Ubercheap Ring Flash: Cereal Box, Styrofoam and Foil

UPDATE: Dennis' site has been taken down, but the how-to page on the ring flash has been archived here. I am leaving the old links hard-coded into the post, in case Dennis gets his site back up.

As always, thanks for the heads-up to this situation that I received in the comments section.



What is it about ring flashes that just seems to attract supermodels to the photographers who use them?

Yeah, so maybe I did just make that theory up. But, OMG, what if it were true? And what if you could test the theory out for next to no money?

Well, of course you would.

Fortunately, Czech fashion photographer and self-described "hackmaster" (I just love that term) Dennison Bertram has a cool-beans tutorial up on how to make a super cheap ring flash housing for your speedlight.

Given that you already are synching off-camera, you may well be able to build this thing for free from scraps of stuff around the house.

And you thought cereal box snoots were cool.

This is simpler, cheaper and possibly more efficient than the Tupperware version that was blogged here a few months ago. It definitely has a rough-edges DIY look to it, too.

But you could spend a dollar or two and gussy it up some on the outside if you wanted. I am thinking that black craft bendy foam stuff. Whatever it is called.

Anyhoo, check out Dennison's website for the how-to.

And no, sadly, Czech model "Lenka" does not come with the project plans. But build it anyway and test my supermodel theory. If it works, report back ASAP.

Seriously, this guy is really thinking. He also has DIY plans for a cheap "tilt/shift" lens and a pinhole lens for your digicam. I am building a pull-down menu for the sidebar of other cool photo sites to visit, and he is gonna be one of the first entries.

I am using his ring flash model as a jumping-off point. I have already made about a dozen mental revisions that center on increased efficiency and better light distribution around the ring.

Use some of that scrap Christmas styrofoam and an empty box and build one, too. We'll compare ring flashes (and the resulting pix) soon.


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Blogger Jason said...

Fantastics site Dennison has. I remember stumbling on this one a while back, too. Still haven't gotten around to making it...probably because it was just around the time I heard the Alien Bees ringflash rumor which, of course, became a reality.

Still, next to nothing, eh? But no Czech model? Eh, damn it all. :)

December 26, 2006 12:22 AM  
Blogger Joey Accardo said...

Great site. I have been bitten by the DIY bug in the past, however, never as strong as the photographic DIY. I actually asked for a blank bodycap which I made into a pinhole, it is so awesome. I am also on blogger so if you want pictures of the process let me know. Keep up the great site.

December 26, 2006 1:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

where can we see more pictures of czech model lenka.

December 26, 2006 3:54 AM  
Blogger Jesus Ali said...

Okay, seeing this one makes me really think that the problem with my metal mixing bowl version is that it's just too big.

December 26, 2006 4:50 AM  
Anonymous stk_ulm said...

The plans for self-built TS lenses have been around on the internet for some time now -- just do a search on google, there are some nice pictures of the final results as well

December 26, 2006 8:05 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

A friend of mine got the ring flash effect using one of those tin foil pie pans you buy in the grocery store for under $3. An example of his shot is here. Check it out.

December 26, 2006 2:51 PM  
Anonymous Jeremy said...

I got the idea for this flash ring emulator after examining a similar expensive accessory (photos by Brett Admire). It is constructed from white foam board and duct tape, and made for a large studio strobe head. The general idea can be modified for a small off-camera strobe. Although it doesn't cast a ringed catch-light, it works very well. See examples here, here, and here.

December 26, 2006 7:22 PM  
Anonymous john dohrn said...

I've personally made one of these, and it seems to work pretty well. If you get some diffusion, and make it out of a larger piece of styrafoam, you can get some very nice lighting

December 26, 2006 11:21 PM  
Blogger jedrek said...

I actually designed my plastic bowl version based on the principles David linked to in this post. For some reason, I'm one of those people who can't stand the squeaking of styrofoam, so originally I was going to go with a metal bowl (like jesus ali) but lacked the tools to work with metal, so I went for the plastic. I have a half-constructed, much bigger version for two small flashes, but i might convert it into a dual studio strobe version (as I have a couple of studio strobes now).

December 28, 2006 8:49 PM  
Blogger timdesuyo said...

I took the mixing bowl version and mixed it with this version. This is what I got, for what it's worth.

February 28, 2007 7:09 PM  
Anonymous sebastean said...

The guide is deleted but can be found here:

April 03, 2007 3:07 PM  
Blogger SeanMcC said...

I know this is an old post, but I thought I'd mention a ringflash I've seen since. It looks cool. I've seen it in person and it looks well cool.


May 07, 2007 9:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The original link (and the Archive.org link) doesn't work anymore -- however, I found a copy while Googling intensly for it:


September 04, 2007 10:51 AM  

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