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Lighting with Flash: Basics

The ring as key light


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Lighting with Flash: Basics

with David Hobby

Video: The ring as key light

All right, so what we have done is we've switched over just a little bit while Ramona was still in sort of a glam mode, and we're still using this, but now we're using it as a key light and as the only light. So this is classic ring light. It's just a very classic, defined, you'd know it from a thousand yards away look and this is what this Orbis is designed to do. This is some way I rarely use it, but given that we had a little context and a little bright red background, we tried to match her lips up to the background a bit, it's worth taking a couple of minutes and making that ring light glam kind of a picture.

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Lighting with Flash: Basics
1h 50m Appropriate for all May 10, 2013

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In the Lighting with Flash series, photographer and Strobist blog publisher David Hobby demonstrates how to use compact flash units in a variety of lighting scenarios. In this first installment, he covers the basics, starting with ambient window light and ending with a four-light shoot of a model. Along the way, the course covers a variety of fundamental lighting concepts as well as accessories such as ring lights and softboxes. The course includes diagrams and detailed explanations of the lighting setups.

Topics include:
  • Starting with window light
  • Adding a flash and umbrella
  • Using multiple strobes
  • Layering and creating a cone of light
  • Creating classic ring light glamour
Subjects:
Photography Cameras + Gear Flash Photography Portraits Lighting
Author:
David Hobby

The ring as key light

All right, so what we have done is we've switched over just a little bit while Ramona was still in sort of a glam mode, and we're still using this, but now we're using it as a key light and as the only light. So this is classic ring light. It's just a very classic, defined, you'd know it from a thousand yards away look and this is what this Orbis is designed to do. This is some way I rarely use it, but given that we had a little context and a little bright red background, we tried to match her lips up to the background a bit, it's worth taking a couple of minutes and making that ring light glam kind of a picture.

So, we're going to do that real quick, and we're going to add a couple of lights and take about using a ring light in context with a couple of the other light to have that look, but also have some three-dimensionality and shape to whatever it is that you're shooting. I'm not sure that my power level is where I want it to be, but I am just going to do a quick test and then go back it, it it's too hot or cold. That's pretty close actually. So I am going to come in a little tighter. It's a little bright, so I am just going to dial down my aperture rather than changing the flash. Okay, here we go.

I like the little twist of an eyebrow you gave there. That's good. Yeah, are starting to get into the like putting yourself in other positions more, I think now. This very neat. So, I had too much ambient light coming out. I was at a 50th of a second, and I had to get rid of some that. So, I went to at 200, just to knock it down some. Let's see where we're at now. Now you don't have to look fantastic yet. I am just looking for a moment. So, a 200th of second at 5, 6 looks pretty close.

Yes, all right, so let's do a few of these. All right, deep breath and just chill. I like the way you had your arm, bring your arm back around. Yeah, you have nice S doing. I like where your eyes tightened up just a little bit there. I want to show you this in just a minute so you can see how these look. But very clubby. No, you're fine. Lips together a little bit and pull in your arm over here.

You're starting to spread out a lot. Maybe just fall into something you like, just like undo it and put it back together. Find some--oh I like that. That's good. Okay, and just move around. I am going to shoot as you move, okay? You can move your arms anything. Just try not to be too spread, yeah too lateral. Exactly. You can see my hand get tired a lot here. Okay, here we go. In fact, let me just drop your hands for a second, give me just a straight, turn your body that way towards Dave and face around towards me, and bring your face right at me, good.

Oh, why is it not firing? There we go. Give me one moment. I am going to look this and see if my exposure is where I want it to be. This is what you are looking like right here, by the way. It really pops off the back. Now I'm trying to hit the background and your lips as closely as I can. If I have to, I can select them in post afterwards and adjust one of them, if I want to try to make them exact. That could be kind of a neat trick, but we'll see.

I know we're close enough. Oh, my knees. I am an old man. Okay good, don't move. As I come closer, I have to remember, maybe I need to bleed a little power from my flash, because I'm getting in very close. It gets too strong. Good, good. Turn your away from me a little bit and turn your face, there you go, just like you just did, right here. Turn around towards me a little bit with your face. Good, all right. I am the one that's going to need to take a breath every now and then, because I am like holding this up in a weird, no leverage way.

As I'm moving closer to Ramona, the background gets darker, and for me that's a problem right now, because I'm trying to match the background to her lips. So, I need to remember to stay back, maybe use a little bit of a longer lens and allow this flash to reach past her back to the background. It's get to be a ratio thing. So, that's a thing--that's a reason I keep looking at my pictures and wondering why my background kept changing. Maybe I should study up on this stuff a little more. Let me think. So, if I go back a little bit, I'll need to pick up a longer lens.

Okay, I am backing up so I am going to need to increase the power on this flash. Just going to do a quick little test, and that's very close. In fact, let's shoot a couple like this. Okay, don't move. I kind of like the leaving the--I'm going past the backdrop and leaving the tape and everything in there. It just gives a little bit of a behind-the-scenes look to the picture. Good, good.

There you go, not so spread out. So pull in a little bit, especially this hand. There we go. Perfect, perfect, don't move. Okay, so relax just a moment. The lips are definitely matching, and you can see, even from a distance, they're just picking from that background really well. That's awesome. Okay, so let's work on this distance just a little bit, and then we're going to mix it up and add in some accent lights, okay? Same thing you were doing. Just don't get too spread out, because I don't think I want to include the white wall a lot.

It was a little gimmicky, but okay, all right. Let me pull you back up on the chair just like you were earlier. There you go. Yeah, just find a way that works for you. If have to move it to either side, anything is okay, but just find a way where you feel comfortable on the chair and you can get to me. Maybe, I think you need to rotate it around to where the back of the chair is Let's see, there you go. Okay, so you get comfortable and then I am going to move my light to fit you. Perfect, perfect.

That last drape was really nice, where you draped your arm right over the chair like that, yes. Nice look. Don't move, don't move. Actually, move. Slide your chair about 6 inches that way. You're creeping off that--okay perfect. Now, I don't have to go across around to see you. Good. If I come in closer, which I'm about to do to compose better, I have to worry that my background is going to get a little darker.

Even though the light's actually closer, the distance between the light to Ramona and the light to the background becomes a bigger ratio. For instance, if I were 10 feet away from Ramona, I'd be 10 feet to her and 13 feet to the background. If I were half a foot, it would be 6 inches to her and 3 1/2 feet to the background, big difference in those two distances, and that's what gives you that relative brightness level between her and the backdrop. Okay, good, don't move. Cool. All right, relax for second. I'm going to start to tweak this a little bit with a couple of lights, so you can just chill and you don't have to worry about anything for a moment.

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