What is A Beauty Dish and How to Use It?

Softbox, umbrella, beauty dish are the names of the light modifiers. With these, you can emphasize the skin’s texture, features of the face, and figure. We will talk about what is a beauty dish, how to use it, and some best beauty dishes for photographers.

What is A Beauty Dish?

A beauty dish is a type of light modifier which is specially used during photography of makeup products, hairstyles, and jewelry. Because of its shape like a dish antenna, it is called the ‘beauty dish.’

Beauty Dish
Beauty Dish

Design of Beauty Dish

The beauty dish looks like a large bowl with a recess. Beauty dish sizes:

  • Up to 40-41 cm – they are bought for amateur filming or in small photo studios;
  • Up to 55-56 cm – the most common size. A universal option that is suitable for professional and amateur shooting of objects of different sizes;
  • Up to 68-70 cm – suitable for large studios, shooting group portraits, and large objects.

You can find an option with a diameter of up to 85 cm. But this size is very rarely used. It is needed to illuminate a large area. For example, in the photo below, it was necessary to illuminate the entire scene; a powerful pulsed light source was needed.

Beauty Dish for Group Photography
Beauty Dish for Group Photography

What is the difference between a beauty dish for photography and a regular reflector?

Only larger diameter ( standard usually up to 40 cm ). There is one more detail in the center (deflector). A diffuser is needed to distribute the light from the flash throughout the reflector.

The shape of the modifier is deep, the rays are directed. You can more clearly distribute the light by placing honeycombs on top of the beauty dish. For their fastening, a border is made on the sides of the device.

Why is The Dish Light Soft?

Each object in the composition is illuminated from different points this is why dish light is soft. The shadows are not complicated but soft. It is like an analog of lighting on a cloudy day when the rays are not stiff and straight. They refract, pass through the clouds, illuminate the object from different angles.

What Size Beauty Dish to Choose?

It depends on your requirements. Here are some options to choose a beauty dish size:

  1. If you need a powerful source of soft light in a large studio where group photos will be taken, you can take a large option with a diameter of up to 68-70 cm.
  2. If you need a plate for shooting in a small studio, you can limit yourself to a model with a small diameter of up to 40-41 cm.
  3. If there is no specific goal and you want a versatile option, it is better to take a modifier with a diameter of up to 55-56 cm.

The larger the beauty dish, the closer it stands to the object, the softer the light it gives. Keep this in mind when choosing a beauty dish.

How to understand that the studio is small enough for the minimum diameter of the dish?

The human head is about 30 cm high. If you add the shoulders and chest to this, no more than 1 meter will come out. To shoot such a portrait with a 50mm lens, and taking into account the distance, the studio should be about 2×2 meters in size. Equipment with a diameter of 40 cm will be enough for it.

An average plate will be needed if the room is 4×5 meters or more significant. It is logical to buy large soft reflectors with a diameter of 68 cm or more only for a studio with an area of ​​40 sq. m. and more.

Beauty Dish or Softbox – Which is Better?

Each light modifier performs its role is used in different cases. A beauty dish creates a light between a direct flash and a softbox in terms of strength and diffuseness.

Therefore, you need to select a modifier specifically for the idea. Like beauty dishes, softboxes vary in size. They come in different shapes (square, rectangle). The condition affects the light coverage and the softness of the light.

The beauty dish is needed for portrait, fashion photography.

The softbox is suitable for food, wildlife, still life photography. It is also used to create the “scattered window” effect used by portrait painters.

Accessories for Beauty Dish

Accessories for Beauty Dish
Accessories for Beauty Dish

1. Courts

Courts are needed to narrow the beam of light from the plate. The result is a spotlight effect.

2. Gel Color Filters

These gel color filters are used to tone shadows and backgrounds. They are attached to the reflector with special adhesive tape. If you do not use it, it will peel off when the equipment is heated. When working, you need to remember one nuance – the filter should be 5-7 cm wider than the plate. Otherwise, the white light will break through the sides.

How to Take A Beautiful Photo with A Beauty Dish?

Important: The modifier will highlight skin irregularities and flaws. Therefore, a beauty dish is recommended for models with perfect skin.

The quality of the hair and makeup plays an important role. Dirty shadows, crumbled mascara, hastily done styling will be immediately visible. It is helpful to find a good makeup artist and hairdresser who will make the look perfect.

It is better to install a soft reflector on a studio light stand to move the light without difficulty. First, you need to set up the beauty dish itself. And then add light sources – for example, background, behind the object.

Shooting with A Beauty Dish in The Studio – 4 Settings

1. One Soft Reflector and Reflector

The most common method of shooting portraits with a beauty dish. Step one is to place the model. The second step is to install the soft reflector. It would help to put it clearly above the model’s face, slightly tilting down. The center of the plate should be above the forehead.

You need soft light. Therefore, the dish is placed close to the subject (distance of about 50 cm). The highlight should be at the top of the model’s eyes.

Shooting with A Beauty Dish in The Studio
Shooting with A Beauty Dish in The Studio

The reflector is placed under the chin. It is necessary to reflect the light onto the person’s face. The technique will allow you to remove the maximum of shadows on the neck and highlight the lower part of the eyes. You can adjust the amount of light by moving the reflector closer to the model or further away from it.

Additionally, you can set the background light to highlight the subject. Or put a black V-Flat panel or flag. It will help create a deep textural background.

The main difficulty is placing the camera between the plate and the reflector. And this is not always convenient.

2. Two Light Sources

This scheme is similar to the previous one but has one difference. Instead of a reflector, a monoblock is used. It is placed under the subject, pointing upwards. This design is perfect than the previous one. In this case, you can control the power of light and shadows.

Shooting with A Beauty Dish in The Studio
Shooting with A Beauty Dish in The Studio

3. Diffuser

Such a device made of diffusion material is often sold as a set with a beauty dish. The accessory makes the light on the face of the model softer removes shiny spots from the skin. You can place it just above the model in the previous cases so that the light falls on the face.

Shooting with A Beauty Dish in The Studio
Shooting with A Beauty Dish in The Studio

4. Shooting with Honeycombs

The beauty dish should be placed above the subject and tilted slightly. The honeycomb grid focuses the beam, creating the illusion of a spotlight.

Shooting with A Beauty Dish in The Studio
Shooting with A Beauty Dish in The Studio

Important: The reticle must point directly at the object. Otherwise, the light will fall on the face incorrectly.

How to Position A Beauty Dish When Shooting Outdoors?

It is more convenient to use a soft reflector outdoors than a softbox. It is a more compact light modifier. And unlike an umbrella, it does not “catches” gusts of wind.

How to Position A Beauty Dish When Shooting Outdoors?
How to Position A Beauty Dish When Shooting Outdoors?

Umbrella is another modifier. It can be of different sizes, with many knitting needles. Silver is needed to create contrasting, complex lighting. And white is for soft, natural, diffused light.

Outdoors, the beauty dish can be used as a main or fill light. You can place it on top of the object or at a different angle. For example, at 45 degrees. It all depends on the time of day, the level of lighting, and the desired result.

Is It Possible to Make A Beauty Dish with Your Own Hands?

Yes. But it is not used as professional equipment. Maximum – as an experimental device for home shooting.

An analog of a large plate can be made for a flash. For this, you need:

  • Two disposable plates made of porous plastic;
  • Two toothpicks;
  • Foil;
  • Double-sided tape.

One plate must be put on the flash, forming an analog of a soft reflector (a bowl around a light source). You need to cut a hole for the flash in the center of one of the plates and insert the flash into the slot. From the second plate, you need a bottom. On one side, it is covered with foil. For this, double-sided tape is used.

Is It Possible to Make A Beauty Dish with Your Own Hands?
Is It Possible to Make A Beauty Dish with Your Own Hands?

A circle with foil on both sides must be pierced with toothpicks, attached to a large plate before flashing. The flash should face the side with the foil. There should be gaps between the edges of the inner dish, the flash, and the edges of the outer dish.

Such a primitive beauty dish will help you experiment at home. But to create high-quality and professional images, it is better to buy actual equipment.

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