So, this article is for stylish-or-so (mostly wedding) photographers on a budget; if you were looking for a DIY honeycomb speedlight grid that is sleek, easy to mount and efficient, to use on your strobes during balls, parties and any low light dynamic situations that you might face during your events, you might be interested in this tutorial.
What are honeycomb grids used for
Honeycomb grids are light modifiers that are able to concentrate light into a straight direction, preventing spilling from the edges. I often use grids on studio strobes when it comes to still life photography and dramatic portraits and I remember I created my first speedlight grid with corrugated cardboard following this tutorial I think in 2006, before buying my current studio gear. This was really rough and naif, but since the principle is always the same, it worked and I enjoyed to make a couple of experiments with it, back in the days.
Then I completely forgot about it until recently where I started shooting more wedding. I always disliked those flashed wedding pictures, with harsh shadows, white foreground and completely black backgrounds (I bet that there is someone who can turn this to art, but it’s not my case ^^) and, since I like documentary style better, I prefer to keep natural light conditions and play with them.
But, as photographers, we have physics limits to cope with, so what to do when you have to shoot dynamic scenes in low light situations?
You mount your speedlight of course. And you start to see ugly things on your camera’s LCD.
That’s where the honeycomb grid comes into play.
What’s special about your speedlight grid?
You can find quite a lot tutorials around on how to make a DIY speedlight grid, but when I decided to do mine a couple of years ago, I couldn’t find anything that was enough sleek, stylish, easy to mount and to store, so I asked my boyfriend to help designing one. He took inspiration from this and added a couple of tweaks: no velcro, no rubber bands, no fancy way to attach it to the speedlight.
Our grid just slip onto the flash head and that’s it. I tested it in various situations and it never moved from its place.
How to make the grid
First, you need a couple of things:
- a sheet of plastic corrugated black cardboard
- some black straws
- transparent glue for plastic materials
- 5 cm high gaffer tape
- a cutter
- something to measure lengths
Then you have to decide which size you want to cut your straws: this will affect the way of the light will come out from the flash. The longer the straws, the narrower the light spot. I usually stay on 2 – 3 centimeters.
Once you cut the straws, you need to put the pieces in front of the flash lamp and measure from the flash head tilting joint up to the end of the straws. This way you’re getting the size to cut the board to.
Now you can cut your board at the measured size:
Once you’re done, you can measure again the speedlight’s head sizes (or you can go roughly, rolling up the board around the flash head), tracing lines with the cutter to help the board bend:
You should end up with something like this: mount it on the speedlight to check whether it fits and cut the exceeding part:
Now it’s the time to add the straws. Trace a couple of lines with the glue and start add your straws:
Once you’re done with the first line, start with the second:
And you should get something like this:
To fill the sides, you can turn your board up and fill one side first, and then the other. Be careful to check that the board can still bend properly after you finish one side:
Now, glue the upper part of the straws:
Bend the board and put some glue on the last flip:
Tie the whole thing together with a couple of rubber bands until it’s dry:
Once it’s dry, you can roll it up with gaffer tape: this way it won’t open while you’ll be using it and it gets also a better finishing:
And finally you have a beautiful and stylish DIY speedlight honeycomb grid that you can slip in one second on your strobe’s head whenever you need it.
I’m using the grid whenever there isn’t enough light to freeze the subject (and of course the subject is the kind that needs to be frozen). I always try to work in available light at events, so I don’t pull it out from the bag really oftenץ
About The Author
Sandra Luoni Is a Commercial, portrait and fine art wedding photographer based in Italy. You can find more of her work on her website, where you can also look at her wedding portfolio. You can also find Sandra on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.