Picture of How to make a
Beauty dishes are what pros use to make their flash lighting diffuse and well, as the name implies, beautiful. I learned about these from the David hobby, _the_ strobist, so I have him to thank (and all the other strobists) for all my lighting knowledge. The effect on the model is a soft, diffused light with nice catchlights (the sparkle) in their eyes. To make a lot of wrinkles and such disappear, the beauty dish floods the model with light.

Beauty dish light modifiers are expensive.

I'm a hobbyist photographer.

I'm a cheapskate.

I made one for roughly 5 dollars and 45 minutes..

Here's how.

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Step 1: Materials and tools:

Picture of Materials and tools:


- $1 1x large shallow bowl/bucket
  • if you can find a shiny metal bowl, this will work as well, but is harder to cut
- $1 1x small bowl
  • again, shiny metal is more expensive, but better
- $3 roll of aluminum tape
  • I could only find small 1m rolls, so i bought 3 of them.

~$5 plus tax.


- hobby knife
- duct tape
- scrap cardboard
- clear packing tape

Step 2: Tape up the bucket

Picture of Tape up the bucket
I missed a photo documenting this step, but I put a layer of the aluminum tape so it completely covered the bucket. This makes the bucket reflective. The aluminum tape can be found at any big box hardware store, usually for ducting. (image 1)

I accidentally bought two types of tape (they came in small rolls from the dollar store) - one shiny, one matte. I put the matte on the bottom where it's probably most needed. Obviously you don't need this if you use a shiny metal bowl.

Cover the inside as smoothly as possible. I've heard of using Al foil and glue, but this way is much cleaner.

Cut a hole in the bottom of the bucket the same size as your flash head, (image 2)
haha, my instructable was basically a copy of yours :) Great minds think alike lol
philslizzy5 years ago
Your idea is quite a good one. I would suggest a biscuit or chocolate tin would be lighter than the bowl and won't need the shiny tape. Thanks for this
philslizzy5 years ago
your girlfriend has a beard? whos the one in blue then?
where did you find such a smashing girlfriend you lucky sod anyway ? are you spreading the light by bouncing it of the back of the inner dish i just wana know for me. some people have all the luck. codwithchips
if u covered the large bowl with a piece a piece of white rip-stop nylon (available from most fabric stores for less than $10 for the small amount you'll need) you could achieve a soft diffused light without the dark areas in your specular highlights (catch-lights). This will also make your light source slightly weaker (about 1/2 stop), so if you keep your camera settings the same, you wont be over-exposing (or you could use a light meter to measure the light to be more precise).
keeny6 years ago
nicely done..
Estwald6 years ago
To get large stainless steel mixing bowels inexpensively, go to a restaurant supply store. As an aside, lots of kitchen "stuff" can be gotten there much cheaper than going to a "kitchen boutique" store. -Ray-
noelferrer7 years ago
ei. good one u have here! and may i say u got a pretty girlfriend (a.k.a. Model) :) and that really helps in photography. so cheers mate!
This is awesome man, I made mine out of Tupperware. Just noticed that my ring is much smaller than your's. I have a 35mm camera so i wont be able to see the pictures for a while. How is the smaller ring going to effect my pictures? you need to post some more stuff dude!
laernmoer (author)  Napalmjerry13917 years ago
Ask and ye shall receive. I'll update it right now.
hmm... don't know much about photography, but this is cool. also don't know much about spray paint, but i'm just gonne put this out there... maybe if you spray painted the bucket it'd be just as effective, and the little plate could be made of out plasitc or any other such material and maybe be lighter?
Snuff477 years ago
A flash with a regular reflector has a "hot spot" in the center where light from the strobe fires directly out onto the subject. The piece of metal in the center of a beauty dish (usually a flat circle not bowl-shaped like here) eliminates this by bouncing that direct light back into the dish and thereby softening it. The picture shown still have the hot spot which means light is spilling around the center bowl. An upgrade to this design--use a white reflector (no need for silver tape) and a flat circular piece of metal a bit larger than your flash head (this could also be white) for a much softer, more even beauty light.
laernmoer (author)  Snuff477 years ago
All are great ideas - I DO wish I could find a larger bowl - 22 inches, like the real thing, and after some more research, I'd agree, I think that somehow making this less reflective. After more shooting, I'm finding that it's really concentrated and not as diffuse as I'd like. Even on lower power settings, my flash seems too powerful. Maybe painting a bowl with primer and a white coat will diffuse the light more. This is a learning experience for me, and definitely a step in it's evolution. Thanks for your comment!
tekija7 years ago
Generally photographers want that ring in the middle as small as possible. Why make it harder and create more comlex version with ring if there is not "shoot trough" option? Still ofcamera diffusers are cool. I really have to build my own shoot troght version of that.
jaime99997 years ago
I'd think you can easily make this into a ring flash by mounting your camera in the center bowl... there's certainly plenty of space, especially for smaller digital cameras. Would need an extension cable for the flash, and a way to physically support the weight (tape might not suffice anymore).
laernmoer (author)  jaime99997 years ago
firing the flash might be a problem - I'm using the gadget infinity triggers, maybe if you used it with a Canon G9 - those have a hot shoe and are small, but my SLR is WAY too big.
Isn't this also called a ring flash?
Ring flash's are direct lighting strobes that are not diffused or bounces in any way, and generally shot through. The lights are actually a ring. Bouncing light off the bowl diffuses it. This is also different in that it is a modifier, instead of a strobe. It is used as an accessory for speed lights, giving it the obvious advantage of versatility of over ring flashes.
Did a bit more research. Ring flashes are ones where you actually shoot through the ring.
laernmoer (author)  fungus amungus7 years ago
You know, i'm really not sure. I'm starting to think this is an off-camera ring flash. I think the bowl in the center needs to be as small as possible.
alois7 years ago
Very clear instructions. I also recently found a 'shoot-through' version
LinuxH4x0r7 years ago
Awesome! I usually hate flash, but your pictures look pretty good
Super cool! I will try this with my camera most likely, and I hope the pictures come out great!
nrlaing7 years ago
I know of it as a ring flash too. Good job! Now get it to work with macro shots and I'll be impresseed. :)