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May 112012
 

If you are looking for better fill flash or diffused flash, whether you are an event photographer or an enthusiast taking portraits, I’ve got a great “Do it yourself” Tip that will save you money. In this Tutorial/Tip I’ll be using a Canon 5d Mark III with the Canon 580ex II Speedlight, but you can use any camera and any flash gun unit.

Supplies

Supplies: DIY Fill Flash

Supplies: DIY Fill Flash

Could not be any easier:

  1. White card stock: 4×6 inches or so. You can customize to your preference.
  2. Large Rubber band: or tape in a pinch.

I used this technique a lot when I was shooting events. To make it work all you need to do is first place the rubber band around the top of the flash gun. Then you lift the rubber band and place the card under the rubber band and adjust the height to your needs. I like to have only about 3/4 of an inch of card on the flash gun held in place by the rubber band. You can find a picture of the set up below. Hey and it’s adjustable. You can shorten the card if you don’t want too much front fill or you can adjust the angle of the flash gun depending on your distance from the subject. If you are in a place with high ceilings then you would want to use 45-60 degrees. Not bad for about 5 cents right?

There are many of you out there that may say the cardboard will deteriorate and you’ll have to keep replacing it. That maybe true but here’s a little trick I used to use when shooting weddings. I would have my “leave behind” printed on bright white card stock and print them at post card size 4×6. I would then use the card white side facing out of course on my flash. I would carry a stack of them in my bag, or while I was shooting in my side satchel. I knew that at every wedding I shoot someone is going to ask me about my funny flash setup. When they ask me, “hey what’s that on your flash?” I tell them, “oh, this thing? It’s my promo card, here take one” Then they go on about why I have it on my flash and I tell them it’s just to attract attention so that I can pass out my promo pieces, hehehe, but then I tell them the real reason, and they always say, “hey that’s clever” and walk away with a smile. I turned a 5 cent practical piece of promotional material into a more memorable marketing experience for myself. It doesn’t matter if the card is bent a little, it actually might be better that way, as the person that I gave that card to, will remember why its bent. I’ve got so much more call backs and jobs from this technique that it’s just silly. Part of it is your personality in how you engage the person and part is your images, but personality wise, I usually like to make jokes and keep them smiling. They usually remember me as the clever photo guy at that one wedding I went to.

DIY Fill Flash-DIY solution

DIY Fill Flash-DIY solution

For comparison, I will be shooting the following shots:

  1. Speedlight normal
  2. Speedlight with Gary Fong Cloud Diffuser
  3. Speedlight with Small card Diffuser
  4. Speedlight with DIY solution

Comparison:

DIY Fill Flash-Normal Flash

DIY Fill Flash-Normal Flash

DIY Fill Flash-Gary Fong Cloud

DIY Fill Flash-Gary Fong Cloud

DIY Fill Flash-Small Card

DIY Fill Flash-Small Card

DIY Fill Flash-DIY solution

DIY Fill Flash-DIY solution

Sample Images:

Normal Flash

Normal Flash

As you can see the normal flash is harsh and not attractive for stuff bears or people.

Gary Fong Cloud Normal Power

Gary Fong Cloud Normal Power

The Gary Fong Cloud does a nice job, but what I always hated about it was it is really bulky, awkward to carry, and quite expensive. If you are doing a lot of events then the cost is justified, but if you are just playing around there’s no reason to spend $40 dollars. He has a new solution these days that is collapsible, but still in my opinion it’s a lot of extra stuff to put in my bag.

On Flash Small Fill Card

On Flash Small Fill Card

The small fill card in your flash gun is a great little tool that you may not have known about. It does a good job but to my tastes it’s too much “Heaven” light from above. The small card isn’t bouncing enough light forward and is mostly bouncing light up off the ceiling. I like a little more direction in my fill flash.

DIY Solution 60 degrees

DIY Solution 60 degrees

Here is the DIY solution at 60 Degrees. I like that the bounce light off the ceiling has lit up the background a bit more then the Gary Fong, and there is soft fill light in the front of the subject.  What I like to do also, when there is a more ambient light, is to turn down the flash power to about 2/3 or in some cases 1/2, and this way you get a nice “catch light” in the eyes, fills in the shadows, and you save lots of battery power. Plus your recycle times will go down. We all love that!!

Conclusion:

So for about 5 cents you can have a great tool that costs next to nothing and if you use my tip, you can be a marketing master. Whether  you are using it for fun or for payment, this solution will keep the green backs in your pocket for something you actually need. Happy Shooting!

Canon is having some great sales on their flashes now if you are in the market for one.

Canon 5d Mark III

What other tips and tutorials are you looking for? Please use the comments below and let me know!!

  One Response to “Fantastic Fill Flash For Five Cents”

  1.  

    Nice dude… I like it…

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