Beauty Dish – Grid or No Grid?

XE2-0932I was curious about the effect of using the grid that came with my Beauty Dish would be and thought I’d do a quick little experiment with it and without it just to see the difference. For those who are new to the blog, I recently purchased a beauty dish for my speedlights and have been using it almost exclusively for a while now just so I can see what all I can do with it. You can read more about it HERE if you’re interested.

I started out with just the single light modifier, pretty much strait on and up above me where the bottom edge of the beauty dish was just about even with my eyes. I was using my Fuji X-E2 with my 60mm (91mm equivalent) lens at f2.4. Since I was at f2.4 I had to lower the power on the flash all the way down to 1/64th power.

Beauty Dish, no grid.
Beauty Dish, no grid.

The first image shows a good exposure of the subject (sorry for more shots of my ole mug, but I’m convenient to work with), but the light spilling over to the background looks terrible because it’s not even and is very distracting. I could have changed the distance between the subject and the background to control the amount of light that was spilling over from the subject on to the background, but I opted to attach the Beauty Dish’s grid which controls the light by channeling it through a big group of short little “straws.”

Beauty Dish, with grid.
Beauty Dish, with grid.

With the grid now attached to the Beauty Dish, I took another picture which reveals just how well the grid controls the light spilling on to the background. Here you can see that no light is making it to the neutral gray background and it now appears to be solid black, which is not exactly the look I was going for, and since I was wearing a black T-shirt and have dark hair, I pretty much disappear into the darkness. Again, I could have tried to fix this a number of ways like varying the distance between me and the background, using a reflector to kick some of the light back behind me. Instead I chose to put another speedlight behind me with a small grid on it and on 1/64th power to add a gradient of light on the gray background to add some separation to pop me off of the background. Plus I just like the look of this setup.

Final image with Beauty Dish, grid, and background light.
Final image with Beauty Dish, grid, and background light.

So here’s the final image with the gridded Beauty Dish and the gridded background light. I think it pulls all of the elements together to give a dark, moody, and interesting feel to the image. A couple of thing worth mentioning here is that I could have used a reflector under my face to push some light into the shadows and compress the exposure, but I wanted a more dark and moody image.

You might also notice that having your light coming from up high (and/or from the side) exacerbates texture. This photo is certainly not flattering to my skin, but for me, and most guys, we don’t care. But if you’re trying to reduce texture or mask wrinkles or bad skin, you’re probably want to use a very large, and less directional light source to “soften” things up.

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