DIY Beauty Dish

Discussion in 'Lighting Equipment' started by jaime_vela, Dec 31, 2011.

  1. Hi everyone, I am in the process of making my own beauty dish, I now have a 22"x8" deep mixing bowl, a speedring and a 7 1/2" internal reflective plate that I want to use for ab1600 or an ab800. What I don't know is if my internal plate is of the right dimension, I also have a 9" internal reflective plate that i can use. Now I don't know if this makes any difference because i have not seen a beauty dish in person, and if anyone does know can someone help me out.
    and can the internal reflective plate be flat or does it need to be con-caved.
    Thank You
  2. Jaime
    Glad to see someone who is willing to DIY. The plate should not be concave but flat or convex. The dish (stainless steel from Safeway) I made is quite small at eight and a half inches dia. and four and a quarter inches deep. my internal reflector is a convex mirror (from the auto parts store) mounted on a five and three quarter inch backing plate level with the rim of the bowl.
    I'm looking for a larger, more shallow SS bowl to make another one.
  3. It looks like this:
  4. Sorry, it looks like this
  5. Another view
  6. And again another view
  7. Last one, the stand is made from the leg of a broken tripod.
  8. Thank you George for your response. I,m still wondering if the interal plate vs the dish ratio is importat ?
  9. It could be that the distance between the reflective plate and the bowl is important. The first thing I noticed with my dish was that it made a doughnut of light, not a good thing. My reflector plate was too small at four inches. I increased it to five and three quarter inches and got a light that works using a 4 inch convex mirror on the plate. Basically any such project requires some fettling. I think that you would be best to put a bar across the bowl with a 1/4 tapped hole in the center. and another hole in the center of the reflector. A short piece of all thread with two nuts to hold it in the reflector and screw it through the cross bar to give you an adjustable reflector. Once you have found the sweet spot you can arrange a fixed reflector. If it was me I would cut a few different diameter reflectors and see what combination of diameter/distance produces the best result.
  10. It would interesting to see the light quality from these DIY projects ... especially using a speed-light.
    That could be easily demonstrated by firing them against a wall to see the light patterns.
    Jaime, info you asked about: Shown below is a 22" Profoto Beauty dish ... the flat center solid metal disc is 6.5" and reflects back into a 11" flat back surface of the dish's shape. So the flat part of the dish is 1/2 the 22" over-all size
    The disk one in the foreground is 5.5" concave semi-translucent plastic disk from a Elinchrom 18" Beauty Dish that is shallower than the Profoto and has no flat back surface like the Profoto.
    This would seem to argue for a concave shape if there isn't much of a flat back surface in your DIY version.
    My 33" Mola Beamm has a 7" flat center disk ... the disk on both the Profto and Mola project out on holders ... presumably to accommodate the glass covers on the Profoto lights, and to place the light at optimal angles for even forward throw.
    BTW, if your DIY dish is translucent, spray it black to avoid wasting light.
  11. Thank you Marc. You gave me great info. I'm using a 22" stainless steel mixing bowl with a 9" flat bottom. Your info is taking me in the right direction. I will be painting the interior white and the exterior black. I'm thinking of making the interior disk 6" flat , unless someone can convince me otherwise. Jaime
  12. Well, with a 9" flat back, and taking the way the Profoto Beauty dish is designed, that seems just about right Jaime.
  13. Marc Williams - It would interesting to see the light quality from these DIY projects ... especially using a speed-light.
    Yes, that is of course the whole point of the thread. I only use speed lights and LED lighting or natural.
  14. Thanks George ... what was used for the shot above ... the silver one you showed before? Looks pretty good IMO.
    That silver bowl set-up was a bit intriguing as shown ... seemed it'd produce more of a ring-light effect.
  15. Marc
    Yeah, the shot was taken with the DIY dish shown. When I first made it the inner plate was smaller and did throw a ring. In fact it still does but the ring is quite large and not very bright. The ring of light is large enough not to cause any effect on portraits. While the light in question is quite good, there is room for improvement and I am looking for a larger SS bowl that is a bit shallower.
  16. Larger would seem to be the ticket George ... most beauty dishes are 18" or larger. Also larger "DIY bowls" tend to have a larger flat surface in the back.
    It seems that the depth of Beauty Dishes affects the angle of beam ... the dish you used at first is similar to a Profoto Magnum reflector which narrows the beam. So, it may be that if you go to a wider dish like 20" or 22" the depth need not be much more shallow. You want some distance between the light source and the reflector disk.
    One interesting thing you find on some of the more expensive Beauty Dishes is the use of a center disk bracket that allows various different center disk modifiers to control both the quality of light, color temperature and the degree of fall off to the edges.
    My Mola 33" Beamm Beauty dish can take various center disks ... from solid, to translucent to even a 7" grid which produces a more focused light in the center with rapid fall off. Many have gold center disks that warm the flash to better balance with Tungsten ambient, and/or to warm the flesh tones.
    No matter what, making your own light modifiers like this really teaches you how they work and how to control lighting in different ways ... which is what lighting is all about.
    Best of luck on your experiments!
    BTW, here is a recent paid assignment ... directional light shot using the Mola 33" Beamm beauty dish with a highly polished silver mirror surface and no diffuser to really POP! this body builder's muscles. NO other light was use. Mola's use a unique reverse wedding cake design that produces a wonderful quality of light ... which makes me wonder if there are inexpensive DIY bowls with shapes like that?
  17. Marc: Wow. Brilliant posing and composition. I'm interested in how you achieved such soft shadows with smooth transitions. Seems almost contrary to what I've been reading about beauty dishes. The light must have been very close to the subject, yes?
  18. Hi Peter, yes size and distance to subject plays a huge role in controlling the light quality. Even though this Beauty Dish is one of the most specular ones you can get with a mirror like polished reflective surface ... it behaves differently due to being 33" and moved closer just off-camera right, up slightly. I have two different types of diffusers for this Mola which further softens the light quality when it's further away.
    What you cannot see here with a little sub-one meg jpg in sRGB color space is the minute detail in the subject's skin and hundreds of scratch marks from "dry" shaving his whole body ... ouch! This was shot with a Medium Format digital camera and printed very large.
    Mola also makes a 44" BD with a softwhite or silver option. Mola's are pretty expensive, but a part of that cost is the incredibly strong HD mounting and adjustment bracket for larger dishes.
    An interesting additional thought for a DIY project is the use of two speedlights set head to head to help over-come the rectangle light source and make it more square for a round BD ... this would also double the output and make it more useful outdoors in brighter light.
  19. It is funny you say that Marc, I am working on one at the moment. I have dual Canon 550 EX's and have a 22" polished stainless mixing bowl. I am currently planning the handle/mount arrangement in tube to a similar design to the Mola handle/mount. My issue at the moment is coming up with a design that is flexible enough for different strobe and trigger arrangements. It is a fun evening project.
    I have a 7" pizza pan as the reflector disc but am making the mounts for it a claw arrangement to allow for different options.
  20. Great Scott! (Sorry, couldn't resist) Please share when you figure it all out.
    I'm into a DIY project myself ... trying to figure out how to mimic an overhead strip light that isn't so deep because my in-home studio ceiling height is relatively low. By the time I mount a head and standard strip light modifier off a boom arm it hangs down too close to the subject if they are standing.
    The all inclusive strip lights strobe heads from the main lighting companies are much less deep, but are heart stopping expensive. Ridiculous actually.
    I have a stick light which can be mounted straight out from the boom arm, but have to figure out how to add diffusion and some control to narrow the coverage. An hour at Lowe's turned up nothing. Grrrrrr.
    BTW, here is the effect that I'm after, from the same body builder shoot, using a Profoto 6' strip light with a 4" mask to narrow the coverage, all mounted on an over-head boom arm.
  21. I will Marc,
    The project in line after the beauty dish is a Sabrestrip style strip light, again with my 550EX's.
    Have to agree with Peter too, your lighting is superb, in the second image I love the way you have put a fraction of light on the background near his torso so you didn't lose the black silhouette but kept it black around his head.
  22. Thanks Scott!
    Man, that Sabrestrip is exactly the type of thing I need ... I'm going to contact them to get the exact measurements of the interior diameter opening on the side ... if I could slip my stick light in there It'd be perfect. I need at least 300w/s out of the overhead, so speed-lights aren't enough.
    Thanks for the link!
  23. Marc,
    You are very welcome, whilst it won't help you any better, I did use them once at a Westcott strobist meet. They work very well when you use two end to end for a very long light, also to the sides as rims, obviously, but the best use I saw was four in a square for head shots.
  24. Some cool stuff leading to some good ideas, not sure if this is the right place to post but thought you guys might be interested in some of the new stuff I have recently came up with DIY projects. Just recently decided I wanted to try some lighting with a fresnel using my profoto compacts 600s, but after seeing the pricing from profoto or brocolor fresnels found that they were way out of my budget. Also seemed rather overpriced for what they were, essentially a fresnel lens holder with a way to mount for a lightstand. So did some looking around on ebay and found a 12" german made cinema fresnel for less than it would cost to eat a meal out. Decided on going with a small metal garbage can to use as the holder and mounted a profoto speedring on the rear. I felt that I could do away with a light stand mount as the whole unit is not very heavy and doesn't put much stress on the monolight. The fit and finish work well for me, and thanks to the profoto mount I now have a fresnel that focuses from spot to flood for under $100.
  25. Here is a pic of the finished product.
  26. Here is a pic of the rear and the mount.
  27. Very nice work Brandon.
  28. Also have been using something similar to the sabrestrip, although not as directional. Its basically a blueprint or poster tube that I happened to come across and tried slipping it on my sb-800. Im sure it would be really easy to make directional with a little bit of reflective tape carefully placed inside. I really like the soft light it gives off and is especially useful to me for nightlife photography.

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