Flash Diffuser Hack
Even though I enjoy portrait work, I'm not about to go out and purchase studio lights. I would rather use natural available light. Still, a flash is nice to have to fill in shadows, and indeed sometimes to provide the light necessary to make the shot. When shooting candid photos at parties and gatherings, it is nice to be able to avoid the paparazzi look. I was looking for a way to use my camera mounted flash in such a manner that it would be diffused and softened.
Last night as I was adjusting the salinity of the fish tanks, I noted the jugs containing distilled water was a soft, translucent plastic. That would work well to diffuse the pop-up flash, but how to hold it in front of the mechanism? Looking at the handy dandy pop-up flash on my Nikon D-200, I noted that there was a space underneath it leading to the hot shoe. I cut the water jug to the size I wanted, with a T shaped arm on the bottom. It took several tries to get it right, but by placing the molded 45 degree top of the jug in the right place, I was able to slip the top of the T arm through the flash and into the hot shoe. The water bottle diffuser was held in front of the pop-up flash at a 45 degree angle. But would it work?
The starkly lit photo above was taken with my Nikon D-200 and the pop-up flash. By most accounts, the camera performed fine. Red eye was avoided, and the subject was separated from the background enough to avoid the dreaded black amoeba. All chiaroscuro is lost in the harsh light though. The form is unseen. The subject is flat.
I put my hillbilly contraption on the top of my camera and tried again. With the water jug diffuser, the flash is dispersed, yet still partially projected through the plastic. The model is not only lit more evenly, but with a softer light. Even the background is illuminated slightly, allowing the warm dark bokeh to show through. The entire effect is reminiscent of Vermeer and Rembrandt.
I think I will be slipping this chunk of plastic in my camera bag for when I need it. Feel free to steal my idea to adapt to your own camera.
Labels: Photography Hacks