Good News: Beauty dish complete!
Bad News: Dropped and broke my Pocket Wizard Transceiver II testing it!! Totally gutted!!!
After months research and careful planning, I FINALLY reveal my first DIY beauty dish. If I do say so myself I am pretty pleased with the first result. I haven’t performed much testing and have taken a few pictures (no special lighting) just using my SB-900. I’ll probably reshoot and repost with decent pictures when I have more time.
1 x Stainless Steel Mixing Bowl – from “All Rooms” in Liffey street (Dublin) – €12.00
1 x Bullar baking tin set (only used the base of the baking tin for the inner reflector) – from IKEA – €6.00
4 x set of 100mm machine screws, washers, nuts and dome nuts – €10.00
2 x cans of spray paint – €20.00
1 x Flash bracket from eBay – €15.00
Total: €63.00 + a lot time and patience.
Please note that all aforementioned prices are approximate or rounded off
Most of my time didn’t go into making the beauty dish, but more so planning it and finding the perfect ingredients. Dublin doesn’t seem to be the best for DIY, so I had to resort to finding supplies on the web. The most difficult thing to find was the 100mm machine screws. I eventaully managed to locate them locally from Inox.ie, where Ben was really helpful in finding what would best suit my requirements.
Secondly the base for the inner reflector was really tricky to find. I spent day trawling through through my head to come up with an idea of what could work. I had read that a pizza dish would work well for this, but alas I could not find anything the size I was looking for. Eventually I remembered seeing cake baking tins with a removable base. So I was back in the game.
Finding the perfect mixing bowl which wasn’t too heavy wasn’t easy to find either. I must have gone to about 10 fifferent stores looking for something that would work. One option was a very well made stainless steel bowl from IKEA, great size and quality, but very heavy. It was when I was looking for the cake baking tin that I found the bowl which I finally bought. Not the best quality and probably slightly more than I had hoped to pay, but I knew it was the best option, mainly due to the shape and light weight.
I finished off the outside of the dish last, using a textured iron cast finish spray paint. I thought this would possibly be the most wearing and show up the least defects. I know black looks more “bling”, but it also shows up scratches and dents very easily.
I used a matt white finish on the inside after first sanding the stainless steel finish to allow the paint to better grip the surface. Spray painting the inside first allowed for a few “hiccups” of white paint getting onto the outside. Doing the outside last would allow the inside to be pretty much sealed off when it was flipped over and the flash and screw cutouts were taped closed using masking tape.
Having majored in Industrial Design before returning to photography, product finish is very important to me. So I went with a dome nut to rather than a lock nut to “end” the machine screw. Their might be better options available, so I’ll still be keeping my options open. On the point of “finish” make sure your paint is 100% dry before you try moving the dish….oops! I need to redo a few bits and apply a last coat on the outside.
Profile view just to show the dish curve. Of course every dish will havea different size and/or curve, so it’s important to test the light effect by varying the distance of the flash from the inner reflector. I still need to test accordingly, but am fairly hapy with my initial results.
I was lucky to find this bracket on eBay. It’s very simialr to the ones used by Lastolite on their portable softboxes. Since buying this one I haven’t seen them available again, but am hoping it will come available again if ever I (or you) want to attempt another build. Even though it allows for multiple mount options, I decided to mount the bracket using the same machine screws used for separating the inner reflector.
I used fully threaded 100mm machine screws with a series of lock nuts along the shaft to fix the bracket to the dish as well as mount the inner reflector. This just means that there is less hardware and results in the dish being slightly lighter. Every bit helps, right?
And Then I would defintely like to say thanks to Todd from ishootshows.com for a few ideas, namely using the machine screws and to seal the spary paint using a clear laquer finish. I wish I had found his tutorial sooner as he has used a few very similar ideas as what I have used. Maybe if I had found his DIY sooner, I might have finished my “beauty dish 1.0” in a few weeks or months, rather than over a year since fist deciding to make one.
In the end it took about 10 hours of actual work. The rest was planning, finding the ingredients and patiently waiting for spary paint to dry.
Hint: If possible spray paint indoors, but in a well ventilated area. Unfortunately I don’t have an indoor work area so I wasted a lot of spray paint because it never actually reached the dish – thank you wind :) If the can says 30 minutes to touch try, I say allow at least 4 hours before you touch and leave over night before actually handling. 15- 30 minutes between coats should be fine, depending on the paint you use. Patience dear people – you’ll be happy you took it slow.
I hope to post a few portraits using the beauty dish in the very near future. I’ll also be using it to photograph some portraits of Jennifer and JP at their wedding on this upcoming Friday (16 August 2010).