Macro Flash Diffusion material

If you are a DIY type macro photographer on iNaturalist, you might be interested in the free flash diffusion material that I use in my DIY flash diffusers for my macro photography. I hope this will help someone improve their macro photography flash diffusion. :+1:t3:

Learn more at my journal post at the following link. There is a PDF with info and a link to a video

Some example photos using the diffusion material…


That’s cool.

2 things though.

  1. Careful when disassembling monitors/tvs as the capacitors might still be charged and can give you a nice electroshock there.

  2. Not all bugs like this huge monster camera + makeshift diffusor contraption getting super close to them, so don’t expect this to work with all sort of creatures. In the field this bulky apparatus might be hard to handle too, so maybe creating a small studio on a table is also a good idea.


It’s always fun to discover and repurpose materials! Super photos also!

I made mine out of a translucent plastic vinegar bottle. The material is stiff and cannot be damaged by branches or other hazzards in the field. Pics of the diffuser and a template are here:

I regularly approach wary insects (dragonflies, robber flies) to within the minimal focal distance of my lens (~4 inches) without them being disturbed by the diffuser. It seems that it’s my body rather than the diffuser that triggers insects to fly away (usually solved by stalking and patience). Once the diffuser is in their face, it hides my body.


MIlk jugs are also good for making diffusers out of. You get a big piece of plastic out of them, so you have a good bit of flexibility in ow you make your diffuser.

That said, I have a stack of old laptop monitors that I salvaged from ancient and broken laptops… maybe I should sacrifice one of the monitors for the diffuser.


Yes, but the vinegar bottle material is thicker and more resilient than milk jug material and is more uniform in shape compared to most milk jugs.

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@pfau_tarleton and @earthknight, aren’t both kinds of bottle made out of HDPE resin, just differing in thickness? Using either, do you need to adjust colors after since light going through comes out a little more amber?

I think I need a bigger diffuser.

Seriously, is there anything about what to avoid wearing to minimize the ‘spooked’ factor? Hat vs no-hat? Natural colors or dark?

I’ve also wondered why some camera manufacturers choose red camera bodies and reflective chrome looking trim. Is that a real problem?

Not that I’ve noticed. I took this pic indoors on a white paper towel. The last pic is taken without the diffuser–so you can make a side-by-side comparison. It does look like the one with the diffuser is slightly more amber. I’ve got blue-light-reducing coating on my eyeglasses, so everything looks a bit amber to me!

I wonder how @ t7iguy’s diffuser alters color?

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LOL, I am pretty small!

I’ve never experimented–just stalked and hoped. I think most insects can see UV–so something with UV camo? My hunch is movement is more important than color or shape. I you’re moving as slow as you think you can possibly move, then slow down even more.

I’m pretty sure this is the case. Move really slowly and watch your shadows. Also, go look for insects before they’ve really warmed up and can move more quickly.


Does this explain why so many stack-processed insect shots feature water droplets on the creatures? Do some people mist their subjects to slow them down for shooting?

(Or is there just an unexplained high proportion of Dirty Dancing fans in the super-macro ranks?)

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And I’m six-four and… pretty… opaque.

I wonder what kind of statistical chart you’d get if you plotted height of observer to number of insect species observed…

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Probably. And I’m sure some people spray them for more visual interest.

Also, you can quote multiple people in one post, which makes things more clean than multiple replies. :-)


@pfau_tarleton Here is a screenshot from Adobe Camera Raw of Canon RAW files straight from my camera/flash setup. The one image marked with the green bar beneath it is the image I posted here of the Green Horse Fly…The other images are RAW files, straight out of camera, untouched, no altering or processing. I do very little post processing…usually increase saturation and exposure, etc. due to RAW files being “flat” in colors and contrast. I like to shoot a little underexposed to keep down the blown highlights, bright spots…so raising the exposure a little and tweaking such is the norm for me.
Hope this helps answer your question.

Also the diffusion sheets can not cast a color or the colors on your screen would be off…

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Yeah, they all go out in the early morning.

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I have yet to try it myself, but another option is to make a flash diffusion set-up with a Pringles (or equivalent) can.


One issue with that idea is that, while the light is “diffused,” it is still only coming from one direction, and has very little spread, meaning you don’t have many choices on how close you can be to the subject, and from what angle you can come at.

I’ve been thinking about this problem a bit too and have been considering trying something with fibre optics. Maybe an old cable? Though most are too thin and low in fibre density. What about one of those old fibre optic ‘tree’, Christmas novelty things? Hmm. I’m going to keep an eye out in the thrift stores. If you could somehow rig one of those ‘sprays’ to the right shape to guide the camera flash to the area inside the lens front …?

I’ve also heard other people mention just using an LED headlamp. That way you have some quick adjustment control possibilities…?

Lens rings are usually too awkward for many cameras. Maybe I’ll browse the dollar store craft section. I’ve seen more and more LED stuff there recently. Maybe something could be repurposed.


The material is fine, the issue is with the low surface area of the diffusion panel.

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If you look at the diffusion sheets you will see that there is 2 - 3 diffusion sheets and a fresnal type sheet…which spreads the light…You have to use common sense here… in that, they do not want to design a monitor or TV that the diffusion is inadequate…that is just like shooting yourself in the foot.
And I shoot from any angle that I wish to or can approach the subject…so there is no “substance” in your assumption about the angle.
And I use a Laowa 100mm 2X Macro Lens…so I am always pretty close to the subject.

If you have not tried the material and have no solid proof otherwise …then it is assumption from your opinion…not evidence or proof.

The diffusion in my photos prove the results that are capable of the material.
The material is not for everyone and there will always be naysayers… :sunglasses: