Craters on the surface


Craters on the surface
Craters on the surface: light wheat bread recipe from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice featured on Smitten Kitchen | Canon 7D and 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens | Exposed 1/60 sec. @ f/8, ISO 200 | 580 EX II Speedlite fired in the DIY Beauty Dish on camera left.

Over the past month Elizabeth and I have been working on a new project I’ll be unveiling soon.  Part of it is a new-found interest of mine: baking bread.  I’ve never considered myself a good candidate for the Atkins diet because I simply cannot get enough bread in my life.  Elizabeth has a bread machine that she purchased from a second hand store, and while neither one of us particularly likes the loaves it makes, I’ve found that it’s a fantastic dough-making machine–plus it takes care of the first rise.  Pictured here is the top crust of a very basic, but very functional sandwich bread: Light Wheat Bread from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice and featured on the Smitten Kitchen.

Beauty Dish is Coming…

Beauty Dish
Home Depot Beauty Dish

Two coats of paint, a couple weeks of curing, some mishaps in assembly, and a third coat of paint to fix aforementioned mishaps later, and the beauty dish is ready for testing.  Stay tuned…

Catface | Canon 7D and 50mm f/1.4 lens | Exposed 1/250 sec. @ f/2.8, ISO 100 | 550EX strobe fired with built-in wireless flash control

The Home Depot Beauty Dish – Part One

Building blocks
Building blocks: a paint can lid, a "terra cotta" planter, a shoe-mount speedring, and satin-finish black and white spray paint

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.

Beauty dish
Beauty dish prior to painting

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!

Lighting with a Beauty Dish

The concept of the “beauty dish” came up today in my Advanced Techniques class at MU.  Two examples that immediately jumped to mind, both linked from David Hobby’s Strobist blog.

The first was a People magazine photo spread from 2007 that featured ten celebrities without the use of retouching–digital or otherwise.  Instead, studio techniques were employed to ensure that these celebrities would not look like mere mortals.  Just the same, I’d rather see clever studio work to get the result “in camera” than to see a photograph in a magazine that features only a few “original” pixels.  Strobist points to a PopPhoto blog that (roughly) explains how the images were created.

Secondly, I thought of a portrait of a Navy SEAL by photographer Morgan Silk.  The setup for the photograph was a beauty dish, a reflector, and two smaller lights for some rim lighting in back.  It’s explained at F Stop, with some really nice diagrams.  Ironically, and unfortunately, I think just as much post-production retouching went into the photo as would normally have happened with the photos of the ten celebs.  Funny old world.  The addition of the sky is just overkill, but the lighting on the face, especially, is interesting (and simple).

Finally, if you want to make your own beauty dish, there is a tutorial at Light and Pixels.