black foamie thing / black foamy thing

I use the black foamie thing (BFT) as a truly inexpensive flash modifier to flag my on-camera flash to give me lighting indoors that truly look nothing like on-camera flash.The piece of foam (Amazon), can be ordered via this link. I cut the sheet into smaller pieces.

The BFT is held in position by two hair bands (Amazon), and the BFT is usually placed on the under-side of the flash-head.

The linked articles will give clearer instruction, especially the video clip on using the black foamie thing.

 

Also be sure to read the article on how to bounce on-camera flash.

The results with the Black Foamie Thing and proper bounce flash technique, can easily give you portraits like this with flattering light, where there is no hard flash shadow.

 

articles about the black foamie thing:

… and there are always more articles on flash photography being added to the list.

Of course, there is also a Facebook fan page for the black foamie thing.

 

 

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{ 26 comments. } Add a Comment

1 Aimee February 8, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Just wanted to let you know I got one of these. I used it and loved it! So glad I found your site and the instructions on how to use the black foamie thing! :)

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2 naftoli February 8, 2012 at 3:19 pm

wouldnt placing a small grid-spot on ur speedlight accomplish the same thing?

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3 Neil vN February 8, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Naftoli .. try it out and compare and see.

Neil vN

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4 ANTHONY February 8, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Oh….but we want the Neil van Niekerk deluxe, autographed BFT, designed to exacting specifications with gold engraving and specialized band holding the BFT in place….and we want to pay $99.99 for it…..LOL!

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5 Neil vN February 8, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Anthony, if there was a demand for it at $99.99 … then I’d definitely do it!

Neil vN

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6 Joel February 8, 2012 at 3:43 pm

I like the idea of flagging the flash to create a softer light source. I recently bought by SB700 and i am gonna use a piece of the black side of the box as my BFT. I shall call it BCT, my “black cardboard thing”. That way excess light shouldnt be spilling over

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7 Ali February 9, 2012 at 5:49 pm

Hi Neil,

I find your work just amazing, but above all, your honest and open sharing of your tremendously helpful knowledge and experience. Thank you.

Would you have any objections if I wanted to improve on the BFT design and sell it for profit on my website? Also, I would like to provide a link to your site from my website so that people can learn and benefit directly from the Master on the use of the BFT.

Please let me know.

Thanks again.

Ali

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8 Lee March 7, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Hey Neil,
First, thanks for the outstanding advice and willingness to share your talents. On the BFG size… I understand its use is to stop the flash from going forward onto the subject, so, why would the length matter? I know its longer for when the flash is angled far over but does it have to go back short length on higher angles? Seems like I can just set it long and leave it. Does it matter?

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9 Neil vN March 8, 2012 at 7:10 pm

If the BFT is larger than is necessary (ie, larger than juuuuust enough to stop the light from directly hitting your subject), then the BFT just eats up too much light. There is definite loss of light.

Neil vN

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10 Michael March 13, 2012 at 8:30 pm

I just love that it has it’s own acronym! Reminds me of a “BLT” sandwich, except a “BFT” is slightly more functional. That aside, I’m glad I stumbled across your site via Flickr and hope to read through more techniques and advice on flash photography.

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11 Claude March 15, 2012 at 9:58 pm

Hi Neil,
I use the BFT as often as I can. But I have one simple question. Is there a simple way to put that darn thing on the flash ? I always have some difficulties trying to put the elasting band around the flash and the BFT! :-)

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12 Neil vN March 15, 2012 at 10:26 pm

Claude .. then you might like the Spinlight 360 for exactly that reason.

Neil vN

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13 Harry July 1, 2012 at 11:12 pm

I recently purchased the Spinlight 360, because I loved the way the LBFT was working. . .Forward to this weekends wedding reception and I found myself falling back to using the LBFT on my 580. I suppose it is just a matter of it being what I was comfortable with, but I just wasn’t getting the 360 to produce the same results.

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14 penndragonn March 19, 2014 at 1:19 am

Harry,

You mentioned a 580, I’m assuming you mean a Sony 580 ? I’m also a Sony Shooter, as well as Nikon, but find myself migrating back to Sony. Have an A77, A99, and Nikon D7000. Looking to sell my a77 and pic up a good used A850. Just want to let you know there are other Sony shooters out here, just just CaNikon.

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15 Edgar David July 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Hi Neil, love your photography and this site, is tremendous help. Two questions about your black foamie thing technique.

1. How high is “too high” for a ceiling being useless to bounce flash with your SB 900?

2. Do you adjust the position of the head for every shot?

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16 Neil vN July 25, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Keeping to the idea that we want to approach this like studio photography in how we place that “bog softbox”, the bounced flash, then 30-45 degrees up and to the side would be best. Higher than that, then you rush getting shaded eyes.

It needs some experimenting.

“Too high” would also imply that you might not get enough light from your bounced flash, but this ties in directly to the size of the place (i.e., the distance you’re bouncing your flash), and your choice of aperture and ISO. Also, the color of the walls and ceiling will have an effect.

Again, you need to experiment.

And yes, you have to continually adjust the position of the head for however your subject is positioned. It can’t be static. Static doesn’t make sense, because then there is no consideration of the direction of light.

Neil vN

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17 Eddy Bakker November 18, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Dear Neil, Thanks a million for sharing all your valuable knowledge will us all. This is really great. All your tips are incredibly helpfull. I am most certainly going to look for a BFT here in Cape Town. Many thanks. Eddy

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18 Gina Zhidov November 27, 2013 at 11:50 am

My husband gave me your book Direction and Quality of Light and from it I discovered YOU! Thank you so incredibly much for sharing your years of Photography experience and knowledge. I am excited to try the BFT! I think you need a book entitled: “Brilliant.”

Sincerely,
Gina Zhidov

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19 Jim B February 17, 2014 at 11:32 am

First, thanks for being one of the givers in life. Very much appreciate you taking the enormous amount of time to teach what you have learned… and so effectively. A big thumbs up.

Second, does the front overhang of the installed BFT vary much from one situation to another? And if so, what is the max and the min in typical use? By front overhang, I mean the dimension from flash “lens” forward to leading edge of BFT.

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20 Neil vN February 17, 2014 at 3:12 pm

It’s just enough of a lip to
- block the light from hitting your subject
- guide the light to where you want to hit the wall or whatever you are bouncing off
- not hit the person behind you with a full blast of flash

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21 Jim B February 17, 2014 at 5:47 pm

Given the criteria, what are the typical dimensions?

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22 Neil vN February 17, 2014 at 5:54 pm
23 Jeffrey Keyser March 4, 2014 at 7:10 pm

Neil,

I made a “Black Foamie Thing” last week and pressed it into service at a relative’s wedding on Saturday http://jeffreykeyser.com/weddings/stephanie_and_david – I was a guest and did my best to stay out of the official photographers’ way, hence the minimal number of images.

Given my $0.99 investment and two hairbands (compliments my daughter), I am very pleased with the results, but feedback and suggestions are always welcome.

Thanks,
Jeff

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24 Neil vN March 29, 2014 at 11:24 pm

Telmo from Portugal emailed me to let me know that the “black foam” is ethylene vinyl acetate, and is sometimes called EVA foam.

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25 Neil vN June 30, 2014 at 9:35 am

Tilo Gockel posted this on Flickr:
Both shots: same cam, lens, flash, and radio,
bottom one, shot with the BFT, with bounce Flash! Love that thing. :-)
Furthermore, this is a little focus stack from five handheld shots ….

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26 Tilo June 30, 2014 at 9:47 am

gotta love that little gadget, — thanks for inventing it, Neil!

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