Got Nikon SB-800? Lucky You.
Here's a bounce flash diffuser for low bucks that you make yourself from anything white, silver, gold or platinum.
Kidding about the platinum.
Warning: Cost will be possibly over $0.50!
I want my flash to be... I dunno... softer.
Sure, you can put that little diffusion dome on top of your SB-800 and drive out the harsh lighting effect of direct flash, somewhat, but how about something closer to bounce flash, even at night in the upper 40? (Acres, that is, implying outside where the ceiling is apparently 13.8 billion light years away, and isn't very reflective.)
We see a number of photographers with some ready-made $49.96 white card mounted on their flash units, and the pictures look pretty good, but golly, for that money, you could get an eBook about your Nikon and have the tiniest amount of change left over. The eBook might well do you a lot more good in all of your pictures, including the flash shots with your SB-800.
Fellow photographer, Snook, whose images are often gathered in the rough and tumble environment of the mosh pit at rock concerts and nightclubs all over Los Angeles, got his SB-800 last year and hasn't looked back. Of course, he looks back at his images, that's not what I meant.
Anyhow, someone on DP Review showed a flash diffuser made from white board (we can't find it in their archives) and he said (typical), "Why, I can make a better one than that!" So he did, and here it is as a Holiday Gift to all you SB-800 owners who can afford it. In spite of the coincidental price, rapper 50 cent does not endorse this product. But may have already been shot with it.
Download this pattern and print it out at 300 ppi. Click on the image and tell your browser to display the picture on a new page, then download that to your clipboard or desktop, or wherever is convenient. It's full size, actual size at 300 ppi.
Like a dress pattern, lay it on top of a sheet of that flat, rubbery white foam board (if that term applies) sold in Art Supply or Craft Supply stores. The gray lines are for scoring only. Don't use a knife on those. You just want to dent the stuff.
Fiber-Craft Foam Sheet (product #15200-01) is the stuff I use, and recommend. Michael's Arts and Crafts Supply near me sells it in 12 x 18 inch (30 x 45 cm) sheets for a buck. With a little judicious cutting (Xacto), one sheet will make five reflectors with this pattern. That makes me a headline liar.
Actual cost per each, just under $0.20 if you cut well. Score the gray lines just enough to let the thing take shape when you wrap it around the head of your upward-pointing flash.
A rubber band holds it onto the flash, and these Foam Sheet versions take mosh pit activity well.
Snook's design embodies several refinements. Scores allow the natural spring of the foam sheet to tip forward, bending the side panels only, trapping much of the flash blast. The ever-so-slightly-wider base also helps tip the upper panel forward. The prototype, in the picture up top, was not quite so refined. But do get one of those fat, sassy rubber bands to hold it in place.
Some of the flash goes off into the ceiling where it bounces environmentally. Most of it spreads from the diffuser making nice eye-highlights and very soft shadows. If a raging rocker grabs for the camera (it's been known to happen) all he gets is 20¢ worth of fluff. Keep another one under your shirt for moshtography.
He tried several other materials. embossed silver and gold plastic sheets of stiffer stuff. Heavy white craft paper. You can experiment with anything that wraps.
* Because it bounces. If we had meant the lexible foam sheeting, we would have worked out some pun-filled reference to the quantum foam basis of space/time at the Planke scale, through which photons must negotiate their appointed rounds. But we didn't out of respect for your holiday mood.
(c) 2007 Peter iNova. All rights reserved. Do not reprint. Simply add a link to this page.