DIY Photography Flash Diffuser | Digital Photography Tutorial
If you have ever taken a photograph using the modern flash thats built into a DSLR camera, you’ll have probably been amazed at its power, and its ability to make most objects appear harshly lit.
For portrait photography, this harsh lighting becomes even more apparant as the flash creates unflattering shadows and highlights on the subject. The harshness can be dampened down however by using a diffuser.
A diffuser is designed to soften the effects of the flash by spreading out and dampening down the amount of light emitted, reducing the creation dark shadows while still allowing a subject to be properly lit.
As you can see from the above example photograph, a shot taken with the built in flash of a DSLR can leave some very dark shadows. Now look at the same photograph taken with a diffuser attached to the flash. Notice the way the shadows are now lighter.
Making your own DIY Flash Diffuser
You can purchase diffusers to use with your camera should you wish, but its also very easy to make one yourself with a few household objects and a little bit of time. I was inspired to make my own after reading DIY photographys Pop-Up flash diffuser tutorial. While my diffuser is slightly different in the way its made, it follows the same sort of principle of dispersing the light emitted by the pop-up flash.
To make a diffuser like the one above you will need a strong card box. In this instance I used two aptamil boxes cut in half and bonded back together with some packing tape. The aptamil boxes are ideal as the are silver lined, meaning that any light that gets trapped will reflect back. If you don’t have a box that is silver lined, you can use foil which you will need to fix to the inside of the box on three sides.
The next step is to cut a hole in one side of your box which will be covered with your choice of diffusing material. In my case I used some voile, which is semi-transparent and can be picked up for a couple of pounds a metre. The holw you cut needs to be large enough to let the light from the flash out, so make sure you line up your box with your pop-up flash to see how high it sits in relation to the bottom of the box.
I found that the hold needed to come down very low on the front, but the type of box I used meant that I didn’t lose too much rigidity in the structure by cutting the hole low down.
Once you have cut your front hole out, you need to put another hole in the base, as the box will need to sit over the pop-up flash and use the flash itself to stabilise the box on top of the camera. Ideally you need to make sure that the hole you cut isn’t too big (it should be a tight fit over the flash housing,) and you need to ensure its close enough to the front hole that when mounted on the camera, the flash sits about 4cm away from the (yet to be attached) material.
When you have both holes cut (front and bottom) and you are happy that the box sits on the camera with relative stability, you can attached your chosen material to the front hole. Again I simply used packing tape to secure the voile to the box.
The final step is to add some further stability to the diffuser. To do this I attached a paperclip to the back that could then be used to anchor the box with an elastic band. Wrap the elastic band around the strap eyelets on your camera and then back up to the paperclip, this should then secure the diffuser enough to be used without fear of it falling off.
Materials used in the creation of the flash diffuser
3. Packing Tape
5. Voile (or other material)
7. Elastic Band