Inspired by a post at Strobist about David Tejada’s Home Depot faux terra-cotta (plastic) planter-turned-beauty-dish for shoe-mount flash, I set out to create one of my own. Unfortunately, the “plans” Tejada followed won’t really work for me: the gutter downspout connector he used really only fits the head of a very small flash (the Nikon SB-800 was a remarkably compact flash) but my Canon 550EX units are far larger. After doing some research on “the Internets,” I found a beautifully made dish that employed a mixing bowl and a pizza pan: Todd Owyoung’s “Chinatown Special.” Remarkably, there’s a restaurant supply company near my house, but I am without a Dremel tool, so I was faced with a choice: increase the cost of the project by getting a Dremel, or adapting Owyoung’s idea to the plastic Home Depot planter. I’ve chosen the latter.
So what about the reflector in the middle? Tejada, along with many people online, went with a CD case with a blind-spot mirror for a car epoxied in the center, but I thought the Chinatown Special’s use of a pizza pan was much more true to the design of actual beauty dish light modifiers. Unfortunately, an eight-inch pizza pan would occupy far too much space within the planter, so I went hunting for something a little smaller–something between five and six inches. Ultimately, I found a metal disc that would fill the same proportion of the Home Depot planter that the pizza pan filled the center of the mixing bowl: the lid from a paint can.
Finally, I had to decide how to mount the flash to the dish, and once again I borrowed from Todd Owyoung’s design and have found screws that serve as attachment points for a shoe-mount strobe softbox speedring: specifically, from this kit at Cowboy Studio.
Now, the exciting thing about all of this? The dish is currently drying/curing, all of the holes have been drilled, the window for the flash has been cut (there was some minor cracking in the bottom of the planter…oops!) but I don’t yet know what quality of light I’m going to get from this, or how evenly the paint can lid will bounce the light around the dish. So whether it turns out beautifully (pun intended) or is tragically revealed to be an example for others not to follow, you’ll find out here soon!