DIY flash bounce shield

I keep almost losing the one I’ve already made so I decided making a spare would be prudent; while I was at it, might as well document, right?  Also my site is kinda dead outside of convention times so might as well gap-fill!

So here’s a quick DIY project for a rotating bounce shield for flashguns – it’s a dead simple design and I figure could be adapted for most types – except those that don’t angle up I guess. It looks daft, it stands out, pro camera people will either mock you or acknowledge you with sage nods. Probably the former.

Why make this? Flash/strobe use is an art form I’m not all that hot on, and there are a zillion and one designs and styles for attachments to bolt onto your light producing devices to shape it in ways you desire – what’s the best? That’s up to personal preference.  I’ve tried a few, I like this one.

Light from above is what we’re used to seeing, so I like to aim my flash up and bounce off the ceiling – but this can lead to deep shadows beneath brows depending on the ambient light, unideal! So this is a basic bounce shield – some flashguns even come with one built in – something flat and white that light can bounce off on its way out of the flashgun, while the majority goes straight up, some smacks into the shield and ricochets straight ahead at the subject. It’s not perfect but it’s my personal preference, it’s not as blinding as straight-on which helps with photosensitive people!

Problem with the built-in versions – and mine doesn’t have one anyway – and any that I’ve found commercially – they’re one-way only. Turn your camera portrait, rotate flash to still point up.. and suddenly the bounce shield is swatting light to the right or left, not dead-ahead. This will not do! I searched for some time to find a solution, gave up, made my own. Here’s how.

What you will need:

  • Plastic cylindrical tub, wide enough to fit around your flash at the base (ignore the fact I’ve measured the top here… wasn’t paying attention as I already know this type fits mine)
  • Craft foam, white and black (approx 13x13cm square of each)
  • Rubber bands (x2)
  • PVC tape
  • Hotglue
  • Craft knife and/or scissors
  • Cup of tea (optional)

Remove labels and whatnot, and cut in half, I suck at cutting straight rings so I leave a lot of it to be later trimmed as needed.  You want to have about 2cm of depth in each half.  Cut a hole in the base wide enough to slot over your flash snugly, worth making sure it fits both ways up to save faffing later.

Cut out a roughly 13x13cm square of white foam – size to preference, obviously. Cut a bit extra in one dimension of black as it’s on the outer curve you’ll need slightly more.  I’ve used foam because it’s more durable than card or paper, it can take quite the beating without leaving major creases, and doesn’t care about getting a bit of rain on it.

Take the top ring and make a cut – with this it can now fit over the lower ring and become the rotating element we want.  Glue the white foam on the opposite side and the black to the back of it (one sheet of white on its own is too translucent and loses light through the back)

Glue the everloving crap out of it! I try to make a rough lip of hotglue to hold the inner (bottom) ring in a bit better but it’s messy and not required.  As this plastic is kinda thin and prone to bending I also kick the hotglue gun to max, wait a bit, then just pour in liquid hotglue and tilt at an angle and swish it around a bit slowly to get a smooth thick lump either side, gives it some extra strength so it doesn’t bend when twisting.

Insert the bottom ring into the top ring, and apply rubber bands! Hotglue them in place optionally, leave a space around the gap so the bands have room to stretch slightly. This will pinch the outer ring so it stays on but you need the stretch to get it on and off the inner ring, and have enough give to make rotating easy.

Stick some PVC tape around to cover up the messy bit and you’re done!  It has a slight stretch to it so should be fine even over the gap. If in doubt it may be worth removing the inner ring and stretching the outer ring slightly more than needed while taping but that’s optional.  If you have any handy lubricant that isn’t likely to degrade or drip into your camera or whatever then give the sides of the rings a spray to make them easier to rotate.  Otherwise you’ve now got a fully operational bounce shield!  Slots onto the flash, rotates at will, and even inverts for handy storage.

Now you too can get odd looks whenever you get your camera out!


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