How To Build A Beauty Dish

A beauty dish provides a light pattern that is kinda between what you get from a bare flash and a softbox. Beauty dishes are an awesome modifier tool, but they have one caveat – price. While branded beauty dishes are kinda on the higher range of modifiers when it comes to costs, they are pretty easy to build for a few dollars if you have a pair of good hands and the time to drive to a close by home depot.

How To Build A Beauty Dish

What You’ll Need

  • Metal Salad Bowl (I used a 50cm one)
  • Electric box for plaster walls
  • A Round wall guard – 12 cm across.
  • 3 machine screws (8 cm long) and 6 bolts
  • 3 small springs – 8 cm long
  • Epoxy glue
  • Velcro
  • White and black spay paint

Tools

  • Drill
  • Dremel
  • Sand paper
  • precision knife

Do Not Panic!

Step 1 – Preparing The Bowl

Sand the bowl on both side so the paint will stick and apply a thin layer of the white paint on both sides. Let it dry for 15 minutes.

Apply a second coat of white paint on the inside. If it is not “white” enough, apply a second third layer of paint. Generally speaking it is better to apply more layers than to apply one thick layer.

In a similar manner paint the external side black. This will have no impact on the lighting quality, but it will make the mod look slicker.

How To Build A Beauty Dish

Step 2 – The Reflector

I am using a transparent wall guard here, so I’ll describe the process of sealing and coating it, but if you find anything similar that is white to start with – you can skip this step.

Sand the wall guard on both sides and apply a two coats of white. Let it dry and apply two coats of black. And then. two coats of white again. WE are doing all this painting to make sure the reflector is light tight. As I said, get something white and save the trouble.

Now paint the flash box (the plaster wall box) black on the outside. Again, this is to add to the slickness factor.

Step 3 – Preparing The Flash Mount

After the paint is completely dry mark the hole that will accept the box and the flash on the bowl. It is always better to go just a bit small, because you can always make it bigger.

After marking the flash box, cut it out with the dremel. Use safety goggles when cutting the aluminum, it can get pretty nasty if it hits your eyes.

How To Build A Beauty Dish

Step 4 – Preparing The Reflector

Drill three hols in the reflector. Use appropriate drills so the holes will match the diameter of your screws. Place the reflector on the bowl and copy-mark the three holes from the reflector. Use the mark you just made to drill the bowl.

Step 5 – Attaching The Box For The Flash

Using the precision knife, cut the bottom of the electrical box.

Generously apply epoxy on the edges of the hole on the bowl and attach the box. Slide the box in and let the epoxy dry

How To Build A Beauty Dish

Step 6 – Strap

Use some of the epoxy to glue the rubber strap with the hook side to the back end of the box and glue some of the loop strap to the other side of the box.

How To Build A Beauty Dish

How To Build A Beauty Dish

Step 7 – Attaching The Reflector

For each of the holes slide the reflector on the screw and tighten it with a nut. Now slide the spring and thread the entire thing through the holes in the bowl. Lock it down with an extra nut.

How To Build A Beauty Dish

How To Build A Beauty Dish

I used bolts and springs for this, but after finishing the job, I think a similar solution using more nuts to set the location of the reflector will work just as well, and may be easier to implement.

Step 8 – Behold and Shoot!

How To Build A Beauty Dish

How To Build A Beauty Dish

There you have it, a super home made beauty dish. Here is the light pattern, see how fast the light falls off.

How To Build A Beauty Dish

How To Build A Beauty Dish

And here is a picture taken with the dish.

How To Build A Beauty Dish

About The Author

Eden Gabay is a fashion photographer based in Israel. Check out his work on his website or follow his page on Facebook.