Home made flash diffusers

Started Aug 16, 2007 | Discussions thread
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dougsmit Senior Member • Posts: 1,362
Home made flash diffusers

I have been playing more with the idea of home made flash diffusers and produced a set of photos showing minor differences in effect according to materials used. I learned a few things:

1. Any diffuser is better than no diffuser. This probably includes the ones you buy but I really can't prove that any of my junk will match the result of any given brand of commercial product.

2. Bounce flash with diffuser can be made to throw more light up and less forward by cutting out the bottom of the plastic bottle or by using a clear bottle rather than a frosty one. Conversely, if you want more light forward and less up, use a more frosted bottle or place a reflector of metallic tape on the back of bottle.

3. Softer plastic bottles that are slightly rectangular can be rotated a quarter turn and held in place without other attachments.

4. More rounded or square bottles are better than flat since turning the flash for vertical use will place a different side of the bottle forward.

5. Like someone said, You can buy a diffuser that looks cool if that is the most important thing.

6. My current favorite diffusers started life as containers for Delmonte fruit juices (apple, grape or pear) from the baby food section. They are recycle code 7 frosty soft plastic. I have versions with and without the bottom of the bottle being removed as shown below. Including the juice (which must be removed before constructing the diffuser), the pair cost less than the postage charge for commercial diffusers.

Except for 'Direct" all flashes were pointed straight up. When comparing photos, be sure to note the shadow below the ceiling light fixture, catchlights and the shadows in eye sockets.

Direct: Direct flash on camera
Bounce: Bounce flash no diffuser
Cut: Milky plastic diffuser with bottom removed (Delmonte baby juice bottle)
Solid: Milky plastic diffuser with bottom intact (Delmonte baby juice bottle)
BBQ: Clear, thin plastic bottle (Barbecue sauce bottle)
Syrup: Clear bottle with silver reflector on back (Pancake syrup bottle)
Paper: Plain white paper reflector behind flash
Bubble: Bubble wrap bag

Crops from the above:

...and my favorites (rarely used together as shown here due to the weight of two flashes):

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