Lighting Expert: Simon Ellingworth

Last year Simon Ellingworth was a finalist in the International iPhone Photography AwardsMobile Photography Awards & Professional Photographer of the Year, last year he was runner up in Professional Photographer of the Year and Sony World Photography Awards. [selected from 121,000 images from 171 countries]

Simon is founder of photography education blog based upon the premise ‘buying a better camera won’t make you a better photographer’ aimed at smart phone, tablet, GoPro and traditional photographers called Lightism.  His easy to follow tutorials have been published by some of the biggest blogs in the world. 

            The Hideout - iPhone Photography Awards 2007 Develop Your Photography the Easy Way  Develop Your Photography the Easy Way Develop Your Photography the Easy Way
Lightism is gaining a huge global following and contacts 10 free lessons and loads of super simplified photography articles even your Dad would understand.


I LOVE ringlights, with their clean shadowless studio look and their distinctive reflection in the subject’s eyes.
However, it’s not really my photographic style because I love the shadows and the questions that lay within them.

I prefer to use light as another currency, like depth of field.
I want to direct your eye to what I feel is important in my picture, so even lighting just isn’t me…sorry!

So, you might be wondering, what on earth I’m doing on a ringlight site?

Ringlights are super flexible light modifiers and not perhaps the one trick pony you thought they were.



If you want the classic ringlight look here’s what you do:

a) Place your model flat against a wall for that halo shadow, or in the middle of a dark room for a black back ground.
b) Pop your lens in the middle and get in close
c) Use the ring light as your main light or even the only source of light

…But that’s only half the story; like saying a pencil is good for writing with, when in fact it’s much more fun to draw

Once you take the ring flash off camera and start to think of it as a softbox or fill light, a new world opens up to you.
You can light just part of the picture, give the main element that little kick of white fizzy light that shows you’ve taken control of your picture and used light to punctuate it.

Mixing RoundFlash with Natural Light - the Collapsible Ring Ligh


This was an impromptu shot whilst freelancing for Big Issue Magazine at one of their charity benefits.  The organisers wanted a great shot of these London based musicians and this sort of setup is quick, easy and won’t let you down.

The window is providing the main source of light and you can simply ignore the girl to start with and meter for the man. A quick test shot at this point would show that the girl is dark, but not quite a silhouette.

I hand held the ringlight in my left hand level with my head and then rotated my hand, so only the bottom section of the light caught her face.  It was important not to light her lower body.

The flash is been triggered by a cheap eBay Yongnuo wireless trigger and the flash is in manual mode and set at 1/3 of full power.  Take a test shot and the increase the flashes power to get the effect you’re after.

This setup is really very simple and yet will get you a sophisticated two light look.

All Images Copyright Simon Ellingworth

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