Breaking the Rules


On a recent Tuesday evening, practicing with my local strobist Meetup group at Dave Cross’ excellent Studio 3, I had the opportunity to work with a beauty dish for the first time. I don’t have one myself, and I’ve never really paid close attention to how they’re used – the light is somewhat harsh up close, but falls off quickly.

I dragged a bar stool over in front of a brick wall, and positioned the strobe with beauty dish – one light only – above the stool. Our model Camille stepped into the light, and it seemed to be off – much too harsh. Then, someone passed her a blue scarf, and she grabbed a microphone and proceeded to channel Steven Tyler! She was really energetic, and I had her looking up into the light… and suddenly it felt like a stage spotlight shining down. I think the effect worked well.

I’ve since learned that a beauty dish does its magic when positioned 4-8 feet away from your subject, but if I had known that going into this shoot, I might not have ended up with such a dramatic image. Instead, I had the light maybe 1-2 feet above her head, and I like that I can feel the energy in this shot.

Don’t be afraid to break the rules… experimentation leads to discovery.

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