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02-05-2009, 09:14 PM   #1
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Home-made catchlight bounce testing....

I've been experimenting with my own designs for bounce diffusers. My latest project is a simple catchlight bounce. Made of thin rubber-foam and satin-finish nylon, it's lightweight, extremely cheap and very, very simple to make by anyone with some glue and scissors. I'll post images of the set-up later, but for now I'll post images of my initial tests.

I'm ruminating on it's pros and cons, and any comments you'd care to add are most welcome...

This is a pitch-black room at night - no lighting whatsoever besides my flash. I'm using a cheap non-dedicated bounce-flash on a flash-bracket fired by a Cactus-style trigger. Settings are fully manual.

Shot A) Note the reflection (top left of the glass sliding-door) of my hand holding the camera. You can see the wall behind me lit up by backflash. So that constitutes a portion of light wasted on the area behind the camera.

Shot B) The reflection in the glass now shows a white glare created by light from the catchlight-bounce. Note also that the wall behind me is no longer lit up. So that light has now been thrown forward, producing enough light to make the room brighter.

However, the catchlight bounce may be too effective, as it has eliminated the shadows from the ceiling-bounce (see area under kitchen bench), but has also created its own shadows (see edge of right-hand chair) that the ceiling bounce isn't strong enough to kill.

As you can see, the shadows under the bear's head have been eliminated completely, which is probably overkill, as some shadow should be present to retain a sense of depth. I still like the image more than the straight ceiling-bounce which produces too strong a shadow.

I think if shadow is to be created, then it should be the ceiling-bounce that does it, simply because our brains are geared to see under-shadow as being "natural" - as if sunlit - and back-shadow as being an anomaly specific to strobing. I want the natural look, so I might need to reduce the surface-area of my catchlight-bounce so that it's slightly overpowered by the ceiing-bounce but still has enough power to put that glint in my subject's eyes.Name:  CatchlightTest.jpg
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Last edited by marcdsgn; 02-12-2009 at 11:56 PM.
02-06-2009, 01:52 PM   #2
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So you are suggesting that a straight extension of white reflective material from the top of a flash is better than an extension that has a bit of a hood? Such as one similarly found in a discussion like this -

Except when the ceiling is too high or not present to bounce light from.

And can we assume that you used that duster mop cause you did not want us seeing the Cheerios that were spilled and left on the floor for three days?

Last edited by Nowhere Matt; 02-06-2009 at 02:01 PM.
02-07-2009, 04:04 AM   #3
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Not suggesting anything; just sharing my ruminations. I've seen the bouncer you linked to. Looks nice and certainly inspires but I don't think that particular design would suit my purposes.

My intention was simply to create a lightweight catchlight-bounce for my pile of cheap flashes that don't have pop-up cards. I designed and rejected about three before I came up with this one which is by far the simplest design and also the most effective (only, as I said, it might be too effective, somewhat defeating the purpose of bouncing strobe-light off a ceiling).

I'm going to experiment a bit more with this model and try to improve it.

Anyway, here 'tis. Dimensions of area above flashhead = 9.5cm high x 10cm wide.
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02-07-2009, 03:14 PM   #4
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If you are getting too much light thrown forward, you could probably do 2 things: 1. Make your Catchlight Bounce/bounce card/DIY flash bouncer thingy shorter or 2. change the reflective surface to a more absorbant color such as black (thu retaining the height to prevent backward light transmission).

02-10-2009, 04:07 PM   #5
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After a little more experimentation with different sized surface areas, I've found that the advantage of less catchlight (making back-shadow less dominant) is outweighed by the disadvantage of less overall light that results in my having to crank up the ISO beyond what I think is reasonable, especially when using gels.

So, I think I've already achieved the best compromise between shadow diffusion and lighting power with the existing design.

In case anyone's interested, here's the diagram and instructions.

This design attaches to the flash with velcro. So you'll need to stick velcro-hook stripping around the flash-head. If you're precious about your flash, this isn't the design for you. I prefer velcro because it's more secure than just sitting something over the head.

You'll need:

- A printout of this diagram (NB: Make sure the grid prints at 1cm increments. You might have to adjust the filesize).

- 1 x A4 sheet of 2mm black craft-foam.
- 1 x 280mm x 130mm piece of bleached calico
- 1 x 280mm x 130mm piece of white satin-sheen nylon sheet.
- A tube of rubber-cement (modelling glue or similar).
- Some craft-glue (wood glue will do)

a) Glue the three bits of material together, using the cement to glue the foam and calico, then the craft-glue to fix the nylon to the calico. Be sure the sheeny side of the nylon is facing out.

NB: Let the craft-glue become tacky before applying the nylon, otherwise it will seep through the material and may leave visible stains.

b) Press the sandwiched sheets under heavy books for several hours until all glue is dry.

c) Apply the printout of the plan to the black foam side of your sandwich (a light application of spray-adhesive to the paper should be enough to hold the paper in place without fixing it permanently)

d) Cut along the outer line.

e) Staple velcro flock-stripping on the satin side where indicated. Apply a single piece of velcro hook-stripping to the foam side (as indicated).

Pretty darn simple, eh?
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Last edited by marcdsgn; 02-10-2009 at 11:54 PM.
03-17-2009, 03:29 PM   #6
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You mopped the floor just for the shot, didn't you? The mop gave you away
Seriously now, I like the stuffed bear series, you can really see the difference...
03-18-2009, 06:34 AM   #7
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Me? Mop the floor? Ha!

We have a two-year-old daughter loose in the house; The mop is always out.

Last edited by marcdsgn; 03-18-2009 at 05:47 PM.
03-18-2009, 06:36 AM   #8
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That is a very handsome design. Doesn't look DIY-ish at all! Perfect for weddings and public gatherings.
03-18-2009, 07:09 AM   #9
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I made the scoop-style catchlight/bounce and this smaller version looks interesting. I may give this one a try as well. Can a Mod move this to the DIY section?
03-19-2009, 04:16 AM   #10
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Pleased to see feedback guys! I love this little creature. I'm going to make a few more for my other flashes as well.

QuoteOriginally posted by MrApollinax Quote
I made the scoop-style catchlight/bounce
Well, in case you're interested I've also played around with a "scoop" style bounce of my own. It's a big b*gger but it works.

See POST #20 at:

... also, an earlier project:

Last edited by marcdsgn; 03-19-2009 at 09:41 PM.
03-19-2009, 07:26 AM   #11
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nice little unit, I might make this one, I could use it

thanks for posting this!

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