I've been reading reviews and discussions about ring lights on strobist.com for quite a while now, and finally bought my own Orbis Ring Flash (orbisflash.com) a number of weeks ago.
I thought it would be an ultraportable way to get a good fill with soft shadows without schlepping an umbrella and light stand out of my travel case. I’ve been using it on assignments and projects for the last month and it proved itself to be even more versatile than I imagined.
Here are three recent examples of applications where it proved its value to me. In this first picture I had the ring flash tethered to my camera’s flash shoe with an extension cord and was walking around a clinic taking staged pictures of medical practitioners working with patients.
In the past, I had used a flash with a Stoffen diffuser and had to play around with the mixture of bounce light and direct light to get the best effect from a single flash held in my left hand while I operated the camera with my right hand. Now, I either just shoot through the donut hole in the middle of the Orbis, or hand hold it a bit off to the side to create some shadow. As you can see, the fill is soft. This is a very efficient set up for relatively close shooting.
In this next set up, I shot a family portrait in the sanctuary of a synagogue. I had an assistant hand holding a flash with a small attached soft box off to camera right as the key light, and I was holding the Orbis to use as fill. This shot proved to be tricky because the mother is standing in the rear and was falling into deep shadows. The arrangement that worked best was for me to shoot directly through the donut hole of the Orbis.
Finally, here’s an outdoor portrait of my friend Morey. He was in the shade and my assistant stood at camera right with a 24” gold reflector bouncing sun light back onto Morey’s face. I held the Orbis to camera left with a ¼ CTO gel over the flash. The combination of the two light sources worked well together to make Morey’s face almost glow.