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Al builds a beauty light... Phase 1 - material accumulation
Old 10-01-2005, 11:58 PM   #1 (permalink)
Join Date: Nov 2002
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Damn guys... you kept talking about these beauty lights until you convinced me they actually have some magic.

I should just call up Alien Bee's and say send me one of the darn things. But where's the fun in that?

If you will recall, some time ago I announced the naming of the Potter Effect - the attribution of magical powers to various forms of photo equipment, film, paper, etc... and gave out a few Potter Awards. I think Home Depot lights got the first multi-million dollar award (Not MY multi-millions, but somebody will pick up the tab I guess, the government's REAL good at things like that!).

Anyway, here's the results of Project Beauty Light, Phase 1, Material acquisition.

Off I go to the thrift shops looking for likely candidates to transform into something resembling a beauty light.

Requirements - gotta be adaptable to an Alien Bee monolight, gotta have a white or reflective interior surface, gotta be as big as possible (within reason!), and gotta be cheap!

After cruising around the first thrift store a bit, voila! an aluminum bowl 14 inches in diameter, and 4 inches deep. No dents or dings, looks good! Can it be this easy??? Price $1.49. Such a deal, and then it's safely tucked away in the trunk of my car. But wait, let's not give up before striking the motherload. It's a great fall back, but is there something better out there?

Down the road a mile is another thrift store, a big one, lots and lots of stuff.
So I browse through the cookware section, nothing much there. Some smaller white plastic bowls, maybe 11 or 12 inches in diameter. Easy to work with, and only 90 cents each... but no, too close to what I've already got in the car.

Where else to look? Well, let's try the electrical section. Whoa, what is that?? It's big and round and looks like a... it is, it's a hanging light fixture and it's beautiful!

It's 12 inches in diameter, 3 inches deep with an additional 5 inches of base column which holds the single huge bulb. It has a nice medium brown exterior finish, and a beautiful white interior. Visions of success are dancing in my head as I head for the cashier with treasure in tow. Total cost... a paltry $5.30, and I'll bet that the bulb still works!

Not only that, the escutcheon for the ceiling is also aluminum, concave, shiny, and the same diameter as the base column. I must be living right! That's gonna be the piece that goes in front of the strobe tube to bounce the light back into the dish.

Well, that's my report for now. If there's a moral to all this, it's that building your own stuff may often be considerably cheaper and easier than you might think. Maybe next time I'll have some pictures of this stuff. Stay tuned...

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