Ringlight in a Pinch

Reader Andrew Smith has posted a self portrait and a lighting diagram that show you how to set up an umbrella so that it acts like a ring light.

I have used this technique before to varying success. But then I probably block a little more of an umbrella than does Andrew. Still worth a try if you have nice background to work with, as in his example.



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Anonymous MQ said...

It's not himself, only his camera,
which of course blocks not so much.

Professionally, very many fashion
photographers love the Briese Focus
lightformers for exactly this.

September 30, 2007 4:39 AM  
Anonymous Andrew Smith said...

There I am look! *BLUSH*

Yes for this photo the camera was on a tripod and triggered by a cable release. But I'm going to try it with a model soon and for that I'll hold the camera as usual and stand in front of the umbrella.

The background was a piece of mount board taped to a light stand.

September 30, 2007 12:09 PM  
Blogger J. Beckley said...

Wow! This was so simple I had to try it. Probably not as good, but I see potential. Better than $300-$600 for a ring light.

September 30, 2007 11:26 PM  
Blogger melissa said...

this is great, I have always put the umbrella up a bit higher and pointed down, I like this much better! great portrait thanks for sharing the diagram!

September 30, 2007 11:54 PM  
Blogger vunzvraga said...

hi. I appologize, but from the lightning diagram - where is the difference of having the strobe on camera using TTL? Andrew said center horizontaly and verticaly... Is the idea only in bigger light?

October 01, 2007 1:49 AM  
Anonymous Andrew Smith said...

@vunzvraga: The difference is that you get light from all around -- above, below and both sides. You block a small amount of light with your body and camera (or in this case the tripod) but you still get an approximate ringlight effect.

October 01, 2007 8:04 AM  
Blogger mtreinik said...

Vunzvraga, on-camera flash lights the subject only from the side of the hot-shoe. A ring light (or a DIY substitute) lights the subject from all directions around the camera.

The ring flash produces a very flat frontal lighting, ring-shaped catch light in the eyes, and a shadow that falls in all directions around the subject.

October 01, 2007 8:21 AM  
Anonymous Neil said...

This is a popular technique for magazines. There is a David Beckham headshot like this enhanced with two harsh sidelights.

Trouble is the photog is shillouetted in the eyes. I found this a bit distracting as the subjects eye is essentially replaced.

October 01, 2007 9:37 AM  
Blogger vunzvraga said...

Hi all and thanks for the replies.
So, the SIZE of the light is all that matters here. Also the distance of light to subject and subject and background since I don't see any hard shadows in background...
To summarize – Umbrella with the strobe in its axis is set in the line and centered with subject eyes? What is the ratio of light – subject – background?

October 01, 2007 9:52 AM  
Anonymous TiMpWeB said...

There is always the option of photoshopping the catchlight to make it look more like a ring-light reflection and touch out the photog. yeah, its a little nit-picky but if necessary...

October 01, 2007 11:03 AM  

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