The ‘Ringflash’ a has always been associated with fashion and glamour photography, traditionally they have been an expensive luxury for many photographers, preferring to hire rather than buy.
But now that Bowens have introduced the new Ringlite Converter as a standard ‘S’ type accessory it means that for the first time, photographers can get that Ringflash look at a very affordable price.
At first glance the Ringlite Converter is smaller than you would expect, nicely designed and very well finished typical Bowen’s quality. When I first saw it I didn’t think that it would be big enough to shoot full length and get that even coverage one associates with a Ringflash.
Rather than having its own circular flash tube, like the Bowens Pro version the Ringlite attaches on to any Bowens head and uses the power of that flash tube, a very neat idea. Basically when the head flashes, the light is captured within the circular shape of the Ringlite and beautifully diffused and projected to give a nice, slightly crisp and even output over a very wide area.
To give you some facts about it, the diffused circle of the Ringlite is about 22cm in diameter with an inner aperture for the camera of just under 10cm. The whole thing is only 35cm high and 8cm deep. On the back part of the Ringlite is the standard Bowens ‘S’ adaptor attached to the body via three screws. The adaptor has a series of pre-engineered holes so that its position can be altered to adapt the Ringlite to fit any Bowens head. The Ringlite also comes with two chunky metal brackets to support the camera, one horizontal and one vertical. They attach easily via two large screws on the back of the Ringlite to support the camera. This really is the key part of the Ringlite, being able to shoot with the camera lens inside the aperture of the Ringlite, with the output around and in front of the lens.
Because the Bowens Ringlite is so slim, only 8cm, you have to remove the modelling lamp of any flash head before it can be attached. Working without a modelling lamp with this kind of accessory presents no problem at all, by taking some meter readings around the background and on the subject it’s very easy to get started.
I took some shots in Chris Reeve’s studio, first using a black then a white background to give it a thorough test. I used a Bowens Esprit 500DX, (a mid range power) for this test and after removing the modelling lamp and fitting the Ringlite via the ‘S’ adaptor, I then attached my camera onto the vertical bracket, adjusting it so that it was neatly inside the Ringlite aperture.
I took some meter readings over the black background to check the evenness of the output. I set my flash meter (a Sekonic L308) at 200 ISO at 125th of a second and adjusted the power to work around f8. I found the output incredibly even over an area of around 2.5 metres in diameter, plenty to shoot full length stuff. As I said, I was surprised and impressed just how even the output is for such a small accessory.
For this shoot, I was lucky to work with Morgana, a model Chris and I have used before and I started shooting a series of shots on a black background. As you can see using an 85mm lens I was able to shoot head and shoulders and three quarter very easily. The slight ‘fringing’, the shadowing around the subject is a characteristic of any Ringflash and can be easily controlled. Shooting Morgana further forward gets more fringing and then moving Morgana back against the background, much less, so you can easily get the effect you want. I shot most of these images at f8, my preferred aperture and as you can see the coverage from the Ringlite is extremely even.
After shooting the first series of images against black, I changed the background to white to do some full length shots. Again, the fringing I mentioned can give really nice effects and I shot some with Morgana close to the background and some with her further forward. Nearly all these shots were taken with a 50mm lens at around f8. I think you will agree the Ringlite gives wonderful results considering that I shot all of these images with just one light.
The applications of the Ringlite converter are huge and for those of you who have Bowens Gemini’s and Travel Pak’s, you will be able to take the Ringlite out of the studio and shoot fashion stuff on location. Inside the studio the Ringlite can be used for all types of portraiture, certainly head and shoulders and group work.
I shot these images with a mid range Bowens 500DX with the power around three quarters. You could use a 250, but anything smaller may not cover quite so well.
I mentioned earlier it was affordable, at a price of around £290.00 the Bowens Ringlite Converter really is exceptional value, given the quality of the light it produces. So if you fancy moving into fashion, don’t hesitate in buying a Ringlite, it will transform your work!
As usual, my thanks to Chris Reeve at www.reevebanks.co.uk for his help and support.
Also to our model Morgana whose work can be seen at her own website www.threnodyinvelvet.com.
If you have any questions about the Bowens Ringlite Converter or other flash topics, drop me an email.