Sunday, April 22, 2012

How to use a beauty dish

A beauty dish creates a nice semi-soft, semi-directional light that has a slightly more defined shadow edge than a soft box or umbrella and the directionality and focus of a reflector. The sweet spot for a beauty dish is about 1 to 1 1/2 times the diameter of the dish.

For this shot of Lauren Jennings I set up the beauty about a foot and a half away from her on camera right and slightly higher than eye level to give a nice paramount (butterfly) type lighting pattern. The beauty dish was metered at f/11. The fill light was a 40x40 soft box 2-3 feet away and was camera left and just slightly below eye level to fill in the shadows and give a nice soft overall light. It was metered just under the main light. The back light was a bare reflector metered the same as the main and placed low to give a nice glow on the hair.

This shot uses largely the same type of set up, with the dish and soft box being further away. By setting the dish further back the light is harsher and more directional producing a more distinctive shadow. The beauty dish is lower and further right creating a loop lighting pattern, with the soft box being closer to on axis to give an even light. The hair light is bare reflector camera right and up high, with a red gel to compliment the color of the bra. The main light is metered at f/8, the fill around 1/2 to a full stop under, and the hair light at about the same and feathered slightly.