Photo by Karl Zemlin
Ever since I got an external flash for my Canon Powershot G5, I have been researching and building home made light modifiers. Some are more elaborate than others, some look better than others, but they have all had the desired effect. Here is a rundown of the ones I have tried, with links to instructions (some might go to videos). The DIY softbox above is one I have not made yet, but you can get the plans here. [edit – on 12/14/08 I made it and then did a review]
The milk jug diffuser is one of the simplest ones to make. Lop off the end of a milk jug, slot the edges so it will wrap around your flash head, and presto chango – instant diffuser. Not as pretty or professional looking as a Gary Fong Lightsphere, but it will get the job done. I haven’t made one of these yet. We have our milk delivered, and their jugs are much heavier gauge than the store bought ones. Hmm, that might make for better diffusion though. I’ll have to see if they are so thick as to not be pliable enough to fit on the flash.
The MuzzBounce™ Ghetto Flash modifier is similar to the milk jug diffuser in that it uses a translucent jug (mine was from windshield wiper fluid). The effect is different though. It is designed to redirect (bounce) the light from a flash, while at the same time diffusing it. It works quite well in portrait and macro photography. I built my first one shortly after I got my new Olympus E-510 and FL-36 flash. My wife made a comment immediately, something about spending so much money on a camera only to put a jug on it. I thought it was a funny comment, but it didn’t stop me from using it around the house. Certainly doesn’t project a professional image though. Not really sure what the “professional” (store bought) equivalent would be, but if you spent enough time on this one, you could make it look professional.
I have a slightly different version (cannot find the site it was on now) of the DIY Reflector-Diffuser. It is on;y slightly different, and the results are pretty much the same. I like it so much, I keep it in my camera backpack all the time and use it fairly frequently. Construction is very easy, using craft foam from a hobby shop. The DIY Reflector-Diffuser site also includes plans you can print and use as templates when cutting the craft foam. This is a “must make” for the do it yourself light modifier. Other alterations I have seen include cutting a honeycomb pattern (with large hexagons) into the modifier to let more light escape vertically.
This was one of the first thing I tried. A simple bounce of light from my flash, that allowed enough light loss to spread the remaining light out properly. It worked OK, but I certainly liked the results from my Muzzbounce better. The plans for A Better Bounce Card have been updated to use craft foam. I think the original may have been something else, as simple as copy paper. It certainly served it’s purpose though.
The Finn Bounce
For those of you with a P&S camera that has a pop-up flash (or even a DSLR like my E-510 that has a pop-up), the Finn Bounce is an easy to make light reflector (bounce card) that, given it’s size, has a tremendous impact on the quality of your pics. Don’t take my word for it, find a piece of cardstock, rubber cement and aluminum foil, then follow the 9 easy steps to make it. You will be glad you did.
This covers the ones I have tried. Below is a list of ones I want to try, along with the softbox that led this article. Hope this has been worthwhile to you.
Miscellaneous Others I Have Not Tried
Here are some highlights of projects I plan to try at some point: