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Stellaria - "Where Light meets the Ordinary"

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So, this is the place on the web where I will give an account of my daily life. Will it be interesting? I don't know. But at least I know I will post the things which interest me.

The Making of a Flash Diffuser

macro photographyPosted by Rense Apr 22, 2010 10:56:26
In several photography forums, I was asked how I do the lighting of my nature macros. There are quite a lot flash solutions for this which can be bought for about US$ 30-US$ 1000 and beyond. However, I prefer a home made solution, which costs me less than US$ 2. I did not invent it myself, but borrowed the idea from a talented Polish Pentax user, which on the net is known as 'Grzehoofr', google him! He uses the on-board flash of his camera, in combination with a diffuser that leads the light of the flash directly to the model.

In this tutorial I will show you how to make such a diffuser. I had to make a new one for my Vivitar 55mm/F2.8 1:1 macro + 25mm Kenko tube. This is the first important point: you need a diffuser for every different length of macro lenses you use. My Viv+Kenko measure 15cm.

What you need is:

- a piece of cardboard
- packing foam or another diffusing material
- aluminium foil
- some all purpose glue
- duck tape
- a pencil, a pair of scissors, a sharp knife, and a ruler


The length of the diffuser is the length of the macro lens + tubes + 10cm. So my diffuser will be 25 cm eventually. We have to make a tube with 4 sides, so cut a rectangular of 25x24.3cm from the cardboard. This 24.3cm is 4 times 6cm (the width of the tube) + 1 time the thickness of the cardboard (in my case 3mm). Make folding lines in the length at every 6 cm. Because we need a backside on the tube, we need a square piece too, which measures 6.6x6.6cm (6x6 + the thickness of the cardboard on all sides). NOTE: with smaller lenses, such as the Pentax-A 100/4 or the Takumar 50/4 macro, I use smaller tubes with sides of 4 cm each!

Glue the aluminium foil to the two pieces of cardboard with the shiny side up. I used a large piece of foil, which was cut with the scissors after I glued it.

Assemble the tube with some ducktape, use the square part for the backside.

In the hurry, I forgot to cut out the 'window' for the diffuser foil, so I had to do it after I assembled the tube. Of course this can be done earlier, but I thought this was quite convenient too. At the open end of the tube, cut out a piece from one of the sides at 5cm from the edge. From both adjacent sides, cut out triangles, as shown in the photo.

Stick the diffuser foil with some ducktape at the open end of the tube. I used a double layer, but this is dependent of the thickness of the foil. Finish the tube with ducktape.

The last thing we have to do is making the opening for the on-board flash. From the bottom of the tube cut out an opening at about 2cm from the end. It must be large enough for the flash, so the exact measurements will be dependent of the type of camera you have.

Attach the tube at the camera with a rubber band and get out shooting. The photo of the ant is one of the first made with this new tube. It's uncropped and the lightning is not adjusted.

  • Comments(6)

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Posted by Aynho Photo Apr 24, 2017 18:58:24

Inspiring and educational - thank you.
A good diffuser material is simple bubble wrap. Experiment with the number of layers. (Burst the bubbles where you intend to stick it down)

Posted by D G Phelps May 13, 2013 12:36:57

Thank you for this, I took some shots with a diffuser made with from this design, samples are here -

I ended up modifying the design slightly as my lens gets longer depending on magnification rate. What I did was make one tube slightly larger and then slid it onto the smaller piece that hooks to the flash to create a version that can extend or contract depending on total lens length.

Posted by Torben Frylund Feb 05, 2011 23:02:03

That is a great howto Rense! I have got to try and build one of those.

Posted by Gareth Jul 05, 2010 13:14:42

What are you using for the diffuser? I was thinking tracing paper but unsure ?

Posted by Relic Jun 03, 2010 17:36:06

Great work, Rense. I built one for myself and it works like a charm. Thanks for sharing!
I don't know how to attach a picture, so here it is a direct link

Posted by Attila May 01, 2010 21:38:18

Excellent ! Thank you!