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Home made Diffuser Project

There are two types of diffuser that we find handy in photography, the flat sheet diffuser that we put between the sun or light source and our subject, and the diffuser we can add to flash units to soften the lighting. This project is all about what to do when you are away and you don't have these with you.

With a reflector, we generally know what sort of effects it will produce and can often see the results before we take a picture, with a diffuser it is not as easy, therefore it's a good idea to have experimented with this a number of times, so as to get a reasonable idea of the effect that you will get.

You will find that the same skills come in useful in many other situations, take for example a project I did some time ago at Halloween, to take a photo of a pumpkin head with light coming out of the holes. The photograph was taken in a Light Cube and using  Nikon Creative Lighting with several flash units. I just want here to look at the light coming out of the pumpkin, I felt it needed to be diffused and come out about equally from all the holes. I also wanted to protect the flash unit from the gunge in the pumpkin. It also needed to be a disposable solution. The solution was just a number of scrunched up supermarket plastic bags with the flash unit in one. I just had to make sure that the flashes optical receiver was pointing out of one of the holes and would be able to see the instruction flashes from the commander. I took several photos, the major difference being the balancing of the power inside compared to outside the pumpkin, until I got a spooky effect that was clear, that I liked.

Often direct flash is too hard, we can bounce it off a ceiling, reflector or something, but if we don't have something then we often need to defuse it.

If the sun is very bright we can also find the contrast and shadowing is to hard, we could use a reflector or fill flash, but we can also diffuse the sunlight, here we want to play with this diffusion effect.

Making a large diffuser is not that easy and its often difficult to find suitable material, if you have something with a pattern or marking this will produce shadowing in the pattern. Small ones are fairly easy to construct.

The easiest form of small flat diffuser is to look for a cereal packet liner that is opaque, that can be flattened out and used.

The easiest form of flash diffuser is plastic bags used in some form held in place with elastic bands. Another option is to use double diffusion, so some plastic over the flash unit and then blow up and tie a plastic bag in front, the problem tends to be holding it in place.

You can see some ideas that may help within the reflector project.

In this project your challenges are:-

  1. to produce a small diffuser panel

  2. to produce a diffuser to add to your flash unit

  3. and then to take some photos using each

Try if you can to do this project with what you have very easy available and can find in minutes.

You need to practice when it is not critical so that when you want to do this you can with confidence knowing that it will work, particularly having an idea of the amount of light you will loose with your flash and the range you have.

See Also:-

Introduction to Studio and Flash Lighting

Reflector project

Light Cube

Nikon Creative Lighting

There are many articles on flash, lighting and reflectors in the Lighting and Reflectors Section.


By: Keith Park Section: Lighting and Reflectors Key:
Page Ref: Diffuser_project Topic: Flash, Studio and Reflectors Last Updated: 04/2009

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