Need tips for using beauty dish/grid (Profoto 600R)

Started May 8, 2013 | Discussions
iShootWideOpen
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Need tips for using beauty dish/grid (Profoto 600R)
May 8, 2013

I've been an available light shooter most of my adult life. This year, I promised myself to be learn shooting artificial light and dusting off my rarely used Profoto 600R with beauty dish and grid.

Any pointers or direction would be appreciate it.

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FlowBerlin
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Re: Need tips for using beauty dish/grid (Profoto 600R)
In reply to iShootWideOpen, May 8, 2013

Could you specify what tips you are looking for?

Otherwise:

1. Get someone to shoot a picture of.

2. Put an 85mm lens on your camera.

3. Place the strobe above camera level, centered or slightly off-center.

4. Meter the light correctly and adjust correctly.

5. Shoot.

The closer you put the light to the subject, the more contrasty and "artificial" it will look (which can look very nice.

The higher you put the light, the more shadows you get on cheeks and from the nose and below the eyebrows. And the less of a reflection you can see in the eyes.

I'm not a big fan of the grid, but well, check it out.

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Sailor Blue
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Re: Need tips for using beauty dish/grid (Profoto 600R)
In reply to iShootWideOpen, May 9, 2013

Your beauty dish is roughly the same thing as a big reflector, usually about 20" in diameter instead of the 7" reflector that normally comes with lights.

Contrary to what FlowBerlin says, the closer it is to your subject the larger it will be with respect to the subject so the softer the light from it will be.  At any distastance it will be harder light than from a softbox of the same size.  If you use a sock on the front of the beauty dish you will soften the light some and smooth out the transition from light to shadow at the edge of the disk of light from the dish, but light from a softbox will still be softer.

Beauty dishes are usually used for doing portraits of young girls or women with beautiful clear smooth skin.  It is must often used above the camera for butterfly lighting.  The normal working distance would be 6' or less for the dish, probably in the 3'-4' range.  As FlowBerlin said, you do have to watch out for raccoon eyes, which are hard to prevent if you get the dish too close since it has to be above the lens and out of the shot.

Portrait Lighting - Names for different portrait lighting set-ups in photography

If you want to use it for shooting older people and you want to bring out the character of their skin, including the roughness and wrinkles, then move it off to the side more toward the 45° angle and move it further away so that the light becomes harder.

A beauty dish is also used for fashion.  It is a big reflector so it can illuminate a standing subject if moved further away than for portraits and when moved to the side it will give you nice lighting to bring out the texture and drape of the fabrics.  Properly positioned the light will slowly drop off in intensity from the head and chest to the feet.

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FlowBerlin
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Re: Need tips for using beauty dish/grid (Profoto 600R)
In reply to Sailor Blue, May 15, 2013

Sailor Blue wrote:

Contrary to what FlowBerlin says, the closer it is to your subject the larger it will be with respect to the subject so the softer the light from it will be.

That's not contrary to what I said, since I didn't say anything about soft or hard light. What I was referring to is that the closer you bring a lightsource (of any size) to the subject, the more contrasty the light by itself will get – which is simply because the relative differences (i.e. nose vs. ears) to the light source become larger.

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Sailor Blue
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Re: Need tips for using beauty dish/grid (Profoto 600R)
In reply to FlowBerlin, May 16, 2013

FlowBerlin wrote:

Sailor Blue wrote:

Contrary to what FlowBerlin says, the closer it is to your subject the larger it will be with respect to the subject so the softer the light from it will be.

That's not contrary to what I said, since I didn't say anything about soft or hard light. What I was referring to is that the closer you bring a lightsource (of any size) to the subject, the more contrasty the light by itself will get – which is simply because the relative differences (i.e. nose vs. ears) to the light source become larger.

Hard light is high contrast light, i.e. the highlights and shadows have sharp edges and the shadows are very dark with respect to the highlights.

From page 19 of "Light Science and Magic:

Contrast

The third important characteristic of a photographic light is its
contrast. A light source has high contrast if its rays all strike the
subject from nearly the same angle. Light rays from a  low-
contrast source strike the subject from many different angles.
Sunlight on a clear day is a common example of a high-contrast
light source. Notice that the rays of sunlight in Figure 2.4 are
parallel to one another. They all strike the subject at the same
angle.

As you bring the light closer to the subject the light gets softer since its relative size to the subject increases.  The result is that light is striking the subject from more angles, which is what softens the edges of the highlights and shadows.

As you bring the light closer to the subject the light also wraps around the face to fill in the shadows so you don't get the high contrast you get from hard light.

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FlowBerlin
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Re: Need tips for using beauty dish/grid (Profoto 600R)
In reply to Sailor Blue, Aug 10, 2013

Sailor Blue wrote:

FlowBerlin wrote:

Sailor Blue wrote:

Contrary to what FlowBerlin says, the closer it is to your subject the larger it will be with respect to the subject so the softer the light from it will be.

That's not contrary to what I said, since I didn't say anything about soft or hard light. What I was referring to is that the closer you bring a lightsource (of any size) to the subject, the more contrasty the light by itself will get – which is simply because the relative differences (i.e. nose vs. ears) to the light source become larger.

Hard light is high contrast light, i.e. the highlights and shadows have sharp edges and the shadows are very dark with respect to the highlights.

From page 19 of "Light Science and Magic:

Contrast

The third important characteristic of a photographic light is its
contrast. A light source has high contrast if its rays all strike the
subject from nearly the same angle. Light rays from a low-
contrast source strike the subject from many different angles.
Sunlight on a clear day is a common example of a high-contrast
light source. Notice that the rays of sunlight in Figure 2.4 are
parallel to one another. They all strike the subject at the same
angle.

As you bring the light closer to the subject the light gets softer since its relative size to the subject increases. The result is that light is striking the subject from more angles, which is what softens the edges of the highlights and shadows.

As you bring the light closer to the subject the light also wraps around the face to fill in the shadows so you don't get the high contrast you get from hard light.

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Oops, just saw that now...

Hard light will always be more contrast, but more contrast  won't always be hard light. You can have very soft, yet contrasty light. As I said above. The closer you bring a light source to the subject, the more within-subject contrast you will have. Not from the shadows, but from the relative distances of the subject's features to the light source.

Put your subject in front of a wall with a distance of 3 feet or something. But the light source directly in front of the subject and set it to be correct on the subject. Image: Subject in front of dark background. High contrast between subject and background.

Take the light source further away, increase the power to still light the subject properly. Result: Background gets lighter. Lower contrast between subject and background.

Now if you transfer this logic to i.e. a face you will get the same behavior for the face, i.e. the nose vs. the ears. The further away the light source from the subject, the lower the relative distances to the light source, hence the lower the within-subject contrast.

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Fargonz
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Re: Need tips for using beauty dish/grid (Profoto 600R)
In reply to iShootWideOpen, Aug 28, 2013

I use a dish for a lot of shots, quite like the look. (although it's not that much diff to an umbrella).

I'd be inclined to ditch the grid for most work unless you want to be more selective with the spread.

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