Emma Kate Dawson and The Attack Of The Ringflash

Well I wanted to shoot some more dramatic images. I had used a ringflash on a lighting course a little while ago and enjoyed the results you can get from them so I set up a shoot with the lovely Emma Kate Dawson. I got some good use out of the ringflash and a few other setups too.

There are a few different routes to go down with the ringflash idea. The cheapest is the speedlight based versions like the Orbis, but I only have a 430 speedlight and that would not give anywhere near the power required. It would also realistically only be powerful enough for fairly close shots. I had used an Elinchrom ringflash that works with their ranger powerpacks but they cost thousands of pounds. The happy medium I found was the Lencarta Safari 600 ringflash. This is a kit that includes the ringflash unit and a battery powerpack, so nice and portable.

So I did my usual trick of umming and ahhing for ages until I had a few drinks and my credit reflex is weakened enough to impulse buy. The package arrived very quickly so I got to unpacking everything, to my surprise the kit came with a really nice carry case. The ringflash unit itself is made of plastic, so it can’t take abuse like the more expensive units, but it does mean it is fairly light to handle once attached to the camera. The powerpack itself is very sturdy but small enough to strap over your shoulder, so you can shoot fully portable with it.

Setting up the ringflash couldn’t be easier, choose a shooting distance and aperture, set the power on the flash until the correct exposure is achieved and then shoot away. The first set I shot with the ringflash was a 60s style hairdresser, I thought the shiny surfaces would pop nicely in the image.

When moving in and out for the closeups the power was adjusted quickly to suit the new framing, I was using it between 1/8 and 1/4 power most of the time, recycling was just fast enough at these powers, on full power it is a few seconds.

The next set with the ringflash was flat against a textured brick wall with some good old crazy glamour outfits, shiny lycra to help the ringflash effect. These were again setup by quickly setting the flash power for the shooting distance and firing away. Once in photoshop the contrast was adjusted to crazy amounts to get the final look.

The next thing to try was mixing other light sources with the ringflash, the first go at these was a simple pair of backlights giving a defined outline to Emma, for the shot I got Emma to hold the chair with one finger then let it go, snapping the shot before the chair falls away. In the second shot Emma wanted to look really aggresive as if she was hurling the chair across the studio, so she did a full 360 and nearly did fling the chair!

With the same lights I thought of some crazy angle shots, lie the chair on the floor and get Emma to look as if she were sitting on it. Unfortunately the floor was a bit manky, sorry Emma. But it is a proper old warehouse…

The next couple of shots with the ringflash were some crazy experiments. The shots were overexposed in camera and then taken back to somewhere near a correct exposure in the raw file, loads of contrast was also added, leading to the bright, smoothed look. The second shot was into natural light, this was overexposed with the shutter speed and allowed to wrap around the model.

After all that ringflash craziness I also shot a variety of images with the traditional lights. The first were some classy lingerie shots, the lighting was simple, a large softbox to camera right and a backlight to catch the hair and give some depth.

I love the one light wonders, so I shot this with a single beauty dish and grid, loads of shadow and shape in the final image.

And Finally, some of my favorites from the day are the simplest. Casual clothes and simple lighitng. Each shot is done with a large softbox to camera right, a gridded flash as back light and a second gridded flash on the back wall.

The set can be found on here on flickr, I still have a good few more to edit…….


2 thoughts on “Emma Kate Dawson and The Attack Of The Ringflash

  1. Paul Ottey, I LOVE your work!!!

    I’m an amateur model, with minimal experience, looking to put together a versatile portfolio. I have a dance background but am currently working as a personal trainer and tennis coach in the west midlands. Self employed, so flexible hours.

    Came across your site and just had to get in touch! Do you offer time for images? Would love to shoot with you.


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