I recently picked up a Lambency flash diffuser ("Mr. Diffuser"); it has certainly proven itself in recent shoots. However, I've recently found out that I don't always need it.
To prove my point, let's compare two shots from yesterday night's photo shoot. This one is a bounce flash shot done with Mr. Diffuser.
Regent Park Film Festival Executive Director Karin Hazé.
Note how the diffuser helps with overall flash coverage, particularly on Ms. Hazé's face. There are hardly any shadows to be found here, other than the soft one behind her.
Now I'll introduce this shot taken using bounce flash, but without the diffuser.
Pay attention to the face of the woman in the centre (yellow jacket) and how shadows creep in on the right.
I know that diffusers are supposed to assist in flash coverage, but I still think that there is something positive to be said for the above shot. Despite the lesser overall coverage, the shadows give the faces a more "human" look, if you will. My choice of shot ultimately depends on my mood and the lighting situation (and whether the resulting photos turn out decently).
Here's another example of shadowplay. (Yes, that's a Killers reference.)
RPFF Manager Richard Fung.
If I used the diffuser here, Richard's face might have been better covered. However, the effects of the facial shadows would have been lost for the sake of a technically "better" picture.
Learning as I go - and loving it.