It’s no secret that lighting can come in a bunch of shapes and sizes. From the round light bulbs, tubes, and rings to rectangular strips, panels, and boxes, companies continue to push for unique lighting to fit a variety of needs. In this post, we’re going to explore the ring light and talk about some reasons why some may veer towards these over different kinds of lights.
Soft, Even Light
Photography comes from the root words, “photo,” meaning “light,” and “-graphy,” meaning “relating to writing.” You could simplify photography to mean “to write with light;” not only is this catchy, but there’s something poetic about it as well. Just as you cannot write without ink in your pen, you cannot have photography without light.
Simply having light at your disposal is the bare minimum. A more advanced photographer or videographer makes conscious decisions about lighting to mold their subject or scene until it matches their vision. Using only a single light can often give you a more dramatic look, but can throw unnecessary shadows onto the subject’s face. Sure, it can be interesting, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. The shadows can be fixed by using a secondary light as fill, but then we would be dealing with a balancing act.
In contrast, a single ring light easily creates a polished look by evenly wrapping light around your subject, eliminating harsh shadows. A single ring light can create the ideal lighting for video and photography in an instant.
Slim Form Factor
Getting soft light on your setup is no easy feat, especially if you’re working in a compact area without a lot of space to spare. A ring light doesn’t rely on a bulky softbox to get the soft look. Many contemporary ring lights feature built-in diffusion, but even if a diffusion filter is required, it likely won’t add any extra volume.
If space is at a premium or budgets are tight, a ring light can give great results without taking up too much space or money; all you need is the light and a stand.
Ring lights are associated with productions large and small; they spark a sense of glamour. Having one on set is not only utilitarian, but adds to the environment and enhances the vibe. When it comes to photography, ring lights have mainly been used in fashion.
A softbox mounted above the subject can provide clean, even lighting similar to a ring light, but in addition to buying the actual light, the softbox will likely need to be purchased separately. A solid piece of lighting designed for use in a professional studio can cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars and a good quality softbox may be hundreds more.
Meanwhile, as ring lights become more popular they have become more and more accessible, especially on the consumer market. Features and functionality all depend on the model. Some lights are only daylight-balanced (and may or may not include some warming filters), some have a few preset color temperature options to toggle between, and some have a range of color temperatures, which can be finely adjusted to the user’s need.
Usefulness Outside of Photo/Video
Ring lights aren’t only usable in the photo and video world.
Due to the pandemic, employees all around the globe have shifted to a work-at-home model, often utilizing video conferencing services like Zoom. While there is software to turn someDSLR or mirrorless cameras into webcams, it’s much more common to use the camera in a laptop or mobile device. When there is a large window with lots of light streaming in, lighting isn’t an issue.However it’s a different story when an at-home meeting room isn’t well-lit or elements of the background throw off the camera’s exposure.
Here, the background is blown out, but also silhouettes Alex. This can be distracting and pull attention away from the meeting.
After adding the ring light, the scene is less distracting and Alex becomes the clear focus of our meeting.
Makeup artists are also known to use ring lights when applying makeup (whether on themselves or clients) and for recording tutorials. They offer plenty of light, and the lack of harsh shadows is one less thing to worry about when working or filming.