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Picture of DIY Gary Fong Lightsphere

Hello! My name is Artur Gajewski and I'm the guy who never buys a fancy looking flash diffusers because I realized I could make one myself for the fraction of the cost of the original. As I have sold hundreds of these already, my fingers are getting tired from constant cutting so I decided to show you how to make AG Bouncer/Diffuser yourself.

Anyway, there are many types of diffusers and bouncers available for your external flash but many of them do just one thing or are too bulky or heavy. Some of them are hard to install to flash and some are so big they need special place in your camera bag in order to carry it with you.

I have tested bubble-plastic wraps, plastic milk bottles, anything I could think of that would diffuse my flash light. I have spent tremendous amount of time figuring the best solution since I do a lot of people photography and in fact, I have used this exact model ever since I started wedding photography. Sure, I do get asked a lot at wedding about this gadget, but its a great ice breaker between me and the people I photograph.

Without further rambling about my wedding photography, why don't we manufacture our own light diffuser for your external flash instead of paying alot of money for basically the same thing. A lot of diffusers manufactured by big companies are no NASA science engineering, they are just piece of plastic or silicone just like this one. The only difference is that your's will cost about $0.20 per diffuser.
 
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Step 1: Material


Before we go on with this tutorial, you might want to check out my other websites:

- Green screen extraction in just five minutes or less!

- Piano Lessons Package for Synthesia (Learn to play piano in a fun way along with Synthesia software)

Lets continue with this tutorial on how to build your own Lightsphere-like flash diffuser. So what do we need? Not a whole lot. All you need is to locate your nearest IKEA store and take your family for a little trip. My kids always love to go IKEA's playroom while I go fetch for photography ideas from inside the store. If you're not intrested in getting a new bed or sofa, head to kitchen department. You need to locate this product:

IKEA | Built-in kitchens | FAKTUM/RATIONELL system | RATIONELL VARIERA | Drawer mat

Basically what it is, is a silicone drawer mat that is placed on the bottom of your kitchen drawers to prevent from scratches and the likes. I bet the IKEA engineers never thought about how great of a product they have for us photographers. You see, it has these nostles or pimples or whatever you want to call them on the surface of the mat. This diffuses the light in an efficient way.

Anyway, get one or two rolls of the transparent one, not the smokey gray one as this will smoke your white balance.

Step 2: Cutting

Picture of Cutting

First thing when you get home, is to locate pair of scissors or sharp knife and cut a strip with following dimensions:

Width: 15cm
Height: 38cm

My estimate is that you could produce about 20 of these from one single roll of this product.

When you are done with your mass-production session, it is time to add some attachment components to your diffuser/bouncer.

The best way to attach this diffuser without the need for additional things into your flash, is velcro-tape ofcourse. We need one male and one female part of velcro-tape. Add the female one to the very end of the strip along the shorter side, while the other velcro-tape goes to the other side of the diffuser's shorter side.

This is important: Velcro strip on both sides of the shorter side and on opposite sides of the surface, not on the same side. If you don't get this, here is a "translation" by one of the readers:

Lay the strip of plastic on the table. Cut a piece of Velcro hook and loop tape to a length a bit less than the shorter dimension of the plastic strip. Stick the Velcro hook tape along one end of the strip, as in the photo. Turn the plastic strip over and put the loop tape along the OPPOSITE end. You'll end up with the hook tape on one surface of the plastic and the loop tape on the other surface.

Step 3: Attaching to your flash

Picture of Attaching to your flash

Now its time to attach this thing to your flash. You probably already know how to install the AG Bouncer to your flash, but wait, there is a catch!

If you want to be able to take horizontal and vertical shots with this amazing product, you first need to face the flash up to the ceiling. Next, turn the flash head 90 degrees toward the right.

Step 4: Attaching to your flash, part 2

Picture of Attaching to your flash, part 2

Now you are ready to start attaching AG Bouncer to your flash. First, take your strip you just created and one side push it against the flash's side facing your camera front. Make sure the velcro tape is also on the side facing the camera front.

Step 5: Attaching to your flash, part 3

Picture of Attaching to your flash, part 3

Hold on to the strip and now flip the other side of it against the other side of the flash. Now you see how the velcro-tapes get against eachother on both sides of the flash.

Step 6: Horizontal vs vertical shooting with AG Bouncer/Diffuser

Picture of Horizontal vs vertical shooting with AG Bouncer/Diffuser

So now your new AG Bouncer is done and ready for use. In case you want to switch to vertical shooting, all you have to do is rotate the flash 90 degrees to the right and you're ready to shoot vertically.

Step 7: Real world example

Picture of Real world example

Here is a real world example from one of the weddings I was shooting at. At this reception area the ceiling was painted dark brown so bouncing off of it was impossible. But with AG Bouncer/Diffuser the whole things was a piece of cake!

Step 8: Before/After comparisons

Picture of Before/After comparisons
stofen.jpg
agbouncer.jpg
Below are three sample shots of different lighting conditions:

1. Straight flash

2. Stofen Omni-Bounce

3. AG Bouncer
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BillB221 month ago

I also used the shelf liner, it is slightly frosted easy to make, in less than ten minutes, works great!!

ThorbjornD2 months ago
MrFairbanks made it!3 months ago

I made it and it only took about five to ten minutes. It's an outstanding device. The only reason it costs me about twelve dollars is that the rubberized drawer/shelf liner was eight dollars and the velcro was about three bucks. However, there's enough velcro left over for two more devices and enough shelf liner for about 20 more. So, in theory, it cost me about a dollar in velcro and about thirty-five cents in silicone/rubber shelf lining. It's a sub-two-dollar product that matches products ten to twenty (or thirty) times the price.

The results were excellent on the first try. No harsh shadows, no obnoxious bright spots or highlights. You can still tell that a flash was used (when you look into the eyes of the subject after the photo is viewed), but it's not harsh in any way.

I'll come back and add photos of the device and some samples when I get a chance, although a photo of the device isn't necessary as it looks exactly like the one in the original instructable.

The photo I included shows the shelf lining product I found at Home Depot. I don't know where else they have it, because Home Depot was the first place I looked.

The material is strong, thicker than bubble wrap (it's not nearly as loose or thin (or thick) as bubble wrap). It's very durable.

The velcro I used was actually clear velcro (which, due to the thickness of it is more like a translucent white). For some reason I felt like buying it instead of black.

The product is not unprofessional looking either. You could print some kind of fake product label to put on it if you're worried that clients think it's a DIY device (that probably matters to some clients. What can you do).

Get a buddy or two and for ten bucks or so you can make enough for each of you, bringing the cost down to three dollars.

I suspect a thick rubber band would be a good substitute for the velcro. That would be more economical because you could buy enough thick rubber bands to match the amount of material you get with a roll of shelf liner.

Have fun. Easiest DIY project ever. Thank you to the OP.

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CharlesR54 months ago

Exactly. Gary Fong's stuff is so very over priced and can only be used in very limited circumstances and in those, you can easily bounce and use his stuff in your garden.

12Dan5 months ago

Wow... I've seen 100s of DIY flash diffusers and this is by far the best AND easiest! Just made one in about 30 seconds with a rubber band and some bubble wrap from a recent amazon package... unbelievable :)

One thing I would add to it though is to cut it twice as long and fold it back to double the thickness and diffract/diffuse the light even more.

Hello!! I know I might be late. But could anyone please tell me what is
the name of that material? I want to go and buy it in Ikea, or maybe in
which section it will be? Kitchen? Thank you!! :-)

You mean bubble wrap?

thank you for this. I am on tight photography budget; just cant afford to buy all the equipment I want, so this was a great help. I will use this at my next wedding photoshoot

hhughes71 year ago
Bit late to the party but hey ho...I've been meaning to have a go at this for a while so off I trawled to my local den of hell...I mean Ikea the other day. When I finally located the product I brought it home, whipped one up in around 72 seconds, didn't have any Velcro to hand so stuck it on with a bit of the photographer's favourite, gaffer tape and set to photographing a few table top items for eBay.

I'm well impressed. I also used it to take a surreptitious photo of my other half while he was sat watching the TV and it worked a treat.

I'll never bother with the crappy diffuser I already have ever again. I now realise the cheap bit of white plastic that sits on my flashgun can go straight in the bin.

It gives a great even light and although I didn't use direct flash, I simply bounced it vertically and it really did the trick. Love it.

So, can we all have a sideline flogging these on EBay for a tenner? ;) it's not 'patented' is it? (Just joking but I will recommend it to all my photographer friends and even make them one of their own for a small fee).

Thanks so much.
Helen
tvm7771 year ago
anyone has ebay link for material?
and also heres a link video
https://vimeo.com/32389148
DanUK5 years ago
tvm777 DanUK1 year ago
could you please post it again?
arturg (author)  DanUK5 years ago
Wow, great to hear you can get this from eBay. This is great news to those who live in a country that doesn't have IKEA.
joeyolson3 years ago
I absolutely love this DIY diffuser. I even made a couple extra for a few photographer buddies.

Canadian Tire (in Canada..) sells similar material for $7.99 a roll for those of you who don't live near an IKEA.

Here are some examples with and without the diffuser: http://blog.olson.info/2012/07/diy-on-cheap-part-2.html
cwaugh3 years ago
I made a special trip to Ikea just for the drawer lining to make this flash modifier. It took a few minutes to make and I couldn't be happier with it. I compared it to a friends Gary Fong light sphere and you couldn't tell the difference.

I feel better about carrying around my flash modifier though because it is so easy to pack and I don't have to worry about it breaking in my bag.

Well done!
dave133 years ago
I used a rotary cutting blade on a cutting mat. Worked very well. And, the measurements are already on the plastic cutting mat.
dave133 years ago
How about this:

Velcro strips will be attached on the shorter ends of the plastic. Place one strip of Velcro on the smooth side of the plastic and the other strip of Velcro on the bumpy side of the plastic [at the other end of the plastic].
Warpy5 years ago
I was really excited about building this, but it doesn't appear that this drawer mat is available in the USA. At least it doesn't show up when I search for Rationell Variera Drawer Mat on the IKEA USA web site.  Anybody have a strip they'd like to send me??   :)
You can buy the same stuff in a roll from Lowes. I found it in the storage/shelves area.
Made one, now to test it out.
Cool. I'll check it out. What name does it go by at Lowes?
Non Adhesive clear classic easy liner. I got a 20in x 4ft roll for $7 and they also had the adhesive velcro.
They also have the 12 inch x 6 ft roll for the same price.
I picked mine up at lunch today for $850 with tax. My Lowes must be in a high-priced area.
KayB64 Warpy3 years ago
http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/10109491/

Apparently, it is available in the U.S.
gphotocat Warpy3 years ago
I just purchased a whole roll of the stuff from "LOWES" Over in the cabinet and drawer liner section. You may have luck looking there... I'm going to make a few and also try and alter the design as well using fun foam. Happy Shooting.
miladie14 Warpy4 years ago
http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/10109491
arturg (author)  Warpy5 years ago
I decided that I could start making these again, so if you want me to produce you one for a small fee, write to me at artur.gajewski.photography @ gmail.com
kenja00 arturg5 years ago
small fee = 35 euro?  I guess for people with deep pockets, it's a small fee <grin> Unfortunately, that's not me!

Although this is a great idea, I think I'm going to have to find my own drawer liner...   I have a friend coming from the states, maybe I can try the lowes stuff as below...
arturg (author)  kenja005 years ago
Check your mail. I wasn't talking about one diffuser ;-)
kenja00 arturg5 years ago
 Oops, my mistake -- how much to produce ONE for a small fee?  I guess I should contact you via email
inthepink3 years ago
how thick is the sheet please? do you have a you tube link?
dswtan3 years ago
Love this! Thanks for the idea and sharing.

I've tried a number of diffusers over the years, but this looks to be the best so far! I especially like not having to put any velcro on the flash itself; it's all on the diffuser. It fits fairly loosely as a result, but secure enough, and quickly on/off. I also like how easy it is to store -- just a flexible flat sheet that you can stuff easily in a bag or roll up. I look forward to seeing how it works in practice for both indoor and macro!

I found the Clear Classic Easy Liner from Lowes in the US easily enough -- thanks to the additional tips on that in the comments. $6.97 + tax. Oddly the velcro (5' x3/4") sticky back was exactly the same price there too.

The 38cm cut length sounded a bit arbitrary, but I can see now that that's about the max length for this material's low rigidity (I personally went for 40cm, but the original width of the Lowes item at 50cm would probably just collapse or flop around. At 38 (and 40, just about), it's rigid enough (and actually quite safe to knock into as a bonus).
Just want to add a couple tips that I didn't see mentioned: 

1. Make sure you build it so the bumps on the plastic are on the inside, and the smooth surface is on the outside.

2. If your flash has a "wide panel" use it (along with this diffuser).

The first time I built this, I didn't do either of those - and saw mediocre results.  But after turning it inside out, and using the wide panel, I see really excellent results.

I don't have a light sphere to compare to, but I have a couple other light modifiers (a Hughes reflector, and a Fong origami), and this is much better than either of those.

Thanks for putting this out there!
Interestingly enough, I found mine to work better without the built in wide panel of a Nikon SB-700... I think TTL flash might have increased the output of the flash to compensate for the panel and created a harsher shadow.

Nonetheless, I love this thing. Since the rolls are dirt cheap at Ikea I might mess with a few design changes to see if I can create even softer lighting!
Does putting the bumps on the inside really make that much of a difference? I can see the wide panel being a big improvement, but I'm wondering if you tested it with the bumps on the outside and the wide panel?
isacco3 years ago
Hello,
this is a good idea. I had already used the same IKEA material as a flash diffuser and it works very well.
Thanks for sharing your project
arturg (author) 4 years ago
To all who think about aluminum foil on the back side of the bouncer: In my opinion, this would block the light going toward the back walls, hence not bouncing from them any longer.

The point of this design is to distribute light all over the place, making the light soft and natural looking. If you bounce too much light toward the target, you might as well just use an index card.

Just my two cents...
dpineda14 years ago
I built one of this with a bit of reluctancy..... Just used it at a wedding last weekend and the results were MAGNIFICENT! I was even so surprised with them! Thank you very much for the awesome instructions. I found the roll of bubbled plastic at Lowes for about $8.50 (incl tax)
arturg (author)  dpineda14 years ago
I'm glad to hear you like the results. Would like to see them if you could email me at artur.gajewski.photography@gmail.com
greenlien4 years ago
Great stuff this mate.

Just after reading I opened a drawer and found some old bank book, simple one end opening plastic wallets.
They measure approx 17cm x 12cm. Stick some white card/matt photo paper/white tissue/foil or whatever inside, turn flash head 90 degrees vertically then turn 90 clockwise (or anti). Put wallet on end!
One snug fitting totally free diffuser!
Just experiment with materials and which was you "face" it.

Sorted :)
wsecomp4 years ago
A little critiquing on the photos on the last step:

#1...Straight flash...ech! But that was the point, right? :)

#2...IMO, the most natural coloring of the subject of the the three. A fill light below or to the side would have eliminated the shadowing. HOWEVER, if you look at the resulting flash color from this diffuser, it has a green tint on the wall behind. (I work on a color-corrected monitor for work [photography for the web and print catalogs], so it may show up as a different tint on someone else's monitor.)

#3...Virtually no shadow, but the stool is over-lighted.

I agree with others...a human subject would most likely be a better example, as there are varying color tones and textures, rather than a black object.

Some other items to test with is macro photography. Using a diffuser makes a HUGE difference over straight flash!! I've only used my own, using the thin packing material sheets, but the difference is amazing. One of these days, I'll get around to posting an 'ible for a different one that can have different options (unless someone beats me to it).
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