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The Many Uses of a Ring Light: Video 101

Posted By Guest Post On December 21, 2012 @ 10:25 pm In Video Essentials | No Comments

The following lesson was created by Vimeo for its Vimeo Video School [1]. It’s used here with permission. Look for a new lesson each week.

A ring light is a handy multi-use tool for all types of shoots, from a sharp music video to a portrait of a ladybug. They provide uniform light coming straight from the camera’s point of view, which is great for even light, and helps eliminate shadows. You’ve seen the results, but you may not have known what was behind — or should we say “around” — the lens!

Images courtesy of Stellar Lighting Systems.

Images courtesy of Stellar Lighting Systems.

The most recognizable use of a ring light is as a catch light. Catch lights (sometimes called eye lights) cause a specular highlight [2] in the subject’s eyes, helping to draw attention to them. A ring light, when attached directly to the lens, acts as a catch light, causing those neat donut-shaped reflections. This style is popular, and typically used in commercials or fashion spreads, but this definitely isn’t the only way to use a ring light! There are plenty of reasons to use (and/or make) a ring light, especially for video:

  • Fill light – since the light is coming straight from the camera, it provides a nice wash of light pointed evenly at the subject. Like using a bounce [3] or lanterns [4], ring lights can provide soft, diffused lighting.
  • Detail – if you’re shooting something with lots of hard lights, ring lights provide a fill for the detail you may have lost in the shadows.
  • Halo shadow – If it’s your only light, you’ll get a “halo” of shadow outlining your subject (a signature ring light look):
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

  • Macro – shooting through a ring light provides perfect, even light from all sides of a small object.
  • Color effects – using different gels [5] on different parts of a ring light creates color washes in all kinds of directions.
  • Catch Light – to see the stylized catch light in the subject’s eyes, the camera needs to be pretty close. A bigger ring light means the catch light will show up from further away, but you also get a brighter, softer light!

Vimean Tom Antos [6] shows us an example of a music video shot with a ring light, and tells us how to create it using multiple bulbs in his tutorial video:


You could also use a circular fluorescent lamp instead of individual bulbs, but make sure you get the right ballast [7] for the bulb. Brush up on bulb types with the Light ‘Em Up [8] lesson, and with any bulb, pay attention to the color temperature [9]. I’m sure I’ve only grazed the surface of possible applications for this one light, so go and get creative!

Ready for more? Learn how to make a connection between your TV and computer [10] or view more lessons at the Vimeo Video School [1].


Article printed from Onlinevideo.net – Online Video Strategies, Platforms, News, and Tips: http://www.onlinevideo.net

URL to article: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2012/12/video-101-the-many-uses-of-a-ring-light/

URLs in this post:

[1] Vimeo Video School: http://vimeo.com/videoschool

[2] specular highlight: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Specular_highlight

[3] bounce: https://vimeo.com/videoschool/lesson/145/lighting-with-a-bounce

[4] lanterns: https://vimeo.com/videoschool/lesson/142/paper-lantern-lighting

[5] gels: https://vimeo.com/videoschool/lesson/153/gels-and-light-diffusion

[6] Tom Antos: https://vimeo.com/tomantos

[7] ballast: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrical_ballast

[8] Light ‘Em Up: https://vimeo.com/videoschool/lesson/248/light-em-up-basic-lights

[9] color temperature: https://vimeo.com/videoschool/lesson/62/white-balance

[10] make a connection between your TV and computer: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2013/01/how-to-connect-your-computer-and-tv-video-101/

[11] Keep it in Focus: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2013/04/keep-it-in-focus-video-101/

[12] Understanding Jump Cuts: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2013/04/understanding-jump-cuts-video-101/

[13] How to Make a Non-Profit Promo: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2013/03/how-to-make-a-non-profit-promo-video-101/

[14] How to Make an Infinity Wall: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2012/12/video-101-how-to-make-an-infinity-wall/

[15] How to Make an Animated Title Sequence: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2012/12/how-to-make-an-animated-title-sequence-video-101/

[16] Essential Video Gear for Traveling: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2012/07/essential-video-gear-for-traveling-video-101/

[17] Learn Final Cut Pro Keyboard Shortcuts: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2012/04/learn-final-cut-pro-keyboard-shortcuts-video-101/

[18] Get Great Results from Smartphone Video Cameras: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2012/03/get-great-results-from-smartphone-video-cameras-video-101/

[19] Light up Your Videos with a Bounce: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/12/light-up-your-videos-with-a-bounce-video-101/

[20] What Is Motion Design and How Can You Use It? Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/12/what-is-motion-design-and-how-can-you-use-it-video-101/

[21] Fast Focus Tips for DSLRs, Video Cameras, Smartphones: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/11/fast-focus-tips-for-dslrs-video-cameras-smartphones-video-101/

[22] Color Your World with Gels and Light Diffusors: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/11/color-your-world-with-gels-and-light-diffusors/

[23] Get Some Perspective with POV: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/11/get-some-perspective-with-pov-video-101/

[24] Learn to Create Scary Special Effects: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/10/learn-to-create-scary-special-effects-video-101/

[25] Learn to Use Zoom, Moving Camera, & Moving Zoom: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/10/learn-to-use-zoom-moving-camera-moving-zoom-video-101/

[26] What Is Crop Factor and Why Does it Matter? Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/10/what-is-crop-factor-and-why-does-it-matter-video-101/

[27] Who's Who on the Crew? Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/10/whos-who-on-the-crew-video-101/

[28] Room Tone -- Why You Should Capture the Sound of Silence: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/09/room-tone-why-you-should-capture-the-sound-of-silence/

[29] How to Create Storyboards: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/09/how-to-create-storyboards-video-101/

[30] The Best Tripod Tricks: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/08/the-best-tripod-tricks-video-101/

[31] Varying Your Shot Composition: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/08/varying-your-shot-composition-video-101/

[32] Learn to Create a Tilt-Shift Effect in Your Videos: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/08/learn-to-create-a-tilt-shift-effect-in-your-videos-video-101/

[33] Setting the Pace While Editing: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/08/setting-the-pace-while-editing-video-101/

[34] Nighttime Video Shooting with a DSLR Camera: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/07/nighttime-video-shooting-with-a-dslr-camera-video-101/

[35] Create a Timelapse Video with a DSLR Camera: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/07/create-a-timelapse-video-with-a-dslr-camera-video-101/

[36] Recording Sound for DSLR Cameras: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/07/recording-sound-for-dslr-cameras-video-101/

[37] Shooting Video with a DSLR Camera: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/07/shooting-video-with-a-dslr-camera-video-101/

[38] Choose the Right DSLR Accessories: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/07/choose-the-right-dslr-accessories-video-101/

[39] Choosing a DSLR Lens: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/06/choosing-a-dslr-lens-video-101/

[40] Learn How to Set Up Your DSLR Camera: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/06/learn-how-to-set-up-your-dslr-camera-video-101/

[41] The ABCs of DSLR Cameras: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/05/the-abcs-of-dslr-cameras/

[42] The 180-Degree Rule Explained: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/05/the-180-degree-rule-explained-video-101/

[43] Learn the Difference Between Frame Rate and Shutter Speed: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/05/learn-the-difference-between-frame-rate-and-shutter-speed/

[44] Getting started with Adobe After Effects: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/05/getting-started-with-adobe-after-effects-video-101/

[45] How to Create a Timelapse Movie: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/04/how-to-create-a-timelapse-movie-video-101/

[46] Preparing Your Gear for a Shoot: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/04/preparing-your-gear-for-a-shoot-video-101/

[47] Understanding Framing and Composition: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/04/understanding-framing-and-composition-video-101/

[48] Mastering Three-Point Lighting: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/04/mastering-three-point-lighting-video-101/

[49] How to Color Correct Your Videos: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/03/how-to-color-correct-your-videos/

[50] How to White Balance Your Camera: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/03/how-to-white-balance-your-camera-video-101/

[51] Learn to Hold Your Camera Like a Pro: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/03/learn-to-hold-your-camera-like-a-pro/

[52] The ABCs of Tripods: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/03/the-abcs-of-tripods-video-101/

[53] The Basics of Image Resolution: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/03/the-basics-of-image-resolution-video-101/

[54] Stop Shaky Camera Syndrome: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/02/stop-shaky-camera-syndrome-video-101/

[55] Editing with Windows Live Movie Maker: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/02/editing-with-windows-live-movie-maker-video-101/

[56] Editing with Apple iMovie: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/01/editing-with-apple-imovie-video-101/

[57] The Basics of Video Editing: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/01/the-basics-of-video-editing-video-101/

[58] How to Shoot Your Video: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/01/video-101-how-to-shoot-your-video/

[59] How to Choose a Camera: Video 101: http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/01/video-101-how-to-choose-a-camera/

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