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Ring Flash for Portrait Photography?

Sabrina H. , Sep 02, 2004; 11:32 p.m.

I've seen two documentary programs where the photographer used a macro ring flash for portraits on his camera. One documentary was of a photographer, the other was not; just happened to be in the story.

I'm curious and a little baffled as to why they do this. Have you done this before?


Michael Ging , Sep 02, 2004; 11:56 p.m.

I like modeling and shadows on my portraits. Unless I was photographing something like a eye,I would not think of using something that lights as flat as a ring light.I guess the photographer was going for a certain look.

Jeff Callen - Chicago, IL , Sep 03, 2004; 12:21 a.m.

A ring light gives a certain look, the subect seems flatly lit yet pops out from the background. If you want any modelling at all, you will need some strong makeup on the model, or possibly somebody with very distinctlively strong features. Fashion photographers in the 50's like Clifford Coffin used the ring light.

danny liao , Sep 03, 2004; 12:59 a.m.

Dan Winters often uses the ring light for fill on his portraits. For those who don't know who Dan Winters is visit http://www.pdngallery.com/icons/winters/.

James Cummens , Sep 03, 2004; 01:59 a.m.

Photographers who use ring lights use the type that's much larger than a macro light. It's usually used as a main light shot straight on. Just like the macro with the lens through the hole in the center. It's used in fashion on models who have don't have many flaws and look good with that type of flat lighting. Jeff's right too, they use heavy makeup. It also creates nice circular catch lights in the eyes. What you saw must have been someone using a generally non standard approach.

C Carl , Sep 03, 2004; 02:36 p.m.

As said above, pro models are often photographed with head-on flat lighting, but their makeup simulates dimensional "modeling." The makeup gives the appearance of shadows in cheekbones, along the nose, etc. Without the makeup, these pictures would look two-dimensional.

"Brandon's Dad"

Greg Tomas , Sep 04, 2004; 10:27 a.m.

Ring light can be a perfect fill light also. Setup you main light - (umbrella or light box), then stop down your ring light and use as fill. Now you get good modelling and the pop-out look ring light gives.

Al Larson , Sep 10, 2004; 10:57 a.m.


I like to break "rules"...I shoot a Canon EOS 1D Mk II with a 85/1.8 or a 50/1.4 and the Canon MR-14 ringflash for fashion work. The flash is designed for macro work but it is worth consideration for portrait or fashion work too. I like it because it is part of the Canon system. I can shoot ETTL, compensate, etc with ease and get very good results. Because of the size of the ring (small for portrait application), it is important to use reflectors ( natural like white walls, concrete, etc or artificial/manufactured like a disc). The only issue I have had is occasional red eye. I suspect this is an angle/physics issue but I need to do more research. Right now I correct it in PSCS. Any thoughts from anyone on what might be the cause of the red eye or strategies for eliminating it? Thanks. AL

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