Photographer and YouTuber Joe Edelman is a bit DIY obsessed when it comes to portrait gear—from DIY gobos, to a reflector holder, to a portable background stand, he’s created some pretty interesting things. But this poor man’s DIY ‘beauty dish’ might be his most useful creation yet.
A beauty dish, as Edelman explains in the video, is a light modifier that turns a bare bulb flash into a large direct light source with rapid fall off and no hot spot in the center. It creates a fairly harsh light that is unforgiving, but desirable in portrait lighting situations where you really want to carve out your subject’s features.
If you’re a novice you might occasionally want this create this look, but not so much that you’re willing to spend $60, $70 or $80 on a bona fide beauty dish. What’s a poor (literally) photographer to do?
|Left: Edelman’s DIY ‘beauty dish’ made from an umbrella and a piece of foam core. Right: sample photo shot with this modifier.
Edelman’s solution is to use a 30-inch photography umbrella, place it strategically close to your subject for faster fall-off, zoom your speedlight as far in as you can, and cut out a 12-inch circle of black foam core to place in the middle.
All together, this hacked-together modifier can cost as little as $12 ($11 for a 33-inch umbrella, $1 for some foam core at your local WalMart).
Sure, it’s not a ‘real’ beauty dish, and maybe you can hack together a more accurate facsimile in your spare time, but it’s portable, takes about 5 minutes to ‘make’ and the results are remarkably similar to a real beauty dish.
Check out the full video up top and then head