Every time I wander through Profoto's archives either on their blog or like last week, in their YouTube video channel, I find something new to share. The "What's the Difference" series is one of my favorites, because first, Jared Platt is one of the leading educators in the industry and second, together with Profoto, he packs a lot of helpful content into his posts and videos. Check out Jared's website for more images and to keep track of what he's up to.
He's shooting with Profoto's B1 Off-Camera Flash System in this comparison post. Off-Camera flash is a game-changer, giving artists the ability to create great lighting no mater where they are.
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In my last post, I showed you the difference between a bare head flash and a white beauty dish. A beauty dish creates a directional, but soft light by increasing the relative size of the light and by blocking the original light source and forcing the light to spread evenly around the entire modifier. You probably already know that the relative size of your light determines how soft the light will be, but there are other factors that change the quality of that light. One of those additional factors is the surface of the light modifier itself.
A soft white surface will refract the light in multiple directions, so that the light from the left side of the beauty dish not only travels straight to the subject, but also heads to the right and fills in any of the shadow created by the light traveling directly from the right side of the beauty dish and vice versa. As a result, the light hitting the subject is much softer, with subtler transitions between highlight and shadow.
In the first image, we used the Profoto OCF White Beauty Dish on a Profoto B1 Off Camera Light and the result is what you would expect out of a beauty dish. You can see the direction of light, but due to the size of the light and the refractive white surface, the shadow transitions are soft.
With no change in size, but a change in the refractive nature of the surface, you will see distinct difference in the highlights on the model’s face, the sparkle in her eyes and the detail in the fur around the hood of her coat. Why?
The shinny surface of a silver beauty dish reflects the same light in one very definitive direction, rather than reflecting the light in multiple directions.
This is the reason I have created the What’s the Difference series with such meticulousness: so you can see even the most subtle differences in various light shaping tools. In this instance, spend some time and get a good feel for the difference between the two modifiers and identify the lighting style you prefer. That will be your “go to” beauty dish. But there are reasons to have both in your arsenal.
I have the Profoto 20 inch Soft White Beauty Dish, which is fantastic, but it is also metal, so it requires a lot of space to travel. The brilliance of the Profoto OCF Silver and White Beauty Dishes are their low profile. The size of the light and the quality of the surface provide a beautiful soft light in a small package that is easy to maneuver and the light weight and collapsibility make for easy travel.
Decide on a surface based on the look you prefer and your special needs. If you are shooting outside most of the time, you might consider the silver surface. If you are shooting women who need a softer look, start with the white surface. Either way, you’re going to get a beautiful directional light from a beauty dish.