Rick ordered an “o flash” online and decided I was a good test subject for his first shoot with it.
An “O flash” or “ring flash” is a ring of light that fits around the lens of the camera. Here is a picture to illustrate.
As you can see, the o-flash can be attached to the camera which makes it a popular choice for photographers at festivals or on the move as they do not have to carry bulky softboxes (those big square boxes on stands covered in sand bags and often with wires connecting to a generator or plug point) or beauty dishes (those big satellite looking lights.)
The advantage of a ring flash or “o flash” is that it distributes light towards the subject at the same angle that the camera is shooting the subject – it is attached to the camera so cannot be 45 degrees more to the left than the “line of capture” for the camera etc – the ringlash/o-flash will always send out light waves parallel to the light waves bouncing back onto the lens.
This illumination would be the enemy of a photographer trying to create mood and feeling through high contrast and dark shadows -but for the photographer hoping to catch as much detail as possible – it is ideal.
Now where the o-flash and ring flash can especially shine is in portraiture. Faces are tricky things to light well, noses can make odd shadows, and brow bones often cast shadow into the iris of the eye, causing the eye colour to appear darkened and dulled. Many photographers restore brightness with photoshop, but there is only so far that most images can be pushed before they start to look like they are stolen from low budget beauty catalogues. The down side of all of this illumination is that without shadows the face can appear flat or one dimensional – but I’m all for variety – and in this case eye focus – when it comes to photography.
When Rick unpacked his “o-flash” and asked if he could take a picture of my eyes I was so excited I literally jumped up and down. Most photographs I appear in show very little of the colour of my eyes – I have pretty strong bone structure (so easily made shadows) and without light shining directly into my eyes they tend to look dark blue/grey.
This shot was originally going to be a crop of my eyes only, as a result I paid zero attention to what my mouth was doing, didn’t really apply makeup to the rest of my face save for some hurriedly applied and later nibbled lipstick (cause eye make-up looks weird without lipstick) .
Rick went for a wider crop because he felt it worked better with the image and his chosen text and the layout – and I’m ok with that because it shows off more of the awesome bokeh that we see appearing from the Ritz behind me.
There is a full lighting setup explaingin the distances and the other light Rick used on this post on his website. There is also a video where Rick explains how he lit the shot while Adam and I play silent supporting roles – mine being the role of “manic smiler.”
One really cool thing about the ringlash/o – flash is that you can tell when one is used by the “o” that appears in the pupil of the subject. In fact with beauty shoots, if you look carefully at the model’s pupil’s you can generally work out the lighting setup for the shoot – so long as the eyes are not photoshopped to hide the reflections.
You should definitely take a look at this photo in its original enormous size on Rick’s flickr to take in the detail and the unique lighting (and pupil reflection.)
Here’s a behind the scenes shot taken by Adam Rhoades. You can see the Ritz (which is where the awesome bokeh comes from) Rick taking his photo, and me trying to keep my eyes wide open and my face as neutral as possible in the wind.
Tell me what you think… and if you haven’t seen the main image before, it probably means you aren’t following me on Twitter or Facebook – which would be a good thing to do if you want to keep up to date with my shenanigans.