I love my speedlights – they provide me with one more tool in my kit, giving me the flexibility and ability to create beautiful portraits in any lighting condition. Whether I want to bounce my flash from my camera’s hot shoe or whether I want to shape the light by taking my flash off camera, my speedlights give me portable, adjustable sources of light.
There are a few items out there that make my speedlights even more utilitarian, and a grid (I used the Rogue Honeycomb Grid) is one such tool. I love the way a grid helps me shape my light without the use of a big modifier.
When might you use a grid? Grids can be used to create a spotlight effect. They are often used for a hairlight or a backlight when you don’t want your light to spill into the frame of the camera and you just want to create a narrow beam of light to highlight a certain area. However, they are also used to allow you to spotlight something in the frame, much like a video light with an adjustable beam would allow you to do. It is this application of the grid that really intrigues me.
Let’s look at this first photograph:
I didn’t use a grid here, and I knew that my light would hit my subject as well as the rocks around her because the speedlight throws out a wide beam of light. However, I didn’t mind the spill of the light– I had a fairly high level of ambient light, so the light on the rocks served to highlight their interesting texture. Because the subject had a small dropoff behind her, her shadow (created by the speedlight) fell behind her and isn’t noticeable. I simply didn’t need a narrow beam of light in this photograph.
What about a different scenario? What if you wanted to keep your light from spilling onto the background? Let’s look at this bad photograph of my son in front of a brick wall:
This is the ugly part of flash – when your light spills unwanted onto the background and creates ugly shadows. I even took my flash off camera here, but without the use of a modifier (or a creative use of the inverse square law), it’s difficult to keep the light off of the brick wall behind him. All I really wanted to do was add light to my son without affecting the wall in any way. Essentially, I wanted a spotlight or a narrow accent light, but I wasn’t able to achieve it easily with my bare speedlight. This is where a grid can be a useful tool.
In this next photograph, I added the grid to my flash:
Notice the way I have created a spotlight effect on my son. Essentially, the grid has given me the ability to shape my flash into a narrower beam of light, and with that narrow beam I am able to throw light on my son without having any light (or ugly shadows!) spill onto the wall behind him.
The best part? The grid is extremely portable and very easy to use!
The Rogue Honeycomb Grid which is what I used in these photos comes in four pieces, stuffed inside a convenient bag (left). The two grids can be used together or separately to allow you to choose the size of the beam of light you would like to create. In under 30 seconds I was able to assemble the grid (middle photograph, next to my flash), and it took about fifteen additional seconds to secure the Grid to my flash itself (right). You can see that the use of the grid hasn’t dramatically increased the size of my speedlight and is small and light!!
In the end, the Grid does exactly what I wanted it to do – it allowed me to shape my light without adding a large piece of kit to my setup!
Michelle Turner, Maine
CMpro, CM Workshop Instructor
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Michelle Turner is a coveted national speaker and author and has published two books about fashionable wedding photography. She currently resides in Maine in the summer and spends most of the winter photographing weddings in Mexico and Central America.
Want to learn more from Michelle? Sign up for her online one light off camera flash workshop which is open to everyone for registration!
Update! Congratulations to Sarah who said, “I have enjoyed using my speedlight to take photos indoors at night when lighting is not available naturally- but the most fun I have had with my speedlight is when I’ve taken it off camera a few times & shot portraits right around sunset. So beautiful the effects you can get!!! Would love to give this grid a try.” I will email you soon on how to claim your prize!
Thank you to our generous sponsor of today’s blog post Expo Imaging who created the Rogue Honeycomb Grid! The Rogue 3-in-1 Honeycomb Grid for speedlights gives you 3 spotlighting effects in one compact tool. Grids are often used on off-camera flashes as hair lights in portraiture, or for background or accent lights when a photographer wants to highlight a portion of an image for dramatic effect.
Today they are so generously giving away one Rogue 3-in-1 Honeycomb Grid to one random winner. Simply leave us a comment telling us what you love the most about your speedlight to enter. The winner will be randomly chosen and announce next Thursday January 24, 2013 at noon EST. We’ll update this post with the winner so make sure and come back to see if you’re the lucky one!
Can’t wait to order? Use this generous discount to order your Grid now (This discount cannot be combined with any other discounts or bundles)!
Code – GRIDmom2013 (case sensitive)
Discount – 20% discount off Rogue Light Modifiers