When the Profoto Softlight Reflector was released in 1980, fashion photographers soon nicknamed it “The Beauty Dish” due to its unique ability to bring out the beauty of the model. Since then it has grown to become one of the most iconic tools for creating a creamy yet crisp light, often referred to as a “beauty light”. To name an example: when photographer Sandra Åberg bought her very first Light Shaping Tool, that one was the one she got – the Beauty Dish.
But there is always room for improvement. For instance, Sandra prefers shooting on location, and the classic Beauty Dish can sometimes be too large and bulky to bring with you. Especially when you’re shooting without an assistant.
Enter the new OCF Beauty Dish from Profoto, which is basically a foldable and more portable version of its classic precursor. The main difference is that the OCF Beauty Dish is not made of metal but high-quality fabrics. When collapsed, it’s stored in a carrying bag that fits in a small backpack. The entire tool, including speedring, deflector plate and diffuser, weighs a mere 0.53 kg (1.2 lbs.). In other words, it’s a lot easier to bring with you.
To prove this we asked Sandra to bring it with her to an on-location portrait shoot at Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen, Denmark. Also, we asked her to not bring an assistant and avoid using stands if possible.
“I was going for an airy yet crisp look on this shoot,” says Sandra. “I wanted something that felt timeless and elegant.”
Like in many coastal cities, the autumn weather in Copenhagen can shift quickly. To stay safe from rainy surprises, Sandra shot under an archway in the palace’s vicinity. Even though the light conditions changed dramatically throughout the shoot, Sandra was able to maintain a consistent look throughout the shoot thanks to the flashes and OCF Beauty Dish that she had brought.
“I love the way natural light look, but I need flash and Light Shaping Tools to maintain control, and to be able to always deliver regardless of weather and other circumstances that are out of my hands. I guess you could say that I use lighting the same way I use Photoshop. I use it to enhance without being obvious. I don’t want people to look at my images and notice the use of flash. I want them to notice the beautiful light.”
During the shoot, Sandra used a B1 Off-Camera Flash to light up the background and to create a rimlight that separated the model from the surroundings. The main light was a B2 Off-Camera Flash with the OCF Beauty Dish White. As Sandra didn’t have an assistant with her, she simply held the B2 Head with the OCF Beauty Dish over her left shoulder, while her camera was in her right hand. In some cases, she used the optional diffuser, which is pulled over the front of the OCF Beauty Dish to soften the light some more.
“I tend to keep my setup pretty simple,” says Sandra. “Not only because I like to have the freedom to move around as I feel, but also to be able to quickly change my setup as the ambient light changes and new ideas pop into my head.
“This setup with the B2 and the new OCF Beauty Dish was perfect in that sense. It proved to be very easy to take with you on-location, and it was super easy to mount and dismount. I just love it when my life gets easier.”