Flash Diffuser

01 Jun

Flash Diffuser

I made this flash diffuser after reading Chuck Gardner’s instructions on how he builds his flash diffuser and I added some modifications of my own.. It’s very power efficient and directs the light anywhere you want it. The other great thing is that it becomes flat when dismantled.

See more and read on to find out how to make your own.

The diffuser works by focussing and directing all the light forward with a little bit of light going up as shown in the pictures below. The speedlites (580 EX and 580 EXII) are mounted on my light stand (more on this later) with a super clamp securing the second speedlite. Both are triggered by some cheap radio trigger that I bought.

Flash diffuser top down front view
This is the view from the front

Flash diffuser top down bottom view
This is what you see from below

If you look closely, there’s a little flap or roof thingy at the top of the diffusers which can be unroofed and this is what you see,

Flash diffuser top up front view
Again, this is the front view.
Flash diffuser top up bottom view
and this is the view from the bottom.

Notice that more light goes to the ceiling when the flapped is straightened out. This would help a great deal in lifting up the ambient light as more light bounces all over the place.

But if you want all the light to go forward and none going up, you just have to put the flap down more and angle the speedlites lightly forward.

Flash diffuser- all light forward

To make it, you need to set aside about 15 minutes of your time and it’ll be done. But if you want to make it look nice (notice the tribute to the L lenses red band), it’ll be about 1 hour.

I made this one out of a foamy material used in a beach carpet. The good thing about this material is that it had silver foil material on one side which is perfect for directing light. All in all, it costs less than RM30 (or about USD6) to make.

The items you need are:

1. Aluminium foam mat foamy material (buy from Carrefour or Tesco’s at the camping section)- RM 13.90
2. Black cloth tape – RM 10 for 2
3. Velcro – RM 5 for 1 meter
4. A pair of scissors

This is what the aluminium foam mat looks like when you buy it.
Aluminium foam mat rolled

When you unroll it, you will see one side is blue and the other side is aluminium foil-like (hence the name).
Aluminium foam mat unrolled front

Aluminium foam mat unrolled back

Now that you know what it looks like, get a pair of scissors and cut a portion in A4. Once you’ve done that, cut a slit about 5cm long on both sides at about 7cm from the top (see picture below if you’re not clear what I mean).

Diffuser slit

Once that’s done, take the black cloth tape (or any colour that you want) and tape all the blue stuff away (you don’t have to do this. I did it because the blue attracts too much attention).

Once all the blue stuff has been taped away, you’re gonna start putting velcro all over the place.

Velcro at slit (loops)
Put a strip of loops velcro like so at the reflector side of the slit.

Velcro at slit (hooks)
Put a strip of hooks velcro like so at the black side of the slit.

Ok. Then put a long strip of velcro hooks at the reflector side of the bottom of the diffuser (the bottom is the one furthest away from the slit).
Velcro hooks at bottom

(note: the hooks velcro at the reflector side is optional as you would need to put a strip of loops velcro on your speedlite. Some people may not want to do that).

Do the same thing on the black side, this times with loops velcro.
Velcro loops at the bottom

You’re basically done. The only thing left is the band for you to secure your diffuser with. For those of you who didn’t want to put velcro on your speedlite, you need to pay attention.

Cut a strip of aluminium foam mat about 5 cms wide and the same length as you diffuser. Like the diffuser itself, put black tape over the blue side but also put tape on the reflective side.

The a long strip of loops velcro along the length of the band.

Securing band back

Securing band front

You may have noticed from the pictures 5 little pieces of hooks velcro along the inside of the diffuser.
5 little hooks velcro

I’m saving this for later as I planned to put a transluscent material over the diffuser to turn it into something like a softbox though I am not sure whether it’ll be effective or not.

And that’s basically it. You’ll end up with something that looks like this.

Finished (back)

Finished (front)

There you go. To use it, simply twist your speedlite pointing upwards. Slip the diffuser on and then fasten with the securing band. Take the top of the diffuser and join the hoops and loops velcro strip at the slit. You are ready to go.

Diffuser on speedlite

You can use it on landscape orientation like so,
Landscape orientation

or, you can use it on portrait orientation.
Portrait orientation

If you want to use a gel, no problem. Just take a strip of gel (any and all colours) and cut it to match exactly the size of the speedlite cover with about 3 cm addition in length. Put a piece of hoops velco on it.

Gel with velcro

When you want to use the gel, just place it over the speedlite and use the velcro (one of the 5 little ones at the bottom) to secure it like so.

Diffuser with gel
Diffuser with gel flash fired

Anyway, it looks big doesn’t it. Some of you may be shy to use this thing in public ad you’d rather go with a stoffen or even a simple piece of white card. I’ve seen people use all sorts of things and they are all great. What I like about this diffuser is that when taken apart, it’s flat which makes it very easy to carry and that’s an important consideration for me. I’ve used all sorts of things and while they all give great light, most of them are bulky and takes up space.

Phew. That’s it from me tonight. My next project is a strip light for speedlite and I just saw an empty shoebox…….


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