STEP BY STEP / Fun­nel your flash

NPhoto - - Nikon Skills -

1 Set up your cam­era

Turn your Nikon to man­ual mode and press the flash but­ton on the side of the cam­era. On most Nikons you’ll need to keep the but­ton de­pressed and then scroll the sub-com­mand dial un­til you reach stan­dard flash mode. Use the com­mand dial to drop the flash power to -1 stop.

2 Shape the can

Of­fer up your crisps can to the pop-up flash and see which bits you need to cut for it to fit around the unit while it’s raised up. Mark the shape with a pen be­fore cut­ting it to size. Cut the front off at an an­gle so that the light is forced down across the area in front of the lens.

3 Add tis­sue pa­per

Use tis­sue pa­per taped across the an­gled cut to dif­fuse the light and soften shad­ows. Don’t use too many lay­ers or the flash power will be sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced and you won’t be able to light the sub­ject prop­erly. If you want some­thing more ro­bust, try a shower cur­tain cut to size.

4 At­tach your dif­fuser

Make holes in the can with scis­sors and poke rub­ber bands through them to strap the can around your Nikon. Us­ing rub­ber bands makes it easy to take the can off when you want to shoot some­thing other than a close-up, as we did while walk­ing around this for­est.

5 Get in close

With a macro lens on the cam­era, set an aper­ture of f/11 or f/16; depth of field gets shal­lower as you fo­cus closer, but a small aper­ture coun­ter­acts this a lit­tle. We’re us­ing an ISO of 1250 and a shut­ter speed of 1/80 sec to en­sure that the back­ground that’s not lit by the flash is vis­i­ble.

6 Ex­per­i­ment with com­po­si­tion

Try a dif­fer­ent com­po­si­tion by turn­ing your cam­era ver­ti­cally; this of­ten suits tall, thin sub­jects. If you’re pho­tograph­ing del­i­cate sub­jects such as fungi, be aware of how close your makeshift dif­fuser is. The last thing you want to do is bump into them and cause dam­age.

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