DIY Straw Grid for a Speedlight

For those of you like me who are avid followers of the Strobist Movement, you know that you will need to use a grid from time to time for some shots. The idea of a grid is based upon a snoot. A snoot channels light in a more precise beam, much like a laser. It does this by narrowing the field of view of the light source and reducing the ‘spill’ from  a light source. The amount of spill reduced depends on the length of the snoot i.e. the longer the snoot, the “narrower” the beam of light and less spill.

A grid is essentially lots small snoots put together. Grids are more precise than snoots and offer greater control of the light. The do this by coming in various lengths with result in the light being emitted in various angles. A narrow grid would have a angle of around 4-5 degrees. Broader grids are available in up to 30 degree angles.  Grids are usually of a solid construction, unlike snoots. This makes them easier to control even more.

Ok, technical boring part over, lets go and make one.

External View of my DIY Grid

A snoot can be anything as long as it ‘funnels light’. The more snoots and the smaller they are means the smaller the grid needs to be.  This is why many DIY snoots like mine are made from drinking straws. Black straws in particular so that the amount of light being reflected inside the straw is cut down i.e. by not using white.

I am not going to go into the boring stuff of telling you how I made it, there are loads of people already showing you that.  Here is one that I liked though ( http://lightingmods.blogspot.com/2007/06/diy-black-straws-snoot-grid-part-1.html ). If that doesn’t appeal do you, google is your friend. Instead, I will show the effects of a grid over a non-gridded speedlight.

For those of you curious though, here is a quick summary:

  1. Get straws and cut roughly 30cm sections. Some are a bit longer and some shorter
  2. Get cardboard and wrap around the speedlight to get required length and trim. Allowing sufficient space for glueing / taping it all together
  3. Get straw pieces and start to build it all up, glueing them together
  4. Check that I have enough straws and seal together
  5. Test and experiment
  6. Manufacturing time was about 60mins

The test for this is pretty basic and I will have some more examples of it in use later but you will get the idea. To test it, I set up two Nikon SB600 speedlights at equal power settings and triggered by Cactus triggers. I had them on a chair side-by-side and had one on at a time. The pictures should speak for them selves, if not ask a question and I will try to answer.

Just to let you know, this was ver 1.0 of this grid. I will be making two more for my other strobes so I will refine the design and make it better. When that happens, I will post up a full manufacturing tutorial.

Bare Flash and Grid comparisons

Conclusion

My grid is not ideal, but it most certainty has given me more control over the light.  Light in photography is about lighting something and also not lighting something. A grid gives you control over what not to light. Keep checking back in a few weeks to see this grid in use.

3 comments on “DIY Straw Grid for a Speedlight

  1. Not yet, but have a shoot tonight in Dublin so will try it out. I only had time to make one so will see how it goes.

    I reckon it may be used mainly as a hair light or for product shots as it will give a fairly harsh light.

  2. very good! you have one spelling mistake where you call it a snot, that made me laugh 🙂 have to see this in action soon, bring it on sat sure, good work dude.

Leave a Reply