Artistic shadows: create a classic ring heart shadow on a book image

Watch video: Create a ring heart shadow

One way of creating stylish fine art images is by using clever lighting techniques to make interesting shapes with shadows. 

‘Ring heart’ shadow pictures are some of the most commonly bought stock photos and a staple of greeting cards, and in this project we’ll show you how to recreate the classic ring heart shadow effect by placing a ring between the pages of an open book.

The effect is achieved by positioning a single light source behind the ring so that it casts a shadow on the pages, with the curves of the open book distorting the shadow so that it becomes heart-shaped rather than oval. 

The exact shape of the shadow will vary depending on several factors, including the power and positioning of the light and the position of the ring and your camera, so you’ll need to play around with the setup to get the effect you want. 

01 Shine a light

(Image credit: Future)

For the best results, position a powerful light source behind the book. We used a small Manfrotto LED light, but an angle-poise desk lamp works well too.

02 Position and composition

(Image credit: Future)

Although lying the ring down flat across the pages of the book is the easiest way to create the heart shadow effect, positioning the ring upright will give you a more pronounced heart shape. Make sure that you leave plenty of space around the ring and its shadow, so that you can crop the image to create the desired composition. 

03 Shape the shadow

(Image credit: Future)

Elevate the light source so that the shadow forms a tight 'heart' shape, and shoot the setup from slightly above at a shallow angle to ensure that the shadow is well defined.

04 Depth of field

(Image credit: Future)

To ensure that both the ring and shadow are in focus, set a mid-range aperture such as f/5.6. Use Live View to help you compose and focus your shot.

More videos: 

Photography tips and techniques videos
Levitation photography: how to make objects float
iPad photography hacks: Creative lighting ideas for cheap photography projects

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Hollie Latham

Hollie Latham-Hucker is a former Technique Editor of PhotoPlus magazine. With a degree in Design Photography from the University of Plymouth, she is currently working as the Technique Editor of Amateur Photographer.