My DIY Beauty Dish For SpeedLights - Step by Step

jhelmsjhelms Major grinsPosts: 662Registered Users Major grins
edited March 27, 2016 in Accessories
After being inspired by strobist.com and David Tejada, I decided to try putting together a beauty light as a small project.
It was cheap, easy, and fun!
Parts List:
1) Tupperware bowl (sized for like chips at a party, or large mixing bowl), $2
2) One gutter downspout connector, ~$2
3) An old CD, and an old 50-pack plastic CD container (free)
4) Automotive extended view round mirror, $2
5) Glue (I used blue silicone sealant for part of this but would just use strong glue next time)
6) Velcro
7) To connect the flash to the stand, any flash mount / clamp / umbrella bracket will do
8) Black and silver spray paint, $7
9) Fine grit sandpaper and/or steel wool

Some of this might have been unneccesary or overkill but I enjoyed playing around with it a little bit. I don't have prices listed for the items that I had laying around the house.

Steps That I Used:
1) The bowl that I bought was red shiny plastic. I wasn't sure how well the spray paint would stick to it, so I roughed up the surface a little bit with the sandpaper and steel wool:

532207308_nmfWu-M.jpg

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2) I did the painting in several stages of light coats, with steel wool in between to smooth it out (again, taking it real slow):

532203376_UT7YG-M.jpg

Some people online have used white for the inside of the DIY beauty dishes, I just happened to choose silver (my shot-in-the-dark theory on this was that you lose a stop or so with the beauty dish so maybe the silver metallic would be more reflective than white and help the light transfer to be a little more efficient).
I used black for the outside of the bowl:
532267424_6XzwZ-M.jpg

3) I took the old cd, painted one side black and left the other side silver

532445604_UiA85-M.jpg

4) Took the automotive mirror and glued it to the silver side of the CD, then glue the black side of the CD to the inside top of the clear plastic CD holder:

532444609_BDLyq-M.jpg

5) Next step was cutting out the bottom of the bowl. My plan was to use the gutter spout for the size of the hole, but since it is slightly larger than the head of my speedlight, I'll need to use something fill the gap when the dish is mounted, but this will also give me flexibility to use this dish on larger flash-heads in the future.
I used a dremel but you can (carefully, and at your own risk) use an exacto, hot knife, torch, or jackhammer.
Use the same method to cut out the bottom of the black plastic part of the CD holder/tray (which I also painted silver for the part that would be showing inside the dish):

534663366_UXz6x-S.jpg534662814_WVNux-S.jpg
534660498_PKnUn-S.jpg534662344_RHbFp-S.jpg

Since I wasn't in a hurry, I did several test fits as I was cutting to make sure that I didn't make the hole too large for the gutter piece to fit - I am planning on gluing it all together of course but a snug fit is preferred.

534658280_qCbwG-S.jpg534658339_tNTvr-S.jpg

6) Place the CD tray in the bottom of the bowl, line up the holes and glue it to the bowl. In the meantime I spray painted the gutter piece black.

534660057_hMCHS-S.jpg

Here's a peek inside the assembled dish:

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A few shots of the finished product:

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I still need to apply the sealing method to the inside of the gutter piece, probably some velcro or small strip of weather / door / window sealant:
539230456_qXdWE-M.jpg

Here's a quick-n-dirty non-scientific example of the output against a wall; this shot is very close to the wall, maybe 18 inches or so:
539231802_qC48x-M.jpg

This one is a few feet away from the wall:
539232718_j54tU-M.jpg

Note: I left my Stofen Omnibounce in place on my SB600 during this experiment; I'll keep playing with it to see if I like it on or off in conjunction with the beauty dish, but comments and suggestions are definitely welcome... thanks everyone!!!
Also, not shown are the velcro squares on the back of the bowl, used to strap the flash head to the dish. The dish setup is extremely light, so no additional support is being used currently other than the flash head. The flash is then mounted to an umbrella bracket / flash stand, etc.

539232950_o9JK4-L.jpg
John in Georgia
Nikon | Private Photojournalist

Comments

  • ian408ian408 More wag. Less Bark. Posts: 21,292Administrators moderator
    edited May 18, 2009
    Thanks for that!
    Moderator Journeys/Sports/Big Picture :: Need some help with dgrin?
  • PhoteauxGuyPhoteauxGuy Beginner grinner Posts: 1Registered Users Beginner grinner
    edited May 22, 2009
    Can we see an example of something taken with it?
  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Posts: 20,616Super Moderators moderator
    edited May 22, 2009
    Can we see an example of something taken with it?

    PhoteauxGuy, welcome to the Digital Grin. clap.gif
    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • jhelmsjhelms Major grins Posts: 662Registered Users Major grins
    edited May 23, 2009
    Can we see an example of something taken with it?


    I'll definitely post some up when I have a chance; I shot 4 events in the past 2 days and am sifting through ~24gb of raw files... thumb.gif
    John in Georgia
    Nikon | Private Photojournalist
  • jhelmsjhelms Major grins Posts: 662Registered Users Major grins
    edited June 2, 2009
    Here are a couple of quick portrait tests... my 2y/o was watching TV, all lights were out except the TV.

    SB600 was in the beauty dish, 17-50mm 2.8 lens, flash was in left hand, TTL connected by hotshoe cord, both shots are 1/60th, f5.0, ISO250.

    Light was held close to her face, just out of frame left...


    553355891_AcuEJ-L.jpg


    553355824_NEWmw-M.jpg


    No editing or exposure correction to either of these shots except cropping and +26 vibrance.
    John in Georgia
    Nikon | Private Photojournalist
  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Posts: 20,616Super Moderators moderator
    edited June 2, 2009
    John, tell your daughter she makes a lovely model.

    That is a very pleasing rolloff into the shadows and good modeling of the face. Much better than I would have expected from the diameter of the dish.

    Good job. clap.gif

    I would suggest that the catch light in the eyes would probably look better if they were changed into white circles instead of white donuts, but that's like a 2 second fix. (That's also common to many of the beauty dish designs.)
    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • jhelmsjhelms Major grins Posts: 662Registered Users Major grins
    edited June 4, 2009
    ziggy53 wrote:
    John, tell your daughter she makes a lovely model.

    That is a very pleasing rolloff into the shadows and good modeling of the face. Much better than I would have expected from the diameter of the dish.

    Good job. clap.gif

    I would suggest that the catch light in the eyes would probably look better if they were changed into white circles instead of white donuts, but that's like a 2 second fix. (That's also common to many of the beauty dish designs.)



    Thanks Ziggy! Good suggestion, I can clone the middle of the catchlight pretty easily - what is generally regarded as the most appealing catchlight shape? Full circle > Square/Box > Donut?


    My next little DIY projects are more flash modifiers. I'm making a straw / cereal box grid and a paper towel roll snoot! Here's a sneak peak:


    552400854_fQxBn-S.jpg552399486_GgHW9-S.jpg
    552402401_pPUsB-S.jpg552403155_7pN6P-S.jpg
    John in Georgia
    Nikon | Private Photojournalist
  • amg2833amg2833 Photo Engineer Posts: 155Registered Users Major grins
    edited June 4, 2009
    I love DIY camera gear. Great job. It gives students like myself hope.

    I'm excited to see your next project.
    ANTHONY :thumb
    [AMG]photos

    [Yashica Lynx 14E | Canon 30D | Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 | 540ez | Cactus V4s]


  • jhelmsjhelms Major grins Posts: 662Registered Users Major grins
    edited June 7, 2009
    Some updated projects from this weekend....


    Beauty dish next to the Smith-Victor beginner / budget set of hot lights

    556595028_szMQe-M.jpg


    Picked up a used GF to add to the mix:

    556596887_DAaed-M.jpg


    Snoot made from a paper towel tube, gutter connector, and gaffer's tape (and some flat black spray paint):

    556596052_WxVVe-M.jpg


    556596002_DSmXD-M.jpg


    556595952_geenP-M.jpg
    John in Georgia
    Nikon | Private Photojournalist
  • jhelmsjhelms Major grins Posts: 662Registered Users Major grins
    edited June 7, 2009
    Got some more pics of my DIY grid and snoot today...



    557250458_cxd4Q-S.jpg557250416_YuyJH-S.jpg
    557249545_fR8dA-S.jpg557248283_a9rPf-S.jpg
    John in Georgia
    Nikon | Private Photojournalist
  • dogwooddogwood pixel hack Posts: 2,572Registered Users Major grins
    edited June 7, 2009
    So on your beauty dish, have you tried it with and without the stofen diffuser on the flash?

    I made the same dish you have and tried it out a bunch this fall. There are a lot of issues though and for now, I much prefer a regular beauty dish and studio strobe. The main reason is cited on strobist-- basically beauty dishes work better when you have a bare bulb rather than the flash going straight forward like it does with the DIY design. Does your stofen help with that? Have you tried it with and without the stofen? Can you tell a difference?

    Also, the silver vs white interior is not just about the power of the light, it's about the quality. White will leave a little softer look while the silver will be a little harsher-- just like with reflectors.

    Here's one of my shots with my DIY beauty dish (it's painted white inside)-- reflector used for fill.

    104629538.jpg

    Portland, Oregon Photographer Pete Springer
    website blog instagram facebook g+

  • jhelmsjhelms Major grins Posts: 662Registered Users Major grins
    edited June 7, 2009
    dogwood wrote:
    So on your beauty dish, have you tried it with and without the stofen diffuser on the flash?

    I made the same dish you have and tried it out a bunch this fall. There are a lot of issues though and for now, I much prefer a regular beauty dish and studio strobe. The main reason is cited on strobist-- basically beauty dishes work better when you have a bare bulb rather than the flash going straight forward like it does with the DIY design. Does your stofen help with that? Have you tried it with and without the stofen? Can you tell a difference?

    Also, the silver vs white interior is not just about the power of the light, it's about the quality. White will leave a little softer look while the silver will be a little harsher-- just like with reflectors.

    Here's one of my shots with my DIY beauty dish (it's painted white inside)-- reflector used for fill.


    So you mean just the stofen, and not the mirror or clear cd case? I haven't tried that, but I'll try to give it a test soon...
    John in Georgia
    Nikon | Private Photojournalist
  • jhelmsjhelms Major grins Posts: 662Registered Users Major grins
    edited June 8, 2009
    Here's the straw grid in action:


    Firing, side view:
    557657366_CpYzW-M.jpg


    Firing, looking head on:
    557656670_wUEHc-M.jpg


    Firing at the wall:
    557657213_B7jMP-M.jpg


    Just messing around tonight, I lit this with an SB600 through a stofen and umbrella at 1/128th on her face and an SB600 through the grid at TTL pointed at the 9mm:
    557604725_YLLhy-M.jpg
    John in Georgia
    Nikon | Private Photojournalist
  • dogwooddogwood pixel hack Posts: 2,572Registered Users Major grins
    edited June 8, 2009
    jhelms wrote:
    So you mean just the stofen, and not the mirror or clear cd case? I haven't tried that, but I'll try to give it a test soon...

    Actually, I mean with the mirror and cd case and with and without the stofen mwink.gif

    One more sample from mine-- no reflector on this one.

    104408394.jpg

    Portland, Oregon Photographer Pete Springer
    website blog instagram facebook g+

  • wolf911wolf911 Major grins Posts: 273Registered Users Major grins
    edited June 8, 2009
    I did this also, I didn't have a mirror handy, so used tinfoil and used a silver bowl.
    100_1401.jpg

    100_1402.jpg






    results at about 3 feet away from flash SOC - before is no flash and after is with of course
    beautydish.jpg
  • jhelmsjhelms Major grins Posts: 662Registered Users Major grins
    edited June 8, 2009
    dogwood wrote:
    Actually, I mean with the mirror and cd case and with and without the stofen mwink.gif

    One more sample from mine-- no reflector on this one.


    Ahh, ok gotcha - I haven't done that but will run a few examples this week. My first thought was that the stofen would cut too much output from the flash but a back to back would be a good idea. thumb.gif
    John in Georgia
    Nikon | Private Photojournalist
  • time2smiletime2smile Major grins Posts: 835Registered Users Major grins
    edited June 10, 2009
    thumb.gif Great post, thanks for sharing thumb.gif
    Ted....
    It's not what you look at that matters: Its what you see!
    Nikon
    http://www.time2smile.smugmug.com
  • jhelmsjhelms Major grins Posts: 662Registered Users Major grins
    edited June 10, 2009
    time2smile wrote:
    thumb.gif Great post, thanks for sharing thumb.gif



    Thanks! I enjoyed putting it together!

    I made a new post for the straw grid, and will post some example photos there also.... here's the link to that post:

    http://www.dgrin.com/showthread.php?p=1131745
    John in Georgia
    Nikon | Private Photojournalist
  • dabeardabear Beginner grinner Posts: 1New member Beginner grinner
    edited March 27, 2016
    wolf911 wrote: »
    I did this also, I didn't have a mirror handy, so used tinfoil and used a silver bowl.
    100_1401.jpg

    100_1402.jpg






    results at about 3 feet away from flash SOC - you can see the https://affmountain.com/my-wealthy-affiliate-review-and-results Wealthy Affiliate before is no flash and after is with of course
    beautydish.jpg

    Fantastic, I love the way you just use stuff around the house as photography equipment.

    I'm going to give this flash bowl a try too. Thanks for the idea and by the looks of your photos this diy stuff really works well.
  • CharlesCoachmanCharlesCoachman NJ USAPosts: 1Registered Users Beginner grinner
    edited June 21, 2018
    > @dabear said:
    > wolf911 wrote: »
    >
    > I did this also, I didn't have a mirror handy, so used tinfoil and used a silver bowl.
    >
    >
    >
    >
    >
    >
    >
    >
    >
    > results at about 3 feet away from flash SOC - you can see the theskinnyvibes.com/phenq-reviews-and-results/ phenq reviews is no flash and after is with of course
    >
    >
    >
    >
    >
    > Fantastic, I love the way you just use stuff around the house as photography equipment.
    >
    > I'm going to give this flash bowl a try too. Thanks for the idea and by the looks of your photos this diy stuff really works well.




    Thanks jhelms for step-by-step instructions as well as pictures. I tried to follow your instructions using a bowl (not tupperware, but similar) and have been able to create a beauty light. For me, this was not a small project as this is my first DIY adventure, and I got frustrated a few times but at last I am almost successful. I mean, the light works, but it is not as focused as yours. Once I fix this, I'll take a few "before and after" pics and post here.
  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Posts: 20,616Super Moderators moderator
    edited May 24, 2018

    CharlesCoachman, without seeing your creation it's a little hard to know what might be causing the effect of, "... not as focused as yours".

    If you used a clear CD/DVD container, important as many are not clear but diffused, then you must be very careful in choosing the size and shape of both the convex mirror and the bowl to gain proper focus of the light.

    If you're really struggling, the first thing I suggest trying to change is the bowl shape and size. If that doesn't help or if it makes matters worse then also change the mirror. You should rapidly discover which combination of mirror and bowl works best.

    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
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