The Profoto beauty dish is one of my favorite light shaping tools. I have used it many times as my main light for years but today I want to show how to use the beauty dish as a fill light.
The two images shown are both created using the beauty dish, but in one example the beauty dish is the main and the other it is the fill. The more dramatic of the images, where the model eyes are illuminated was made using three lights. The main light is a Profoto strobe head with a spot small snoot head made by Profoto. This light allows me to shape the light exactly as I see fit for the shot. The second light is the beauty dish, but acting as a fill light for the shot. The third light is the backlight, or edge light, used to separate and define the subject from the background. It is important to use a light meter for situations like this because you need to know exactly what each light is reading. You can not do a shot like this simply by reading the histograms on your camera. A meter is an essential element in every shoot I do. I used the Sekonic meter for this image and my readings for each light were the following:
Main Light reading (spot small snoot) - F 11.0
Fill Light (Beauty dish) - F. 5.6
Edge light - 5.0
Exposure: F11.0 @ 1/125th
The camera used to make this image was the Sony A900 with an 100mm macro lens, and I set my ISO to 200 on the meter and the camera. A quick note about ISO. Each camera has a native ISO, which gives you the best files possible from your camera. Unlike film, where the lower the ISO the better the images, with digital the native ISO gives you the best files. Each camera manufacturer has its own native ISO. For Sony the native ISO is 200 and for Canons it is 160.
The second image is made using the beauty dish as the main and the same edge light, but the edge light is brought up in power by one stop. Our model is blond and the edge light is a bit too hot in this example. If she were brunette or had black hair we would be fine with this edge light exposure, so you will need to adjust depending on your subject. To learn more about using lights in complex situations go to the gallery store for downloadable products to improve your photography and inspire you to make your best images ever!
Always experiment to go above and beyond the norm. It is great to learn all the rules of lighting and photography but after you have learned the rules it is fine to break them to achieve better results. Our world of photograph is changing faster and faster so the rules from yesterday will not open the door to the future. Push yourself to experiment and discover new ways to explore the joy and beauty of photography.
Always Dream Big!
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