Transform your portraits with the special “Ring of Fire” effect

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Chances are you’ve heard of the “Ring of Fire,” a technique popularized by wedding and portrait photographer Sam Hurd. Ring of Fire is a special effects technique that uses a piece of copper tubing to reflect light and create glowing light in the shape of a ring. This technique has been widely adopted, and creating this effect for yourself is quite easy. Today I’m going to walk through the steps to transform your portraits using the famous Ring of Fire technique.

This is a preview of SLR Lounge Premium’s upcoming Special Effects Photography course. Don’t forget to check out the entire premium library and stay tuned! Let’s jump straight to what we’ll need for the Ring of Fire.

  1. Bronze tube, available at any hardware store. The ideal size is 2 “in length and 1-1.5” in diameter.
  2. Blinking. I recommend two for best results.
  3. A wide angle lens.

For our tutorial today, I will be using the Canon EOS R5 with the RF 28-70mm f / 2.

Step # 1: Position Your Subjects

The first step is to place your subjects where you will take the photo. I had my subjects in front of a simple wall lit by a large window right next to the camera.

Step 2: define your exposure settings

I adjust the exposure depending on how I want my shadows to appear in the final image. The final settings were 1/200 second, f / 2, ISO 200.

Step 3: place your flashes

Place your flashes about four feet behind each subject. Keep the height of the flashes below their shoulders and tilt the lights inward to illuminate the opposite person. I used two Profoto A10s with MagMod CTO gels to warm up.

Step 4: Fine tune your flash power

I recommend starting on low power and working your way up to your ideal brightness. Also make sure to keep the lights completely behind the subjects to avoid such flares.

Step 5: Photograph the Ring of Fire

Now let’s bring in the bronze tube. Just hold it in front of the camera and move it around to capture different reflections. What creates this effect is the light from the flashes reflecting inside the tube. This creates the iconic ring-shaped rocket that we see. You can use your flash’s modeling light to guide you while shooting.

Make sure to film this at your biggest opening. Not only does this help with stray light and depth, but since you’re holding the tube in front of the lens, you’ll want to make sure your hands are completely out of focus.

Images of Lin and Jirsa

From there you can have fun with this easy and amazing effect! Here are some of our final images, edited with Visual Flow’s Mood preset pack.

Conclusion

Hope you enjoyed this article / video. This technique is a fantastic way to completely transform your portraits. Be sure to check out Sam Hurd, the photographer who popularized this amazing effect. For more education from A to Z like this, be sure to check out our SLR Lounge Premium library. Here you can stay tuned for our upcoming Special Effects Photography Course! Thanks for reading!

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