I am a big fan of the ring flashes I have used in the past, so when I got the opportunity to try the Orbis Ring Flash Diffusing Attachment produced by Enlight Photo I was really excited. I am primarily a commercial photographer and spend a lot of my time shooting beauty images both for editorial and advertising use. I decided to try a variety of beauty looks with the Orbis ring to see how it measures up. For this test I paired the Orbis ring with my LumoPro 120.
For those who have not yet tried a ring flash, the basic design is a ring extension that attaches to an off-camera flash. When you fire your flash the light travels through the ring and out through the diffusion on the front. Your lens is placed in the center of the ring so that you are shooting straight through it, creating a very even lighting effect on your subject.
It was a little tough at first to get the arm attached and the flash positioned correctly with the lens, but I persevered until I got everything working correctly. The main drawback I found right away was that with a long lens, the metal arm, and my camera itself, the overall set up was very heavy. I grabbed my tripod and secured everything as tightly as I could. This worked fine, but the next time I use the Orbis ring I will try using a smaller lens like the 24-70mm.
This is a very busy time of year for me, and I needed to put this shoot together quickly. I was lucky to work with Krisztina from Exalt Model and Talent Agency and talented makeup and hair artist Aimee Lam. My friend Rebecca Herem was also on hand to help with setup and to stand in for test shots. We chose to do a warm makeup look with soft waves in the hair — perfect for the fall weather that has just reached the Bay Area.
To start, we headed outside of the studio to shoot with the last of the day’s available light. Next to the building is a long alleyway overgrown with ivy, which is a great spot for portraits. As it was late in the day the light was fading fast. The Orbis flash did a nice job of supplementing the available sunlight and adding just a kiss of extra light to the exposure.
Due to the round shape of the ring and the diffusion on the front, the result was flattering and soft. I was very happy that even though the flash was firing straight into Krisztina’s face, there were no harsh shadows or blown out skin tones. I can definitely see myself using the Orbis ring in the future when I am trying to work with fading light on location.
Next we headed into the studio to try a more dramatic look. In the past I have enjoyed using a ring flash with a black backdrop as it helps the model to really pop out from the background and also reduces the halo effect that the ring flash creates. We used a fan to give a little movement to Krisztina’s hair and added a glitzy top. I got the glamorous and sexy look I was going for, but I did find that I couldn’t back up too much as the flash I was using did not have enough power from farther away. If I try this look again with the Orbis ring I will try using a more powerful flash unit (and one that recycles faster since no one wants to stand around waiting on batteries).
For the next look I wanted to try mixing the Orbis ring with additional strobes. I set up the ring as the key light and then added two accent lights to both give a backlit effect, and to reduce the halo that comes with using a ring light. I also chose a vibrant light blue backdrop to bring out the blue in Krisztina’s eyes.
The Orbis ring worked great as a key light, and I was very pleased with the soft and creamy exposure on the skin. The bright, diffused output of the ring is perfect for a high-key beauty shot, and I will definitely use it again in this way for future shoots.
With the last look I wanted to go for something really bold. One advantage of a strong specular light is that it makes colors pop more than they do with natural light and standard strobes. I chose to work with a beautiful bright pink backdrop from Drop it MODERN, and Aimee added a fun and colorful makeup look to complement the color pallet. We added a pink accessory to Krisztina’s hair and we were ready to go.
I placed Krisztina right in front of the backdrop to make sure that the beautiful velvet details would come through. Being this close to the background there was no way to prevent the halo effect, but in these images it didn’t bother me. The specular light from the Orbis ring helped to accentuate Krisztina’s bone structure and add a nice highlight on her cheekbones. As I hoped, the colors popped, and I was very happy with the resulting images.
Overall I was very pleased with how the ring flash performed. Once I find a more powerful flash that can keep up with me I will definitely be adding the Orbis flash to my lighting arsenal. When I need to shoot full length with lots of power I will likely stay with the ring flashes I have used in the past. But for beauty looks from the shoulders up, whether in studio or on location, the Orbis flash will be my go-to tool.
Laura Tillinghast started making art at a young age, discovering photography as her true passion in college. From that point on she has never put her camera down. Shooting primarily advertising and editorial content, you never know what you will find in front of her lens. Also an educator, Laura holds a series of popular photo workshops that focus on the fundamentals of lighting. Check out her online portfolio here: https://lauratillinghast.com/