Monday, May 4, 2009

V-Cards - DIY Light Modifiers

V-Cards are free standing diffuse reflectors. In this post I will tell you how I made mine (it’s real easy), why you might want to use them and show you a few examples where they were used.

I went to a local stationery store and picked up four pieces of 3mm white coreflute (a sort of corrugated plastic board), enough to make two v-cards. Each sheet is about 100cm x 60cm in size. Next I taped each pair together along one of their long edges with transparent duct tape. The edges were taped so that they can hinge at the join like a book so that you can stand them up by themselves. Each sheet measures roughly 1000 mm x 600 mm, so when the two taped pieces are standing opened almost all the way out you get roughly a square metre of white that you can use to bounce diffuse light off.

v-card setup

The photo to the right shows one of the v-cards being illuminated by a Nikon SB-800. The point of the exercise is to turn the small hard light of the  bare flash into a larger and softer light source, or simply to use as a free standing diffuse reflector.

So how do the results look? Well I moved around this setup about 90° to the right of this camera position to take a picture of the lemon you can see in the foreground. I took a couple of shots of the lemon, one on the black background and another with the same setup on a white background. The results:

lemon on black and lemon on white

As you can see the light is quite soft.

Next, how do they fare when used to light a portrait? I grabbed the nearest available non-complaining and very patient subject and proceeded to try a few different light setups using the v-cards in combination with a couple of remote flashes. The results, including a brief summary of the setup, are summarised in the picture below. (Click for a larger version).


So there you have it -- v-cards.


  • Inexpensive and easy to make
  • Fold up flat for storage
  • Provide a good sized bounce surface.
  • Free standing (as long as it’s not windy).


  • Although they take up almost no space in one dimension they are still quite large in the other two which could be a problem.
  • They will probably blow over in anything more than the gentlest zephyr.