Smorthit K, Sandler J Tricks of the trade: benefits of backlighting. Orthod Update. 2022; 15:154-155

Flattering flash for facial photographs

From Volume 17, Issue 3, July 2024 | Pages 121-122


Maab Benashur

BDS (Hons)

Dental Core Trainee, Leeds General Infirmary

Articles by Maab Benashur

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Naeem I Adam

BDS (Hons), PgCert MedEd, MSc, MOrth, FDS (Orth)

Post-CCST in Orthodontics, Leeds Dental Institute, Chesterfield Royal Hospital, St Luke’s Hospital, Bradford

Articles by Naeem I Adam

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CPD/Clinical Relevance: This Trick shows how to optimise the use of a ring flash in portrait photography.


Excellent clinical photography is pivotal in achieving the highest standards of orthodontic treatment. It provides an accurate record of the starting malocclusion as well as the ministrations of the clinician. It can also facilitate communication between professionals and with patients. Optimising clinical photography allows the clinician to better capture what has been achieved and, even more importantly, portray what they are able to achieve for their patients.

Dental photography requires a camera body, a macro lens, and a flash. Ring flashes are most commonly used and provide the copious light required for sharp intra-oral photographs taken using a narrow aperture and fast shutter speed. They are less ideal for portrait photography, which requires the ample diffuse light provided by offcamera flash setups using soft boxes or lighting umbrellas.

As described by Smorthit and Sandler,1 backlighting with the use of a slave flash results in a pure white background behind the subject. This optimises photographs by removing unnecessary details and makes them ideal for inclusion in teaching and patient information material. Here we present a technique that improves the quality of extra-oral photographs with the use of a ring flash only. This limits the equipment required and reduces the complexity of the setup.

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