How to Shoot With a Beauty Dish

Written by edwin navarro
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How to Shoot With a Beauty Dish
A beauty dish can create beautiful "soft-lit" photos. (portrait 2 image by Diorgi from Fotolia.com)

A beauty dish is a light diffuser that is connected to a photographic flash strobe unit. It is usually made from metal and has a parabolic shape with a 22-inch diameter or more. It has a flat pan with a hole in the middle for placing the strobe. A beauty dish is widely used in portrait, glamour and fashion photography, as it makes a subject look beautiful by providing a light that is "soft" compared to results from a bare flashbulb.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Beauty dish
  • Flashbulb unit
  • Light stand
  • Flash Sync cord or wireless transmitter and receiver
  • Digital camera
  • Tripod

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Mount your beauty dish to your flash unit. Depending on your beauty dish, it can either be strapped to the flash with Velcro attachments or clamped with screws.

  2. 2

    Mount your flash unit with the attached beauty dish on a light stand. Fully extend the light stand's base, usually a tripod, to make it stable. Screw the flash unit to the flash connector on the top part of the light stand.

  3. 3

    Connect your flash unit to your camera with a synchronisation (sync) wire that is at least 24 inches long. Professional photographers also use flash transmitter and receiver for wireless operation.

  4. 4

    Position the beauty dish 4 feet above and 3 feet away from your subject, as a starting point. Place it either on the left or right side of your camera shooting position.

  5. 5

    Mount your camera on a tripod to avoid camera shake and to ensure that your photos will come out sharply focused.

  6. 6

    Set your camera to Auto exposure and take test shots. You can also use a separate light meter to get a precise light reading from the beauty dish. Set your light meter to Incident Mode. Point it towards the flash and it will take a reading when the flash is fired. Follow the light meter's recommended speed and aperture setting in your camera on Manual Mode.

  7. 7

    Review your shots on your camera's LCD monitor. Adjust the beauty dish unit closer, farther, lower or higher from your subject until you get your desired effect.

Tips and warnings

  • You can connect your flash unit with the attached beauty dish directly on your camera's flash mount for a basic and instant "on-camera" set-up. The drawback to this kind of set-up is that you won't be able to move around your flash and you are limited to a front lighting effect.

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