Happy New Year! Another year of photos is ahead of us and that is an exciting prospect. I can’t wait to see what lies through the lens in 2012. Christmas was good for us and we had great visits with family who loved us much and spoiled us more. When Ma & Pa came down for a visit we of course got to talking about photos. Dad, being an avid nature & wildlife photographer, was showing me what he and his photo pals had been up to lately. Winter wildlife can be some of the most interesting stuff! While most guys are sitting around watching sports, these guys are outside watching the epic battle of survival unfold! Check out these amazing snowy owl photos! These aren’t photoshopped! 😎 Just chuck a mouse out onto the snow and watch as white winged warriors wrathfully wreak havoc on unsuspecting rodentia! The main course is served! Hence, dish one.
(Jealous that dad missed out on snows, we went out and nabbed this short eared owl. Still a magnificent specimen!)
Now for those who can’t handle this much excitement, there’s beauty dishes. (Hence, dish 2). 😆 For Christmas dad got a wee beauty dish. It’s actually an Opus mini reflector. It’s basically a miniaturized beauty dish that gives you a punchy, light that is one notch off of bare flash. It’s a really cool light for, yes, you guessed it, beauty and glam shots as it gives the light a very contrasty feel. I wanted to see how this little guy compared to my DIY beauty dish that I made. It’s basically the same design idea. Light comes from the flash and bounces into a surface in front of the light, then into a reflector dish and then out onto the subject. A little bit of ping pong action is involved and it makes the light slightly more diffused but still has loads of punch.
Automatically you notice the size difference. And with lighting, unlike other areas of life, size matters. 😉 The bigger the better. The small guy produces a much sharper/contrasty light while the bigger the light, the softer the light. It’s the same reason why natural light photographers want huge windows. Loads of big light nice and close to the subject = soft and glorious! Here’s an example of what each light produced on our subject Sven (he’s from IKEA). 😀
So, after a quick peak, you notice the difference. The little Opus dish is much smaller and makes a more focused, contrasty light. It also fits into a gear bag much more conveniently. The bigger DIY dish gives similar contrast and punch, but is more wrapping because it is much bigger. Could you replace the big one with the Opus? Perhaps, depending on the look you wanted. It sure would make hauling it around easier!
But then again, if beauty light isn’t your thing and you don’t care about f-stops & shutter speeds, you can always try Coyote hunting. It’s hours of fun and only about 1/3 the cost of photography! 😉
So the other night, the whackiest thing happened. 4 beautiful ladies showed up at my house, dressed in amazing dresses from weddings gone by and wanted me to take their picture, with my, (what else) Beauty Dish. Sure, says I! Who could resist 4 lovely ladies in beautiful dresses. Turns out they were headed to Carnduff to watch a movie about bridezillas or some such schlock girl movie and if they showed up in bridesmaid dresses they got to see the motion picture for free! Way to earn your thrift badge ladies! 😉 bwahahahahahha……… Here’s the glorious outcome:
Photo Geek info: ISO 400 f/5 1/250 35mm. Strobist info: 3 SB speed lights. 1 thru a beauty dish centre, 2 silver reflectors below subjects for fill, 2 for rim lights on the outside edges.
Studio?! We don’t need no stinkin’ studios!!!! 8) So tonight I finally had the chance to do some portraits using a 3 light configuration. I’ve been dying to try out the beauty dish in a studio setup and so I finally got to do so tonight. I even persuaded some models to work with me. 🙂
So in the first setup, we did a single speed light that had been gelled as the background light. This light is directly behind the subject and lights the back plane. Then, I put the beauty dish up on a stand and used a silver reflector for the classic “clamshell” beauty light combo. It’s used lots in fashion stuff, but does very well on wrinkly people if you want to minimize wrinkles. The beauty dish chucks light down and the reflector fills in any shadows. It’s cool light. So this was the first setup of the night. Only 2 lights.
OK, next, in setup 2, I added an additional light to the background. This helps bathe that back plane in color/light. For the colour background shots I blasted them each with a gel. For the super white blown out high-key background, the lights were fired straight up with no gels. The beauty dish and reflector fill remain unchanged.
So, finally, we switched things up again for another cool look, still using only 3 lights. This time, I lit the background with a single gelled speed light. I still used the beauty dish/silver reflector combo as the main & fill lights. But, I added a 1/8th spot gridded hair light to add more dimension to the light. It makes a sweet little highlight/rim light that adds another layer of loveliness to the light.
I also got to do a comparison shot between umbrella light and the beauty dish. This is really neat to be able to see the difference in the quality of light. The umbrella light is unquestionably softer. It wraps more and it is more fitting for these little people. The beauty dish has far more contrast and hard edges in the light. But it just depends on what you want to accomplish in your lighting. Jostens and other portrait people almost always use huge soft boxes because they are the softest light on the planet. But for brassier shots, the beauty dish has more punch. Also, the catch lights in the eyes are more pleasing from the beauty dish (they’re round…like the eye) 😉
So there you go. Three lights put to good use. We have lighting, colour, gesture, direction, depth, and mood. Just by moving a few lights, you can have a tremendous amount of versatility! Gotta love that!
A while back I stumbled across a really cool D.I.Y. lighting project. Enter, the Beauty Dish. It’s a light modifier (you fire a flash into) to get a different quality of light. Like a soft box, there is some diffusion that goes on with the light, giving it a softer quality. But the Beauty Dish still has flash punch. Edgier shadows. Not really matched light for babies or soft portraits, but for glamour or just overall coolness, it’s the bomb. They also cost around $350+ bones to buy one! So it’s out of the question for me. So when I stumbled across David Tejada’s blog with the do it yourself tip, I had to try it. 8 bucks for the plastic planter, another 12 bones for plastic spray paint, a DVD spindle I already had, a convex mirror from Wal-Mart for a whopping $1.49 and a few nuts and bolts and you’ve got it made. So for a quick $25 bucks, you’re up $325.00 in the photo world!!
I made the beauty dish to fit my brand spankin’ new SB-900 speed light. It’s Nikon’s flagship flash and it rocks the set. Now, I’ve got a 3 light setup for pure sweetness in off camera flash. But more on that for another post. So I finished the project this morning and put together some test shots with the help of my loving family (who are also patient and giving when it comes to me taking photos of them). These shots are not edited in any way, they are straight out of camera to show the different quality of light the beauty dish . . . dishes out. 8)
The coolest thing about the beauty dish is that it gives you a nice round catch light, much like an octa-box. It makes more sense to have a round catch light than a square one from a regular soft box because the eye is round. 😉 You can also see how the light quality is still punchy yet diffused a bit too. In A & B above, if you watch the face shadow around the chin, in the beauty dish shot (A) there is still a shadow, but it’s softer. In B, the straight flash (off camera, camera left position) you can see a really firm shadow. In C, well you have a naturally lit shot at high noon in full sun. Gotta have flash. 8) Obviously, you can make the beauty dish more punchy, as in the first photo above where there is a sharper quality of light coming from it. It’s pretty versatile though and I look forward to putting it to good use somewhere down the photo line. PS: If any one wants some complimentary glamour shots, let me know. I’m looking for a model to try this out! 😆