The Ring Light Portrait Revisited with HDR

I’ve been a big fan of photographing with a ring light, since I picked one up at a convention a couple of years ago.  It gives a very distinctive catchlight in the eyes and can really have striking results.

I decided to try something slightly different last week. I had seen some folks online doing HDR-type images with their ring lights.  Basically, they would bracket exposures and combine them – just like people do with landscape HDR images.  I figured I would give it a whirl and tried out a few look.

HDR Ring Light Portrait Model

Take One

This first image was done on white seamless paper.  I placed the model right in front of the paper and had the ring light a couple of feet in front of her.  It was essentially lighting the subject and background the same. The blue eyes really jumped out against the plain background.

I took the image into Topaz and filtered it with Adjust and ReStyle, getting this cool retro look.  It reminded me of a 70s album cover. Definitely a unique look.

Against The Wall

HDR Ring Light Portrait Model

For the next image, we moved against a white wall, resulting in a little bit of texture in the background.  We stayed with a high key look and casual pose.  I decided to not process this image as much – going with a more high fashion look.  I loved the brightness and clarity that the ring light provides.

It can be tricky to get the exposure just right, but when it works, the results are very nice. It just takes some experimentation to determine which backgrounds and subjects work best with it.  Some folks look fantastic under these lights and others just don’t quite work.

All About Options

I’m always looking for new ways to create portraits and I think this will definitely be a technique I go back to from time to time.  It will certainly be a staple in my senior photography sessions because it can lead to some fabulously creative images.

What do you think?  Do you like the look?


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