Andre Rowe’s Take on: Broncolor P-Soft vs. Broncolor Beauty Dish

Andre Rowe, a professional photographer based out of Miami, Florida, and an avid broncolor user describes the difference between the broncolor P-Soft and the broncolor Beauty Dish:

“So, you’re about to purchase a white Beauty Dish and you pause a moment in debate as to whether to get it or a silver P-Soft. You’ve seen the broncolor P-Soft in the catalogs, and you’ve heard that some people use it; however, most people prefer a Beauty Dish. As a result, you are convinced that the Beauty Dish is the way to go. But is it really?

‘What is the difference between them, and why would I want to get the silver P-Soft instead of a more widely popular white Beauty Dish?’

Well my friend, the answer is simple…get both, and here’s why:

When you think about a modifier that creates a really nice and evenly spread soft light, you tend to be drawn more readily to softboxes and beauty dishes for that purpose. A beauty dish, with or without a front diffuser, will certainly satisfy your needs in the soft light department, of which there is no argument. Beauty dishes are friendly to handle, are easily portable, and can be used in most lighting set-ups with little conflict to the overall lighting concept. Beauty Dishes also live up to their names by producing the most flattering light on people bringing them closer to a state of ‘beauty.’

Photo courtesy of Andre Rowe

So, where does the broncolor P-Soft fit into the picture?

If I may start out this way, I’d enlighten you to the fact that the silver P-Soft is a sort of hybrid silver reflector (like the P70, P65, P45, etc.) crossed with a Beauty Dish. The P-Soft carries the EXACT same benefits as listed above especially when used with the optional diffuser. What makes the P-SOFT so special is that well above it’s similar traits to a Beauty Dish, the P-Soft can actually do more. Just as mentioned, it carries with it some of the traits of a silver reflector offering more textural detail on your subjects, crispness that fails to be harsh, a noticeable distinction in the character of light, and a natural ability to blend with sunlight. Now, the last point is worth discussing a little. I have used my share of Beauty Dishes on location, multiple Beauty Dishes in fact, and I have always come to the same conclusions:

1.) I positively LOVE the light and it’s soft edge and overall appearance on the skin of my subjects , however its look is not terribly “natural” looking in open sunlight.

2.) I have to use, what I believe to be, “far too much” power to get the working shutter speed/ f-stop combinations that I need.

3.) My “working distance” is somewhat compromised in most situations. Working distance is the relationship between the lampheads and the subject along with their placement in the scene. Ideally, one would prefer a wide separation of lights and subject so as to permit wider-angle shots to be possible.

4.) The further away that I place by Beauty Dish, the less effective it remains as a soft light source (in the outdoors).

With the broncolor P-Soft, I am able to address the above issues with greater confidence. The P-Soft has a more defined edge to the light that better mimics sunlight as it falls onto my subject (although not quite 100%). As a result, the transition of light between lamphead and sunlight seem noticeably more “natural.” With the P-Soft, I can use the lamphead further away from my subject, compared to a Beauty Dish, and achieve similar shutter speed/ f-stop combinations utilizing less power. Lastly, The P-Soft offers a wonderful sense of “realism” to a subject that isn’t readily achievable by a way of a Beauty Dish.”


Photo courtesy of Andre Rowe


More About Andre Rowe:

Andre is a local commercial photographer with over twenty years of experience that he wishes to share with and inspire novice, student and amateur photographers. Appleseed is the creation of Andre Rowe. The goal of Appleseed is to provide a work-ready space for photographers and videographers alike by presenting an environment for education, networking and the cultivation of new ideas and inspiration for other artists in the industry.

Andre is a workshop educator, and frequently gives seminars on photography, including broncolor lighting. For more information about Andre’s broncolor speaking engagements, contact

Andre Rowe Photography

Exploding Xbox with Dan Saelinger

How did you become a photographer? Describe your career development?

Around the age of sixteen I finagled an internship at my local newspaper’s photo department for a school program that allowed you to spend part of your day outside the classroom.  I had always been an art room kid, and this was a way to try something career oriented in the arts.  I was hooked day one.  That same summer I took on a part time job with a local portrait photographer who was kind of enough to pass on an old Hasselblad 501 series camera.  That sealed the deal, my senior year I enrolled at Penn State University in the photo program.

While in college I had summer internships at both Jane and Rolling Stone magazine and that’s when I realized I wanted to photograph for magazines. After graduation I came to New York and did a brief stint as an intern for James Porto, an amazing conceptual photographer. At the end of the internship I realized how unprepared for the city I was and decided I wanted to attend Grad School. I packed up and moved south to Georgia to attend the Savannah College of Art and Design.

In Savannah I focused intensely and spent two years with the goal of creating a portfolio that I could come to back to New York with and launch my career. I initially found work as a retoucher for Ilan Rubin, which was an immensely valuable experience and really shaped the way I handle post production on my own work to this day. While retouching I was promoting my work and sending my book around to magazines and agencies. In a few months I had caught a couple breaks landing some assignments and signing to an agency.

o More specifically, was there one or more life changing moments that helped you move to the next level and become the photographer that you are now? Perhaps a big break, a perfect mentor, a movie, a mystical moment?

Photography more than most other professions seems to really rely on both working extremely hard and on catching a break now and then. You won’t get anywhere if you aren’t out there every day trying to be better, promoting your work and growing as an artist. I’ve spent the past 5 years building my client list shoot by shoot, but I’ve also been fortunate enough to have had a couple of breaks.

One of my very first assignments came from photo editor Amy Berkley at Field & Stream magazine. She took a huge chance on hiring me so early on and we have been working together almost monthly ever since. Shooting for Field & Stream has opened a ton of doors with other clients. They garner a lot of attention for pushing the envelope with photography and design. It’s also been immensely valuable to have a photo editor so supportive of my work that I can turn to for honest advice and critique.

o How do you learn your techniques?

I had never spent much time assisting, just on a handful of jobs, and I really regret that. I think it’s an invaluable way to gain an immense amount of knowledge and a library of lighting techniques. Since I didn’t go that route I’ve just tried to keep trying new things and experiment regularly. I try not to worry about emulating other photographers too much as I think you really need to find your own unique vision for lighting. Clients hire you because you can bring something special to the table, not shoot just like someone else.

o Who are your photo heroes? Or who has inspired your career?

Frederik Broden, Mark Hooper, Giblin & James, and Dan Winters (for his still life) have probably made the biggest marks on my career. These are the guys I wanted to shoot like when I was in college. They are the reason I’ve worked to become a conceptual photographer.

o What is the worst part about doing what you do?

The competition. As photographers we are constantly competing for assignments, competing in contests, competing to be the best. It can be very tiring. It’s a necessary evil as it’s the competition that drives the work to be better. You just can’t ever sit back and be comfortable because there is always someone else working harder biting at your heels.

o What is the best part?

Creating something from imagination. Building an entire world for the camera’s lens and perfecting it for a single moment only to tear it all down and start the process all over again. Every day is different; every shoot has its own parameters and pieces. You are continually solving puzzles. It really never gets boring. I love the collaboration between photographer, stylists, photo editor, art director, models, and assistants. You have all of these incredibly talented people doing all these very specific things that all come together to create this single moment to photograph. I feel so incredibly fortunate to be the one triggering the shutter.

• Learning from the Pro

o What are we going to shoot today?

We are shooting Xbox controllers and consoles exploding in Brooklyn for Fortune Magazine.

o How did you learn how to do what you are about to show us?

Researching and trial and error. Doing something like this allows little room for error. So we make sure we understand the technique to capture high speed motion for stepping on set. Fortunately I’ve had the opportunity over the years to better perfect my approach. Testing before hand is a must.

o What tools are you using to make this image?

I’m shooting with a Hasselblad 501 with a Phase One p45 digital back tethered to a capture station is always my camera set up of choice. In this situation particularly I need a camera where I can lock the mirror and leave the shutter open. Shutter speed has no bearing, as the flash duration of my lights are doing all of the work.

For lighting we have Four Scoro A4S packs with six 1600 watt Pulso lamps hooked up. One of the heads is rigged off to the right of the set shooting through a 4×4 ¼ inch translucent plexi, matte one side, glossy the other that serves as the main source light. Normally I’m very exacting with my light, but in this situation we need to work broader as the explosions are organic and unpredictable. The other five heads are all equipped with large or medium grids and are used to light are background and give edge lights to the subject.

In order to capture the explosions at precise moments we used a laser trigger system made by Kapture Group. Basically you project a laser beam across the path of where you expect the explosion to cross, when something breaks that line the laser sends a signal to a IR emitter that then triggers the lights, instantly freezing the precise moment for the camera. To further fine tune you can actually adjust the delay of the trigger in milliseconds.

Finally since we were dealing with potent pyrotechnics in New York City we enlisted the services of J&M Special Effects. They had a trained technician on set that would rig each piece with explosives and then detonate them on queue.

o Why did you choose these tools?

This shoot was all about the lights doing the work. I needed something that could freeze motion at extremely high speeds and allowed a full range of control. They needed to be reliable, we only had a few takes for each device, so I couldn’t afford miss-fires or errors.

o What features of the equipment that you use make it easier to do your job?

The precise flash duration control you get from the Scoro packs has no comparison. I can dial in an exact flash duration time, know exactly how much power I’m getting and have no doubts I have the speed I need. I see the numbers on the pack. Also when you are shooting fast, color temperature inconsistency can be an issue. The Scoro packs have eliminated that problem.

o Did you use competing products in the past? What made you change?

I’ve come from a still life background, so exacting control over lighting has always been a key issue for me. I’ve used other brands in the past and when it time to purchase new packs last year tested out a range of equipment. I found the Scoro packs unmatched in their ability to offer a huge range of possibilities with exact lighting control. The three independent outputs with ability to adjust within tenth of a stop increments gives me the ability to get exactly what I want on set without compromise.

Dan Saelinger
Dan Saelinger

BIWABLOG, The High Speed Photography Experts Compare the broncolor Scoro RFS and the Profoto 8a-Air

We received a lot of feedback from people about our last Profoto post.  Some readers were shocked, some excited, some expressed disbelief.    So I took a look back in my emails and found an email that Shinichi Maruyama sent me after he compared the Scoro to the Pro 8a.  For the disbelievers, Shinichi is probably one of the best high speed photographers in the world on both the commercial and fine art side.  His post compares the two packs pretty clearly.
For the full blog please click here!

For the full blog please click here!