October Thing-a-day, Day 12: Flash Reflector-Diffuser

Note: October was a horrible choice for a thing-a-day project, what with the Maker Faire and all. I’ll get 31 projects in by re-starting today.
Finished product!
Sick of getting an ugly, harsh light when you take pictures using a flash? Tired of relying on finding a white ceiling to use for bounce flash? Then you need a diffuser for your flash! I followed these nice directions from Chuck Gardner to work with my external flash, but you can find similar projects that work quite nicely with your built-in flash as well.

Why is this useful? The flash is a very small light, so it comes off as a hard light source when mounted to the top of a camera. By bouncing the light off of a larger diffuser, it effectively becomes a bigger and less directional light source, which softens shadows and evens out the lighting from the flash. At least, that is how I understand it. Tutorial after the break.

Step 1: Gather parts
You will need:
* Two pieces of craft foam, approx 9×12 (mine were twice this size)
* Large needle (24?)
* Black thread (25?)
* Some sticky back Velcro
Not pictured:
* an old folder or other 8×11 inch piece of thick paper
* strip of velcro or rubber band (to attach it to the flash)

Step 2: Cut the foam
Cutting the foam shape
Using the template from Chuck Gardner’s tutorial, measure and cut out the black and white pieces of foam. To accomplish this, I used a sharpie and ruler to draw out and mark the cuts that needed to be made on the white piece of foam. Once the pieces were cut, I flipped them both over in order to hide any remaining markings.

Insiders Tip: The measuring can be made easier if you get a friend to assist you:
Measuring and cutting

Step 3: Cut the cardboard stiffener
Cutting out the cardboard stiffener
The cardboard stiffener is placed in between the two pieces of foam to help the reflector maintain its shape. I found an old folder to be a good size and strength for this. There isn’t a template for this step, but you want to bring the edges of this pattern in 1/2″ from that of the foam. The idea is to have the cardboard cover most of the inside of the diffuser, but to leave room along the edges so that it can be sewed together. When you have it cut out, compare it to the foam cutout. It should look like this:

Cutting out the cardboard stiffener

Step 4: Sew it all together
The sewing part isn’t too complicated, but there is one crucial step that must be taken first: Photograph yourself looking manly. This is important to use as a rebuttal in case you are teased about sewing. Here is mine:
Preparing to sew
Insider’s Tip: The mustache is the manliest kind of facial hair you can grow.

Once you have it sewn together, it should look like this:
All sewed up and ready to go

Step 5: Add velcro and done!

Velcro placementThe final step is to add some velcro to the foam in order to hold the section down. If you are using the self-adhesive kind, just peel off some squares and stick them on. Also, you can use a velcro strap around the bottom to hold the diffuser to the flash unit. I forgot to pick one up at the store, so I am just using a rubberband and it seems to work ok.

Step 6: Enjoy!
Finished product!

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