Softening Flash in Macro Photography with Diffusers

In macro photography, we need to get close to our subjects. When we're using the flash as a macro lighting source, there can sometimes be the problem of the light being too intense. There are two ways to solve this problem. The first obvious one is to back the flash up, which we can't do when it's attached to the camera. The other option is to take down the intensity with diffusion.

You don't need expensive equipment to diffuse your flash. In fact, with a little creativity, you can do it with common household products.

Cover the Flash

The quickest and easiest way to do this is to cover the flash with diffusion material. Anything that's somewhat transparent will work, even a grocery bag. Place the bag over the camera and fire off a test shot to see if it works. If it's not enough, then try to double up the layers. Once you have the diffusion you desire, then you can tape the bag in place. Not only is this fast and simple, but it's also unobtrusive and should stay out of your way.

Make a Soft Box for the Flash

If you have some time and want to be creative, you can make a simple soft box to go over your flash. All you need is a small plastic container (like the ones you find lemonade mix in), some tape and a utility knife. Cut a hole into the plastic so it can slip over the flash. Make it a little larger than the flash so you have the ability to slightly pan the soft box if you need to. Once you have it in the position you want, tape it into place.

Although duct tape will do the job, it leaves a sticky residue. Rather than have that stuck on your camera, you should invest in a role of gaffers tape. It's the industry tape standard because it is strong and does not leave behind a mess. You should also tape the bottom of the box because any light spilling out of it can cause lens flare if the box extends past the lens.

Bounce the Light

You don't need to cover the flash to diffuse it. Diffusion also occurs when a light is bounced. If your flash has a tilt, then tilt it up. Set a bounce card above the object your shooting so that it's out of frame. Then, aim the flash into the card and you will have soft, diffused light when shooting. If you don't have a bounce card, then a flat piece of styrofoam will work.

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