In our latest DIY Photography Hacks post our technique editor Chris teams up with our friends at NPhoto to provide a thorough yet easy-to-follow video demonstration of how to make a simple flash diffuser from cardboard for more evenly lit images.
One of the biggest drawbacks of using flash is that it produces harsh, high-contrast light. Strong shadows and highlights aren’t ideal for subjects like portraits and some still lifes. You can soften the light from your flash by bouncing it off a wall or ceiling, but these aren’t always available, or convenient to use. What you need is a way to soften the light your flash produces.
There are loads of commercially available diffusers, bounce cards and softboxes. The latter have one end that fits over your flash, and then get wider, ending in a panel of translucent material that diffuses the light of the flash as it passes through.
You can make a softbox at almost no cost from items you’ve got around your house. All you need is a suitably-sized cardboard box (flattened, but with the top and base flaps intact as you will make use of the folds), some tin foil, some baking parchment (or greaseproof paper) and some tape.
Apart from saving you a fair bit of money, the other advantage of a do-it-yourself softbox is that you can make it as large or small as you like.
The larger the softbox, the softer the light will be, but it will also reduce the light that reaches your subject from the flash, so bear this in mind when choosing the size of cardboard box.
Of course, there are some disadvantages to the DIY photography approach. The main one is that the homemade softbox isn’t as portable as commercially available versions as it doesn’t fold down, but for indoor use this isn’t a problem.
Planning your design and marking it out carefully before cutting will make your softbox easier to construct and a much better fit to your flash, so take your time during that stage of the build.
The design we’ve come up with is pretty simple to follow, and only takes around 30 minutes to make. In the video below we show you step-by-step how to make a flash diffuser of your very own! We’ve also written out each step on the next page.