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What is a Ring Light?

By Michelle Ecker on July 03, 2019

What is a Ring Light?

If you’re a photography enthusiast, you have probably heard of the ring light before. Originally developed for medical and dental professionals to use with patients, people eventually started to notice this tool’s lighting potential for the creative industries, so it was then adapted to be used by photographers and videographers as well. If you have never seen one before, its name pretty much explains its appearance- it really is just a super bright, circular light. 

If this is a piece of equipment you have never actually worked with yourself, it’s worth getting familiar. They can be used for a variety of things, some of the most common being the following: 

Emphasizing the Details 

If you have ever used one of those vanity mirrors (some people call them makeup application mirrors), that are rimmed by a bright light, you’ll understand why these lights are helpful in photography, especially when trying to bring out the intricate details in a subject. 

Due to the gear’s circular design structure, the ring light is perfect for emphasizing details in photographs and videos. Because the light is shaped like a circle, you can set it up on a tripod or stand, then position your camera right in the middle of the ring so that your lens is completely surrounded by light. By offering such comprehensive, surrounded illumination, this setup is incredibly helpful for lighting up the entirety of your subject, which naturally helps to capture small details with much more clarity. 


Again, because this lighting tool is super helpful for highlighting details, it’s also a great piece of gear to break out when you’re doing any type of macrophotography work

When shooting something very small and up close, one of the most common issues you will face is imbalanced lighting and shadows. Ring lights are great tools for circumnavigating this and providing evenly dispersed light for your macro subjects. 

Creating Unique Color Effects 

If you have ever seen a unique shot that seemed to be illuminated in a fun color like purple or blue- you might have assumed that the color effect was a post-production photoshop application. 

However, it’s quite possible that you were looking at a RAW image in which the artist simply swapped out the white bulbs in his or her ring light in place of a colored alternative. Ring lights are a very common tool used by photographers who are looking to experiment with color effects without having to apply them artificially in photoshop.

Want to Learn More About Camera Gear? 

If you are new to the photography field, you’ll find you can do a lot more with your creative vision if you learn more than simply how to use a DSLR camera. The more you can learn about and master the use of different lighting rigs and alternative gear set-ups, the more variety you will be able to create in your images. For more tips on gear options and how to use them, check out this blog