This week, I went against form and did some flash photography. I bought a flash set up years ago and have used it maybe 5 times since. For a variety of reasons, I just enjoy using natural light more than flash, and I also don’t like carrying any more equipment around than I need to. However, some of my favorite macro photographers, including Clay Bolt, Piotr Naskrecki, and Thomas Shahan, show very clearly how fantastic flash photos can work – and there are times when natural light isn’t cooperative.
I was watching some YouTube videos this week, dreaming about equipment upgrades, and was inspired by a very simple flash setup Thomas Shahan was using. He was just using his on-camera flash with a diffuser made of a paper towel and some clear plastic. It looked like something I could do, so I made my own modified version and tested it. Here are some of the results.
It seems like it’s been cloudy for the last month around here. One nice thing about a flash is that I can still get insect photos when the natural light is too dark to work with otherwise. I still don’t understand a lot about how to get the most out of flash photography, but if all I have to do is carry around a small flat piece of cardboard and paper towel, I should be able to get some practice.
I don’t think this is going to change my general approach to photography. I’ll still use natural light when it’s available. But it might be pretty handy to have this little diffuser in my bag when I find a cute snake, leaf hopper, or jumping spider on a cloudy day and want to make a portrait…