Some photographers, and very successful ones too, have a great recipe that they use time and time again. At it’s simplest this recipe might be “the subject sits on an apple box and is photographed whilst being lit by a shoot-through brolley.” I don’t mean to be dismissive, portraits are about engagement as well as technical skill.

I have some recipes that I may use, and in truth I know that the untrained eye might struggle to discern the difference with many of them. But the tools, particularly the light modifiers, all have different looks.

I have recently mentioned that the beauty dish isn’t my go-to tool for lighting a face. Whilst it’s a hard light source, a well designed dish will provide a mix of hard and soft aspects to the illumination at the same time, but they need thought and accuracy when being used.

Now, the South-West isn’t known for being a haven for obscure lighting tools so when this beauty dish came up on eBay, I knew what it looked like and I knew that it wasn’t what it was being sold as – an Alien Bees dish. So, for a safe bid I’d bought something that I knew if nothing else would provide a bit of interest. But first the dish needed modification to fit on my Bowens strobes, and I’m pleased to say I managed that.

There’s no getting away from the fact that this looked very similar to one of the best known dishes out there but as I walked the thing back to the studio I noted that it wasn’t even metal, it seem to be a resin construction, maybe even fibre-glass.

Probably an unfair thing to do but I hauled Karin out of her home-office at the end of a hard day and ran some fairly uncompromising test shots!

To say I’m excited by these results is an understatement, remember this is a single hard light, grab-shots in the front room, and not retouched.

A few days later I found what appears to be the back-story, these dishes were deemed to be very similar to ‘Brand-A’ and are no longer being made after the court case. Ahem.