Yet another DIY Flash Diffuser for Macro Photograghy


I have recently picked up the interest in macro photography. It is always amazing to find out the details you can uncover from the small little subjects vis-a-vis what you see with your naked eyes.

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Tiger beetle “wearing a pair of spectacles”

My main issue right now (other than focusing) is lighting. I got a ring flash but it creates undesirable light artifacts like the one above. The two white ring reflection on the tiger beetle’s eyes make them look like a pair of spectacles! So I figure that if I intend to further pursue macro photograghy, I need to fix the lighting issue. DIY flash diffuser came to my mind, and I went google for ideas.

I started with aluminium disposable containers (as the diffuser hood) but realise later its a bad idea, since they are filmsy and would not be friendly to my camera lens body, especially if I were to rest it on the lens. I decide to build a diffuser using cardboard. So I take a piece of paper, start drawing out the dimension of the diffuser hood and the angle it should be tilting downward.

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The end product of my DIY diffuser

The drawing is straight forward, it is really the piecing all the puzzles together that took me some time. Here’s a quick summary of my DIY steps for anybody who’s interested to follow;

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Step 1. Draw out your diffuser dimension on a piece of paper. Take note of the length of your lens that you will be using, and the position of your flashgun. You don’t want your diffuser to point at your lens instead of your photography subject, do you?

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Step 2. Map the drawing onto the cardboard. In this step, I am only designing the top and side of the diffuser hood.

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Step 3. Cut out the cardboard with your pen knife.

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Step 4. Use an adhesive tape to secure the edges of the cut cardboard as illustrated. Would suggest that you tap the top and under side for more secure holding.

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Step 5. Tape the top side of the holder as explained earlier.

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Step 6. The underside of the diffuser hood will need to be shiny for better light transfer from the flashgun to the subject. To do that, I first apply an even patch of craft glue over the cardboard.

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Step 7. Overlay a sheet of aluminium foil (those you use for barbecue or oven cooking) on the cardboard. Lightly press the foil on the cardboard so that it sticks on it permanently. Be careful not to press too hard as the thin foil may break. Trim off the residue sheet.

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Step 8. Once you trim off the aluminium foil, the top diffuser section will look like this. Now it’s time to make the bottom section of the diffuser to complete the work.

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Step 9. Cut out the shape of the bottom section and pply the aluminium foil over it like you have done in previous step. Stick it to the top diffuser hood with the help of adhesive tape again.

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Step 10. Before you do a black tape over the diffuser, try out your DIY hood on your flashgun to make sure it can fit properly.

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Step 11. Put the black duct tape around the diffuser so that it’s all covered up. This is purely cosmetic so you can skip this step if you just want a functional diffuser.

The last two steps is to put a diffuser screen on  it. I plan to cut out the milk bottle (which is translucent  and colour-less casting) but found out that the one I have is too small to be fitted on this diffuser. So I am using a temporary one (using a file folder inserted with two sheet of papers I use kitchen paper towel instead). Will post the result of the DIY diffuser once I have taken some test shots indoor and outdoor.

Update: There’s no insect for me to experiment, so I use the 福禄寿 as my model to try out my DIY diffuser. Top one with the DIY diffuser, and bottom without.

Result of the experimenting with DIY diffuser

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3 thoughts on “Yet another DIY Flash Diffuser for Macro Photograghy

  1. I really enjoyed this tutorial. I am about to get into this project and wondered are the widest points on the sides the same as the width of the widest point on the top and bottom? I know that all measurements are relative to to what you are working with ( lens length, size of flash ) but if you could provide your measurements on the widest points ( possibly the whole thing ) it would give a person like myself a starting point to compare against instead of looking at the pictures. I see in the first set of photos that there are a few measurements but it looks as if that layout changed a bit in the end result. Any help would be great. Thanks for this post.

  2. Pingback: Macro photography with the DIY diffuser | zen online journal

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