Photography Meets Engineering

Even before I knew what an aperture is or how shutter speed works, I hated the harsh, washed-out look that a built-in-flash gives.  I would opt to turn it off entirely, even in darker settings.  This, of course, resulted in many a blurred photo.  I am currently reading The Digital Photography Book, Vol. I, by Scott Kelby, which an outstanding book packed full of useful tips and tricks including how to get a softer flash.  The key, is to either use a flash diffuser, or angle your external flash upward or to the side such that the flash bounces off a white wall or ceiling before falling all nice, soft, and diffused onto the subject .  I’m too cheap to buy an external flash, so I thought I’d do some experimenting on my own.

I figured I could get the desired effect by simply using a mirror to reflect the built-in flash up to the ceiling.  This worked unbelievably well.

Here’s a picture of Tara with the regular flash.


And here’s the result of holding her vanity mirror in front of the flash to bounce it up to the ceiling.


Crazy, huh?

Thus, I set out to construct a fixture that I could put on the camera that would achieve the same effect as above, but without me having to carry a vanity mirror around in my camera bag, and all-the-while accepting that I could just as easily go buy a flash diffuser for my built-in flash for $13 (but not nearly as fun).

P4010008  P4010006

Here’s what I came up with.  I basically just covered one side of a piece of card-stock with metallic tape, and rubber-banded it to the lens.  (And yes, I used a series of mirrors to capture these images of the camera)

It works OK.  I’m definitely not going to go shoot a wedding with the contraption (not that I would shoot any wedding with any amount of equipment).  The angle has to be just perfect, so it’s a lot of trial and error and positioning the contraption just right.

One of the better ones.  Tara was a good sport about me taking tons of pictures of her while she played flash games under the condition that I not post them all to facebook.


The angle was off on this one, but came out kind of neat anyway.


One of my favorites.  Partially because of that pose, but mostly because of how the light falls out of the upper right corner of the image.


So yeah, fun stuff.  Next time I’ll have to try and make some goofy lens filters. 

4 thoughts on “Photography Meets Engineering

  1. @Garin
    Tara’s been embroidering, or whatever you call it, tons of those hands for the past few months now. They are handprints of everyone in the extended family that will be going into a quilt that her mom is making.

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