Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Birth of a Ring Lord?

I've never been a big fan of ring lights. Why? For one, those doughnut-shaped catch-lights don't do much for me as they, often enough, look strangely alien to my eye.

Having said that, I should also mention I've never shot with a ring light. My perception of ring lights is based, wholly, on my reactions to the work of others who use, or have used, ring lights as part of their bag of (lighting) tricks.

But now that I own a Zeus lighting system, I figure it might be a good time for me to take the ring light plunge.

So I am-- plunging, that is.

I've ordered a ZEUS™ ZRM1 RingMaster ring light from Paul C. Buff.

Some of you, those who read this blog regularly, might have noticed I've purchased a fair amount of gear lately. In the past few months, I've bought three new lenses, two of them Canon "L" glass, a bunch of new grip and lighting gear, plus a pair of PocketWizard Plus II Transceivers as well as the new, PW, Flex TT5.

Not that I need to 'splayne, Lucy, but I will mention that I didn't go to Vegas and hit big on a slot machine. I haven't won a LOTTO payout. I wasn't given a new credit card. (I'm a cash guy-- I don't use credit cards.) No one died and left me money.

What's happened is this: The last 4 or 5 months have been very good to me, work-wise. Since I don't live a lavish lifestyle--that's a BIG understatement--coupled with my recent upturn in income, I've put some of this money back into gear. "Get it while you can" is my motto. Well, one of my mottos.

To help put things in perspective, the 3 or 4 months prior to the recent 4 or 5 months were kinda bleak and desolate in terms of work and income. During that period, I sold a bunch of gear, mostly grip. Fortunately, it was surplus grip gear I no longer had much use for due to the fact I no longer had a studio to equip.

But that was then and this is now and now I've bought myself, amongst other things, a ring light.

Personally, I consider ring lights as being fill lights. Yeah, I know, they're certainly used as key or main lights often enough, most notably by fashion photographers. I'll probably use mine as such from time to time but, for the most part, I see it as fill.

Since I also have an ExplorerXT portable power system, I'll be able to take my Zeus lighting system, including the ring light, most anywhere.

When shooting daylight exteriors, I'll sometimes be using the ring light as a powerful, on-axis, harsh-shadow-busting, e-z setup, fill light: Like on a beach, in the desert, up in the mountains, most anywhere. I'll also be incorporating the ring light's use into the PGS DVD that begins actual production in the next few weeks.

By adding to the ring light's use a second light source--yeah, the ExplorerXT can power multiple lighting sources, within reason--and/or perhaps some reflectors, scrims, whatever, I should be able to nicely capture some pretty girls in all kinds of environments where A/C isn't available and natural light just isn't going to cut it, leastwise, my versions of cutting it.

I'm fairly excited to have all these new capabilities. Not as excited as I am for simply and recently being able to afford new extravagances like my Zeus pack-n-heads system, the glass and the grip gear, the PWs, as well as the ring light, but excited nonetheless.

Money ain't the key to happiness but poverty ain't either.

The pretty girl at the top is Chloe from a month or so ago. I shot Chloe in a simple, straight-forward manner, in-studio on a white cyc, i.e., a white cyclorama. And yes, those chest puppies are all natural. No bolt-ons for Chloe!

Post Script: I'm probably done buying gear for a while. One possible exception: Another Pelican case to safely store and transport the Zeus system, including the ring light. I'll be keeping an eye on Craigslist for an appropriate-size Pelican. Pelican cases can take extreme abuse! They also float! (They are nearly, if not completely, air-tight and water-tight.) Used, beat-up, Pelican cases are often good as new in terms of functionality.


JB said...

Ring as fill, thank god someone else will vocalize that one. Give it a shot with a little of 1/2 stop frost on it, and it can be a great accent. I look forward to your experiments (and posts) about it.

Gary said...

I was supposed to shoot Chloe before she moved down to Vegas last month but it fell through, I am glad to see your picture it proves to me what I believed which was she was better looking than the images I had seen of her before.

As for ring flash I love mine, I have used it for a main and for a fill. I actually learned a bit of that from watching a video on Jill Greenberg's lighting where she uses it as a fill along with her 6 or so lights.

Anonymous said...

The good thing about having the gear now is that you are ready for whatever happens in the future, and if the pretty girl shooting requires some more extravaganza than usual you won´t be needing to keep spending on renting gear, also this means that you have a lot of backup lighting gear which is always good!!

Great investments if you ask me :)

I´m really happy to see things have turned out for the best for you!!

My best wishes


Bill Giles said...

The nice thing about the ZRM1 is that it doesn't have to be just a ring light. It can be that or it can be on axis fill or, with the Moon Units, it can be many things. The biggest drawbacks to the Moon Units is the time that it takes to set up and tear down. Watch out for the flash tubes, they can break fairly easily. One of mine broke in transit, but was replaced promptly by PCB.

jimmyd said...

@Bill Giles,

Thanks for the heads-up. I assume it's customary to store the unit with the front diffuser attached as it doubles as protection for the flash tubes?

Bill Giles said...

I do normally store mine with the reflector and diffuser on them. I have the PCB storage bags that they fit in. There are two flash tubes in each head and they are large and fragile. No more so than any other, but a jar to the shipping box can cause them to break without leaving obvious damage marks to the box. I have a couple of spare tubes, but I am more than a little bit cautious with the ring heads.