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A Faster Method For Making Your Own Speedlight Straw Grid

The classic straw grid for speedlights; it might be one of the most attempted DIY photography projects. It's a popular project because it works well, it is cheap, and it is incredibly easy to make, but one clever photographer has found an even simpler way to make on of these popular modifiers. Check out this easy to follow video for step by step instructions.

Photographer Isiah Xiong presents a much simplified way of creating the popular straw grid for speedlights. This simple DIY project allows you to narrow the spread of light to create so that you can better control where the light spills in your photo. This allows you to create more dramatic portraits or to pinpoint light at specific areas of a product, for example.

Traditionally when attempting this DIY project, one would glue all the straws together, which can be a time consuming and messy process. The method presented here is a lot cleaner and faster. Perhaps something to try this weekend!

[via iso1200]

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14 Comments

Prefers Film's picture

Grids on ebay are about $10-20. If this takes more than a few minutes, I don't see how it's worthwhile.

And you should proofread your article.

Javier Larroulet's picture

DIY is not just about the cost. I totally agree with you, these things are cheap enough, but sometimes making it by yourself is faster than driving to the store and/or waiting for delivery from ebay/amazon... and a lot more fun if you kinda like to do stuff around the house

Konrad Sarnowski's picture

Or if you're on location and suddenly need a snoot AND there's a grocery next by... (see my post)

Mo Bius's picture

It may be more fun (for some people) to build your own grid out of straws, but how accurate is your straw grid? Do you know how many degrees your light spread will be without massive trial & error? How long will your DIY grid last? How efficient is your straw-grid at letting light through, and how consistent? What will your clients think of gaffer's tape and coffee straws when they're paying $500 for the shoot?

It's not JUST about saving a few bucks and having a little project to do on a Sunday afternoon. Sometimes you really should put professionalism first.

From the looks of it, the ONLY reason to even ever consider doing this as a DIY is in a "snoot emergency", which I have personally never encountered. What are the odds that all of my snoots will be damaged or lost in transit to a shoot where a narrow field of light is absolutely critical to success?

Javier Larroulet's picture

totally agree with you. It goes without saying that I wouldn't actually use this thing for a professional shoot (because of two reasons: I'm not a pro, and wouldn't like to risk the results of a whole shoot by playing it cheap)

that said, I would definitely try this for fun/educational purposes and use it on my personal shots

Prefers Film's picture

I redid a fireplace, put down new wood flooring, replaced windows, and installed new door casings, window trim, and baseboards to complete my studio. I guess my "stuff around the house" is different than yours. ;)

Konrad Sarnowski's picture

Another option: if you have Canon's 580EX II (or very similar in head size), you can use Pringles' tube - just cut off the bottom (medium snoot) and fill with straws (hard snoot) - it stays quite firmly on speedlight ;)

Prefers Film's picture

Interfit Strobies for the win. That's what was used for my profile pic.

Keith Sheridan's picture

Anyone else really bothered by how he moves the measuring tape rather than using simple math to measure out 2", 4", 6" etc?

Zack Williamson's picture

the uneven cuts bother me more, but that's just a crazy ocd thing kicking in...

Joe Hoddinott's picture

I used corrugated plastic cut into strips about 2" thick and stacked side-by-side and wrapped in black foam with enough length to slide onto the flash head. Works like a champ.

james darden's picture

I wonder why some people get a bit snobby and overthink stuff like this? Sure depending on how much time was invested, it may not look like some product produced in China. But for those starting out and experimenting, what's harm? I've seen countless workshops on Creative Live where the speaker just threw something together on the fly or just grabbed something to use as a modifier and yes gaffers tape was used. Joey Lawrence being one of them. At the end of the day, the client just wants something that's going to make them happy as long as you're not wasting their time.

Prefers Film's picture

I'm not being snobby, just prepared. Better to throw a few bucks at that inexpensive piece of gear, and then spend your spare time to learning how to use it.

I was intrigued by the Interfit Strobies bits and pieces, so I ordered some. When it arrived, I took some selfies using it over my shoulder on a 580EX, firing my EOS M2 from my tablet. This gave me an opportunity to become more familiar with several pieces of gear, and/or processes, all at the same time. I think that was a better use of time.

David Guess's picture

Haters gonna hate and just can't wait...geez.

DIY is great. I've seen more duct taped accessories used than the "I too good to use any but the best" ever dreamed would work. Well Hurston Howell types, DIY created those fancy gizmos you just have to have. You can't bother slumming with the duct tape crowd.

I don't know who this author is but it's a great idea. I hadn't thought about one. I'm gonna wade out in the rain and mud to the barn and make a couple. I think I have some pic pipe left to make a really big one.

I've been doing photography for 47 years and started with a GAF camera that shot 126 or 127 film, I can't recall. I've built more than my share of DIY. I've built pin hole cameras, one shot strobes from big capacitors and light bulbs, made up my own solutions for the home made enlargers. I love seeing people being really creative with their hands.

I've DIY'ed stuff because I had a need for something and Amazon wasn't even a twinkle in somebody's eye much less the Internet. You have to think, something a lot of haters haven't time for, God forbid they have time to hate some. Jump out of the woodwork lurking back there ready to pounce so the can run down someone else's idea.

As to the guy that redid his fireplace, I've rebuilt, build complete houses, frame up rebuilds on cars and truck, drilled and dynamited for coal, drilled for oil, rebuilt TVs, cameras, computers, watches, and tons of other things, so my "stuff around the house" is a lot different than yours.

All hail, duct tape, gorilla glue, welders and cutting torches!
All hail scrap lumber, metal and plastic bowls!
DIY will always be out on the front lines before uppity people get a smooth and clean version so they won't get their hands dirty.