How to Diffuse a Speedlight

Flash guns now have an array of features, settings and descriptions that may be a little daunting. Here Karl takes a look at the key features of flash guns and explain the most important information. He also explains how he uses flash guns and demonstrate some great money saving tips for creating better light from your flash for a variety of shooting situations.


  1. Hello Karl.

    I noticed that the studio, Bron-color strobes your using for your lighting breaks the f-stop into tens. Now, I have Cannon flash guns and Godox strobes that break up the f-stop into fractions such as 1/64th. I get that it’s 1:2 is half of 1:1 but it has 1:2 + 0.4. Is the +0.4 similar to the tenths on your Bron-color? If that’s the case would +0.3 be the third of a f-stop?

  2. Hi Karl,

    Excellent review. As always.
    What is your opinion on using speed lights into soft boxes? Can you achieve decent results? Any considerations to if I choose to do so? (Particularly for product photography)

    1. Hi Jorge it works to a degree but because the light comes out of a flat surface and not a round one it’s not quite as effective. But if you put a dome diffuser on the flash first then that will help. Otherwise try scrims like we demonstrate in the ‘product’ section.

  3. hi karl, what would you recommend for taking pictures in outdoor events at night with no lightsources other than a speedlight? I ve been aiming my on camera speedlight up(to the sky) and using the white card to reflect the light into my subjects with fairly decent results. am i doing it the wrong way? should i lower the power and aim it straight into people? or maybe take it of camera? i generally shoot groups of people partying.

    thank you!!

    1. Hi Felipe, what you are doing isn’t really worth it if there is no ceiling above you as all you are doing is losing the energy of the flash into the sky and bouncing a small amount off of the card. Unless the card is very large then I can’t see the advantage. I would consider getting a large reflector or diffuser that you can use to make the light source bigger. Watch this chapter please

  4. Hi Karl. I have questions about umbrella+flashgun:
    1. if I use white umbrella to diffuse light from flashgun how should I install the flash – is it better to let it bounce off inner side of umbrella or to shine through it ?
    2. I bought big umbrellas (45)to have the most softer light I can from my flashguns (I intended to use them for product photo and portraits), but b&h told me that I made a mistake because umbrella is too big for flashgun. Is it true and size matters? 2.1 If the size is too big may be I should use 2 guns for that umbrella? 2.2 are there maximum sizes of umbrellas and soft boxes to use with flashguns?
    3. If I use flashgun in M mode with an umbrella should I choose zoom? which one if I should?

    1. Hi Anna,

      1. I’d shine it through but get the biggest white umbrella you can and make sure it has good diffusion material.
      2. The size is only limited by how wide you can spread the light from your flash gun, generally speaking if you set your zoom mode on your flashgun to wide angle you should be OK and there is often an extra diffusion screen on the flash gun. If not then make a peice of diffusion paper sit 10cm in front of the flash to help with the diffusion. The simplest way to check is to actually photograph the umbrella itself from the front and underexpose the picture as much as possible and then you should be able to see how the light is spreading through the front of the umbrella, based on the result you can then decide whether to add another gun or diffusion material.

  5. They’ve obviously been misguided……..It’s meant to bounce off of a surface……not to fire it off into outer space where it won’t do anything. 🙂 #daftphotographers

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