Stephen Eastwood | Photography




Q. I’ve read in a lot of your other threads that you use a beauty dish quite
often but usually it is a gridded beauty dish.  Is this a specialized beauty
dish that accepts a grid or do all beauty dishes accept a grid ( looking through
B&H the only gridded dish I saw was a Hensel).  For example I just
got a Alien bee beauty dish, can a grid be used with this and how.

I have heard that there is a focus distance to a beauty dish that is ideal is
that true?

1) you can use an Speedotron grid on a Alienbee 22inch beauty dish, may take
a tweak to the clips but it fits, also on hensel 22inch dishes, again tweak
the springclips t stay on tight.

2) there is not a true point of focus, but a relative focus area, the shape
will focus the light somewhat and I have often found that a great range for
great effect on a BD with no direct light from center is anywhere from 1 foot
away to 4 1/2 feet away, beyond that and its fine but begins to lose the effect
of it being a beautydish and becomes more of an umbrella, except that a gird
can make the light into a smaller tighter area than a huge sprad of an umbrella.

Because I know its coming I will give some more info on them.

Below are a few examples, all with grid several different dishes, I am not a
huge fan of an unmodified mola, the spedotron blackline dish is my favorite
followed by a hensel silver with deflector, not the center grided one or at
least not using a center grid,  I do not use dishes without overall grids
unless I am outside using it as a sun from far away.   Broncolor makes
a nice one also.

As I said I only use them with grids, without it you might as well use an umbrella,
much cheaper and lighter.  The speedotron has a diffused center I would
place a mirror behind it reflecting the light back at the head and a black circle
to cut the center so no light comes through, you could also leave a white center
once the mirror back is in place light cannot go through anyway.   many
other brands of dishes including alienbee are 22inch diameter and as such the
speedotron grid will fit any 22inch,  you may have to adjust the clips
to hold it tighter or just weld it one I woudl it never comes off and if I needed
it without one outside I woudl use something else instead hmm
I also  have a few custom made with tighter degrees but the speedotron
is cheap, easy and works great no need to have any made unless you have some
lighting companies looking to do something for you.

I like to control spill, flags can but the grids are very directional more so
than a flag or barndoors or snoot even if its a tight grid.  I have grids
on almost everything except umbrellas, fresnels, and obscure things like likesticks,
globes, and glowing objects, I use them on Softboxes, Octobanks, octoboxes,
striplights, lightbars, even my snoots have a grid.  I would grid my grid
if I could,  I think I have a control issue I need to deal with…..

Now I am including many samples, mainly because I figure if I gave some examples
it would show some range of a BD without a major variation in photographer style
vast difference is technique or majot model quality location shifts that cloud
the issue more, so hopefully you get more of a feel for what the dish can do
for you.


Q. Do you have a lighting combination you like to use with
a beauty light? I want to get a beauty dish but cant decide between the profoto
silver or white, i was told to get silver and I can add a white diffuser sock
for when I wanted the softer white effect is this true?

I never use the sock, but no its not the same, the sock diffuses the light
and spreads it out more, if you use a grid the silver has more specular punch
and snap and the white a bot softer snap to it but both will follow a grid path
well and tight a diffuser will all but kill the grid effect and control

You can always paint a white with mettalic silver or a silver you can sand down
and paint white if you really have a need and desire for them.

And what the silver dish does in a more general sense compared to the white,
in non technical terms, (depending on which silver, smooth or rough, patterned
or bumpy etc) is it creates high and brighter sources of light from the mirrored
surfaces as compared to the less bright reflections out so when adjusting for
the light to keep the highlights you lose some of the lower end and get a more
vast shift from highlight to shadow creating deeper shadows and bright highlights.
A white dish has a more uniform light reflecting outward creating uniform highlughts
and shadows (within reason) which acts as the highlughts and fill on the surface
of the skin thereby softeneing the shadows.

That is obviously non technical and it is designed more to help people get a
vision in their head of what is happening with the dish.


Q. Would there be any way to recreate that lighting without a beauty dish
and a grid?

The studio that I am currently using is quite limited, with only 4 strobes.
1 320, 2 500s, and 1 1600.  Oh, and one fresnel.   We don’t
have any barn doors that fit the lights we use, so trying to stop spill is
nearly impossible without rigging up some kind of foam core.

Is there a way to get comparable results with limited equipment?

NO,  if you could do it with limited equipment there would be no point
to them still being made, this is not like fashion, people in this field buy
based on desired outcome, not look, so if you could get it from another item
you would.  That said a BD without grid is not much different from an umbrella,
and the nearest effect without getting a large reflector and making a BD which
is just making one, would bt to get a small softbox or octodome, say a 19″ to
25inch and then with no diffuser on it mount a mirror in front of the light
and bounce the light back so its basically a beauty dish, than get a grid for
the box.  This will likely cost more than a BD and grid would so I see
no point.  Many people never used a BD and have great stuff, if you look
around my main site there is plenty more there that is not done with a BD and
its all OK looking for not using a BD and grid to get it wink
so its not needed, its an option that some use rarely, some never some often
and some shoudl have them taken away and there camera replaced with a brick
so as to not cause my eyes to bleed when seeing what they produced sad
but in any event use what you have available and make it work how you like it,
you will find that its SO NOT THE TOOL, the tools do nothing but give you some
options and make things easier or harder to do, and basically they give you
something to keep you busy playing with so you don’t get bored and fall into
the same old routine everyday. hmm

And I love frensels,  I have broncolor, speedotron and hensel ones, in
6inch, 4 inch, 8 inch 12 inch and 14 inch they are all killers!!!!  very
cool, and at up to 6400ws on the brons and 4800ws on the speedos I can light
up the moon when I need a full one  wink






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