Using tissue over flash only provide a little bit of diffusion. To the eye, it is still a concentrated spot of bright light.
The safest way is to shoot under available light, that means using higher ISO and the lighting may not be as even as you like, and there will be some white balance issues especially if shooting indoors.
I fired 30+ shots with a diffuser at 75 degrees, at the end of it.. my friend complained her eyes are blur already. I think using flash on babies is a no-no, everytime you flash, the baby will twitch the eyes. I noticed that.
please... for the sake of the baby.. DON'T ever (if possible) use flash...
a newborn's eyes are very very very sensitive to light and esp flash is articifial strong light. (i'm not sure about flashes but i am very positive about the eyes).
use natural light as much as u can. i'd avoid flash at all cost. U never want to risk anything...
if possible avoid flash even after one year old.
I can never say it more times how important it is to avoid flashing at babies..
maybe soft boxes and diffusers might help 'soften' and 'diffuse' the flash... but it's not going to cut the light cuz then there's no use using the flash.. and it's always better to be safe than sorry...
As for using flash on babies . . .
there have been no medical reports published that indicate that the flash will damage the babies eyes under normal circumstances.
A unusual circumstance would be to place the baby in a dark room so that the pupils dialate, and then use a studio flash! This is not a normal circumstance and could also blind an adult. Also don't try taking a macro shot with flash of the babies eyes. If it will blind an adult, then it'll blind the baby.
As for the baby, you can check with a neonatologist and they'll tell you it's safe.
Anyway, this question has come up many time whether it's babies, animals, or baby animals. The result is that it is safe. No medical reports have shown otherwise.
The only thing the flash might do is cause discomfort for the baby. And that's a completely different issue. Personally, I would avoid using the flash as I don't want to startle or scare the baby, but it will not damage the babies eyes.
Agree. Must take proper care not to spoil or damage. Baby don't come with warranty or 1-1 exchange.
While it's true that there's no medical evidence (or even research attempted) that flashes hurt or damage babies eyes, i would agree that it would at least be uncomfortable. Imagine those large innocent eyes, looking vulnerably up at you, and then... POW. Wah piang. Maybe subconsciously will develop some psychological syndrome, like flash-phobia or 'my-mommy-don't-love-me' syndrome.
To open an old discussion again, I'm a father, my daughter has been flashed at from birth until now (18 months, as of Dec 2003). Doesn't seems to affect her much, and she even looks out for the next flash smiling. (Maybe the damage is already done and she'll be blind by 16...)
In any case, I believe that our sun (the brightest thing in the sky) is multitudes brighter than any flash that we use. I remember my younger sister having mild jaundice and my mom used to put her in the sun for UV radiation (ancient technology). Of course her eyes were covered with a handkerchief, but sometimes she flicked it off and looks into the sun for a while. No damage so far, except for short-sightedness, probably due to bad reading and TV habits.
Doctors told me the same as what the_tick said. Flash doesn't damage the eyes, but may cause discomfort in some babies. I'll liken it to a sudden loud sound like a clap which will startle a baby but a clap is much softer than the sustained MRT noise.
Read the report papers on young birds and lighting. But there is a catch. Depending on what our mother here is working with - she could need to go closer than 3ft and may be shooting from straight into the eyes. I did not find any research done on flash used on babies and the impact on eye sight. Without the data, any one opinion even a doctor's is only an opinion, it could be wrong since basic assumptions used in arriving at it and what you do differ.
Most photog can only work around the issue if you are studio or baby photog not using flash could be a little crippling to their income stream. Parent view things a little differently.
Would advise when in doubt go the safest way. Avoid direct flash, use bounced, forget the omi bounced the light loss on this is terrible unless you are very close then that creating another problem right. Window light is probably the best way.
May be after 3 to 4 months more flash work could be used but the stress is on carefully.
If I am the parent of the newborn, I may accept the advice of a paediatrician and/or ophthalmologist to answer my(your) question. Even armed with their advice or in the absence of such advice, I may err on the side of caution.
If I am the photographer, I will act responsibly in the interest of my subject/client.