Lighting – Diffusers

Why Use a Diffuser?

There are many reasons why it isn't advisable to point a flashgun at your subject without some type of light modifier attached to it. The short answer is that you are never going to get a flattering or pleasing shot this way - the light with be so harsh. The flash is going to explode straight onto your subject with all the harshness of an erupting volcano. When you begin to understand about light you will realize that harsh light isn't the photographers friend. Harsh light is bad - a diffuser will soften it. Diffusing harsh light will make the world of difference to your photography.

A diffuser modifies the light from the flashgun so that it is soft and flatters your subject far more. It eliminates sharp lines, harsh shadows and contrasts. In short it sounds unimportant, but it is hugely important if you want to take good photographs. With a flashgin and diffuser, you can have your own reliable "pocket sun"  to carry around with you when the light is poor. Never again will you be held back by the light - you can make your own.

It is possible to diffuse your light by "bouncing" it off a ceiling or wall - but ceilings and walls are not always available. Here are two really simple low budget solutions for the beginner to intermediate. There are more advanced options with more advanced budgets, but we'll deal with these when we get to talk about advanced kit. For now, you might want to look at the following:

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  • for External Flash Gun 

  • For Pop Up Flash

Diffuser for External Flash

If you've ever seen a photographers studio you've likely seen a big light on a stand with something like this on the end of it. It's called a "soft box", and is designed to soften the harrsh studio light. 

The diffuser pictured is in effect a mini softbox designed to fit onto your external flashgun.

This piece of nifty kit will fold up flat and fit easily into your kit bag. You can pick one up for about £10 from ebay or amazon. Other stores are of course available!

If you want to you can spend a heck of a lot of money on external flash modifiers, but you can obtain something for every budget which will work nicely. Obviously the more you pay, the more durable the product. 

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