Ring heart shadows: how to make fine art photos you’ll love

Ring heart shadows: how to make fine art photos you'll love

Ring heart shadow pictures are some of the most commonly bought stock photos and a staple of greeting cards. In this simple still life photography tutorial we show you how to set up and light your own ring heart shadows from the comfort of your living room.

Ring heart shadows: how to make fine art photos you'll love

Clever lighting will make your images stand out as fine art photography. Using shadows to create pleasing shapes and tones is an exciting form of fine art expression. Here we’ve managed to reproduce a classic heart shadow effect by placing a ring between the pages of an open book.

How does the heart shadow effect work? Well, using a single desk-lamp to light the ring from behind results in the shadow forming a heart shape as it falls on the curved pages in the fold of the pages.

Normally, on a flat surface the ring would cast an oval shape depending on where the lamp was positioned – a long oval from a low angle and a smaller squat oval from a high angle.

In itself this can be a great standalone shot, but we’ve taken it one step further to create real fine art.

Experimentation with different shaped objects and various backdrops with irregular shapes can throw up some very artistic shadows.

The bonus of this still life photography technique is that using lighting this way doesn’t require as much post processing using toning and texture Layers, as the impact is provided by the atmospheric and moody lighting.

Setting up your ring heart shadow still life

To get the best shadow possible use a powerful bulb and place it more than a few feet away from the ring. Darken the room by drawing the curtains.

Setting up your ring heart shadow still life

(Right) Elevate the lamp slightly by placing it on something to enable the shadow to form a tight heart shape.

(Left) Shoot the ring and shadow from slightly above and at a shallow angle so the shadow is well defined.

Get the best composition

Setting up your ring heart shadow: keep it upright

Wrong ring
Although it still makes a heart shadow, keep the ring upright for the best effect.

Setting up your ring heart shadow: don't frame it too tight

Too tight
Make sure you leave plenty of space around the ring and shadow to allow for various crops.

Square crop
Don’t forget to crop square (as we’ve done in our final image at the top of this page) or try to balance the image symmetrically using the crop marks in Photoshop.

PAGE 1: How to set up and light your ring heart shadow still life
PAGE 2: Convert your heart shadow still life to black & white for a timeless effect


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