Ring Flash for Portraits

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by ZugPhoto, Jan 2, 2010.

  1. ZugPhoto

    ZugPhoto Member

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    I was watching a video the other day and saw a photographer use a ring flash on his lens for a portrait session. I assume he was using it as the key light...he had a couple of soft boxes at each side. I thought these types of lens- mounted flashes are basically for macro work. Have I got it wrong?
     
  2. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    You can use a ring light but the light is very flat. Smaller lights are used for macro 4-5" diameter but there are larger ones made for portraiture. There was a fad with fashion photographers several years ago that overused it.
     
  3. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Ring flash has been used in fashion work for quite some time. It gives a very particular look, large catch lights shaped like the ring light in the eyes are the give away. In fashion magazines before PS you used to see this a lot. These days the catch lights get brushed, but when you see a model up against a wall with no shadows and a very high key doe eyed look, that's usually a ring light shot.
     
  4. Vanishing Point Ent.

    Vanishing Point Ent. Member

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    What about the RingFlash Adapters by Orbis, RayFlash & others ?

    Does anyone have an opinion about the new RingFlash Adapters,
    by Orbis, RayFlash & others ?

    I don't know if the flash units being used, are powerful enough.
    But they do provide the option of either Auto, or TTL flash capability.

    Because of the flash being under the lens, not putting a strain on the hot shoe & their new flash bracket, to support the whole thing, I'm leaning toward the Orbis right now.

    Also, in Strobist's test, I liked the quality of the light better from the Orbis.

    Finally, I'm told that one Orbis fits many different flash heads.
    Not so, with the RayFlash.

    But what are your opinions ? Enquiring minds want to know.
     
  5. Cainquixote

    Cainquixote Member

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    etc

    I had one. neat little toy. Toy being the operative word.

    Even at full blast with the little adapter on there they just don't produce enough light.

    Iso 400 at just under a meter f4. and it was barely an f4.

    this was with a flash with a guide number of 33.

    I was able to make a kludge where it fit on my monolight. Better performance but much to awkward to work with in a studio.
     
  6. Alienguru

    Alienguru Member

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    try looking for alien bees in google
    I haven't used them, but AFAIK they have a quite descent ring flash
     
  7. TareqPhoto

    TareqPhoto Member

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    For long time i aim on a ringflash, i have Hensel lights and i was no doubt going to get Hensel ringflash, but i got busy, now i don't know how or what happened, i just paid a down payment for my Profoto RingFlash 2, just it is not in stock so i am waiting within a week or few days to get it. Same that dealer who i bought my digital hassy and this Profoto ringflash [local dealer] has that Orbis ringflash for speedlights, i tested in the store there and the results are flawless, making me more exciting about my Profoto ringflash, and i may buy this orbis RF to use with my speedlight for some photojournalism and action shoot and move shots.
     
  8. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    "Ring flash has been used in fashion work for quite some time. "

    Today it is just a 'shock and awe' sort of approach, but ring lighting has a tradition of good craftsmanship. Here is one of the early masters in the art.

    See "Shadowless Figure Portraiture" by Fred P. Peel F.R.P.S.; The Galleon Press, New York. 1936.

    Fred was a great guy, a great photographer, from Chester, Pa.
    An eminent shooter in the day. This is a very good book.
     

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  9. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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    I wouldn't assume it's the key light (then again, I haven't seen the resulting photos so you know better in this regard), but I'll use a ring light for on-axis fill.
     
  10. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Look into Clifford Coffin as well. He made extensive use of it in the 1950s and '60s (possibly late '40s as well). He usually used it with his subjects right up against a backdrop, however, so that a thin but well defined shadow outlined their form.

    He used a similar home-made unit. I think it had 8 or 10 Photo Floods in a ring. Helmut Newton was to use Coffin's exact light when he discovered in in a Vogue storage room in the 1970s.

    As for the shoot you saw, I would think that from your description, the mini on-camera ring flash was being used as a fill light.
     
  11. Bosaiya

    Bosaiya Member

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    Some samples of my ringflash portraits:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
     
  12. Chazzy

    Chazzy Member

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    Bosaiya, it's my understanding that ring flashes are used at the position of the lens. So how can there be a big shadow under the chin of the man in the first example?
     
  13. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    They usually are used there, but this is not part of the definition of a ring light. It is the "donut-like" physical arrangement of the lights that defines a ring light. There are many pre-made ring flash heads that can be placed wherever you want them.

    ...of course, then they don't look like a ring light, but pretty much like any other large, direct, round light source, so I fail to see the point.
     
  14. Bosaiya

    Bosaiya Member

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    That's certainly one way to skin the proverbial cat, there are of course other ways. These particular cats were skinned with more than one light.

    To quote from Megashark vs Giant Octopus "Note the eye(s)"
     
  15. Bosaiya

    Bosaiya Member

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    They look different than, say, a beauty dish - at least to me. There's still a certain amount of light falloff that is hard to duplicate.
     
  16. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    They do look different...because a beauty dish provides a reflected quality of light, not a direct one.

    A ring light separate from the camera is simply an oversized "donut-style" flash tube, like those used in standard Dynalite heads. (I am sure that type of flash tube has a real name, not "donut-style, BTW.) What it does is that, at a given distance, it increases the size of the light source relative to the subject, which does soften the light. They allow you to use a direct light, but to make it a bit softer by way of sheer relative size compared to a bare "donut-style" flash tube. You can do this simply by moving a standard head closer to the subject. There may be the fact, however, that some people simply love to buy expensive things just because they are fun! :D
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 10, 2010
  17. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    These make me want to borrow a ring flash and try some experiments!

    Bosaiya:

    1) do you use a ring flash for your insect photographs?

    2) do you ever get people asking you for portrait work because they have seen your insect photographs?

    Matt
     
  18. Bosaiya

    Bosaiya Member

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    Sounds good to me. I like them no matter what they're called, a rose by any other name and all that.
     
  19. Bosaiya

    Bosaiya Member

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    You should, they're lots of fun.

    No, those are lit with point lights for modelling and overhead for general illumination.

    Yes, sometimes. I don't really like working with people all that much though.
     
  20. applesanity

    applesanity Member

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    The Strobist website did a bunch of works using ringflash. Ultimately using a ring flash as the main light in high-key situations with shallow backgrounds gets old. However, a ring flash as a fill light with a strong, side or directional key light makes for great drama.