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DIY Photography: Lens Attachments, Filters & Creative Effects

Lesson 22 of 23

Build & Shoot: Chip Can Macro Diffuser

Mike Hagen

DIY Photography: Lens Attachments, Filters & Creative Effects

Mike Hagen

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Lesson Info

22. Build & Shoot: Chip Can Macro Diffuser

Lesson Info

Build & Shoot: Chip Can Macro Diffuser

Aren't you dying for some potato chips? I know I am. I can't wait till the class is over. I'm going to chow down on some potato chips. No, actually, what I'm going to do is I'm going to use these potato chip tubes for lighting, for macro lighting. So you all know what brand potato chips these are. I'm going to show you how to create some lighting effects, specifically some macro lighting effects, with these potato chips tubes. Okay, so I've got a couple of options here. And the number of ways that you can create with macro photography and with lighting is infinite. I'm sure I'm spurring lots of other ideas, but here, I've got two concepts. This concept is this mounts basically over the lens like this, okay? So this mounts over the lens like this, and it becomes almost like a softbox in front of the bug or a softbox in front of the thing that you're photographing. This one is designed to be like a strip light but over the top of the bug. So this one will mount on the hot shoe, and you'l...

l see how that works in a minute. It's like a overhead strip light. You could also, if you were handholding your flash, you could actually move it to the side and it could be a strip light on the side, on that side. You could hold it vertically and it could become a vertical strip light, whatever. So neat. Here's how we build it. I think you can actually probably figure it out on your own how we build it. But, hey, we've got a class to teach, so I'm going to teach it for real. Step one is to figure out what flash you are going to use. So the first thing is we'll start with the strip light. The idea here is that this is... I moved that away. I shouldn't have. Sorry, guys. The idea here is that this is going to slide over the flash like this. There we go. And now you've got the strip light. And depending on the bug that you're photographing, you will see this nice long strip across the eyeball of the bug. It will light up the antenna, create this really nice, soft look overall. So why don't I just shoot a picture with this, with the strip light? I'll take off these side flashes here and get these out of the way. So we're just taking the photo with one variable meaning the strip light. Okay, there we go. So let's try that. You know what? It ripped here. It ripped off the end. It's no biggie. No big deal. The cool thing about these chip cans is they're silvered inside, so the light actually translates very well when it goes inside. And then this diffusion, this is just tissue paper and I just cut it out with a razor blade. That's it and then just taped the tissue paper onto that. Okay, let's go take a picture. Take a picture. All right, well, we'll bring back Lego. We'll take a shot of Lego, and then I'll do a flower and... Oh, actually, I take that back. We have some jewelry. I totally forgot. I'll do the jewelry. This is some green earrings. Kind of arrange those in a way that looks pretty. There we go. And we snap a shot. Okay, let's see how it turned out. That was 1/30 power. Ah, interesting. So you get a feel for the look, kind of a top-down look. This jewelry is all faceted, so you've got these different visual facets. And so we want to try to show those. I may or may not be able to actually show the facets. We'll see. Trying to get the light to arrange in a way that we see that. Okay, there we are. We're getting a little bit of the color just by getting a higher angle or a lower angle. I actually like the previous one a little bit better. So that's just, again, that's just a real basic look. Just real basic lighting setup for this. This works really well for bugs, especially bugs that have eyeballs on the top of their heads because you really see the individual...all the little detail in the bug. So this is a top-down lighting setup made out of a potato chip can. Let me show you the front lighting setup. Okay, this one, pretty much figure out what I did. Just chopped a hole in there. And the reason why the hole is so big is so that it can just mount like that. Set that there. And then you want the front of the chip can to rest on the top of the lens just like that. And again, the inside of the Pringle can is all silvered and so the light bounces all around. Excellent. Okay, so for this one, boy, I'm really feeling like that ducky needs another portrait because it kind of has eyeballs. So let me go grab that real quick. Where did ducky go? He found it. And this one I will use it... I'll use the keychain or the key ring off the side just to show that it actually is a keychain. Oh maybe it won't stay. It's a wonky ducky. Okay, here we go. Oh, nice. No, too close to the edge. Okay, how did the ducky turn out? Ah, okay, it's a little bit different look. If the ducky had sparkly, shiny eyes, you'd see this nice, big, oblong catch light in the eyes. Just another way to do macro photography. So, I'm not hungry anymore. I had my chips. Actually, I didn't have chips. Basically what I have are presents for the people who like chips. You guys want some chips? Oh yeah, she's like, "Give me some chips." Anyone else want chips?

Class Description

You don’t need to buy every lens or filter for your camera in order to create impactful images. Mike Hagen is back with his DIY series to explore the hacks you can take to play with different looks when shooting. He’ll explore ways to create tilt shifts, bokeh backgrounds, lightboxes for macro field work, and star filters. 

  • You’ll learn how to make: 
  • Soft filters for photographing portraits or flowers 
  • Neutral density filters for long exposures 
  • Different fine art backgrounds like bokeh, haze and tilt-shift 
  • An inexpensive macro lens and macro diffuser 
Capture different looks by using items you can find around your house or at the local hardware store. Mike Hagen will have you expanding your camera bag and your portfolio so you can spend more time being creative and less time spending money. 


a Creativelive Student

It's a fun course, with a lot of interesting ideas presented in a way to help spark the creative juices in anyone wanting to branch out and experiment with different ideas. Mike's presentation style is fun and easygoing - perfect for this type of discussion. If you're not afraid to color outside the lines and see where the road takes you, this is a very enjoyable bit of inspiration.


Love it!! Very creative and full of inspiration. Mike Hagen explains the different effects in a great way, he is precise yet easy-going so he makes learning fun. I recommend this class to all who wants to take their creative photography to the next level without spending money on expensive accessories.


Mike has an easy-going, pleasant & fun personality. He explains things clearly. Rolls with whatever happens. And, he's very good about answering audience questions in an understandable, positively reinforcing and non-judgemental way (which can be rare for some established pro photographers...).