Each month we highlight a certain item in Profoto’s rich assortment of Light Shaping Tools. Previous entries have focused on the Umbrella XL, the HR Lantern, the Softlight Reflector and the Softbox 3×4’ RF. This time we will take a closer look at the ProRing 2.
The ProRing 2 is what is known as a ring flash. A ring flash is exactly what the name suggests – a ring-shaped flash. Some of you might ask what that is good for, but there is no simple answer to that. Fashion and portrait photographers use it when they want a direct and detailed key light without harshness. Some simply use it because it is mounted on the camera, which in turn makes you a lot more mobile. Others use it because they love the unique catch light it creates. There are also photographers like Kristofer Lönnå, who use the ProRing 2 in a way that we honestly did not think about when we first launched it.
“I like to create images that are staged, properly planned and a little bit weird,” says Kristofer. “I don’t want my images to look like realistic snapshots. I want them to be like emotional events. That’s why I shoot with studio strobes. I need to be in full control.”
How does the ProRing 2 help you with that?
“As you can tell, I work a lot with postproduction. The ProRing 2 creates an incredibly unrealistic and flat light, which is actually perfect when you want to create images like the ones I do.”
“Because the less contrasts you have in your raw image, the more room you have to play with curves and contrasts in Photoshop. If, on the other hand, the raw image is rich in contrast, then it’s very hard to achieve this kind of almost cartoonish look without also destroying parts of the image. In that respect, the ProRing 2 does give you a lot more control over the end result.”
If you are unsure what Kristofer means by an emotional event, cartoonish look or artificially created contrasts, take a closer look at his images. All three images in this article are also great examples of Kristofer’s signature lighting set-up – using the ProRing 2 as his key light with a well-defined rim light around his subjects.
“The first image was shot for Prosharp,” says Kristofer. “It is a company that makes skate sharpeners. As you can imagine, most companies in this business focuses purely on images of sliding ice-skaters so this ad was actually quite successful. I also think it is a nice example of the flat light and artificial contrasts that I mentioned earlier.”
So how did you set the light?
“I used four lights. The ProRing 2 is obviously mounted on the camera, which results in this nice fall off around the subject. I like that. Then there are two lights with Magnum Reflectors behind him, one on each side, coming in from a 45° angle. They create the rim light around him, which kind of makes him pop out of the image. To get that effect, the rim light needs to be stronger than the light from the ProRing 2. Otherwise the ProRing 2 just kills the rim light. Finally, there’s a Softbox 2×3’ RF to the left. I didn’t want the image to be completely flat, and the softbox does give him a bit more light on the left side, without creating any shadows. Still, if you take a look at the raw image, it’s quite flat and boring. But that’s what it takes for me to be able to create an end result like this.”
I’m a little surprised that it is not a montage.
“Almost everything was shot as it appears. Even the skates in the front, which I admit do look kind of fake. I don’t work much with montages. I enjoy planning and building the set so I usually try to make it as complete as possible from the start. Well, now that I think of it, the glasses were actually added later!”
What about the other images? Can you tell us how they were lit?
“That’s actually pretty easy, as they were all shot almost exactly the same way.”
Does that mean the sunlight in the third image is fake?
“Yes. You know, I love photography, but it’s just as fun to create this fantasy world afterwards. To be able to create environments and events that you just don’t see in real life – to me that’s magic. And without the Pro Ring 2, without the flat light and subtle contrasts it creates, I wouldn’t have been able to work the way I do.”
You can read even more about the ProRing 2 here. Note that a few accessories are also available, namely the Softlight Reflector for Ring Flash, the Widesoft Reflector for Ring Flash, the Close-Up Reflector for Ring Flash and the ProRing Diffusor (Kristofer prefers the silver version).
Written by Fredrik Franzén
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