DIY External Flash Diffuser Created with Photo Paper

Last Monday night, my buddy Mike was on his way to pick me up.  Almost every week, he drives Yoda and me to Wally’s Mills Avenue Liquors, an Orlando dive bar. He picks me up first. Then, he picks up Yoda.

After gathering my camera equipment, I realized I lost my foam diffuser, a homemade flash diffuser I learned about from photographer Chuck Gardner’s website. In a YouTube video, Step by Step Photography instructs how to create it also.

Because Mike would soon be arriving, I didn’t have time to make another foam diffuser.   Then, I remembered I could create a diffuser using photo paper, something I used before buying the materials for the foam diffuser. DIY Flash Diffuser Made with Photo PaperThis wasn’t my idea.  Chuck Gardner mentioned it on his website.

So, I grabbed some photo paper and decided to create a diffuser at the bar.

With crappy camera phone pics, this blog post shall now instruct on making a diffuser out of photo paper.

Supplies needed: Two 8 1/2 by 11 sheets of photo paper, any kind of tape, scissors (optional) and stapler (optional).

Step 1: Put two sheets of photo paper together.  You can use one sheet.  Yet, I prefer two for sturdiness.

DIY Flash Diffuser Step 1

Step Two: From the top, go about three inches down.  Then, tear about two inches over. Do this for the other side. If you prefer, you can use scissors.  I didn’t ask the bar for scissors.

DIY Flash Diffuser Step 2

Step Three: Go to the bottom.  Go up about three inches.  Then cut or tear about three inches over.

DIY Flash Diffuser Step 3

Step Four: Take the top and form a dish.DIY Flash Diffuser Step

From here, your external flash bounces light and reflects it on the subject/subjects.  The closer you are, the softer the light.

Step Five: Staple or tape the curve.  I borrowed a stapler.

DIY Flash Diffuser Step 4

Step Six: Place top of external flash inside bottom part of diffuser.

DIY Flash Diffuser Step 5

Step Seven: Like the pic in Step Six already shows, fold over bottom flaps and tape them  down.

Your diffuser should look somewhat like this.


At the bar counter, three hipsters sat directly across from my friends and me. It was two females, a white and black, with a white male.  The white female pointed out my camera to the male.  Dude looked at my camera and scoffed.

For the record, I recommend this diffuser for emergency purposes only.  Truth be known, anything with a reflective white surface will do. If you want soft light and hate direct flash on your subjects, I recommend including the foam diffuser among permanent camera equipment.

Now, for the technical stuff.  My camera’s ISO was 800. To get ambient light, shutter speed was 1/15.  When photographing nightlife, I usually leave my camera on shutter speed priority. When I want to catch fast action, I could quickly move the shutter speed up.  For flash photography, many photo purists recommend the manual setting.  Newsflash: manual can over and underexpose just like automatic, even at the correct setting.  Hell, just do what makes you feel comfortable and tell purists what to kiss…or suck.

Here’s some of my Wally’s pics.  I can live with them.


One thought on “DIY External Flash Diffuser Created with Photo Paper

  1. Having read this I thought it was very enlightening. I appreciate you taking the time and energy to put this short article together. I once again find myself personally spending a lot of time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worth it!

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