How to make a flash diffuser and reflector from your existing built in flash

There are hundreds of easy ways you can build a flash diffuser and reflector, but I think this is by far the easiest and cheapest.

Step 1 - Cut a half moon shaped hole in a foam cup.

Step 2 -  If you want a reflector to bounce the light, put a piece of tin foil in the cup.

Cheap and easy!

Now for some tips and pictures:

This design is pretty versatile.  The foam cup is nice because just about anyone has one.  It is also nice because it is flexible and does not move around much or fall off when you put it on your flash.

You will notice in the picture that there is also a hole in the back of the cup.  You can do that if you have an external flash and would like to put a diffuser on it.

The tin foil is obviously there to bounce the light.  You have a little give with the cup to tilt to change the angle for bouncing the light.

You will notice how the tin foil makes it so that no light goes through the front.  This is good if you want to bounce the light off the ceiling.  You can move the tin foil in different areas of the cup to get it to bounce light in different directions (like to the side).

Yay! Bathroom shot!

In this picture you can see how all the light from the flash is being bounced on the ceiling and not glaring off the subject directly in front of the camera.

Here are some pictures to demonstrate the differences:

I went with Susie to a room with no lights on.  The neighboring room was lit, so there was enough light for me to focus on her, but obviously pretty bad lighting.

No flash (not pictured)
Obviously this picture did not turn out at all.  Extremely blurry.  If the camera was on a tripod and Susie was a statue, it may have worked.  Indoor shots are usually going to need a flash.

Picture with just the built in flash:

You can see that the light is directly on Susie and pretty glaring.  There is a large shadow cast behind her.  This is how most indoor photos look because the lighting is not that great.

Picture with just the diffuser (no tin foil in the cup):

The glare is gone!  This looks like a more normal picture, but still the lighting is a bit dark.  The diffuser took out quite a bit of light (one of the problems with using a foam cup is that it is pretty thick.  Does a great job of diffusing, but takes out a lot of light in the process).  There is still a shadow behind Susie, but it is not quite as noticeable.

Picture with the diffuser AND reflector (tin foil is placed in the cup. Cup is tilted forward and pointed toward the ceiling above Susie):

The lighting here is quite good.  Susie has good lighting.  The background is also pretty well lit.  There is no visible shadow behind Susie.

I guess I will call this "McKay's Geeky Diffuser and Reflector"

Here are some pros and cons:

  • Cheap as cheap.  No one should have to buy anything for this.
  • Fits on camera well. You can hold this sideways and upside down, and it will still stay in place.
  • Readily available. You should have the materials to make this at virtually any indoor setting. Homes, schools, hospitals, stores, churches....  every place has tin foil and foam cups.
  • Works well for small rooms.
  • Allows a bit of flexibility in the direction you wish to bounce the light.
  • Looks super geeky and cheap
  • Looks super geeky and cheap
  • The foam takes away quite a bit of light. Not great if you are far away or in a fairly large room.
This obviously is not a good solution for professional photography, but works great for smaller events like Christmas and birthdays.

About McKay


  1. Fantastic idea and the result seem to show that it works well! Well done and keep up the diy posts :)

  2. Thanks! I think the DIY posts are the most fun... I think I just need to get inspired with some ideas!

  3. brilliant, I'll try that


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