Elegance Dish Photography: The Essential Information (+ 5 Lighting Setups)

Beauty Dish Photography: The Essential Guide (+ 5 Lighting Setups)

Beauty dish photography (+ 5 lighting setups)

The beauty dish is one of my absolute favorite light modifiers – but it can be intimidating for beginners, and can even confuse serious portrait shooters .

That is why, in this article, I discuss everything you need to know about beauty meal photography, from the lighting fundamentals all the way to my favorite setups. I also explain when it makes sense to use a beauty dish compared to a softbox , so if you’re unsure which way to go, I should have the ability to help you out.

Let’s get started!

What is a beauty dish?

A beauty dish is really a circular lighting modifier by having an opaque center, like this:

beauty dish example

Like most light modifiers, you can combine the beauty dish with a studio strobe or speedlight. Note that a beauty dish blocks light in the center of the strobe and reflects it across the entire dish; this ensures a relatively hard, focused light beam, though it’s softer compared to, say, a scrim , a softbox, or an umbrella. Beauty dishes are generally reserved just for portraits, for reasons I actually explain the next section.

You can buy beauty dishes for most lights, and they are usually less expensive than some other modifiers – but if you don’t want to spend more money, consider creating a DIY beauty dish (many plans can be found online, and I’ve really made them out of aluminium turkey pans! ).

Why are elegance dishes useful?

Beauty dishes are popular in the fashion industry, usually for head-and-shoulders portraits that will highlight makeup and hair. Because beauty dish light is relatively hard, you can sculpt the subject’s face and possess texture in their skin, yet without straying into bare-flash territory. Plus, the light falloff is quite rapid, which allows you to definitely emphasize facial features and deemphasize surroundings.

Also, beauty dishes produce stunning catchlights in the eyes (beautiful, circular illustrates that draw the audience into the portrait), and they create nice shadows under the jaw line.

Beauty dishes are versatile, too; you can change the high quality of the light by picking out a dish with a silver or even white inner surface (the white surface will reduce specular highlights on the subject’s face). You can also control the spill of light using a grid and further soften the sunshine by adding a sock within the front, like this:

beauty dish with a sock

Beauty dish compared to softbox: which should you use?

If you’re just getting to grips with studio portrait photography, you might be struggling to decide between the beauty dish and a softbox. While both these lighting modifiers work great, they do include several significant differences, therefore it’s worth carefully taking into consideration your options.

As I explained above, beauty dishes are primarily used for portrait photography, especially fashion. So if you’re hoping to capture still life photos, product photos, or even studio pet photos in addition to standard family portrait shots, a softbox could be the better buy.

Softboxes are also perfect for achieving a softer, complementary look – so they are perfect if you’re hoping to obtain that “diffused window” impact that portrait photographers like.

Plus, you can buy large softboxes, that are great for team shots (beauty dishes vary in size, but they never go that big).

On the other hand, the wonder dish look is more difficult and sculpted, so if you really want intense portraits, an attractiveness dish will serve you well.

Beauty dish photography: getting started

So you’ve decided to make use of a beauty dish – and maybe even purchased one. What now? How should you proceed?

First, I’d suggest you just use a beauty dish setup on customers or models with very good skin, because the harder lighting can show off imperfections like wrinkles and blemishes. It is also helpful to find a good make-up and hair artist considering that you’ll likely be showing off the particular subject’s face in detail.

(Pro tip: If you want to use a makeup designer but aren’t ready to pay for this service, offer all of them a trade: makeup in substitution for professional images, which they may use to expand their portfolios. )

beauty dish portrait

As for the technical details: I’d recommend a lens within the 85-200mm range so you can focus in for tight headshots. In general, it makes sense to use an aperture of around f/8 in order to f/11 and an ISO of 100, then modify the lighting power to attain the right exposure. I would furthermore recommend using a boom adjustable rate mortgage, which will help you put the beauty meal in just the right spot with out getting in the way of your shot (though beginners can certainly get started with a conventional light stand).

The beauty dish will give you very nice light on your own subject’s face, so obtain that set up first. After that go ahead and add additional lighting, if you have them: a rim light behind your subject matter, a hair light above your subject, and/or the background light to separate the topic from the background.

Below, I share 5 specific beauty dish lights setups to get you taking beautiful images in no time at all:

1 . One light with a reflector

This setup, also known as clamshell light , is the most usual way to do a beauty-dish photo. Start by positioning your attractiveness dish right above the subject’s face and point it down slightly, so the center of the dish will be aimed at the subject’s your forehead, right between the eyes.

The dish should be close enough for your subject to produce soft light, generally within two to four feet. When you fixed this up, make sure you can see catchlights in the top of your subject’s eyes (try taking a test shot or two and zooming in your LCD).

Following, add a mirror under the chin to bounce light online backup into the subject’s face. It will help minimize shadows under the chin and will add a catchlight at the end of the eyes. Note that you’ll need to put your digital camera between the beauty dish and the reflector, which might take a little bit of finesse. Also, to adjust the amount of fill light, you’ll need to push the reflector closer or pull it away.

Some professional photographers like to add black credit cards on either side from the subject to create shadows to the sides of the face, but this is optional. And for a more sophisticated effect, try adding a background light or even a rim light to make your subject stand out.

2 . 2 lights in a clamshell pattern

This lights setup is similar to the clamshell pattern I shared above, except you use a strobe in place of the reflector. Therefore add your beauty meal above the subject pointing straight down, then position the strobe below the subject pointing upward.

What’s the benefit of this setup vs number one? A strobe allows you to control the fill lighting power, which makes filling in dark areas much easier. I prefer to use a strip box as fill (set one or two stops darker than the main light).

3. Give a sock over the beauty dish

A sock is a piece of diffusion materials that looks like a shower cap (see the image within the Why are attractiveness dishes useful section above), and it will go directly over the beauty meal. This softens the light over the subject’s face, and if you are getting shiny spots, it will reduce the specularity of the gentle.

While a naked beauty dish produces sculpted light, the sock will produce a creamy look with less pores and skin texture, like this:

black and white portrait taken with a beauty dish

Note that the objective here is to create either from the clamshell setups I discussed above, but with the additional sock.

four. Add a grid to the elegance dish

Here is another method of modifying the wonder dish clamshell setups:

Set your attractiveness dish above the subject, then add a grid, as shown below.

beauty dish with a grid

The grid will focus the beam into associated with a spotlight pattern, which may be used to create some interesting effects. Just make sure the main grid is pointed directly on the subject, or the light pattern will not strike the face correctly. (The easiest way to check this? Ask the subject if they can see directly through the grid towards the light source. )

5. Head outdoors

The beauty dish is a good portable light modifier mainly because it’s more compact than a softbox, and it won’t catch the particular wind like an umbrella.

Depending on the strength of your lights, you can use a beauty dish as a major light or fill gentle. Feel free to use the straight-down positioning I recommended above, however, you can also set it up at a 45-degree angle, like you might use a softbox.

When the light conditions are warm – such as around sunrise or sunset – you may want to add a color temperature orange gel over the attractiveness dish to help blend the particular strobe with the sunlight.

woman in the water outdoor beauty dish photography

Beauty meal photography: final words

Hopefully, you can now with confidence use a beauty dish. They are powerful lighting tools, and the effect is amazing.

So if you haven’t already, go out and buy (or make! ) a beauty dish. And then do a photoshoot! I actually guarantee you’ll get some wonderful shots.

Today over to you:

How do you plan to work with a beauty dish in your next photoshoot? Which beauty meal do you plan to buy? Reveal your thoughts in the comments below!

woman with beauty dish lighting







  • GEAR







Reading more from our Tips & Tutorials category

I want help with…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *