Even the best photographer could never use Jedi Mind tricks on light. A photographer that cannot deal with the absence of light is lost. That’s why we have tools to help us. The Gary Fong Pufferis a great tool. If all else fails, or if you need a more compact flash diffuser, it is there. The light that comes from your pop up flash can be strong, but with proper use the Gary Fong Puffer, somewhat supple light can be made.
On Day 1 I used the Gary Fong Puffer to help me with a self portrait
On Camera Flash
Photographers need to train themselves on how to see light. A flash enables us to shoot when there is not enough light available. Great images can be created when you control the light on your on camera flash. As stated earlier, the direct light of an on camera flash can be a bit harsh if not used correctly. If you’re using a speed light, you might want to consider bouncing the light off a wall or a ceiling to give yourself almost soft-box quality diffused light. You can also make the flash bigger by using a bounce card. If you only have the pop up flash, you can use the Gary Fong Puffer, which will diffuse and spread out the light, eliminating shadows and softening the light some more.
A Learning Curve
Out of the box, the puffer is not the easiest thing to use. It requires a little patience. You have to understand your camera’s pop up flash as well as your subject to get the shot with the puffer. The first thing I learned is you don’t need to use your camera’s flash at full power. Lowering it down a stop delivered a better result. I had no other flash to fall back on when I started using the puffer, and that helped me learn a little more. I made myself rely on it basically.
I am of the opinion that using the puffer beyond seven or eight feet is not a good idea, but results may vary though. It works well as a fill flash as long as you properly adjust the strength of the pop up flash. For quick portraits, the Gary Fong Pufferdoes well, especially if you have nothing else available.
Is the Puffer for you?
If you can’t afford a flash, or if your flash has no batteries, it’s nice to have something to fall back on. The Puffer adds a little extra value to your pop up flash. I cannot see a professional photographer using this regularly, but, in a pinch, it does have its uses.
If you are a photographer with a camera that has a pop-up flash, this can be useful to in emergency situations or when you just don’t want to carry a flash. In my opinion it does make a nice emergency backup tool. If you are on a budget, you can get some decent portraits and product shots with a little practice.
The Puffer’s hot shoe mount is made from a hard and slightly flexible plastic while the actual diffuser is a softer more supple plastic. It’s durable, in the bag, along with other equipment, the puffer does not lose its shape.
In using the Puffer, I found that its best use is in low light situations, not darkness. In bright daylight it was decent as a fill flash. I liked using it best in a light box, with other lights, for product shots.
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