On this video NY based fashion photographer, Lindsay Adler takes a look at two types of Beauty dishes – white and silver, how they affect the light quality and which one might be better in that situation.
Beauty dishes are a very common tools for portrait and beauty photographers they have a unique quality and tend to produce a little bit more contrast but typically with good light quality – if you know how to use them correctly.
Out of the two, the more commonly used and the one that makes the softer light is the white beauty dish which also produces images with less contrast.
The silver beauty dish, on the other hand, produces a more specular light with more highlights and details resulting in more contrast. This is a much more specific look that will typically not work well with a lot of subjects and for many types of shoots, so if you only want to buy one – go with white unless you know in advance that most of your shots are going to require a more contrasty look or need more power (for instance when trying to balance with sunlight outdoors).
In general, you should think of the division between white and silver Beauty dishes like this – for portraits, especially for non-models white is going to be more forgiving while silver will show more details (including ones you might want to hide such as wrinkles, blemishes). On the other hand, if you are doing a shoot that is focused on skin and you want to emphasize healthy skin, muscle tone, etc. – a silver beauty dish might be the better choice.
One more important tip – a beauty dish needs to be close to work well – as close as you can out of your frame. If you want you can use a sock (Beauty dish diffuser) on top of it to make the light a little more diffused.