I used to write about “How to take photos” on an old version of an older website I still keep somewhere on the internet. It never brought me money, so I grew tired of making such web pages. However, what I’m writing about today is something that I really enjoy… though I wish I could get sponsorship or donations for this <smile> please buy my photos </smile>
Ahead of a photo shoot with Ai Tsukamoto, one of Japan’s leading jazz dancers, I picked up a hotshoe flash diffuser. I needed something portable, and to soften the light at least a little from the hotshoe flash. The hotshoe flash does create harsh shadows. The worst shadows are the ones from a point-and-shoot camera that people use at birthday parties. Remember the large spooky shadows behind the happy victims? A diffuser makes things look a lot more natural, and less spooky. The other advantage is with using a flash, is you can re-create natural light using a reasonably powerful light source, so you can use sensible camera settings. With a flash you can use shutter speeds like 1/200 which prevents camera shake blurring photos. You can use an aperture of about f4.5 to f9 so your subjects’ noses and eyes both appear in focus. You can also use iso100 for maximum image quality. Also, if you move the flash off camera, and to the side it does start to look more interesting. See my photo of a crab at night as an example. To trigger your flash off camera, you can use connecting cables or a radio signal system, like the ones made by Pocket Wizard and Cowboy Studios.
Below are some photos showing how the diffuser looks, and then photos of the results you can get. As you can see, the diffuser fits onto any hotshoe flash with its elastic velcro straps quickly and easily. Also shown below, with the flash pointing up, and bouncing light off of the diffuser you can get even softer light and shadows, as demonstrated in the cosplay photo below. The diffuser folds up small, and fits into a slim case, which makes it easy to pack. Click on the thumbnails to see larger versions of them.
Below, the flash and diffuser was used off camera and held in the hand to the left (holding the camera only with the right hand. The flash was straightened, and not pointed at the girl, and the diffuser was set to bounce the light. The flash was connected to the camera with Minolta flash cables, and if you’re wondering, I used the Sony A77, with the Minolta 5400HS flash set to manual. Also, check out the Ai Tsukamoto portraits, too.