Beauty Dish Basics
Wonder how to expand your studio lighting repertoire? For those of you who unfamiliar with the beauty dish, this serves as a very basic explanation of this staple light modifier. The beauty dish is a wonderful tool for headshots and beauty photography, giving your subject that distinct circular catch-light. Take a look in your favorite magazine, and see if you can spot it! Used correctly, you can softly light the features of the face, and achieve nice shadowed edges.
Mechanics: The beauty dishes that we have at FD are 22″ models, although they come in a variety of sizes and depths. We also have a Mola Setti 28″ beauty dish available in Stage C. The inner surface of the dish is typically finished in silver or white. We have the silver model. The flash is fired into the center deflector, and the light is bounced and diffused in the circular outer dish, giving you the distinct light source. Central deflectors come in a variety of colors as well; silver, white, gold, and even clear. We commonly have silver deflectors, and the Mola Setti has a opaque white glass to diffuse the light. The front of the dish can be covered with a diffusion sock, to give a softer light. To direct the light and avoid spill, the modifier can also be equipped with a honeycomb grid!
Using the beauty dish: Because it is a small light source, the beauty dish is generally used for headshots or upper body, as it falls of and doesn’t light an entire person. It can be used for this, but expect fall off (demonstrated in the photo above). Of course, more lights for fill and other effects can be added. The closer the dish is placed to a subjects face, the larger the catchlight will appear in the eye. For headshot and many beauty scenarios, the dish can be placed in front of and slightly above the subject using a boom arm (which we can also provide to you).
Ask for a beauty dish for your next reservation, and give it a try!
Images for this post provided by @mazonr.