Texxas’s Weblog

17 January, 2009

DIY Beauty Dish light for under ten dollars.

Filed under: DIY — texxas @ 7:02 pm

Hi there gang,

This is the first of a two part piece on the making of a Beauty Dish.  For the uninitiated a beauty dish is a wide diameter light modifier that softens shadows and diffuses strobe flash giving a fine soft shadow and interesting ‘donut’ shaped catchlights in the subjects’ eyes.

For this you will need a large diameter dish, a convex reflector, a plastic jar with lid, matt white paint, glue and the usual tools. (Craft knife, cordless drill, marker pen, duct tape some cable ties (or pop rivets) and cutting mat)


I found these salad bowls at the local $2 shop for $2.50 – how ironic.  Whilst they are not as wide as I would have liked, they are very cheap and made of a very nice vinyl which cut and drilled well.

A large diameter flat bowl is the best shape and I urge you to look out for something at least 30 – 50 centimeters in diameter.  For the reflector, I have used a convex mirror $4.50 at the local Auto-Pro store.  The clear plastic jar is a peanut butter jar – but a large plastic Vegemite jar will also suffice.  Whilst I have some Silicone adhesive here, hot melt glue will also work.


The tapered nature of the plastic jar means that you can get a nice fit to the convex lens with a little cutting and measuring.  Cut the base of the jar off and glue it to the mirror.  The lid of the jar will need to be significantly larger than the head diameter of the flash.  I am using my trusty SB600 here and I suggest making a template from some card to help get the hole just the right size the first time.  Remember, measure twice, cut once…. Thanks Mr Wilson from shop class 1975…  You have to cut identical holes in both the jar lid and the dish – so a template will help.

Fix the lid of the jar into the dish by drilling a couple of holes and with either cable ties or pop rivets (test a small piece of the discarded hole plastic first to ensure that the rivets don’t split the plastic, otherwise use cable ties.)

Test fit the flash into the hole and let is poke through about 1 1/2 to 2 centimeters.

Once the fit and fixing is done, paint the interior of the dish and jar lid with the flat white paint.  ( I have used a vinyl dye that I had left over from another project.)

Allow to dry and thats about it…. screw the centre reflector into the dish and fit the flash unit.  Give it a few test shots with and without the reflector to see the difference between the flash shadows.


Direct Flash

Direct Flash

Beauty Dish Shadow

Beauty Dish Shadow


15 January, 2009

DIY Strip-Light Light modifier.

Filed under: DIY — texxas @ 4:12 pm

Hi there light fans…

I have been delving into the murky world of flash photography.  Yes my friends, I have lovely large studio flash heads, soft boxes and brollies.  But I really wanted to have an uber portable setup that I can stick in the van and have on hand for those times that I can do a quick setup and shoot.  No need for large light stands, just a couple of flash guns.

I was inspired by some photos I saw that included strip lighting and loved the soft effect.  I then went about and made these from scratch.  These things are needed… Flash head (SB600 here) Craft knife – cutting mat, double sided Gaffer tape, Duct tape, Box Reflective stuff and opaque cover.

First I found a couple of long thin boxes suitably strong and sturdy enough for constructing into a permanent thing.

Printer cartridge boxes work really well as they are bloody tough.  They are free (with the purchase of a $150 print cartridge)

Trim the sides to the desired depth.

Cut the hole in the end  for the flash head.


For the reflector I have used an old car windshield reflector / protector.  $2 at the Reject shop – its got a great wrinkly finish. – Make a pattern and cut out… 

With small tabs of double sided tape, fit the reflector into the box and secure.

Gaffer tape the opaque cover to the outside of the box… I have used a white piece of poly foam – the same kind that you get to protect a new monitor or LCD TV.  Its free and it has a nice texture and opacity.  (The texture helps keep the light uniform.)  Its also free.


Go ahead and Duct tape the sides of the reflector to the box and then cover the box with the opaque cover.

(Glass of wine optional)


…. and now you have the basic box… fit it to the flash gun…


Now you can play with the cool soft effects that come with the long soft light strips … 

go get a willing model and pop away… *** TIP*** do a white balance before going nuts with the model.  Some covers have a tint usually pinkish… which can warm the light nicely but its always best to balance the white.


The catch-lights in the eyes are bloody great!

Hope this helps… have fun, stay safe & be careful with that knife… especially after the wine.

Cheers G

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