You’ve likely already heard of the “Ring of Fire,” a special effects photography technique popularized by famous photographer, Sam Hurd. It’s a visual trick that uses a piece of copper tube and light to create a highlight reflection. It’s fairly easy to replicate and has been widely adopted by photographers worldwide. The results are beautiful and make for visually stunning photographs. In this video, I’ll be walking through the steps to create your own “Ring of Fire.”

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Video: Special Effects Photography With the Ring Of Fire Technique

If you’ve been following along “Master Your Craft,” you’ve likely seen our Shutter Drag Portrait tutorial. This is a glimpse into SLR Lounge Premium’s upcoming special effects photography course. We’ll be diving into how we do our signature portrait looks in a complete A-Z guide so stay tuned. Today, I’ll be showing you our take on the “Ring of Fire.” Let’s jump straight into what you’ll need:

  1. Bronze tube. You can get one at a local hardware store. I prefer 2″ long and 1-1.5″ in diameter.
  2. Flashes (2 recommended)
  3. A wide angle prime-like lens (24-35mm)

For our tutorial today, I’ll be using the Canon EOS R5 with the RF 28-70mm f/2.

Step #1: Place Your Subjects

First, I placed my subjects in front of the plain wall. They’ll be mainly lit by the large window just off camera-right.

Step #2: Dial In Your Exposure

1/200 sec, f/2, ISO 200

Following the C.A.M.P. framework, I began with the composition and ambient exposure. I had my subjects facing each other directly in the center of the frame. Then, I lowered the exposure, keeping in mind how I want the shadows to appear.

Step #3: Add In Your Flash

special effects photography setting up the flash

I used two Profoto A10 flashes with MagMod CTO Gels to add warmth to the lights. Place the lights about 4 feet behind each subject. Keep the height below their shoulders and angle the lights so they cross to the other person.

Step #4: Set Your Flash Power

special effects photography flash position

Start with low power and work your way up until you get to your desired brightness. Make sure the lights are fully hidden behind your subjects.

Step #5: The Bronze Tube

Bring in the bronze tube and hold it in front of your camera. Keep in mind that you should be shooting with a wide open aperture. This isn’t only for the flare and depth, but blur out your hands holding the tube. What creates this effect is a little bit of the flash reflecting off the inside of the tube. This creates the iconic flare that we see. I recommend using your flash’s modeling light to guide you as you shoot. Move the tube around to play with the shape and angle of the ring effect.

special effects photography final images ring of fire

After that, photograph away! Check out some of our final images, edited with Visual Flow’s Mood preset pack.


I hope you enjoyed this article/video. This technique is a fantastic way to completely transform your portraits. Be sure to check out Sam Hurd, the photographer who popularized this incredible effect. For more A-Z education like this, be sure to check out our SLR Lounge Premium Library. Here, you can stay tuned for our upcoming course on special effects photography!

Don’t miss our next episode of Mastering Your Craft on Adorama’s YouTube channel next week! If you want to catch up on all the episodes, make sure you check out our playlist!