Anyone who has taken pictures indoors is familiar with the problems of using a flash: harsh shadows, overlit subjects and underlit backgrounds. Professional photographers have a number of ways of dealing with this, but one of the simplest is bouncing the flash off the ceiling. Any external flash unit has a rotating head that lets you point it up at the ceiling. The ceiling (provided it is low enough and white enough) reflects and diffuses the light, making for much nicer pictures. Ken Rockwell talks about it using an inexpensive SB-400 in this article. This is different than just diffusing the flash; diffusing the flash makes the light less harsh, whereas bouncing the flash diffuses it, but also changes the apparent location of the source.

What if you don't have an external flash? What if, like me, you blew all your money buying the cheapest DSLR you could get and so, for the time being at least, you're stuck with your on-camera flash? Well, that's what the Lightscoop is for. Basically, it's a mirror that clips in front of your flash and redirects the light up to the ceiling. (The Lightscoop site has some great before and after shots, so it's worth a visit).

Well, what if you're really cheap, like me, and don't feel like paying $35 for a mirror? That's where this instructable comes in.

Step 1: Materials (and the really quick and dirty way)

This project assumes you have a hot-shoe mount on the top of your camera (that's the metal bracket where you attach an external flash) That rules out most point-and shoots, but you might be able to use some of the ideas.

The main thing you'll need is a mirror. I went to the local craft supply store and bought a 4 pack of 3" square mirrors for $2 (hence the 50 cents). Other things you'll need, but you can probably find around the house, are thick cardstock or thin corrugated cardboard (1.5mm-2mm thick is perfect, but thinner is workable; I used a large shoebox that was made out of thin corrugated cardboard), superglue, and a small right-angle bracket. Double-sided tape was handy, but not really necessary, and gaffer's tape might be nice to cover the whole thing in the end, but I haven't done that yet.

My first attempt worked very well, but was a little too flimsy for regular use: I simply used masing tape to secure the mirror at a 45 degree angle in front of the flash. This worked because my Nikon D40 has a little lip in front of the pop-up flash into which I could wedge the bottom of the mirror.

In terms of the end result, this works just as well as anything I did later on (and requires a lot less fine-tuning). It does have disadvantages, though: aside from the obvious flimsiness, the location means that the flash can't be close with the mirror in place, so if you're switching a lot between flash and no flash you'll have to be taking it off and on constantly. Also, I have no idea if it will work on cameras other than a Nikon D40, but I imagine you can make it work.
Two alternatives. i) Use your hand (never gets left behind!) carefully to bounce the light up to the ceiling. It does work, actually. ii) Tape a piece of tracing paper over the flash. It acts as a diffuser. I like yours for the full-fat version though!
A hand works nicely, as does a piece of a manila file folder (which has more coverage). Obviously, though, they're not going to reflect as much light as a mirror. The tracing paper works nicely to diffuse the light, but it doesn't change the apparent direction like using a mirror does - this works especially nicely if you turn the camera sideways and bounce off a wall. The absolute best way I've found to bounce the internal flash is simply to use an elastic band to attach the mirror directly to the supports of the flash. However, that has one (relatively minor) disadvantage compared to the "full-fat" version: you have to take the mirror off if you want to put the flash back down. This version has the advantage that it can stay in place as you pop-up and retract the flash, so if you're switching a lot between flash and non-flash photos it can be nice.

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