I’ve been waiting for a while now for January flash photography shots to come in and I’m not sensing that any are coming…I’m wondering if it wasn’t such a good assignment or if people have been really busy.  The main point though of this club is to have fun so maybe a photo free for all send in your best shot(s) for the month will be energizing!

I can’t wait to see what comes…there’s been so much snow on the East Coast and who knows what will come from the West and North.  Can’t wait to see your pictures! Happy shooting!


I was thinking about our flash photography assignment and thinking about the on camera flash that we all have and how to get better results from those flashes.  So I was googling around looking for products that you can buy to help diffuse the flash.  Usually the on camera flash if very harsh and very strong and overwhelming to whatever you are photographing.  I have to admit this is really the first test I’ve made in a long time of my on camera flash vs. my off the camera flash.  The results were surprising to me…the results are close.  I think what’s happened is the sensors on the camera and the flashes are incredibly sensitive and have come a long way.  I’m very excited to see everyone’s pictures at the end of the month to see what kind of results good and bad that you are getting with your flash and your thoughts.

Back to my diffuser idea.  On my extra flash I have pulled down the diffuser screen and attached the diffuser box  on top of the flash then.  I generally try to get a soft almost natural light to my flash work especially when they involve people.  I’m looking for something that is flattering to skin tones and not strong.  So I’ve seen this little device made by Gary Fong called the Puffer-Pop-up diffuser which is basically what I wondering about.  Then I started wondering if there was anything I could make that would diffuse it.  I’m a big one for googling first rather than reinventing the wheel.  Lo and behold I found a guy who was having the same thought.  He made a little diffuser, here’s his DIY flash diffuser so you can basically see how to make one yourself.  So this afternoon I tried to replicate his diffuser and here are my results.  I tested my on camera flash with my homemade diffuser against my added flash straight and then with the diffuser box on it.  The results are not as obvious as I thought they would be.  They are more subtle but still there.  Taking pictures vertically with the homemade diffuser might be a little hard…just because it kinda just sits on top of the camera and might want to fall off if turned vertically.

Picture 1 is using my on camera flash straight …on the auto setting letting the camera control everything.  Look for small shadows in the windows and the shingles in the houses for detail.

picture 1

Picture 2 is using my on camera flash but popping my homemade diffuser on top.  Notice the subtle warmer color of the bricks and the better detail in the houses and their colors–especially the roofs and shingles. These are a little more vibrant in their color.

picture 2







Picture 3 is using my additional flash (Nikon SB-900) and having it at the 90 degree bend so that the flash head is directly facing the subject. I think the results are similar to picture 1. Again differences are subtle here.

picture 3







And finally Picture 4 is putting all my diffuser gear on my flash head and shooting and bouncing my flash off my white ceiling.

picture 4







I think the desired lighting effects are on Picture 2 & Picture 4.  I was really surprised at how much the little DIY diffuser worked.   One more little comparison for you with skin tones.

Picture A of Erin is with my built in camera flash straight up – letting the camera decide all settings.








Picture B of Erin is adding my little homemade diffuser.








Here again…subtle but warmer tones.  Shelley I wish I could think of a way to effect your flash  on your camera just for you to experiment but for now you get a pass on this…maybe I’ll come up with a little contraption for you too one day!

If you like the warm effects you might want to invest in the Gary Fong product just for longevity sake since it’s made of a hard plastic.  But I think the homemade diffuser lets you play a little and lets you look for those changes in light that you can effect.

So for the Optional Assignment #5  Diffusing the flash on your camera — make or buy a diffuser and show us your before and after shot and tell us what you think.   Don’t hesitate to add questions to the comment section here – and happy shooting!

We all love existing light but sometimes there just isn’t enough of it and we need some help.  Our little wonder flash on our camera can provide so much firepower it’s amazing sometimes.  Have you ever had your shot all ready to go, use your flash and when you look at your picture you either got ghosts as people because the light was so strong and overwhelming or you end up with those red-eyed people.

If you have an additional flash that can be mounted on top of the camera you’ve got some new skills you can learn.  Bouncing your flash, using various diffusers and even lowering the power of the flash to accomodate your picture can all be strategies to get the picture you’re trying for.  But those extra flashes can be expensive and most people don’t have that. 

So for everyone that only has a flash that’s part of your camera let’s get creative and try using different modes to test our flashes.

Assignment #5 – Use your flash for your assignment pictures.  You’ll probably be able to see the results best  if you use it indoors.  I encourage you to take pictures near and far to get used to your flash.  Keep in mind, composition and depth of field — still important details for flash photography.  If you have an extra flash go crazy!  Try bouncing it and using it at all different angles and see if you get some interesting effects.  Make sure when you send your pictures at the end of the month you talk about your likes, dislikes, problems encountered and things you wish your flash did that you’re not able to achieve.  Adding links to your other pictures would be great too.  Send your pictures anytime!

For an optional assignment – I’m going to post instructions with pictures or maybe a little video showing you how to make a diffuser for your on the camera flash so that we can experiment with softer flash.  For cameras that are not slr’s – I’m going to try and figure something out there too!  Stay tuned – I’ll make sure I send an email when I have the optional assignment ready. 

If you have any questions or want to talk through anything please don’t hesitate to email or better yet start the conversation here in the comments to this post.   🙂

So, both of these pictures came from our holiday party. I really like how playing with the depth of field lets you make the picture feel dreamy. I have a Lensbaby, http://www.lensbaby.com/, and it is great fun for these types of things too. I can also use the lensbaby like a tiltshift lens to make some things seem miniature.

Picture info:  f1.8, 1/40, ISO 800, 50mm

Picture info: f1.8, 1/50, ISO 400, 50mm 

Christmas in LA Downtown

With Christmas lighting, I ran into the same issues as with the depth of field. I had these great plans to get wonderful and cheezy Christmas pictures. I actually went to differrent parts of Los Angeles with my tripod but I haven’t found any really nice Christmas site. Maybe Christmas in LA is just not cheezy. This is simply how it looks – Christmas in LA Downtown.
Settings:  f/22, 10, ISO 1600, 21mm

Christmas at the cemetery

After I read about the depth of field assignment, I thought of hundreds of pictures I will be  taking.  And now, in January, I found out I only have three. This one, I took when I went to a Catholic cemetery before Christmas. In Eastern Europe, the cemeteries look very different from those here in the US. For Christmas, we bring there small christmas trees, dried flowers and thousands of candles.  Although without candles, people decorated this cemetery in LA with trees, poinsettias, artificial snow and other creative stuff.  I have chosen this tiny Bethlehem scene.
Settings:  f/5.6, 1/60, ISO 1600, 18mm

I had so many ideas for where I wanted to go to take pictures of lights at night and cool things I wanted to try but life and time got away from me…I’ll have to try next year!  I did get down my street though and shoot this impressive tree and for fun I was playing in photoshop with it.  I couldn’t decide which I liked best so I decided to put all three together..the color version, the negative version and the black and white.  I thought each one was kinda cool and they kinda worked as a trio of pictures together!
Settings: f 4.5, 1/.0769, ISO 3200, 40mm  (Thank goodness for my high ISO setting)