft. Also, while dragging the shutter can be used for a few striking photos, you still have to be careful with controlling the movement of your camera.
Because the strength output on your flash is just not affected by shutter speed, you are able to drop the shutter as little as you need to make this work. You might want to use a tripod for really slow shutter speeds, though.
Ultimately, it is a technique that produces great effects in its own correct, but no two attempts are going to be the same.
How to use a ring gentle for gorgeous photos: last words
Nicely, there you have it! Now you can confidently use a ring gentle – and you can even generate unique photos with some unconventional techniques.
Therefore go have fun with a ring light or two!
Now to you:
Do you have other ways that you make use of a ring light? Do you have any kind of tips for ring light picture taking? Share your thoughts in the remarks below!