Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ken Shung's Lighting Class -- #5 -- Ring Light / Ring Flash / Ringlight / Ringflash

Ring Light aka Ring Flash.

Tuesday's lesson was taking photos with a ring light. Ring lights are used frequently in fashion photography. why? Because its trendy and the "in" thing to do. Just kidding, well, sort of -- but a lot of fashion photographers do like the way the ring light provides a hard edge light, with a modest fill in the face or frontal illumination. As you can surmise, photographers will also use the ring light for beauty and portrait photography.

You can make your own ring light (find it on the Strobist) or you can buy it for $300. Ray Flash is one of the makers of ringlights/ringflashes. And this are their thoughts on why ring lights are used --

"Ray Flash creates a "3-d shadow-wrapped look". Because all light originates from the front, i.e. from around the lens, it produces a virtually shadow-less look on the front of your subject, while a soft even shadow appears around the edges. It is ideally suited for fashion, portrait, beauty, wedding & macro photography as a main or fill-in light.

According to The Strobist, photographers like Jill Greenberg and Dan Winters use the ring light as a sole light source, a primary source in a multi-light setup or as a subtle fill. Whatever way you choose to use the light source, is of course at your discretion, but how do you know if you like using it without trying it out? So here we go.

Here are some examples of how it was used in class and how I used it on my own.

First the set-up:

- I chose a very lively background - purple - (well, at least different from the typical white and black) and thought it should help the image pop a little bit and show the hard-edge profile.
- I set up two strip banks -- one on the left and one on the right of the background -- aimed at a 45 degree angle towards the subject

-- The background is not far from the subject, maybe 2-3 feet ... and we would call this the "up against the wall" shot

-- Subject is sitting on an apple box and was asked by Ken Shung to do something interesting.

This is what Ken got on his shot.

-- You'll notice that the backlights are illuminating his arms and the ring flash which is set around the camera lens provides a front illumination of the subject, giving it the "hard-edge" look

Now its my turn. I repositioned the lights a little differently and moved further away to get a full body shot. I wanted to test how the ring flash would works with models that are in motion (well at least for a few seconds). So, I set the model about 5-7 feet away from the background (well, because I didnt want the background to fall on her after she doe her twirls and jumps). Initially, the camera and ring flash was on a tripod, but I felt a bit restricted, so Ken suggested I should move around with the ring flash detached from the tripod -- and I did -- after some 50 shots, it started to get heavy, but the photos worked!

Below are a few shots of Model Carolina Santos Read.

I still got the hard-edge look around her body and that front illumination that lightened up her face. So, it worked, even in motion.

Lesson from Ken Shung: There are no hard and fast rules in photography. Reposition the lights, move the model, move your camera... whatever you do -- If it looks good, it looks good.

I will have to admit, there is ONE rule that should never be broken -- HAVE FUN on your SHOOTS... So, here is one of the photos I took of Instructor and Commercial Photographer Ken Shung and Model Carolina Santos Read having a little fun with the props on set. :D

And that's a wrap ladies and gentlemen...

For more info on ring flashes and how to make them, visit The Strobist's website to learn
more. If you're not into making it yourself, ring lights are also sold by Ray-Flash for $300.

B you go... if you are like me, I'm curious to see how the ring flash compared to my other shots using the Octabank light and the Beauty Dish from a few weeks ago.. So I've enclosed it here.

Octabank light below that gives you a "softer" look.

Beauty Dish: This is slightly different, since I only used the beauty dish to light the front and made everything else be a silhoutte.

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