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Category: New Questions

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Photography Question 
Todd Bennett
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/8/2004
 

Diffuser for Macro Photography


Does anyone know how to make a diffuser for outdoor macro photography? Also, what are the best materials to use for this? Thanks in advance.

3/5/2006 8:43:18 AM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/17/2005
  Sure. Go down to the local hardware store buy some metal gray or black window screen, cut it to fit your lighting and figure out how to attach it. If you just want to build diffusers to block direct daylight, you can use the same material (but much bigger) build a frame for it and a way to hang it or position it over or around whatever ou happen to be photographing. Remember, though, if you buy translucent materials like using white cheese cloth, you have to make sure it's truly white and won't produce a color cast.
Also, by the time you spend dough for the materials, cloth, screen, mounting hardware, etc., it might be cheaper for you to just buy a portable diffusing panel from, say, B&H in N.Y. Get the picture? ;>)

3/5/2006 6:29:13 PM

 
Todd Bennett
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/8/2004
  Thanks Mark. The last thing you said about it being cheaper to buy from B& H is probably correct.

3/6/2006 5:25:58 AM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/17/2005
  Yep. A bunch of companies makes portable panels with collapsible pvc tubing that's bungee corded together. The whole frame just kind of flips together - but stay out of its way during assembly, I've almost lost two assistants with these things. LOL !.
And the panels themselves come in varying densities. The whole thing can be quickly attached to a light stand with a couple of clamps. If you're working outdoors, make sure you use a sandbag or something to keep the stand from being windblown. Domke makes a good rig for this.
Anything else? Just holler.
Be well Todd.

3/6/2006 12:05:42 PM

 
Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member
cammphoto.com

member since: 7/17/2003
 
 
  Sample 1
Sample 1
This photo, exposed to the direct rays of the morning sun, has dark well defined shadows and harsh reflections....typical of bright sunlit conditions.
(Nikkor 55 mm, Provia 100, natural light...metered off the mushroom caps)

© Bob Cammarata
cammphoto.com
Nikon FM2 Manual E...
 
  Sample 2
Sample 2
This is the same scene shot in the same light...but with the diffuser held between the light source and the subject during exposure, the shadows are softened and the harsh glare is minimized.
(This shot was metered the same as the other one but with the diffuser in place.)

© Bob Cammarata
cammphoto.com
Nikon FM2 Manual E...
 
 
For macro applications, a piece of beaded plastic diffusion material works well to diffuse a harsh sunlit scene. You can find one at any home repair store (the kind used for fluorescent light fixtures). They are inexpensive and are easy to cut to any size you can comfortably carry around. I have a piece 12"X10" in my backpack which provides full diffused coverage for shooting a scene up to two feet away.
It's important to hold the diffuser flat, at a right angle to the sun to get the best results.
Also, you will need to compensate for around 1/2 stop of light loss or meter with the diffuser in place. The attached examples show how this simple tool can help to soften harsh shadows.

3/6/2006 2:40:05 PM

 
Todd Bennett
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/8/2004
  Thanks Bob. I'll look into that.

3/6/2006 3:38:47 PM

 
Robyn Mackenzie
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/21/2005
  Another suggestion for use around the home rather than in the field, is to buy a 12"-18" embroidery hoop from a craft store, plus a yard of white nylon or other thin fabric. The embroidery hoop holds the fabric tight, with no sewing required! (I hate sewing...) :o) Robyn

3/6/2006 9:28:39 PM

 
Todd Bennett
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/8/2004
  Thanks Robyn. I may give that a try too.

3/7/2006 3:53:24 PM

 
Sharon  Day
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Sharon
Sharon 's Gallery

member since: 6/27/2004
  I can see where a guy might not want to run around with an embroidery hoop, but it's what I use too LOL. I already had them so I just put a white Walmart plastic bag in mine. That works well for me.

3/7/2006 4:03:49 PM

 
Lynsey Lund
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/14/2005
  I use an embroidery hoop (18") as well. I found some great mesh at the fabric store, and some cheap, thin linen as well. They are both great.

3/7/2006 7:41:13 PM

 
Todd Bennett
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/8/2004
  The hoops are a good idea; but, after looking on B&H and finding some 14" difusers for $15.00 it is just as easy to order those and have them delivered. Guess I am getting lazy. The nice thing about them is they collapse down to one third the size.

3/8/2006 5:25:00 AM

 

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