DIY Flash Grids

When you buy a flash, the saleman is almost always right around the corner with a diffuser product for the flash but almost never talk about light restricting accessories.

I suppose it is a niche area but can be handy when you want to restrict the spread of light from your flash to a narrow beam to light only one part of your picture and not spill over to other areas.

Here I follow the commonly available online instructions for a Do-It-Yourself flash grid for the popular Nikon Speedlight SB-26 model.  With slight modifications to the dimensions in its length x width, you can configure the size of the grid to fit your flash.

What you need to get started :

  1. A lot of Straws (preferably black in colour)
  2. A cardbox box / cereal box
  3. Scissors
  4. Pencil
  5. Ruler
  6. Glue Gun (careful not to burn yourself)
  7. Some Music (It will take a while)

== Step One ==

You’ll probably need about 12-15 straws to start and more if you want a ‘longer’ grid.  The longer the grid, the more restricted the beam of light will be coming out of your flash.  (You’ll also notice a drop in the power because longer straws absorb more light.)

For this demonstration, I used green straws for fun (did someone say Venti Caramel Frap???) but do look for black ones to minimize effect on light temperature (colour of the light).

(WARNING : glue strings and spiders ahead.)

Before we go on, you’ll have to make a decision, if you want a short grid, cut the straws into 2cm long peices.  Longer grids, you’ll want maybe 5cm straw pieces.

(Note the depth of the grid will depend on the length of your straws.  Many sites recommend a depth of 5cm for the 2cm straws and 7 or 8cm for the 5cm straws.  For this one, I used 3cm straws and a 7cm depth.)

For the Nikon Speedlight SB-26, I used the commonly established 7cm x 4.5cm x 7cm x 4.5cm template.  My first one actually turned out a little small for the SB-26 because I used a thicker corrugated cardboard so for this one I actually added 2-3mm to the length to compensate.

So starting on one end of the length side, start laying down the straw pieces with dab of hot glue underneath each piece.  When you reach the second row,  stagger the row.

Keep adding straws row after row until you reach the top and then close up the cardboard flap with the glue gun.

Here are the grids, lit in their final form.  Once you close up the flap, you can simply slip it over the flash.  You can add some layers of gaffers tape or a piece or two of carboard if you find the fit is too loose.

Now you got the ability to really restrict the spread from your flash and adds a neat tool to your flash repetoire.

My Spidey Sense is Tangled.

I took this photo over my desk right after I finished the grid and despite the proximity to my desk, the light hits only my hand and the web but hasn’t spilled.

Here’s a real spider I shot earlier this month using a 30cm ‘snoot’ which is similar to the grid but think a tube without the straws.  (The function being also to restrict the spread of light but has the advantage of being able to fold up or collaspe for storage.)  By working with only a narrow beam of light, I can really add depth to the background by highlighting only the part of the wall in and behind the spider.

Happy crafting and show me your results!

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2 thoughts on “DIY Flash Grids

  1. Janet says:

    Hey Pete, this is so informative, and useful! Thanks for showing this step by step! Too bad I don’t have a flash yet…

  2. ssango says:

    Pete! This is pretty cool! hehe as soon as I saw the green straws I was like “starbucks!” lol. I had no idea you could do that with a flash, but it looks pretty awesome and effective. I love the lighting on the ‘web of stringy glue’ as well as the photo of the spider! If I had a flash to play with, then I’d be trying to make this grid for myself ^_^. Great little tutorial *wishes I had a flash*

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