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Old 11-02-2012, 02:17 PM   #1
mom2rtk
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Flash Diffuser?

We're heading to Disney in a little over a month. I want to try something different with my shots at character meals. I have a Canon 430EX and 270EX. I haven't tried to bounce my flash because to be honest, I'm not practiced at it and don't want to risk messing up any of my shots. Besides, the places I have the most trouble have odd shaped or high ceilings.

I know I have seen some just attach a white card to their flash. Would something along this line be the best route to go?

I really don't want to go flashless.
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Old 11-03-2012, 05:42 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mom2rtk View Post
We're heading to Disney in a little over a month. I want to try something different with my shots at character meals. I have a Canon 430EX and 270EX. I haven't tried to bounce my flash because to be honest, I'm not practiced at it and don't want to risk messing up any of my shots. Besides, the places I have the most trouble have odd shaped or high ceilings.

I know I have seen some just attach a white card to their flash. Would something along this line be the best route to go?

I really don't want to go flashless.
Many people on lighting forums say plastic diffusers on a flash are a waste of money because they don't actually 'diffuse' the light, it's still from one small direction at a lower output. Others say attachments like "flash benders" work better because they spread the light. My opinion is if you cannot bounce the light from a wall or other wide object it's best to just try and balance the ambient and flash light. I also have a cheap set of wireless triggers (RF-602/603) and hold the flash away from the camera at an angle to get better results
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Old 11-03-2012, 10:06 AM   #3
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I have several sizes of diffusers, the smaller ones do help but it is subtle since the light source is not much larger than the original flash. They work ok at close distances, anything more than maybe 6-10' they are probably not helping much.

Then there is the large diffuser. Stupid looking maybe, but much more effective. This one really works at portrait distance and still helps at longer distances. My guess is it may be helpful up to about 15', beyond that the flash may not have enough power anyway since the diffuser sucks up so much light output.

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Old 11-03-2012, 10:19 AM   #4
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Highly recommend this product:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...fuser_Pro.html

it has 2 parts. I only use the big white plastic part. This is used to bounce the flash.

this pic i used this product for.

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Old 11-03-2012, 02:22 PM   #5
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I know that the plastic flash cap (such as the Sto-fen Omni Bounce cap) isn't popular among Strobists (ie. photographers who use a lot of flash), but I've had pretty decent luck with this plastic cap, both for indoor flash pictures and outdoor flash pictures.

I know the principles behind creating softer, more flattering light from a flash: the larger "apparent size" of the flash (such as bouncing the flash off a wall or ceiling), the softer the light falls on my subject. All the flash modifiers mentioned on this thread help to make the flash "appear larger".

However, there are 2 things that keep me from the techniques mentioned above. First, at Disney World, I'm always on the go, so I might not have a nice white-colored wall near me to bounce my flash. Or, I may use flash outdoors, where there are no walls. Or, if I use my flash indoors, you know how colorful the walls are at Disney World, so if I try to bounce my flash off those walls, my subject will end up being that same color reflected off the wall.

The second thing is trying to balance between how large a flash modifier I'm willing to bring vs. portability & convenience vs. looking like an idiot . The Sto-fen Omni Bounce is small enough and discreet enough that I don't get curious stares or comments from others or cast members. Certainly, I'd love to carry a mini-softbox, like the one boBQuincy shows, and I don't doubt that it softens the light tremendously. But in a fast-paced photography situation, that's just 1 more bulky item for me to take extra time to assemble / disassemble whenever I take my flash on / off the camera.

I think the reason the Sto-fen Omni Bounce works for me is because it (1) reduces the light output from the flash by a little bit, (2) it spreads some of the light around the room, if I'm indoors, and (3) it's extremely portable. I've had pretty good luck with it. I'll admit that sometimes I'll notice harsh shadows, but oftentimes, I don't.

As with everything in photography, even the choice of portable flash modifiers is fraught with compromises. Good luck!


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Old 11-04-2012, 08:57 AM   #6
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I has both a Demb Flip-It and a Rogue Flashbender and much prefer both of those over a direct flash shot, with or without a diffusion cap.
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Old 11-04-2012, 12:37 PM   #7
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Those little plastic diffusers in my experience don't do jobs like this well because they just don't make the light source large enough and a lot of them do little to control the direction of the light. I like the ones like boBQuincy posted because they turn your flash into a small softbox which can be very effective for candid portraits, which is really what you're getting at character meals.
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Old 11-04-2012, 07:34 PM   #8
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I got a fong sphere diffuser for the 430exII and fong puffer for the built in to combat the difficult flash issues.

I have no idea how well they will do but I'll be trying my best to make them work.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...G&A=details&Q=

http://www.amazon.com/Gary-Fong-LSUC...=fong+diffuser
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Old 11-04-2012, 07:48 PM   #9
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Wow, it really is pretty amazing what a wide variety of options is out there.

I have one of the diffuser caps on both of my flashes. And I agree with what most have said about the difference being minimal. My greatest improvement came when I started playing more with the flash e/c in an effort to better balance the ambient and flash light as Bob100 suggested. I'm just thinking it might be fun to play with another approach this time and see if I can do better.

I'm mulling over all the options everyone has kindly offered. I need to weigh the convenience factor since my immediate concern is for Disney shots.

Keep the ideas and feedback coming as I mull them all over.
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Old 11-04-2012, 07:57 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by disneyboy2003 View Post
I know that the plastic flash cap (such as the Sto-fen Omni Bounce cap) isn't popular among Strobists (ie. photographers who use a lot of flash), but I've had pretty decent luck with this plastic cap, both for indoor flash pictures and outdoor flash pictures.

I know the principles behind creating softer, more flattering light from a flash: the larger "apparent size" of the flash (such as bouncing the flash off a wall or ceiling), the softer the light falls on my subject. All the flash modifiers mentioned on this thread help to make the flash "appear larger".

However, there are 2 things that keep me from the techniques mentioned above. First, at Disney World, I'm always on the go, so I might not have a nice white-colored wall near me to bounce my flash. Or, I may use flash outdoors, where there are no walls. Or, if I use my flash indoors, you know how colorful the walls are at Disney World, so if I try to bounce my flash off those walls, my subject will end up being that same color reflected off the wall.

The second thing is trying to balance between how large a flash modifier I'm willing to bring vs. portability & convenience vs. looking like an idiot . The Sto-fen Omni Bounce is small enough and discreet enough that I don't get curious stares or comments from others or cast members. Certainly, I'd love to carry a mini-softbox, like the one boBQuincy shows, and I don't doubt that it softens the light tremendously. But in a fast-paced photography situation, that's just 1 more bulky item for me to take extra time to assemble / disassemble whenever I take my flash on / off the camera.

I think the reason the Sto-fen Omni Bounce works for me is because it (1) reduces the light output from the flash by a little bit, (2) it spreads some of the light around the room, if I'm indoors, and (3) it's extremely portable. I've had pretty good luck with it. I'll admit that sometimes I'll notice harsh shadows, but oftentimes, I don't.

As with everything in photography, even the choice of portable flash modifiers is fraught with compromises. Good luck!


Yay! My 800th post!
Happy 800th post Disneboy!

And I think you summed up my dilemma with this quite nicely.

Mostly I like to step up my photography game in some area each trip. I've toyed with a new lens for this trip. But the lens I want is a longer fast lens with IS. The problem is I don't think I want to carry such a lens around with me. So I'm thinking maybe of trying to work on my flash shots a bit. None of the options I've seen so far weigh 3 lbs like the lens I was considering.
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Old 11-04-2012, 08:03 PM   #11
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I know they are pricey but if you saw the results you would seriously think about getting one if you enjoy flash photography. I was looking at the proofs while on a Disney cruise at the Dinner pics and couldn't believe the results.

As you can see from this thread, that another member thought the same thing.

They are qflashes or Quantum Flash. I don't own one but from what I can tell they took amazing flash pics.

http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2706863
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Old 11-05-2012, 08:01 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mom2rtk View Post
We're heading to Disney in a little over a month. I want to try something different with my shots at character meals. I have a Canon 430EX and 270EX. I haven't tried to bounce my flash because to be honest, I'm not practiced at it and don't want to risk messing up any of my shots. Besides, the places I have the most trouble have odd shaped or high ceilings.

I know I have seen some just attach a white card to their flash. Would something along this line be the best route to go?

I really don't want to go flashless.
Instead of thinking about the gadget, think about what the gadget does. To get soft light, you need a large light source relative to your subject. That's why bouncing off a wall often works very well. The only down side is if the wall isn't white. The bounced flash will take on the color of the surface that reflects it.

How large of a light source do you need? The closer you can get to your subject, the larger the light source appears relative to your subject. I've seen some folks get nice head shots by holding up a white napkin and bouncing the flash off it.

If you want to go the white card route, get some white foam paper and cut it to resemble the stuff on abetterbouncecard.com. That site used to show how to do it until he realized he could rake in some cash by selling a 79¢ office supply for nearly $60.
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Old 11-05-2012, 03:21 PM   #13
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I have a stofen omni, and a lumiquest softbox and I have also made my own flash diffuser out of foam board.

The DIY version works just as well for a fraction of the cost. (It does, however, look the most odd attached to my flash).

The original site where I got the plans is no longer available, but if you google foam flash diffuser, you can find lots of instructions on how to make your own. I highly recommend it, especially if you are just experimenting.
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Old 11-06-2012, 09:20 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rdunative View Post
I know they are pricey but if you saw the results you would seriously think about getting one if you enjoy flash photography. I was looking at the proofs while on a Disney cruise at the Dinner pics and couldn't believe the results.

As you can see from this thread, that another member thought the same thing.

They are qflashes or Quantum Flash. I don't own one but from what I can tell they took amazing flash pics.

http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2706863
While I don't mind spending a few dollars, I'll have to pass on that one. That's a little more than the "few" I have in mind! Looks cool though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wbeem View Post
Instead of thinking about the gadget, think about what the gadget does. To get soft light, you need a large light source relative to your subject. That's why bouncing off a wall often works very well. The only down side is if the wall isn't white. The bounced flash will take on the color of the surface that reflects it.

How large of a light source do you need? The closer you can get to your subject, the larger the light source appears relative to your subject. I've seen some folks get nice head shots by holding up a white napkin and bouncing the flash off it.

If you want to go the white card route, get some white foam paper and cut it to resemble the stuff on abetterbouncecard.com. That site used to show how to do it until he realized he could rake in some cash by selling a 79¢ office supply for nearly $60.
Since I'm mostly talking about Disney, I'm pretty sure I can't rely on walls. Too far away.... too high..... too wrong color.

The napkin idea seems to make sense. But I have pretty unsteady hands and rely on my second hand holding the lens to help steady the camera. So I don't think I could hold a napkin or even an off-camera flash to the side.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mabas9395 View Post
I have a stofen omni, and a lumiquest softbox and I have also made my own flash diffuser out of foam board.

The DIY version works just as well for a fraction of the cost. (It does, however, look the most odd attached to my flash).

The original site where I got the plans is no longer available, but if you google foam flash diffuser, you can find lots of instructions on how to make your own. I highly recommend it, especially if you are just experimenting.
I'll probably give that a try. Maybe I wrap velcro around my flash to hold something. Looking goofy never bothered me, so it could be right up my alley!
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Old 11-06-2012, 11:23 AM   #15
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Sounds like you've gotten some good advice. I'm a Nikon user, and recently sold my large flash (SB-600) for a smaller external flash b/c to be candid, I hardly used the large one b/c I felt it was so big and clumsy, and if it was hardly coming out of my camera bag, then what was the point? So I sold it and bought a smaller, more compact flash (SB-400)...which to to candid, I think I regret unloading the bigger flash. I had a Gary Fong Lightsphere, and while the combination of that with the flash was really bulky, it worked really well for me. I bought a Stofen Omni-bounce to use on my new flash, and so far, have been unhappy with the results. However, I will say, it could very well be a user error. At WDW, I was unhappy specifically at character meals. I was using a 35mm f/1.8, and had it wide open, but the flash was either over exposing or under exposing, and long-story short, when you're trying to hurry when a character is at your table, it's not time to be fiddling with settings. We had dinner at 1900 Fare with Cinderella & family, and the lighting is awful in there. After getting a few bad shots, I ended up throwing the camera on Auto and letting the pop-up flash do it's thing, and while I have alot of shadows, at least I have sort-of-decent photos. The best character meal photos I got were at 'Ohana's breakfast with Lilo & Stitch. We got lucky and were seated by a window. I sat with my back to the window and DD (my subject) was directly across the table, so lots of great, natural light. We also at at Crystal Palace for lunch, and the lighting was much better in there too. I see someone else recommended a Fong Lightsphere. If you do go that route, I HIGHLY recommend getting the collapsible version (although I would wonder if it would be prone to 'creep'). I had the non-collapsible version and it was a bulky hunk of plastic, but worked great! Best of luck!!
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