I’m asked all of the time how I get that beautiful “glow” in Photoshop, I wish… I haven’t figured that one out yet, I use a special light modifier called the Beauty Dish.
Fifteen years ago a photographer on ModelMayhem wrote and asked me how I get such wonderful skin effects in Photoshop. I wrote her back and explained; since I specialize in Beauty Photography I am very critical of the models and makeup artists I use when working on my own portfolio. Plus I use a Beauty Dish for everything I shoot, Beauty, Fashion, Glamour, Everything! She promptly wrote me back, calling me a lair. Ten years later, I am still laughing hysterically over that. You just can’t help some people….
The Beauty Dish was developed and intended to be used as a portrait light modifier. It has now been recognized within the Makeup industry and adopted as a staple light source. The modified light from a beauty dish is comparable between that of a parabolic reflector and a softbox. Although it’s much closer to the hard light spectrum. The shadow, highlight transition is sharp and of a higher contrast. Because of this, the beauty dish tends to accentuate every little detail of your subject. You will need to pay careful attention when placing the light and posing your model, to hide flaws. The beauty dish works best when placed between four to eight feet from the subject. Placed at closer distances (4′ to 6′) the beauty dish produces what many call a “liquid wrap” effect. Beyond 8′ the overall effect is more comparable to that of a “hard” umbrella. The beauty dish generates a circular catchlight, which are awesome too. It’s rumored to have a very steep learning curve. We’re here to turn that around and get you up and running with the beauty dish by your first shoot.
The Sweet Spot: Placing the beauty dish at distances between 4′ to 6′ produces a “liquid wrap” effect. The contrast increases, so does the saturation and finer detail in this very crisp light. The sweet spot is easy to master when you balance your light readings with a good flash meter.
The Feathered Light: When the beauty dish is between 6’ to 12’ it has very soothing and tanning effect. You still enjoy a higher contrast and saturation, without the unpleasing hot spots. You’re basically aiming the center of the beauty dish’s beam either just ahead or just behind your subject and using a narrow strip of dishes edge light.
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