Introduction: Mailing Envelope Photo Flash Bender
Rogue make this awesome Flash Benders, that give you great control over your flash photography light, you can use them independently, or combined with an umbrella.
I actually have one on order, but that didn't stop me having a go at making one myself when playing around with a Jiffy bag. Plus you can use the bubble wrap of the jiffy bag to give it a softbox mode too.
Watch this video to see how it works.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
- A Jiffy Bag or Mailing Envelope, the padded kid. Mine is a A4 size but shorter.
- Thick solid core electrical wire
- A scrap of electonics stripboard or veraboard
- Black Duct Tape
- Clear Tape
- Reusable Cable Ties, or a Velcro strap. I used RapStraps.
- Double Sided tape
- Optional - Relfective Foil tape
- Optional - Epoxy Resin
- Stanley Knife or Boxcutter
- Soldering Iron and solder
- Wire Snips
- Optional, but very handy to wind wire Bench Clamp and Drill
Step 2: Measure and Mark
Measure and mark the centre position at the lower open side of the envelope for the placement of the strip board.
Mark both sides.
Step 3: Cut Out a Front Panel
Draw a line about 20mm in from the edge of the envelope on all sides.
Very carefully use the knife to cut through just the top layer of paper. If you press down slightly you can feel it cut through the paper, however do not press all the way down onto a cutting surface. We don't want to cut through the bubble wrap or the paper on the underside.
Also leave some extra material and flaps at the bottom to attach the wires with later.
Step 4: Wind Wire
The back of the envelope is supported and positioned using three strands of wire.
A single strand of electronics wire is not strong enough to be flexed and hold its position, so we need to double up the wire to give it more bending force.
I used 4 strands of solid core wire.
Measure the height of your envelope then times it by 3 to give you the length you need for 3 struts. Next times that length by 4 for the number of strands we need. An easier way to measure when cutting is to work out the length you need for three struts, then cutting 4 wires of that length.
Place one end of the four wires into a clamp and the other ends of the four wires into the chuck on a drill. For this I used a hand powered drill, but electric will work too, just make sure its on a slower speed.
Holding the wire tight you can then quickly and neatly wind the four wires into one. Once your are done you should be able to unclamp both ends the the wire will hold its shape.
Step 5: Soldering the Wire
A quick and easy way to attach the three wires is to solder them onto a piece of strip board.
You want to attach one to the middle, and one on either edge. Don't put them too close to the edge.
Strip the four wires, feed them through adjacent holes and solder.
Put a healthy amount of solder on, more than you would do for electronics, but be sure not to swap the board. Also, we want it to be fairly flat for mounting on the flash.
I also put a tiny amount of solder on the other end of the wires to hole them together.
Step 6: Epoxy an Extra Plate On.
I wanted to make my flash bender a little stronger, but this step is not necessary, just recommended.
I used a spare piece of laser cut play off an old project, it handily had holes either side which will be useful to attach later.
Depending on the size of the strip board, and the width of your flash gun cut a piece of 3mm ply or similar to a suitable size. Drill a 6mm hole either side of the strip board.
Using two-part epoxy resin glue this piece to the underside of the strip board, you will find it sits nicely up against the edge of where the wires poke through the stripboard.
Be sure to put some extra epoxy around the wire joints on the underside of the stripboard too.
Step 7: Tape It All Up
Where you feel necessary reenforce the paper envelope with clear tape. I recommend doing it on the main part where the strip board is attached.
Next, using double sided tape attach the ply/stripboard base to the bottom of the envelope, remember, you want to do this to the rear side, not the side you cut a panel out of.
Carefully layout your wires into the positions shown and stick down with the black duct tape.
Once in place cover the rest of the rear with black duct tape. Take care not to overlap the black duct tape onto the front as this will restrict your light bounce.
Place your flash gun into the bottom opening and tape up either edge so it fits, don't make it too tight a fit the straps in the next step will hold it firmly.
Step 8: Add a Strap or Two to Finish.
Using the RapStraps I threaded one through the holes in the ply.
I then cut two more slits higher up on the bottom border of the envelope, I cut this all the way through all layers of material.
Which helps to hold the envelope in place when using as a softbox.
Attach it to your flash gun and start taking photos.
If you find you didn't put enough wire on, you can always make another strand and just tape it on top.
A simpler project is to just tape up an envelope without the wires or straps to just pop over the top of your flash as a softbox.
The best reason to DIY one of these, is that you can easily make different shapes and sizes, especially shapes you can't buy, for example circles or longer rectangles.
Plus its almost a throw away item, you can just make a new one once this once gets worn out.
Thanks for reading, be sure to post a photo of yours if you make one, especially if you improve or change the design at all.