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Fabric cover for flash modifier - what's your idea?

After doing extensive web searches it is clear that no one makes a flash modifier / photo light reflector that meets my needs. The unit I have in mind would be the general shape of a small photo umbrella (about 16" in diameter), but it would function like a beauty dish. I want it to be collapsible and compact, yet durable enough to withstand many location shooting sessions. I have used the following basic frame construction technique on other projects and know that it will work for this one - I will solder together a reinforced (beauty dish shaped) frame structure that will be made out of small diameter brass welding rod and then add connection bracketing that will allow the photo reflector to be dismantled for transport.

During my initial planning stages I thought I would just sew up a fabric cover (white on the inside, black on the outside) so that it would wrap around the frame on both sides. But then I realized that this was a very complex sewing job and that an easier method of covering this dish shaped frame might be to use heat shrinkable RC aircraft covering fabric. When I researched these materials on the web I discovered that they were very thin (just what you would want on a small airplane) and really wouldn't take any degree of wear and tear like you might expect during a photo shoot.

So here's the question - what kind of fabric covering would be ideal for this photo reflector? It needs to be strong, lightweight, very flexible so that it can be molded around the contours of the reflectors frame and it should be paintable - white on the inside and black on the outside. Thanks for your suggestions

jmantze (author) 6 years ago
vampyriccadence... Thanks for your reply. With regards to your question, I will be using the fabric as a reflective material.

Since posing this question quite some time ago I have moved ahead on the construction of this flash modifier and it's almost done. You commented about using a heat resistant material, but this is not an issue because I am using a Nikon SB-900 flash as the light source. The fabric I used to cover each half of the beauty dish frame is 92% cotton and 8% spandex. Being a very stretchy fabric it was quite easy to glue this to the perimeter edges of the lightweight metal frame. I used an adhesive made by Beacon called "Fabri-Tac". This is a clear adhesive that dries in about an hour. Once all the gluing was completed I applied one thin coat of a brush grade plastic/rubber coating to each side of the fabric. The final step will be to spray paint the inside of the beauty dish flat white and the outside of flat black.
I'm having trouble picturing a foldable BD, so I'll just stick mostly to the fabric part.

I have an AB800 and two basic softboxes, but for the background, sometimes I need more unique lights, and these are very cheap clamp lights with bulbs that match my softbox in temperature. To soften the light, I use fabric I took off of a broken umbrella. Since this fabric is rather thin, I keep it a good distance away from the actual lights.

As for heat resistant, have you considered ironing board covers or fire blankets? Are you using the fabric as a reflector or diffuser? Some people use basic foil as reflectors over cardboard as reflectors.