Landscape photographer or not, sometimes you do need to take a passport or ID photo. Using an on-camera flash or a direct external flash will result in harsh, not flattering light. In order to get an acceptable portrait, you'll need to somehow diffuse the light, or alternatively, create a much larger light source. This short article describes how to build a DIY softbox.
Well, no, it's not really a box. But it does the work. And it's simple, takes 5 minutes, and only requires the following photographic equipment:
1. An external flash. A white diffuser will be great too, if you have one.
2. A cable to activate it remotely, with a tripod mount.
3. A tripod.
The other stuff you're going to need is regular household stuff:
1. Wooden skewers, or similar long, thin wooden sticks (don't have any? just continue reading, you might be able to find something to replace them).
2. Aluminum foil.
3. Plastic wrap.
4. Baking paper, sandwich paper, or some other type of semi-translucent white paper.
5. Tape (sellotape, masking tape or similar).
Let's start. Before starting, connect the flash to the cable (or remote trigger), and mount it on the tripod.
1. Start with the skewers. Put them so that they cross one another on the edge, around 90 degrees between them. Now, using the tape, wrap it around so they are fixed. It doesn't have to be very strong
2. put the crossed-skewers on the top part of your external flash. Use the plastic wrap to fix them. Careful, plastic wrap might get some static charge, so try to avoid letting it touch anything sensitive.
3. Take a large sheet of foil. You can stitch some together if required. Attach it to the skewers, on the rear side of the flash.
4. Take a sheet of baking paper, and put it in front of the flash, hanging from the "horns" of the skewers. Sometimes tape wouldn't hold it, so you can use a stapler to secure the tape and paper together.
That's it! If you want it to work even better, you can use mirrors or sheets of foil to bounce the light from other surfaces. Of course, you can improve the "box", and add some reflectors or paper around the open parts.