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I'm afraid your child has a case of ringflash. - Obscura
I'm afraid your child has a case of ringflash.
It was some time back in the 1980's when I first noticed a photo taken with a ringflash.  To be more specific, what I noticed was the mysterious ringed catchlights. I've wanted a ringflash ever since. Fast forward to Christmas 2009 where it's become tradition for my wife to give me photographic equipment. This year it was an Alien Bee ABR800 ringflash.

If you're going to do something, might as well do it big. I upgraded the package to include the 56" Moon Unit (octobox), and 50" ring aim through mask. I like big softboxes and haven't ever tried an octo' so it made perfect sense.

When everything showed up, a test shoot was conducted.

Flickr: 50" ringlight test

Photos were uploaded to flickr and something interesting happened.  People started commenting on the ringed catchlights.
  • "Good shot. Love the sparkle in the eyes."
  • "The ringlights create crazy catchlights..."
  • "Look at that catch light!"
  • "great shot! but I gotta say the catchlight rings make you look kinda nuts"
  • "nice portraits, but I don't like the reflections at all. creepy."
  • "Eery eyes, Nice!"
  • "the catch-light ... it is freaky"

Love'em or hate'em ringed catchlights pop.

My theory is that we're all highly tuned to recognize patterns and faces. Ringed catchlights are very un-natural and break the usual pattern throwing an alarm.

It stops there for those who don't like them. Conform or be cast out!  emoticon - wink

For others there is another instinct in play. Some have a powerful attraction to genetic diversity. The catchlights are not genetic but they do break the usual pattern and may be attractive to the kinds of folks who regularly fall for exotic and different looks.

If you're looking for a portrait that grabs attention, let's get together and make one.

Disclaimer: I made up my theories and have no authority at all in these matters.

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