Flash photography: using a grid with a speedlight
During this photo session with Austin, I wanted to get a spot-light effect on, similar to that of a video light. Now, I have played around with various speedlight grids before, but never liked the result. Speedlite grids generally they concentrate the light to the extent that the direct light from a speedlight, becomes too concentrated and hard. For dramatic light, I really like the look of a video light, with that dramatic quality to the light, and with more defined shadows. I do want that fall-off in the light as the light spreads away from the subject.
As part of my Spinlight 360, I had two grids – white grid and a black grid. Since I didn’t have a video light with me during this session, I tried the white grid on the spur of the moment, to see if the white part of the grid would sufficiently scatter the light to “defocus” the light beam from the speedlight, while the grid itself contained the light.
And here’s the result. I really like it – a look similar to that of video light, but with more power … and with the PocketWizard TT5 on my camera, I could control the output! For this photograph, I also gelled the flash with 1/2 CTS gel to have the flash’s color balance closer to that of the ambient light.
The pull-back shot to show how the flash was positioned. Without an assistant there, I simply fastened the monopod to the rail with gaffer tape. The other comparison photo is to show the ambient light levels without flash.
Lighting & Design for Portrait Photography
Lighting & Design is a follow-up of sorts to Direction & Quality of Light. It’s a slightly eclectic mix, discussing the thought-process with various scenarios shooting portraits. The examples use available light, bounce flash, off-camera flash as well as studio lighting.
The idea is that in every one of the 60 sections, there is something to be learnt and applied, regardless of your level as a photographer or where you shoot – all shaped to form a cohesive narrative arc throughout the book.
You can either purchase a copy via Amazon USA or Amazon UK. The book will also available on the Apple iBook Store, and Amazon Kindle.
More info about the Spinlight 360
You can order a Spinlight 360 and the grids via this link.
6 Comments, Add Your Own
1Patti Hale says
Would you expect to see any difference in the light if you had used the black grid instead of the white? Perhaps slightly less light with the black? I have the spinlight, but not the grid accessory. I do, though, have the Rogue grid (which is black) for a speedlight that is quite similar to the spinlight grid, and will have to pull that out of the bag and give it a go. Love the use of gaffer tape to hold the light stand…. :-) Great article!
2Neil vN says
I didn’t test it, but I think it would be a good assumption that the white grid spreads the light more.
3Patti Hale says
4James B says
Neil this looks great. I must have missed your post about the spin light at first – just read it and looked at your videos and their website and I wish we had better access to it here in the UK. I’m just a hobby photographer and can’t justify the outlay for umbrellas, soft boxes and stands to get off camera flash, but your BFT and insight into controlling bounce flash really hit home with me. Hopefully the one UK distributed will widen access to this as it’s popularity grows and we’ll have more chance to try it out.
SpinLight 360® have a UK dealer http://www.speedgraphic.co.uk also for additional dealers please go to http://www.spinlight360.com/dealers/
6Phil Lord says
I must get one ! Great information Neil