Making a Cheap Flash Diffuser
Direct Flash can be harsh and make for ugly shadows. There are products on the market to get around this problem, Fong’s Lightsphere (about $60) and Demb’s diffuser ($35) for example. But being cheap I decided to make one that is good enough, for $1.13, and a little work. I’d say it took me about 10 minutes, total, to make my version.
I was at the local supermarket and saw these at 3 for $3.39. There had been a thread running on one of the email lists that I read, about diffusers and these seem to fit the bill for making one.
rubbermaid twist and seal box
RUBBERMAID 16 oz TWIST&SEAL BOWLS 3@$3.39
They have nice external ribs that I thought might add a bit more diffusion but are also almost transparent. When I got the home I assembled the tools I needed. Just a magic marker, an art or utility knife, and a small piece of sand paper.
BOWL, KNIFE, LID and SAND PAPER
Hold your flash down on the top of the bowl and trace around the head with the magic marker. Then carefully go around the marked area with the sharp blade. Cut to the inside of the mark otherwise the hole can be too large depending on the thickness of your marker. Do not try to cut thru in one slice but make shallow cuts until you work your way thru the plastic. The material seems to be just a bit brittle and cutting thru in one cut might cause cracks in the plastic. Check the hole for fit on the flash head. It fits snugly on mine but I had to do a little trimming. If you make a mistake you have two more lids to work with.
Next I took the sand paper and just roughed up the inside of the bowl to make a frosted surface. It probably doesn’t matter but I tried sanding in different directions to make a more random pattern of scratches. I think this will increase the diffusion effect over the almost transparent plastic. Then I just slid the lid on the flash and screwed on the bowl.
DIFFUSER ON MY OLD SB-26 FLASH
You can see the frosted effect on the final version. All these shots where taken with the flash and diffuser except for the last one which was with the camera pop-up flash.
You may notice the velcro around the flash head on my old Nikon SB-26 flash. That has a purpose which I’ll talk about in an upcoming post.