Off camera flash


Beauty Dish

Every manufacturer of professional studio flashes has a complete range of accessories for all the necessary contrast and lighting range possibilities. Among so many accessories there is one that I particularly like and that is the Beauty Dish. It is a dish with a parabolic section that, as I wrote in another post, has very particular properties in the distribution of reflected light. With this accessory, I made the fashion test of this post.

Isarrualde Photography off camera flash model Gemma Cadenas

The photos were taken at the Olympic Port of Barcelona, in summer, at sunset. As can be seen in the above photograph, the sun was very low and backlit. First I took several shots without flash to establish how I wanted the background to look, in terms of exposure level and depth of field. I then adapted the flash power so as to match the flash light to that of the scene in natural light, at Ratio +1.
When working with backlighting it is inevitable that there will be overexposed areas in the resulting image, especially when framing the photo with a glass background that reflected the sun. What determined the final exposure was deciding to what extent I wanted the hair in the outline to be burned into the shot.

Lighting Scheme I

The Beauty Dish is a larger diameter accessory than other more normal reflectors. On the other hand, it has a small plate that prevents the light rays from coming out directly and forces all the light to bounce inside it. The interiors are usually finished in satin aluminum with some roughness and there are also some with white surfaces. Whites give a smoother result, with a less evident gradient than when the background is silver.
Beauty Dish Beauty Dish

The light produced by this fixture is halfway between the harshness of a direct flash with a narrow parabolic reflector and the light produced by a softbox. The light is harder and more intense in the center and softens towards the ends, so you have to adjust the direction of this accessory very well and achieve a greater brightness on the model’s face, which degrades as it expands from the center.

Beauty Dish © Victor van Dijk

In this case I did not use the Beauty Dish with a studio flash but I used the Strobist technique, which consists of using reportage flashes instead of studio flashes and achieving similar light qualities with flashes that are more economical and portable. As shown in the image above, two flashes can be placed behind the fixture and even more. In other posts I have already explained the different possibilities of accessories that this technique allows.

Isarrualde Photography off camera flash Bowens Beauty Dish with Yongnuo 560

The kit I usually use consists of two Chinese Yongnuo 560 flashes, fully manual, with a Phottix adapter for Bowens accessories, plus some Godox PB820 batteries and the indispensable Pocket Wizard radio tranceivers.

Isarrualde Photography off camera flash

Lighting shceme II

I looked for a shady spot but with an interesting background. Around the Mapfre Tower there are many glass facades that reflect the environment at that time of day. Taking advantage of the colors of the model’s clothes I chose a corner that reflected the surrounding trees and that the color of the sky was in tune with the blues and light blue of the shirt.

Isarrualde Photography off camera flash

As in the previous photograph, in this second photograph I evaluated the ambient light before adding the flash. I really liked the background but the model’s face lacked brightness. Her pretty green eyes were too dimly lit and the flash solved the problem. In this case I placed a white translucent cover in front of the parabola to reduce the contrast and achieve a somewhat more dispersed brightness than in the previous photograph.

Isarrualde Photography off camera flash

The sun was beating down and I had to improvise quickly. The next change of clothes had some colors I had seen in the hall of a nearby building. We moved there and I took the following photo without ambient light as it was very low at the entrance of the building. A simple flash resolved the photo. That is, with a direct, frontal Beauty Dish.

Isarrualde Photography off camera flash

From the result obtained, it does not seem that the photograph was taken almost at night, but as can be seen in the following image, I took it under those circumstances. It was necessary to use a tripod and a somewhat slow shutter speed in order to recover some of the artificial light behind the hammered frosted glass facade.

Isarrualde Photography off camera flash

When I took the last photographs the natural light was very scarce. I placed two flashes almost crossed and lowered the speed until I achieved the ratio of lighting ratios that I liked the most.

Isarrualde Photography off camera flash

As in the previous example, the resulting images do not show that they were taken almost at night. What I like about the Strobist technique is that this fashion test was done with very simple, lightweight, easily portable and relatively inexpensive equipment relative to studio flashes.

Isarrualde Photography off camera flash

In the last photo we can see that it was almost dark.

Isarrualde Photography off camera flash

The ambient light was beginning to be that of the sodium or mercury vapor street lamps of the public lighting system. In this case, the clothing was very dark but contrasted nicely with the wooden wall chosen as a backdrop. As can be seen in the image above, I used a Beauty Dish as the main light – the one that gives character to the portrait – complemented by a hard side effect light produced by a flash without accessories, placed far away. The effect flash allowed not only to outline the model’s face, but also to diminish the contrast of the shadow of the body on the wall.

Isarrualde Photography off camera flash

Lighting scheme III

I must emphasize that I was very happy with the results, not only because of the professionalism of an excellent model like Gemma, but also because of the invaluable collaboration of the makeup artist María Isabel Martínez.

Isarrualde Photography off camera flash

The spring 2017 edition of the 15-hour photography workshops in Barcelona has started, and there are still two more workshops to be held! The theoretical classes will take place at Start2Bee, in Lesseps.

lighting scheme I

Strobist lighting scheme in a session in Barcelona to the model Gema Cádenas

Lighting scheme II

Lighting scheme of the Strobist technique

Lighting scheme III


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