I had these ideas running through my head all week to make one and thought my experiment would turn out to be utter horse crap and in a funny old way, it still looks like utter horse crap but it performs like a fine filly at the 3.15 at Chepstow. Please bear with me and hold onto your initial thoughts until the end....so no scrolling down, ok?!
To make this beauty dish (which, for a homemade one is ok to use for your own pleasure and not in a profesh studio because those cocktail sticks look nasty and honestly, you don't want to look a complete twonk in front of clients)...................
you will need:
2 x polystyrene dishes
2 cocktail sticks
A small piece of foil
Double sided tape
A cutting knife
A pair of scissors
I know - its freaking crazy, right? Such flimsy, cheap and readily available little oddities........ but be patient and trusting, all good things...........
First off, grab your external flash head and make an impression in the rear of the dish (polystyrene is perfect for this as its soft - or you could just mark around its edges with a pencil). Cut around the impression or pencil lines with a cutting knife. As this is polystyrene, you will love how simple and soft the surface is to slice.
Pop out the bit you just cut and revel in your marvellous cutting skills, like i did. I just went "ooooh!"
Slot your external flash in through the rear to ensure a snug fit. No prizes for yours if its not as raggy as mine. I like a bit of a rustic finish.
Now take your second bowl and cut out the entire flat bottom of the dish
So that it looks like this
Next, line the bottom of the "was a dish" piece with double sided tape
And then adhere a piece of foil, rubbing down firmly for a strong adhesion
Then trim off the edges like so
Turn the piece over and insert two cocktail sticks - one at 12 o'clock and one at 6 o'clock. Polystyrene, on this instance, is a magical place to house a cocktail stick or two for a secure fit.
Transfer your antennaed piece to the dish, with your flash still inserted. Affix centrally to the dish and over the flash head. Leave a gap of about 2 cms between the flash head and your foiled, antennaed piece.
Congratulate yourself on building yourself one hell of an ugly looking beauty dish.
But fear not, my untrusting friend, for the magic will happen once we start taking picture.
Now, grab your subject and ask them, first, not to laugh at the hideousness of your invention. Suggest for them to recall the story of the ugly duckling so that they get the general idea of what is about to unfold. In my case, I asked hubby to model for me. Not only was it a laborious task but one out of pained necessity for me. Excuse his obvious lack of enthusiasm for this experiment.
The experiment in action
Using an aperture of F5.6 (my lower end choice for portraits), I selected a beam of 1/8 for this trial. The angle was 45 degrees (head on) which is generally too harsh for indoor, non studio portraits. But as you can see, with a beauty dish used in this fashion, its offered a soft and shadowless finish. RESULT! However, there is nothing that can be done for reflections in spectacles (and his are anti glare, hence green orbs) although you can see the beauty dish "works" by noting the "Lifebouy" catch light. What a fine figure of a man, right?
Now without his spectacles, you can appreciate how bloody fantastic this cheapo beauty dish can work in your favour. I love the immediate lighting and the obvious lack of shadows from the flash. Normally you would have to bounce the light off the wall or ceiling for this effect.
Here, I experimented with moving the antennaed piece closer to the flash head. You will note its made hubby's face slighter shaded and his arm more illuminated. Not so good but worth experimenting with. At least my invention has that capability.
And for a further show of how amazing this homemade beauty dish is, I took the whole thing off and fired the flash directly in hubby's face. Not a good look whatsoever. Which means its a big hurrah for the beauty dish and its offer of a soft, even glow.
And to prove how delicious this homemade contraption really is, I tested it on my Belle la Belle which proves how wonderful the light really is.
**Love the catch lights in her eyes**
In sum, although my beauty dish is somewhat smaller (and uglier) than your average dish, its worth playing about with a homemade one until you can appreciate what size you want to work with and whether you like the results to warrant buying the real deal.
I'm on the look out for larger polystyrene dishes to broaden the area I want to work on but in the interim, I'm happy to faff around with my little creation until I decide whether to spend the big bucks or not. Or maybe just continue using this monstrosity and fake it until someone can convince me otherwise.
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