grid

DIY Speedlight Grid: Video Tutorial

After my first DIY photo project, I decided to tackle something easy. Here’s the video tutorial for my DIY speedlight grid, which uses black straws, a beer koozie, and a few other common materials for a simple and effective light modifier.

Since the straws are basically free and the other materials cost next to nothing, all this DIY project really requires is a little time and patience. The most expensive individual item of this project is the beer koozie, which I picked up from Walmart for a whole $0.88.

My DIY speedlight grid

At the 2cm length of the straws that I used, the grid throws about a 30º spread. Perfect for more directional accent lighting and background lighting.

End Notes:

Stay tuned for samples and more images of this little DIY project.

If you like this video and would like to see more, just let me know. In the meantime, you can check out the making of the Chinatown Special DIY beauty dish.

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There are 80 comments

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  1. Clayton

    My grid-spotted snoot is my favorite flash toy.

    They make a nice directional accent for concerts when flash is allowed without blowing out the show’s lighting design. Try a 1cm too for a softer spread.

    • Todd

      Hi Clatyon, thanks for the comment.

      I made four of this design and figured that if I was making one, I might as well make a few more. I look forward to using these grids for concert photography, they should be nice for accent lighting, as you mentioned.

    • Todd

      Hey Kimberly,

      Thanks for the comment – did you get what you wanted? By my calculations, about 13 straws are needed for one grid, though it’s going to depend on the size of the grid you’re making and the length of the segments. But the straws are just over 20cm, so you can figure for ten 2cm segments from each straw.

  2. JoelPilotte

    Very innovative. I might have to try this once I find time. What are the benefits of using this rather than say like a Gary Fong diffuser or anything like that? Also I just picked up a Nikon 24mm f/2.8 lense for concerts, was this a good decision? Also have you used this lense? Any help would be awesome, thanks Todd.

    -Joel

    • Todd

      Hey Joel,

      A Gary Fong will diffuse light, while a grid or snoot will narrow the beam – it won’t really soften the light, just help control and shape it.

      A 24mm f/2.8 will be fine for brighter shows, and the wide angle should be solid. I don’t have the 24mm f/2.8 in AF, though I have a MF prime in that spec. I just use my 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom.

  3. Clayton

    Joel,

    Gridspots are the opposite of a flash diffuser life a Fong etc. These focus the flash into a narrow beam whereas the diffusers spread the flash out over a large area.

  4. Gregory Tran

    Todd –

    what kind of glue did you use?

    i made a couple of these before, but used elmers white glue which kinda sucks.

    took it out last week to the park in the snow and the moisture made my grid basically melt lol

    • Todd

      Hey Gregory,

      I used Krazy Glue for the initial row to blue the straws to a staging board, then separated it from that once the grid was complete. For the main glue, I used a glue by Lineco – dries clear, but remains a bit flexible.

  5. Boris Vezmar

    what the hell is that strechable thing? I’m not from USA and predict it will a proper pain in the ass to find that stuff to buy here, but idea is more than great! kudos Todd!

    • Todd

      Hey Boris,

      The beer “koozie” is made from neoprene – what divers wet suits are made from. It’s basically a synthetic rubber. In the case of the koozie, it’s a rectangle of the stuff that is sewn on one end into a cylinder. Good luck!

  6. Kylie

    Boris – Beer Koozie or what we call it in Australia [& maybe other parts of the globe] a Stubbie Cooler/ Beer Cooler/ Drink cooler, they come in can size & also Bottle size.
    http://images.google.com.au/images?q=stubbie%20cooler&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-GB:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&hl=en&tab=wi

    Great DIY project Todd.

    Could you do reflectors next. I just bought one but I’d like to see how you would make one. I’ve also used a sun reflector for a car windshield.

    • Todd

      Hey Kylie,

      Thanks for the comment. Reflectors – that sounds like a challenge in sourcing the right reflective material. Let me see what I can do, ha.

  7. PJ

    Awesome work man would love to see your sample shots from this DIY. its a rainy day today so im going to buy the materials and get to it:) great work

    • Todd

      Hey Venura, sounds good. Did Walmart even have large-sized mixing bowls like the 16-qt here and the pizza pan? If so, that’s a well-stocked ‘mart. Looking forward to seeing how it goes for you.

      • Venura

        No Todd, I wanted to make a Gridspot… would love to make the beauty dish but not soon though!

        Finally i made it. Unfortunately the straws i got from mpex were too small so, i was only able to make one for my SB600. But it came out really well.

        This is the pic i took . (not the best pic, still im sick)
        http://www.flickr.com/photos/venuraherath/4463402277/

        I will post more pics after i recover completely.!

        Thanks again Todd!

  8. SFMoe

    I have made these before a few times, though i think your way works a bit better, will definitely try it, besides, mine are all beat-up so its time for new ones :D

  9. tim

    hey Todd, i just got around to making a couple (had to make two since my ‘box’ didn’t fit around a flash head w/ a gel-holder attached), but used black corrugated plastic instead of straws. i had a 7″ record box holder top to work with, conveniently in black, and made a couple of gobos w/ the leftover material.

    these modifiers will definitely come in handy, and i like your beer coozie idea (i used cardboard since i didn’t have one handy). how did you secure the grid in the coozie? glued down? or just nestled in, snuggly?

  10. Eternalhope

    Hey Todd, your stuff is really useful on this site. Thanks for being generous in sharing your ideas and experience. I’m beginning to pluck the courage to try out more concert photography cos’ I love the challenge of working in tough, unpredictable conditions!
    Hey, I was wondering, if flash is generally not allowed at most shows, how do you get away with using the grid? I wouldn’t want to get busted or the evil-eye from other photogs.!

  11. Tonny Liautanto

    Very useful, i make one and even easier to use than Falcon Eyes lighting kits, lol

    Thx though for the lovely tutorial Mr. Todd, keep ‘em comin :D

  12. Day 80: Mankind

    [...] Jill No i used this DIY grid. Its very easy to make and its very effective! DIY Speedlight Grid | ishootshows.com __________________ Nikon D90, Nikkor 18-105mm , Nikkor 70-300mm ,Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 AF, Tokina [...]

  13. Faye

    Man…another totally fab DIY project! I made one and it works sweet with my SB-900 and because of the coolie I can use it on the 600 too with a little rubber band. Just as with the beauty dish, I’m now trying to tweak this idea to make a grid spot for my mono-lights. I can’t use straws because they’ll melt but I can use PVC. The smallest size I could find was quarter inch though but I’m still on the hunt for a material that’s fairly heat resistant and a smaller diameter. For now I used the PVC in .5 inch segments and PVC cement bonds them perfectly. I just painted it. As soon as it’s dry enough to handle, I can work on a good fix to secure it to the reflector…I’m sure models don’t want to be clocked by a falling grid spot lol. I can’t wait to play with it. I could just as easily buy the grid spots but there’s no fun in that. ;)

  14. Ali Mir

    Nice tut..
    Anyways, the problem i am facing is that i cant get hold of black straws from anywhere…so wat should i do now?? can i use normal white or colored ones??? what will be the difference ??
    thanks

    • Faye Weekly

      FYI…I didn’t have any either. I just got some solid colored ones from the grocery store and used the darkest ones out of the bunch. When I was done creating the grid, I sprayed it with flat black spray paint. It worked nicely and the spray went into all the grooves easily. The paint worked well for sealing the straws together better, too. :)

  15. Ali Mir

    Hey!
    Nice tut!
    Well the problem that em facing is that i cannot get hold of black straws from anywhere.. so just wanted to ask that what should i do in this case?? can i use white or colored straws that are available???
    thanks

    • Todd

      Hi Kent,

      Zooming the speedlight head will only produce so narrow of a beam. A grid will help narrow the beam even further by physically blocking light through the channels (straws in this case) of the grid.

  16. Cliffhanger at home

    [...] Home made Flash Grid Image by Saad.Akhtar Made with black straws liberated from Pizza Hut. Still working on the snoot for them. Used fevicol to stick the straw pieces. Duct tape to reinforce them. Will add some sort of hard plastic cover to make them more sturdy and portable. Tutorial here. [...]

  17. Kyla

    Todd,

    I wanted to thank you for sharing all of the helpful information you have on here! I’m an up and coming event photographer in the electronic/bass music scene, and it’s not all that easy to get the “boys club” (I’m one of the only females in this scene in my area) to discuss equipment, techniques, etc. So, it’s greatly appreciated! =) Your work is amazing and you’re an awesome inspiration. I hope to claim the same success one day.

    Thank you,
    Kyla Kay

  18. Joe Corrigan

    Todd,

    Hoping the fruits of your labor posting all these great nuggets of information pay you back in spades! Thanks for sharing what you’ve learned thus far.

    Best,

    Joe Corrigan

  19. Ian Keegan

    Hey bro, I gotta say I love your tutorials and the advice you put put there!

    Your site is pretty much the first spot I got to for all things Music Photography.

    Keep ‘em comin so I can soak it all up!

    Ian Keegan / Dublin / Ireland

  20. Ragnhild

    This is genius! I really need a grid for one of my speedlights this week, and I couldn’t find any in the stores in my area. Will definitely make one myself! Thank you for sharing this! :-)


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