Who Says DIY Gear Looks Cheap?
Some time back, I made some grids for my flash. If you follow the link, you can see that while they worked pretty well, they weren’t exactly very pretty. In other words, they did the job, but definitely looked home-made. That was not good.
That’s why I recently embarked on another wave of DIY projects. My goal this time was to come up with lighting mods that not only worked well, but looked good – or at the very least didn’t look like 3rd-grade art projects
The images below are the results of this DIY spree. You want instructions? I’ve also posted several links below. I didn’t follow them completely, but I definitely used them as guides for my own projects.
For Strobists, here’s some lighting info:
With the exception of the grids, everything was lit with an SB-800 on one side and a bounce card (i.e. a piece of white cardboard) on the other. The grids were lit by the said SB-800 and the 430EX you see.
How to get your own lighting mods:
speed strap / cinch strap
If you don’t want to build your own straps, you can get a LumiQuest® Cinch Strap or a HonlPhoto Speed Strap. Since I don’t mount the straps on the edge of my flash – I need the room for my grids – I recommend the Lumiquest version. The wider HonlPhoto straps give you a lot more space to attach your mods, but are so wide they have to go to the edge of the flash.
If, on the other hand, you want to make your own straps, check out the links below. I pretty much combined ideas from both sets of tutorials. On this note, I should make a disclaimer – I use a baller ID to keep the strap in place. I place it around the flash, then wrap the strap around it, and the strap stays in place. This rubber band (that’s what it is, essentially) also serves another purpose – it keeps my gel holder in place.
- DIY Photography Lighting – The DIY Speed Strap | DIYPhotography.net
- Strobist: Mount Your Mods with Speed Straps
I already linked to some instructions in a previous post on DIY grids, but I’ll list them again here:
- Strobist: Free and So Easy: DIY Grid Spots for Your Flash
- Studio Lighting – Homemade Gridspot | DIYPhotography.net
- Lighting Mods: DIY: Black Straws Snoot Grid (Part 1)
- Lighting Mods: DIY: Black Straws Snoot Grid (Colored)
I pretty much used the black straw (colored) tutorial, with some differences. One is that I added a little tab with some hook tape to latch it onto the speed strap on my flash. The critical difference however, is that I didn’t use cardboard. I’m pretty sure you can tell what material I used based on the images above, but all I’ll say about it is this – doesn’t it look so much better than cardboard or duct tape?
My bounce card here is pretty much a stiff version of ABetterBounceCard.com with hook & loop tape. As you can see, it’s white on one side (it’s a bounce card after all) and black on the other (so the people behind me don’t go blind).
You want to see the bounce card itself? See two more (not so glamorous) images below. If you still want a tutorial after seeing this, leave a comment telling me so. I think the images are pretty clear though.
This one item stymied me for quite a while. I didn’t particularly like David Hobby’s way of attaching gels. For one thing, it left the gels prone to more wear and tear than necessary. On top of that, the the Roscolux gels I had didn’t leave me with much room to attach some hook & loop tape.
The HonlPhoto Rosco Gel Kit didn’t look that much better either – without some modifications (i.e. adding hooks on the other side), there was no way of stacking gels or attaching bounce cards, gobos, and other wonderful lighting mods.
The LumiQuest FX, Gel Set with Holder looked interesting, but also looked too bulky. I don’t think I could put my bounce card on with that gel holder on. A DIY gel holder (plus a snoot and gobo too) by Thomas Schwenger caught my eye, but fell out of favor too – I thought the gel holder was a bit too flimsy.
I then saw this DIY gel holder over at DIYPhotography.net which almost, but didn’t quite fit the bill. One line in the post caught my eye though:
This got me thinking on alternatives to gel holders and the thing that popped to mind was name tag pockets. Those are pretty cheap and once you place on over your flash, you can freely insert and remove colorful gels.
After a short trip to the local bookstore (or rather, a conversation with my girlfriend, who then took it upon herself to go to the bookstore), a bit of thinking, a fair amount of cutting, and some experimentation, I ended up with the little contraption you see on the right.
It looks a bit like the acrylic gel holder mentioned over at DIYPhotography.net, but it’s significantly lighter, nowhere near as bulky, and basically smaller. It slides in under my DIY speed / cinch strap (under the baller ID I mentioned), and it’s small enough not to interfere with most other mods, so it can stay on my flash practically all the time. I only remove this when I put on my grids, which have their own gel holders built in.
So, are you ready to start work on your own lighting mods?
• Luis • 16 August 2008 •