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beauty dish

ISO 400, 1/100th f2.8

ISO 400, 1/100th f2.8

While many photographers love to work with softboxes, there are many other light modifiers out there. But the single most versatile light modifier out there is the umbrella–and more specifically the convertible umbrella. An umbrella can function as many different light modifiers and the right one can be all you need in your lighting kit. Indeed, it’s a simple to use and very effective light modifier that gives you the most bang for your buck.

To understand why, you’ll need to understand more about how the umbrella works.

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There are lots of really cool hacks that you can do to turn something or another into a softbox or beauty dish. Photographer Trent Dang came up with a very affordable solution using a very underrated reflective material: styrofoam.

By taking a small styrofoam food container (that looks like it’s had a more than adequate amount of cleaning and perhaps bleaching), Trent was able to cut a hole in it, stuff a flash head, add a diffusion sock, and also incorporate a bounce card to add extra diffusion.

Granted, this is something that we’d use only if an actual softbox broke down. Real softboxes are all about specific shaping of the light, add different reflective and diffusion properties and overall just look much more professional. We surely wouldn’t roll up to a wedding with a softbox made of styrofoam and it also wouldn’t be the best constructed thing to use.

Just think: if the DIY Softbox takes a tumble it’s going to shatter into a million pieces. But again, if you need to MacGyver something in a hurry, this isn’t a bad idea.

The video showing you how to make a DIY Softbox/Beauty Dish for $2 is after the jump.

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Photographer Todd Owyoung specializes in photographing bands and musicians and has for many years now. One of his favorite light modifiers if the beauty dish and years ago, he set out to create his very own that could give him the right amount of light in just the right spot whenever he wanted it. Todd called it the “Chinatown Special”, and I only wish that he actually manufactured and sold them.

However, Todd posted a tutorial a while back on how to create them. Fair warning though: it’s a lot of work.

Beauty dishes are used to give a very fashiony look to a subject while giving soft, diffused light with a bit of an edgy. They’re fun to work with, and we played with a Roundflash’s take on the modifier recently.

His construction inspired by very own hack to make a speedlight work with a beauty dish. This is far easier, but involves using an actual beauty dish.

Todd’s video on how to create a DIY Beauty Dish is after the jump.

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While some photographers will tell you to take the flash out of your camera’s hot shoe, others love using it in that position. No matter what you’re doing, the only thing that matters is making sure that the light looks beautiful. This can be done with the flash on the camera or off ot it and the way to do it is usually with a flash modifier of some sort. But there are also a couple of tips and tricks that you can use to make it look even better.

Here are some of the best flash modifiers for your speedlights (speedlites) along with some tips on how to use them.


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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Roundflash dish review product images (7 of 7)ISO 4001-50 sec at f - 2.0

Roundflash has been creating collapsible and portable light modifiers for years. They started with the original Roundflash Ring flash, then they upgraded the Ring flash to version two. But now, they’re out with their take on the beauty dish. The dish is meant to mimic the look of an actual beauty dish–except that the version from Roundflash provides a permanently attached diffusion sock. That’s totally fine if you prefer your beauty dishes to have extra diffusion besides the bounce and reflection that they already have implemented.

Beauty dishes are best known for their work on fashion shoots and portraiture. But in recent years, they’ve become more popular amongst the wedding crowd for photographers that want their clients to have a swanky, high end look to their images.

And the results? Well, surprising is a really big understatement.

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BHInsights Chris Gampat Beauty Dish Speedlite Mating (6 of 8)

A beauty dish and an umbrella can accomplish different looks due to the way that they diffuse light. While an umbrella will more or less spread the light out in pretty much every forward facing direction, a beauty dish will bounce it off of a plate then reflect it back around a dish area. YouTube User Ticknor Photography decided to do a demonstration of one modifier against the other when it comes to headshots. The only criticism that we have of the otherwise very informal video is that the light modifiers aren’t the same size. Otherwise, you’ll want to turn your speakers up because the sound is a tad low.

His findings are that the beauty dish delivers more texture on the skin–which you’ll either not want if you’re retouching the image or want if you’re trying to get all the skin details. In general, beauty dishes are used more for fashion photography and portraits that are meant to have a very fashiony look. If you want a similar look from an umbrella, you need one with a silver interior.

The video is after the jump.

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