Professional photographers depend on a wide range of gear to perform their magic, including ring lights. Of all the equipment that photographers keep in their studios, lighting is arguably the most vital for an excellent product shoot. Without the proper lighting – positioned, angled, and dimmed correctly – products can look flat, dull, unappealing to online shoppers, and won’t “pop” against a white background.
Using the right light for product photography is a sure-fire way to make sure the shoot is a roaring success, but ring lights can be tricky for beginners or intermediate photographers. These seven tips will help those who need a quick breakdown of how to do ring light photography.
1 – Use the Right Light as the key light source for product photography
Essentially, proper product photography requires a key light source, a fill light source, and maybe backlighting too. Some products will be more tricky to shoot than others, and adjusting the lighting is one way to make it easier overall. A quick rule of thumb is that a ring light works well as key lighting if photographers need to snap a direct shot of an item.
A 10-inch ring light is probably just enough to shoot average-sized products for most photographers. Although a pro-quality studio usually uses all three types of lighting to get the perfect shot, with fill lighting placed further away and at a different angle than the key lighting.
2 – Choose a Ring Light with a high CRI
Ring light with a high color rendering index (CRI) specification works best for product photography, and here’s why: it mimics full, natural sunlight.A professional product photographer knows how important it is for objects to look similar in-person and online. Otherwise, consumers may not be happy with their experience and feel duped into buying an inferior item.
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3 – Be aware of reflective surfaces when using Ring Light
Ring lights can be handy when accounting for reflective surfaces in the product. It’s commonplace to correct reflections in Photoshop, but it’s an unnecessary step if photographers snap the picture properly from the start.
Reflections will cause more shadows and may also reflect light into the camera lens, creating an artifact that software will need to correct. Jewelry photos are a perfect example of what reflective surfaces can do in a digital image file. They can easily cause glare and defeat the entire purpose of the product shoot: make the item look as gorgeous as possible. Be aware of the reflection that a Ring Light will make and position the light so that the reflection won’t be seen in the picture.
4 – Choose the right background color before taking product photos
Ideally, photographers should shoot products against a white background, but it’s not always the case, not always a hard rule. Using a ring light gives more flexibility in the shoot when the background color is white. In fact, digital marketers prefer white backgrounds since it makes it much easier to cut out the product in the image.
That’s basically how photographers create PNG files with transparent backgrounds after shooting items against a white background. But the question is this: what’s the best technique for shooting a white object on a black background? The answer depends on a photographer’s experience and how skilled they are at lighting setup, which often includes a ring light setup.
5 – Adjust the lighting for realistic colors
Digital photography is still a revolutionary technology, and it’s evolving faster than most people think. Without a doubt, ring lights are nothing relatively new, but what is new is that they’re now more affordable and have more features like dimmers.
Professional photographers know that lighting is absolutely critical to take photos with realistic colors. That’s why they often use ring lights for food photography too.What photographers don’t want to do is snap photos with fluorescent, warm light. This type of lighting can cause product photos to give off more green and blue shades than products usually do.
6 – Use bounce cards to fill-in shadows
Product photography is all about angles, which can actually change the “mood” of the picture. All products have odd angles and crevices that can create small shadows in photos. A ring light will distribute light evenly around an object, which is great for identifying where shadows hide. For example, photographers can think of shooting a Barbie doll versus a Transformer toy; each item casts shadows differently.
To compensate, photographers use bounce cards, typically sold in white and black, to take the edge off of shadows and brighten them up. The technique relies on light reflecting off of the bounce card to fill-in light.
7 – If you don’t take product photos in the same place – Invest in a portable ring light
One of the most significant benefits of ring light photography is that it’s a very portable setup. Using a ring light for product photography works well, but natural lighting is still better – but not enough for a pro shoot.
A portable ring light opens up more opportunities for photographers to ply their trade anywhere and at any time of the day. Usually, the ring light equipment itself isn’t too heavy to carry from shoot to shoot, but some models can be a little more awkward to move around than others.
In the end, no matter which ring light photographers choose, the idea is to use it creatively while remembering the basics of lighting, colors, and camera angles.