DIY Flash Projects

I finally got around to making a flash bracket for the DIY Beauty Dish. It’s a lot more secure and the flash is centered in the bowl much better than when I used the Super Clamp and bungee cords to connect it to the light stand.

My methods are pretty rough since I don’t have access to a machine shop but I was able to beg the use of a large bench vise in the maintenance room the other day.

Making things is fun and saves a little money in exchange for some of your time. It also helps if you already have a bunch of parts and hardware laying around. I could have easily done without the flash holder shown here (saving another $8) since the radio trigger has a 1/4-20 threaded insert on the bottom but it seemed worth the extra money to do it this way for the sake of convenience. I could have bought a nifty adjustable bracket for around $50 retail and that would have been useful for mounting different sizes of flash units, which is a big plus if you have a a lot of different flash models like I do. Do it yourself projects can save money but sometimes saving time is actually worth a lot more. I think the best aspect of making your own flash modifiers is being able to experiment and try different things without breaking the bank. Just remember, black spray paint is your best friend.

I just got a new soft-box in the mail. It’s a pop-up or folding style 16×16 that is similar in design to a Lastolite EZYBOX. I say similar while some say rip-off. I decided to go to the camera store to check them out side by side. At the camera store there was also an Interfit Strobies softbox exactly like the one I bought online except that it had a Strobies logo silk-screened on the side. I got mine for about twenty dollars less (minus the logo) and free shipping. I call mine the CHEEZY BOX and I’m very happy with it so far. The quality looks about the same. To be fair the Lastolite EZYBOX is part of a larger lighting system with plenty of accessories and replacement parts available. Since I had no experience with this type of soft-box, I went the economy route to test is out and see if I could make good use of this type of modifier.

In the photo below you can see that the Yongnuo RF-602 triggers are a little long for the mounting bracket so I turned my SB900 flash sideways, which also happens to make the Nikon Creative Lighting System work pretty well with the flash sensor turned towards the back.  At least this seems to be the case in a medium sized room with a white ceiling. Using Nikon CLS in program mode with these small soft-boxes is so easy that it makes you wonder why anyone would bother to use radio triggers at all but they also come in very handy in the right situations. I’m still waiting on the production versions of the PocketWizard iTTL radio remotes for Nikon Speedlights.

The bracket on the no-name soft=box is exactly like the one on the Interfit model and has multiple adjustments to accept most hot-shoe flashes. The Nikon SB900 looks like the maximum size that will comfortably fit. In this photo I have the plastic dome on it for some good old double diffusion (and of course some blue tape I forgot to remove). None of these smaller sized soft-boxes have a second internal diffuser typically found in larger soft-boxes. The light is nice and directional but still not quite as “soft” as in larger light modifiers. It’s still a big improvement over a bare flash because of the bigger surface area of the light source. Just be aware that it’s not going to replace huge studio equipment but it is super portable and quick to set up. In fact it’s so quick, it might fly out of your hands the first time you try using it.