With this ring…

Ring heart shadow and 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.
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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.

(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

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

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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.

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

Convert your heart shadow still life to black & white
Taking the colour out of a shot will add the fine art feel that you’re looking for

1 Exposure
We used Adobe Camera Raw, but any photo editing software will do if you didn’t shoot raw format files. First open the image and make exposure adjustments to get the best overall exposure. Pay attention to the white balance and give the image a warm feel by increasing the colour temperature.


2 Greyscale
Click the HSL/Greyscale tab and click the Convert to Greyscale checkbox to convert the image to mono. In the Greyscale Mix tab, click on Default to return the sliders to the centre so there’s no adverse effects of colour cast.

3 Mix it up
Click each of the small triangles at the top of the Histogram box to show shadow and highlight clipping. Now adjust the Greyscale Mix sliders to clip the shadows (pixels turn blue) but avoid clipping highlights.



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