After years of using flash, avoiding direct illumination (that can give harsh results) and being frustrated by the shadowing caused by the use of bounce off walls and ceilings, I decided to try diffusers.
Small diffusers don’t really improve things much, as the size of the illumination source is little bigger than the naked flash unit itself. I was not prepared to purchase umbrellas and larger studio lighting; I am not a professional with the appropriate studio, but I still wanted better lighting effects.
After doing some research, I discovered the Gary Fong LightSphere II diffuser series, and bought the Cloud type. There is a Clear type, but my preference was for softer lighting. His promotional movie clips do look impressive, and after some experimentation I can agree that these units do work very well indeed. You can light the subject with a very soft and even light, removing shadows even with the use of bounce from the ceiling. The effect is a vast improvement over anything else I have tried.
Significantly improved subject coverage, the use of bounce from the ceiling is augmented by the diffusion of direct light onto the subject, minimising and often removing shadows entirely.
Improved general coverage of the area in which the subject is placed, better ambient lighting that reduces the subject’s domination of the scene.
This is not a cheap diffuser.
Really requires a larger flash unit to illuminate things completely (more power required, I would not recommend smaller units).
Use of this diffuser will require more energy, as the light is being spread out all around the scene, and this will be more of a drain on flash unit batteries. I recommend the use of rechargeables, which also cost money but are worth it in the end (perhaps this is less of a Con than presented here).
If you do a lot of flash photography, then I would recommend this diffuser, even at the price. It is a lot cheaper than the studio equipment, more portable and gives a great effect.
The Gary Fong Lightsphere II Cloud Flash Diffuser
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30 October 2008
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