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Light diffusers allow you to get the best image when taking a photograph. They add softness, depth, and definition, bumping your photographs up to professional quality.
It’s possible to get diffusers that attach to your flash for a reasonable cost but this isn’t always the best option. Besides, what happens if you forget your diffuser and need to work with what you have occasionally?
How do you make a DIY flash diffuser that achieves the result you’re looking for?
All you need are items that are readily available to you or that you can purchase for a small investment at your local supermarket.
And best of all, you’ll get the same smooth, lovely lighting you’d get if you used an expensive or elaborate diffuser set up.
Understanding a Flash Diffuser
Before we get started making a DIY flash diffuser, let’s look at what a flash diffuser is and how it works.
A flash diffuser is an attachment for modifying the light in your photographs. You attach a flash diffuser to the external flash on your camera.
It works by increasing the surface from which light is originating, creating softer lighting. The end result is a photo with less distracting or harsh lighting.
Depending on the type of photography you’re doing, you might rely on artificial light a great deal. Any time you need to use the flash, you’re asking artificial light to do the heavy lifting that would otherwise be handled by natural light.
But what happens if you don’t feel like lugging softboxes and other light modifiers with you every time you go to shoot? They are an important part of capturing the right light in a photo, but they can also be cumbersome.
If you are photographing smaller images like in macro photography, softboxes and other types of standard diffusers are just too large to get the job done.
What should you do if you find yourself in this situation?
You can create your own DIY flash diffuser. It’s easy and affordable, and this is how you do it.
This information is for a basic diffuser. There are more advanced options out there, but there’s no reason to make things more difficult than they need to be.
Your mission is to get the best possible photo and if you can do that easily and with less work, you might as well.
It’s also possible to simplify this DIY flash diffuser to accommodate whatever equipment you use or based on your preferences.
For this DIY project, you’ll need:
- White paper (like this at Amazon)
- Opaque adhesive tape
- Hollow tubing (You can use any kind of hollow tubing but one with a reflective interior works best as it softens the light even more. If you can’t get a hold of a reflective tube, just add aluminum foil.)
Now that you have your tools, you can put together your DIY flash diffuser.
- The tube should be about the same length as the lens you are using. If it’s too long, cut it down to size. Tubes that are too short mean some of the light is going to be shaded so you’ll need to adjust. When cutting into the length of your lens, leave one side longer to direct light downward. On the opposite end, cut it to match the length of the lens.
- At this point, if needed, wrap the inside of the tube with foil.
- Now, grab your white paper, fold it in half, and tape it to the tube. The paper doesn’t need to cover the sides but do your best to tape it so the paper curves smoothly around the tube and there are no sharp edges.
- Once that’s done, open the pop-up flash of your camera and tape the diffuser to the flash. Make sure it’s securely fastened so it doesn’t wiggle.
That’s it. Your DIY flash diffuser is done and ready to work for you.
Does a DIY Flash Diffuser Work as Well as Regular Diffuser?
Yes, your pictures will be just as good with a DIY diffuser as with another tool. There might even be some instances when the DIY model works better because you can fiddle with it and customize it to your needs.
Shockingly, a hollow tube and a scrap of paper can completely transform how your flash works. You no longer have to deal with harsh, direct light and you’ll soften the light to get a better, more flattering photo.
The great thing about using a DIY tool when taking photos is that you get to experiment and customize. You also save a lot of money.
Flash diffusers aren’t necessarily going to break the bank if you buy one ready-made but you’re not likely to find one as inexpensive as this DIY version.
Making your own DIY diffuser also gives you an added advantage. By putting together the diffuser and playing with what works best for you, you gain an understanding that you might not get by popping open your softboxes and going to work.
You get to know your camera more intimately and understand what you need to do to get the best exposure.
One of the most important things about improving your skills as a photographer is gaining an understanding of how the process works. The more you know about it and how to create a setting that is ideal for producing great photos, the more confidence you’ll gain.
Taking control of the process from beginning to end helps you build this confidence and understand how things work. It’s one of the best ways to take your photography to the next level and achieve professional photographs, even if you are an amateur or hobbyist when it comes to photography.
Building your own DIY flash diffuser is easy and fun and can help you practice your photography skills and become a better photographer.