Quick Tip: Use a Balloon for Better Pop-Up Flash Portraits

We’ve seen some interesting DIY flash diffusers, but I can’t remember ever seeing someone use a blown up balloon. Which is a shame, really, because it’s a cheap and effective way to soften your pop-up flash, or even a small speedlight.

This DIY tip comes from our Russian friends the Koldunov Brothers, who keep cranking out these unorthodox photography tips at a pretty impressive clip. Their most popular are probably their hyperfocal distance tip, and their tips for ‘hacking’ your kit lens, but this one is probably their most simple.

If you must use your pop-up flash to take a portrait, see if you can score a white or cream colored balloon first. The balloon comes in handy as a flash diffuser if you simply blow it up and hold it in front of your flash. As you can see from these samples, it can really soften the light on your portrait subject:

The best part about this janky diffuser? You can stuff several of them (color balloons = colored gels?) in your pocket or camera bag, deflated. That way, you always have a flash diffuser in a pinch.

To see more DIY tips like this one, check out the Koldunov Brothers’ YouTube channel by clicking here.