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May 25, 2014 - DIY origami DSLR popup flash bounce card

A famous photographer once said “The best flash bouncer is the one you have with you.” Or something along those lines. In this spirit, here is a small, foldable flash bouncer that fits in the compartment of your dslr’s popup flash. It is made of aluminum foil, notebook paper, glue and adhesive tape.

Aluminum foil has two sides, a shiny and a matte one. I found the matte side to work better, as it diffuses the beam a little. Also note that the aluminum foil extends down to the footer, which gets taped to the underside of the popup flash. This gives the contraption a bit more stability.

The fold is an origami waterbomb base. The angles of the creases are not exactly perpendicular, so the parts that fold inwards overlap a bit, making it more compact when collapsed.

The aluminum foil doesn’t cover the whole paper. This is intentional, as the white strips on the sides act as diffusors, sending some direct light to your subject to fill the shadows.

Here are some photos with and without the bouncer. They were made at night with the popup flash being the only light source. Depending on how you hold the camera, the flash bounces off the ceiling or the walls. Some light gets lost so you probably have to experiment a little with aperture, ISO and flash exposure compensation to get the exposure right.

Some caveats: It only works indoors. If you are outdoors, find someone with a white shirt to let the flash bounce off from. The color of the wall colors the light of the flash. Just be aware of that.

In the first design, I covered the whole area with the shiny side of the aluminum foil. The result was quite difficult to use because the flash unpredicatbly bounced in a single beam somewhere to the ceiling. Also, with the flash coming exclusively from above i.e. no direct light, it created dark shadows on the eyes and under the nose.

In the second design, I used the matte side of the foil to cover the paper partially. The edges of the paper then gave too much direct light, resulting in unnatural shiny highlights.

The third design works just fine.