The third kit fetish

The Phottix 70cm collapsible beauty dish, adapted to fit an Elinchrom Ranger Quadra head.

Everyone knows about the fetish for camera bags shared by most photographers and anyone who has read this blog will know about my own personal one for card readers but there is a third one that has been exercising me of late. I have mentioned it quite a few times over the years and a particular need to have a repeatable set up has led me down this particular equipment rabbit hole once again.

I’m talking about lighting. I’m talking specifically about light modifiers. Those umbrellas, snoots, dishes, soft boxes and hybrid gadgets that you place on the fronts of your flash units in order to control and improve the light. (more…)

Modified beauty dish

A couple of years ago I bought a slightly used 14″ beauty dish with a fitting that I couldn’t identify. I used it a couple of times with my old Lumedyne kit and kept meaning to make an adapter so that it was easy to attach and detach without looking like a “bodger”. I never got around to it – largely because the work that I was doing didn’t really call for that kind of light. A couple of months ago I came accross the dish and decided to adapt it for use with my Elinchrom Ranger Quadras.

To make it work properly with the Ranger Quadras I had to remove the orginal fitting. The dish is made out of relatively thin aluminium and it was very easy to use a hacksaw to take the whole of the fitting off. There were three screws holding the wires that keep the dome on position and I removed those to get ready to use the same holes to attach the Elinchrom fitting. This was made from a 13cm reflector which was cut through the reflector bowl in three places, allowing me to spread the metal of the reflector wider so that it could be bent to mirror the curviture of the beauty dish. I then drilled three holes in the modified Elinchrom reflector to match the three existing screw holes in the beauty dish and screwed the whole thing back together. Finally I used some gaffer tape to cover the slightly sharp edges of the Elinchrom reflector where I had cut it.

What you see in the three images above is the “finished” beauty dish. It is lightweight which is great for heads as small as the Elinchrom ones and it puts out a beautiful even light. I have shot some portraits using it but I cannot show them here yet because the client hasn’t used them in the magazine for which they were shot.

The total cost was £20.00 for the secondhand beauty dish, about £25.00 for the Elinchrom reflector that was sacrificed to make the adapter and some gaffer tape. Change from £50.00!

As a footnote, the colleague who proofread this piece for me asked why the cable has two yellow stripes around it. The answer is that I like to be able to identify bits of kit from a distance and the two stripes signifies that it is a two (and a bit) metre cable and that it was bought at the same time as the head. Newer purchases get different colours and a three metre cable would have three stripes. A simple idea but it really helps when you are working quickly and need to set up kit or make changes in a hurry.