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