Trashy Beauty Dish

I shot this image a while ago, but never uploaded it to the blog here to properly discuss. This image was lit with a Sunpak 383 Super, triggered with a Pocket Wizard Plus, fired into a piece of trash I found on our front porch one morning. Whaaa?

Last year, we had some insanely heavy winds howl through our little valley east of Los Angeles. There were times, lying in bed, when I thought for sure the roof of our house was going to rip off and the contents of our home would be scattered into the night sky. These winds were so bad they knocked out power in ours and surrounding neighborhoods for a minimum of sixty hours. That was an eye-opener; no power for sixty hours. We had power inverters for our cars, so we were able to charge cell phones and laptops, but all we could do was watch most of the food in our ‘fridge slowly die. We got the important stuff into camping coolers with ice, but there’s only so much room. Here’s how smart I am (not): We still don’t have a back-up generator. They’re expensive and I imagine the thing would sit, unused, for a long time…perhaps it would never be used. This power outage was the longest I’d ever endured, and it all basically came down to L.A.’s crumbling infrastructure. There was more damage caused by the high winds than the modest crew of city workers qualified to handle the tasks could perform in a timely manner. Less people doing more work…probably for terrible pay…means that when emergencies like this come up, what can ya do?

Image courtesy of ArtisCaps

Anyway, one morning during these winds, I stepped out the front door to find a large silver sheet-metal cone-shaped disk on our porch. It was about eighteen inches in diameter and one side was covered pretty heavily in soot. After staring at it for a bit, I realized it was a rain cover that had blown off someone’s chimney. I figured it was either going to become a trashy found-sound cymbal for my drumset, or a trashy found-object light modifier for my photography endeavors. I had a friend suggest both, but once this thing found itself mounted to my drunset, it’s days would certainly be numbered before it got dented all to hell.

After a quick clean-up, I instead opted to give it a new life as a found-object light modifier and I’m quite pleased that I did. This thing definitely has a sweet spot that was tough to find because I had my speedlight on a stand while I held this big metal disk in my left hand so the light could bounce out of it. I’m sure if I spent a bit of time making a mounting assembly for it, so the speedlight would strike the same part of the disk each time it fired, I’d have a much easier time finding the sweet spot of this thing, but this quick experiment provided me with enough inspiration to see if I can make that mounting assembly a reality. This experiment also reinforced my belief that you don’t need expensive light modifiers to get beautiful light. Use what you’ve got…and check the roof, there might be some cool stuff up there.

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