December 13, 2013

Latex diffusion


This idea was first published here, but I thought to isolate the subject and expand upon it in a separate post due to inquiry from Flickr contact. Diffusion is important because it reduces the "harshness" of your flash. Studio photographers have come up with all sorts of flash diffusion techniques and one of the simplest is to bounce your light off of an umbrella or white wall. This effectively smooths the light and gives it a more natural look. As of now, I do not have an off camera flash, and my kit flash cannot be aimed at a wall or umbrella for diffusion. I spent a good while contemplating how to soften the kit flash's output and by complete accident I stumbled upon the solution of diffusing using latex gloves. I had a pair left over from a while back when I had to deal with a mold issue so I cut two fingers off (thumbs-largest) and fitted them over the small flash head. If you do this make sure the glove is stretched taught across the "bulb area". Below are examples of photos taken with (right) and without (left) the latex diffuser.

FULL power
1/2 power
1/4 power
1/8 power
1/16 power
1/32 power
1/64 power
Besides me needing to badly clean my keyboard, you can see that the light in all the photos on the right is more natural looking and evenly distributed than the photos on the left. All it takes to accomplish this is a small amount of latex and I think it can really help efforts in macro photography using the BCLmacro or unmodified BCL and Meike extension tubes. There will be some instances when you do not want a softer flash and removal of the latex is quick and easy. If you are in teested in using latex as a diffusion method, I suggest purchasing finger cots to reduce environmental waste:

I cut one of the fingers in half and you will end up with a "ring" of latex and the "finger part". From here I just stretch the two pieces of latex over the kit flash. End result in selfie mode because I have no other camera:

You can also use latex to diffuse other continuous light sources such as flashlights:

 Light before diffusion:

 Light after diffusion:

I have also used latex to diffuse a light up ice cube that came with an adult beverage bought at Disney's Hollywood Studios:

I thought this would be a neat light source because it can change colors:

Of course the output is not very high, but these small diffused continuous lighting options may work for macro and small product photos:

So unless you are allergic to latex, using it may be a viable option for flash and other light source diffusion. The only downside is that it is impacts the aesthetics of your camera. Hope this idea is useful for someone, thanks for stopping by!!

Sam D.

All photos in here (click) were taken with diffused kit flash.


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