Grids take a standard flash and make it behave like a spotlight. They're made up of a grid of channels for light to pass through (hence the name) and depending on the length and width of those channels they can radically reduce the area lit by a flash, while giving the light itself a nice falloff. You can use them for lighting small subjects, singling out a part of a whole, adding hairlights, tossing up a quick background... all sorts of things! This instructable will teach you how to convert some black drinking straws, cardboard, and adhesives into a light, durable, and effective grid for the Vivitar 285HV flash.
To build one, you will need:
- Black straws
- Non-corrugated cardboard
- Paper cutter (or scissors, or cutting wheel, etc.)
- Straight edge
- Box knife
- Sandpaper (kinda optional)
- Masking tape
- Tube of silicone (durable and heat resistant!)
- Paper glue
Strobist recently influenced me to obtain two Vivitar 285HV flashes for some manual off-camera lighting. The're great! They're sturdy, easy to use, and last for pop after pop when filed with 2700mAh rechargables. They'd make a great addition to anyone's portable yet flexible lighting kit. Slap some grids on them and they're only that much more versatile!
Here you can see a (mostly) completed grid being lit with another identical grid positioned about three feet away. Nice light, huh? Not bad for less than $10 in materials!
So I know there's another DIY grid instructable here, but their technique is completely different, and mine's fit to the Vivitar 285HV, right? I'm not a total hack! I swear! :)
Step 1: Prepare Your Straws
Black straws make a great material for grids. They're easy to work with, durable, won't add much of a color cast to your flash, and you can get them online for cheaps. A box of 500 was less than $10, and I didn't even look that hard.
Straws also create a super smooth falloff at the edge of a perfectly circular spot of light, with just the right amount of specular highlight in the middle, in my opinion. The picture of the spot below was shot on a crappy textured wall... and it still looks smooth!
Unfortunately, my straws came individually wrapped. So strip off all that paper and compost it or something!