Have you ever spotted a certain circular light in the background of the posts of Instagram influencers and YouTubers? Well, that circular light is basically known as a ring light. It is the underdog behind all the brilliant makeup tutorials, food pictures, photography that you see on the timelines of social media influencers and Youtubers.
While we are tricked into thinking that the creators might be using expensive setups or high-quality DSLR cameras, the ring light makes even an amateur set up look professional.
What is a ring light?
A ring light can be described as an easy-to-use multipurpose lighting tool that helps and enables users to obtain a source of uniform light that is emitted directly from the point of view of the camera. The ring light is usually made from a single circular fluorescent bulb or sever small LED bulbs connected together in the form of a circle.
A ring light is a simple brightening device that is commonly used for beauty shots, macro photography and portrait photography. When a ring light is used during photography, it emphasizes the subject and creates an attractive catch light on the subject’s eyes in case of portrait photography.
Ring lights also diffuse the light and eliminate any form of shadows in the photograph. For macro photography, smaller ring lights are usually mounted on the camera lens.
What are the various uses of ring light?
Ring lights are mostly used by photographers and videographers for better focusing and minimum background shadows. However, ring lights can also be effectively used for portrait photography, macro photography and other purposes that involve close-up work with only one subject, such as in food photography or fashion photography. It is also an extremely economical tool for amateur vloggers and bloggers and is specifically useful if you are filming indoors.
Ring lights are a special favourite amongst photographers and videographers as it offers to diffuse as much light around the subject as possible thereby reducing the appearance of unwanted harsh shadows. It also explains why photographers who specialize in portrait photography are so obsessed with the LED ring light.
This little device makes the subject of your photography or videography pop and does not distort or wash out the contours of the face in a way that uneven lighting would, making it the perfect lighting tool for portraits and selfies.
LED ring lights are constructed using warm white bulbs that intend to mimic the daylight in an indoor setup and bring out the subject’s natural skin tone. These LED ring lights come in different sizes. Some of these lights even come with facilities to control the exposure of the light. Some ring lights are extremely photographer friendly and are often compatible with any type of camera.
Ring lights for photography
You can easily figure out if ring lights are used on a subject in case of fashion or portrait photography by closely observing the subject’s eyes. The model’s eyes will reflect the circular catchlights (commonly known as eye lights.)
These bright and spectacular highlights instantly make the portrait more attractive and engaging, for the eyes speak more than the words and these lights help capture the audience’s attention to the subject’s eyes. If only ring lights are used in the setup, you can also probably spot a shadow halo around the subject.
In case of macro photography, these lights allow a slightly more front-focused lighting compared to a lightbox. It also distributes light around a small subject quite well enough to hide shadows and bring out more specific details in the photograph.
Ring lights are also used to enhance and fill light in a studio which already has other light sources. Ring lights ensure that your set up has just enough soft lighting to directly brighten the subject in focus for a more three-dimensional appearance.
Ring lights for videography
Ring lights are not only great for photography but also a brilliant tool that enhances videography. You must have wondered why certain objects in a video look noticeably better under constant lighting than others. Well, the ring lights are the answer to your question. These portable LED lights are also arguably the best lighting for YouTube videos especially for vloggers and product reviewers.
Ring light for makeup
Virtually every professional makeup artist on YouTube or Instagram possess one of these ring lights. In fact, it is one of the first equipment that makeup artists buy when they decide to launch YouTube channels focusing on makeup tutorials. The ring lights enhance the facial features of the subject and help in portraying the true tone of the skin as well as the pigments of the makeup products.
Youtubers simply place their ring lights in front of their shooting device (a camera or a phone and in case of multiple camera setting, both) and record away.
How to choose the correct ring light?
Ring lights can be purchased as well as constructed at home by yourself. There are several DIY (Do IT Yourself) videos on making your own ring light. However, it must be kept in mind that making your own ring light can be way more difficult than you think it to be. You will require all the right materials to ensure that your DIY ring light is safe for repeated or prolonged use.
One of the pros of using a constant ring light as opposed to the ones that flash with every click of the shutter is that it is easier to make necessary changes to achieve the desired effect and light intensity. On the other hand, flash ring lights help save power.
Another thing that must be kept in mind while investing in a ring light is the power and size of the device. In case you specialize in close up photography, you can opt for a smaller ring light for it will have the same effect as compared to larger ring lights. Furthermore, smaller ring lights are easier to handle and you can easily adjust the power depending on the distance between the ring light and the subject.
Lastly, keep in mind to note the colour temperature of the ring light. Fluorescent, warm and even stark white lighting ring lights offer a better perspective to your subject than warm yellow or bright light ring lights.