Easy Cheap Light Modifier for Your Speedlight





Introduction: Easy Cheap Light Modifier for Your Speedlight

Here is an other instructable om how to make a cheap light modifier for your regular speedlight.

Step 1: Material

You need:
  • Some 2mm foam board
  • Black drinking straw
  • Black gaffa/duct tape
  • A glue gun
  • A scissor

Step 2: Make the First Row of Straws...

  1. Cut out a piece of gaffa/duct tape that has the width of your speedlights flash output panel (approx. 6 cm)
  2. Cut the black straws into approx. 122 or more pieces so their length matches the width of the gaffa/duct tape (approx. 4 cm)
  3. Stick 14 straws onto the gaffa/duct tape to make the first row

Step 3: Making the Second Row of Straws

Use a glue gun to attach the the second row of straws to the first. You get the best result by offsetting the second row half the width of a straw. This will also save you a lot of glue and allow more light to pass through the modifier.

Step 4: More Rows

Continue the process row by row. Remember to offset each new row. You may have to give the glue gun a rest from time to time so it gets time enough to heat the glue. When you reach the height of you flash's light panel, you are done. (I needed 9 rows for my SB-900 – 122 straws in total...)

Step 5: Duct Tape Is Your Friend...

Now stick one layer of gaffa/duct tape all around the grid to give it extra stability. It should be really stiff and sturdy by now.

Step 6: Add Some Heigth

Most speedlights have some kind of retractable light modifier hidden on top of the light panel. If this is the case, use some of the foam board to add some height to your grid, so the modifier will fit perfectly to your speedlight and no harsh light will escape and ruin your photograph.
Use the glue gun to stick the needed number of foam layers on top of each other to get the correct height (I needed three layers to make it fit my SB-900...)

Step 7: Make a Hose

Now lets add a "hose" to the grid so the modifier can be slipped over the speedlight. I made my hose approx. 11 cm long. This way I can modify, how close I want the grid to be to the light panel and thereby focus the light to my needs. The foam should have a perfect fit (in my case 11x24 cm), so there will be no gaps. Once your have cut your foam into the right size, glue it onto your grid with the glue gun.

Step 8: Finish the Job...

Now give it one tight layer of gaffa/duct tape around the grid. Then slip the modifier over the speedlight and give the other end a round of gaffa/duct too. Done

Step 9: See the Difference...

The two first images show the difference between firing the flash without and with the modifier. This type of modifier is good for hairlight, or to add a nice pin light to your still life set up...

In case you don't know how to use a grid, check out this video:



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    I would like to take a moment and express my ignorance on this project. Although I've been doing photography for many years(since '86), I've never used anything more than a diffuser on my flash. No, I've never used filters either(other than UV). Why would you need, or rather, what sort of photography would need a device like you have shared? I'm genuinely curious. Besides film camera's, I used to shoot an original Canon digital Rebel and for the past few years have been shooting a Canon 7D. I know there's more to photography than what I already know.

    3 replies

    I added a video that should answer your question...

    Ah! I see the application now. This is more for studio type photography. I would have to say that 90% of my photography is outdoor photography. I'm honest enough to say that I have always been terrible at this type, portrait, of photography. I just can't see it the most do. Thank you again for the project and for the explanation.

    I'm not sure if it will let me share it or not, but, here is a link to an album on facebook that I shot of the Christian band Third Day at an outdoor concert at night.


    You are welcome... Nice pictures. Btw.: Take a look at some of your best images from that series. Often the artist happens to stands under a projector that casts the kind of "grid" light on the shoulders or hair, that this modifier would be used to create. It is just a tool to recreate good "natural" light when needed in a studio.

    Black Straws from Bargain Plus store in Aus ( $2 or cheap Store) cost me $1.50 AU for 200 Black straws.
    Hope that helps

    nice! i heard about this but never got around to try it, thanks for sharing!

    very cool... Who's coffee shop has black straws? seems I would have green photos with the options around here!

    5 replies

    Ruby Tuesday uses black straws, if memory serves me correctly.

    Ha, ha... The straws I used were leftover form a party. I don't have the slightest idea, where to get black ones – I guess the next party or office supplier...

    Btw. you are right about the color temperature. I notices, that the white balance dropped from 5400°K to 4300°K when I use the grid, so it looks like even black straws influence the temperature...

    Try this for a selection of colors: http://barsupplies.com/bar-accessories-c-117.html?gclid=CKi3n5WgybsCFXHxOgodl0MAFQ

    I have found that some nylon and plastics respond well to RIT fabric dye.

    You can try to build it with green ones, actually reflected light shouldn't be affected by straws color, although as inspiredwood noticed something happens anyway to the colour temperature...

    Strange..?? Nice guide by the way! I really like your explanation on why a grid works!!! I hope you figure out how to include me in the guide. Have your send a request to instructable support?

    Done! "+collection " button is for that... never used before :-)

    Interesting. I would like to see the same photo, with and without your modifier.

    1 reply

    I can't set up the watch shot again, but here is the setup for an apple. I used two soft boxes to light the scene and the modified speedlight (1/128) to make soft light circle on the background...

    I don't know the difference, so let's just call it duct tape...

    That looks more like duct tape than gaffer's tape.