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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk
Thread started 15 Aug 2005 (Monday) 01:55
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DIY flash diffuser - review

 
Artur ­ Gajewski
Junior Member
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Joined Sep 2004
Helsinki, Finland
Aug 15, 2005 01:55 |  #1

Hello all,

Just wanted to write a little review of a flash light diffuser technique I learned from a website I read couple of days ago. Unfortunatelly I don't recall the URL but here is what its all about.

A neat and cheap way of diffusing a flashlight is to simply use a bubble plastic wrap around the flash so that it extends beyond the flash as well (picture 1). This will diffuse the light as well as create a light-bulb effect that will illuminate surroundings evenly (picture 2).

I took this diffuser on a test drive outside during a sun-shine and took a picture of my 2-year-old daughter. As you can see, the exposure is even, nice colors and no shadows that you usually get from sunshine (picture 3).

Later that day I took a portrait shot of my 8-month-old daughter indoors. Again, as you can see there are hardly any shadows and colors are warm and nice (picture 4).

The scret to this is to always point the flash up to the ceiling whether you have camera in landscape or portrait position.

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I really recommend this DIY flash diffuser to everyone, the material is really cheap and you can get it in stores or post office.

- Artur
Canon EOS 300D Kit + EF 50mm/1.8 + Sigma 28-300 + Sigma EF-500 DG Super
World in my eyes - My galleryexternal link

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Curtis ­ N
Master Flasher
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Joined Apr 2005
Northern Illinois, US
Aug 15, 2005 08:23 |  #2

I like it!

Gonna have to try it. Seems more practical than a 1 gallon milk jug, and easier than trying to find a rubbing alcohol bottle that fits perfectly.

The only disadvantage I can see is it's inefficient, just like the Omnibounce and Lightsphere II. It sends half the light the wrong direction. So it reduces your operating distance and will use batteries faster.


"If you're not having fun, your pictures will reflect that." - Joe McNally
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Flash Photography 101 | The EOS Flash Bible external link| Techniques for Better On-Camera Flashexternal link | How to Use Flash Outdoors| Excel-based DOF Calculatorexternal link

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RyanD
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Renfrew, Ontario, Canada
Aug 15, 2005 19:25 |  #3

It would be possible to tape an index card or something similar to the back of the bubble wrap if you want to increase your efficiency.

Ryan


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Curtis ­ N
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Joined Apr 2005
Northern Illinois, US
Aug 15, 2005 23:24 as a reply to RyanD's post |  #4

Flanders wrote:
It would be possible to tape an index card or something similar to the back of the bubble wrap if you want to increase your efficiency.

Well, sure. But then it might not look too "professional.":lol:


"If you're not having fun, your pictures will reflect that." - Joe McNally
Chicago area POTN eventsexternal link
Flash Photography 101 | The EOS Flash Bible external link| Techniques for Better On-Camera Flashexternal link | How to Use Flash Outdoors| Excel-based DOF Calculatorexternal link

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Merle
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132 posts
Joined Feb 2005
Aurora, Oregon
Aug 16, 2005 05:31 as a reply to Curtis N's post |  #5

What you have created is the poor mans version of the bare bulb lighting technique. The bare bulb portrait lighting technique has been taught for years by the famous (and recently late) Portrait Artist and Educator Don Blair. Don called this technique "the kiss of light" 6-8 months ago Don pasted away so if his video tape seminars are still available or not I do not know, you may try writing:
DON BLAIR PRODUCTS
4883 South State Street
Murray, Utah 84107


Good Shooting to ya !!
Merle;) :) :D




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tkoutdoor
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Joined Sep 2007
Feeding my camera somewhere in Western Washington
Sep 20, 2007 11:54 |  #6

Artur Gajewski wrote in post #716100external link
A neat and cheap way of diffusing a flashlight is to simply use a bubble plastic wrap around the flash so that it extends beyond the flash as well (picture 1). This will diffuse the light as well as create a light-bulb effect that will illuminate surroundings evenly (picture 2).
I really recommend this DIY flash diffuser to everyone, the material is really cheap and you can get it in stores or post office.

Hmm... I wonder if the Stofen diffuser comes wrapped in bubble wrap. That would be too ironic... 2 diffusers for the price of one. It would ultimately be just the right size too. The bubble wrap one would get more use for me because it takes up less room and weighs less. Typically I try to keep everything in a small Lowepro Slingshot AW 100 and this along the lines of what it takes to use a smallish pack like that. Currently I'm using a custom made flash card kind of thing that is made out of plastic of the stiff sort that you may find on 3 ring binders that has premade creases in it. It makes a big light area, but its a little bit cumbersome for some applications (off camera in one hand) and since I can never point it right at what I'm lighting I lose some light. I think I'll try this one out too. I used to do a similar thing with my on camera flash for those times when on camera fill flash was better than none at all.


Canon ~ 7D, 1D MkIIn, 5D, 20D, 10D, 100-400L IS, 70-200 2.8L IS, 24-105 f4L IS, 17-40 f4L, 135mm f2L, 85mm 1.8, 50mm 1.4, 50mm 2.5 macro, Ext. tubes, TC's 1.4 & 2.0, Feisol 3441-S CF Tpod, Gitzo Traveler Mpod, Acratech ballhead, 550EX, 200EG bag, Epson Pro 3800 printer.

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notapro
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Southwestern Ontario
Sep 20, 2007 13:16 |  #7

That's brilliant! I have sooo much bubble wrap. I told my husband I might need it one day...


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notapro
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Southwestern Ontario
Sep 20, 2007 13:18 |  #8

wait a minute.. so you point it up straight up outdoors, too? with nothing to bounce it off of?


Amanda

Ontario Wedding Photographer external link| My Blogexternal link

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tkoutdoor
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Feeding my camera somewhere in Western Washington
Sep 20, 2007 21:33 |  #9

notapro wrote in post #3971812external link
wait a minute.. so you point it up straight up outdoors, too? with nothing to bounce it off of?

Yep, you point it straight up (there may be some advantage to a slight angle, but that's up to you), but no to the nothing to bounce it off of. Keep in mind what "it" is... "It" is the light coming out of the flashgun. You bounce it off of the diffuser and it rebounds from and through the diffuser to the subject.

It works exactly like a wall does in the sense that it bounces from the diffuser like a reflector, but is different in that it also shines through the diffuser like a softbox. The diffuser essentially becomes the light source in this way instead of the wall becoming the light source. I know, I know... you thought the flashgun was the light source, but it's not the light source anymore unless you allow a little bit of the light to hit directly at a slight angle. The primary light source became the wall or flash card) as soon as you bounced it. A small diffuser alone is not going to give phenomenal effects (so long as it remains small)... because it's not as big a light source as the wall. You will get much better effects with a soft box because the large front of the soft box becomes the new light source. It's a compromise, but if you wanted a Stofen or something similar it will replace it just fine because it's a light source of about the same size. If you wanted to have a better diffuser than the Stofen use an oversized bubble wrap bag as big as you have desire and capability to make. It's essentially what a softbox is. It's just too unwieldy for casual use, hence the place for bounce cards, Stofens, and bubble wrap diffusers.


Canon ~ 7D, 1D MkIIn, 5D, 20D, 10D, 100-400L IS, 70-200 2.8L IS, 24-105 f4L IS, 17-40 f4L, 135mm f2L, 85mm 1.8, 50mm 1.4, 50mm 2.5 macro, Ext. tubes, TC's 1.4 & 2.0, Feisol 3441-S CF Tpod, Gitzo Traveler Mpod, Acratech ballhead, 550EX, 200EG bag, Epson Pro 3800 printer.

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notapro
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Sep 20, 2007 22:15 |  #10

hmm.. I've never used a Stofen. I thought they were meant to be bounced as well. I'll have to have a go at this and play around and see whether i feel compelled to add that index card someone suggested. I'm thinking this could make a great mod to my existing DIY pie-plate diffuser, which currently uses parchment. bubble wrap be much more efficient. Thanks for the info!


Amanda

Ontario Wedding Photographer external link| My Blogexternal link

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simwells
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Joined Feb 2007
Sheffield, UK
Sep 21, 2007 06:01 |  #11

tkoutdoor wrote in post #3971366external link
Hmm... I wonder if the Stofen diffuser comes wrapped in bubble wrap. That would be too ironic... 2 diffusers for the price of one. It would ultimately be just the right size too. The bubble wrap one would get more use for me because it takes up less room and weighs less.

Nah the Sto-Fens don't come in bubble wrap just a plastic baggy, and the Sto-Fen doesn't exactly weigh much and you can leave it on the flash head in storage so isn't really taking up any additional space.

notapro wrote in post #3975414external link
hmm.. I've never used a Stofen. I thought they were meant to be bounced as well. I'll have to have a go at this and play around and see whether i feel compelled to add that index card someone suggested. I'm thinking this could make a great mod to my existing DIY pie-plate diffuser, which currently uses parchment. bubble wrap be much more efficient. Thanks for the info!

Yes the Sto-fens are indeed designed to be bounced just it creates a larger flash source that is being bounced therevy further increasing the light source.


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tkoutdoor
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Feeding my camera somewhere in Western Washington
Sep 21, 2007 10:07 |  #12

simwells wrote in post #3976858external link
the Sto-Fen doesn't exactly weigh much and you can leave it on the flash head in storage so isn't really taking up any additional space.

With my 550ex flash I have to stretch the bag and the zipper, etc. to get it to fit in. I wedge it into the bottom of the triangle area in the top section of the bag. It doesn't look like it should fit, but it does. It's amazing how much stuff I barely fit in this bag. It's that little bit of additional space it takes up that I don't have. Are you saying that the Sto-Fen slides down over the flash and doesn't extend the length of the flash "at all" when in storage mode? I hear the 580ex is a little smaller, I'm gonna do one of them as my second flash that would become what I carry with me instead. Not that interested in the 4xx series, I want to keep the light output.

simwells wrote in post #3976858external link
Yes the Sto-fens are indeed designed to be bounced just it creates a larger flash source that is being bounced therevy further increasing the light source.

Ahh... so in cases where there is something to bounce off of effectively the Sto-Fen will be better than the typical bubble wrap diffuser, in cases where the light can't bounce from a larger object the oversized bubble wrap could still provide the larger surface. Does the Sto-Fen use some kind of end cap etc. when it has no external object to bounce the light from? I've heard of some products with open ends that optionally plug the end so you can choose whatever angle you want to use, maybe this is one of them.


Canon ~ 7D, 1D MkIIn, 5D, 20D, 10D, 100-400L IS, 70-200 2.8L IS, 24-105 f4L IS, 17-40 f4L, 135mm f2L, 85mm 1.8, 50mm 1.4, 50mm 2.5 macro, Ext. tubes, TC's 1.4 & 2.0, Feisol 3441-S CF Tpod, Gitzo Traveler Mpod, Acratech ballhead, 550EX, 200EG bag, Epson Pro 3800 printer.

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simwells
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Joined Feb 2007
Sheffield, UK
Sep 21, 2007 11:30 |  #13

tkoutdoor wrote in post #3977822external link
Are you saying that the Sto-Fen slides down over the flash and doesn't extend the length of the flash "at all" when in storage mode?

Does the Sto-Fen use some kind of end cap etc. when it has no external object to bounce the light from? I've heard of some products with open ends that optionally plug the end so you can choose whatever angle you want to use, maybe this is one of them.

Ah no didn't release your space requirements would be so tight the Sto-Fen does stick out around an extra inch at the front.

No the Sto-Fen once mounted is basically a sealed system, there's no open end or removable parts etc.


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picard
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Sep 21, 2007 13:48 |  #14

would the plastic bubble melt due to high heat of the flash?


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tkoutdoor
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Feeding my camera somewhere in Western Washington
Sep 21, 2007 23:25 |  #15

picard wrote in post #3979167external link
would the plastic bubble melt due to high heat of the flash?

No, there is not problem with heat whatsoever. If it were always on there would be a problem I'm sure, but the nature of flash is intermittent enough that it's not an issue.

Also as a follow up to a previous post... The bubble wrap allows enough light to escape the end that it can still be bounced from another object as well. Obviously the light is gonna be somewhat diffuse already, but it does send out enough light that there is some left over to bounce. I was using mine today and found if I pointed the end of the flashgun straight at something I had a hotspot. Typically you wouldn't point it straight at something anyway, but I had a reason to try it and the light needed to be bounced.


Canon ~ 7D, 1D MkIIn, 5D, 20D, 10D, 100-400L IS, 70-200 2.8L IS, 24-105 f4L IS, 17-40 f4L, 135mm f2L, 85mm 1.8, 50mm 1.4, 50mm 2.5 macro, Ext. tubes, TC's 1.4 & 2.0, Feisol 3441-S CF Tpod, Gitzo Traveler Mpod, Acratech ballhead, 550EX, 200EG bag, Epson Pro 3800 printer.

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