36 years ago, Profoto released a lighting accessory they called the Softlight Reflector. Today, we call this creation a beauty dish, thanks to its unique design that softens light in the perfect manner for portraits.
I converted an IKEA lamp to a beauty dish a while ago and I was surprised of the result. I found a description when I was looking for other things and got curious if that really would work. I decided to try and I bought one at a visit to IKEA. But the one I bought was in aluminium finish and not white as the one below.
Most folks will be fairly familiar with the Beauty Dish and its usefulness in both fashion and general portraiture. In this tutorial I would like to share with you just how versatile I think the humble Beauty Dish can be and show you just how many lighting patterns you can create with my personal favourite light modifier.
First of all, I should describe exactly what a Beauty Dish is for those perhaps unfamiliar with the modifier. Beauty dishes are essentially large metal bowls, which typically are available in a variety of sizes such as 16″, 22″ or 27″ in diameter. They can be used with both studio strobe and speedlights with the correct speedring fittings.
Inside the dish is an internal reflector. This is a disc of metal, spaced a few inches in from the strobe. This deflects the light from the strobe and pushes the light towards the outside of the dish, ensuring that the only light hitting the subject has been reflected. This creates a very smooth, even and flattering light though this can also depend on the interior of the reflector. Beauty Dishes typically have silver or white interiors. Silver interiors are very specular and produce harder more contrasty light, whereas white interiors are softer and more even as the light inside gets more scattered before leaving the dish, reducing the specular reflections.
Guest post by Robert Mitchell. Hit the bottom of the post to see his links.
When assembling a lighting kit, it’s very difficult to know which modifiers are best for the type of work you want to do, and sometimes you don’t know or are discovering what you want to shoot. There are reflectors, umbrellas, square and rectangular softboxes, octabanks and a wide variety of accessories to shape and alter the quality of light.
So how do you know what’s best for you?
In many cases you don’t. If you have no experience then you don’t have any preferences formed and most of the tech talk is of no use to you and makes little sense. One person’s preference may not at all be what you like and it may not work within your budget.
I’ve chosen 7 common light modifiers of varying sizes and shapes, and I’m using modifiers that are , for the most part, inexpensive. Nothing very small and nothing terribly large. This is not an in-depth review, nor is it a light modifier showdown.
Last week I wrote about why you would want to do a DIY photography project, but can it match up to pro gear? Challenge… Accepted!
This week I did a whole photoshoot using only DIY modifiers for main lights. With the help of my girlfriend and her friends to model for me, the challenge was on.
The idea behind challenge was to prove that making your own modifiers and equipment is not all that bad compared to branded expensive material. (And before the first comment starts coming in, let me say that I do own a couple of Westcott softboxes and umbrellas, and I use them when needed or when working with high end clients, I just really like my DIY’s).
Photographer J. Chris Hansen built the soup bowl beauty dish for his photography studio. It was all well and dandy while it was mounted on a speedlight. But when he tried to mount the beauty dish on an Alien Bee flash they melted. Luckily for us, Chris did not give up and upgraded the design to use stainless steal bowls. From here it is all Chris.[Read More…]
Beauty Dish for the Mechanically challenged a guest post by Just Fab
I had the honor of being photographed by one of my mentors, Don Giannatti (Wizwow on flickr) the other day after attending one of his fantastic lighting seminars. He chose to use a beauty dish on me. I love the way beauty dishes look, especially the way it sculpts the edges of my roundish face. Soft concentrated light which falls off quickly. You can learn more about the merits of the beauty dish on Don’s site.
Most of my inspiration for lighting setups come from that site and DVD. Anyway, I was so excited when I saw the images I knew I had to come up with something that could recreate the look that was portable and wouldn’t break the bank. Although I am handy with PVC pipes, my ability to use power tools are in question. I was thinking of cutting out a hole in a wok or mixing bowl, but I still couldn’t figure out how to rig it to reflect the concentrated beam back into the dish, plus my lighting stand would probably never stay upright with that kind of weight.
Do you know why they call this piece of studio equipment “Beauty Dish”? Because it make people look beautiful. The idea is similar to other diffusion ideas – the more diffusion you put in your light, the softer the image is. This idea is widely deployed in photography studios – the softbox, the beauty dishes and the reflector disc all work on close principles.
The unique thing about a Beauty Dish is the way that it diffuses light – unlike a softbox or a reflector which has an “illuminating” surface the beauty dish has a circle of light with an opaque center. Now, what all this has to do with soup. You will soon find out.[Read More…]