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View Full Version : Honeycombs: use them how? When?

Vetteography
30th of July 2008 (Wed), 17:42
I read something on (I think it was) Strobist about using a honeycomb light modifier and how you could build your own.

So I did, I built one for my flash unit and it seems to work well. Not having ever seen one in action before, I can only assume it's working right.

Unmodifed flash

http://i49.photobucket.com/albums/f260/preacherspulpit/PhotoStuff/Bare_Flash.jpg

Honeycomb

http://i49.photobucket.com/albums/f260/preacherspulpit/PhotoStuff/Honeycomb_Snoot.jpg

I thought I would ask to see examples of folks using
a honeycomb filter and ask about when they would use it, for what etc.

TMR Design
30th of July 2008 (Wed), 18:54
Hi David,

Honeycomb grids are used to create directional light which gives you more control and greater isolation. I shot the images below using a 10°spot grid as the main light source.

http://robertmitchellphotography.zenfolio.com/img/v2/p255447209-4.jpg

http://robertmitchellphotography.zenfolio.com/img/v2/p449786507-4.jpg

You've probably also seen many portraits and head shots with a very nice rounded spot of light behind the subject. Quite often this is done using a 30° or 40° spot grid to control the spread.

Vetteography
30th of July 2008 (Wed), 19:10
Hi David,

You've probably also seen many portraits and head shots with a very nice rounded spot of light behind the subject. Quite often this is done using a 30° or 40° spot grid to control the spread.

Thanks for the reply. When you mention the degree in conjunction with the honeycomb, do you mean the degree of spread or is it a reference to a specific angle on the honeycomb chambers? If it is the degree of light spread, is that vertical or horizontal (or both)?

I was thinking it would be useful for dramatic lighting but I didn't think about using it for background lighting. I can see where that would be handy.

I am guessing that it would be useful for, say, a hair light as well? Something to bring out some highlights without causing dramatic shadows?

TMR Design
30th of July 2008 (Wed), 19:24
The number of degrees specified on any grid is the spread or the angle of coverage once leaving the grid. For instance, a standard reflector for a strobe might be 90 degrees. A wide angle reflector may have a 135 degree spread. I have a set of 4 spot grids. 10, 20, 30 and 40 degrees. This gives me the ability to do near or far lighting and have the degree of control I need.

Anything you can think of where you would want to narrow the spread and have control is perfect for grids. So yes, a spot grid works very nicely for specifc types of hair lights.

Fabric grids are also available for softboxes, octaboxes and strip lights. They do the exact same thing and spot grids.

Vetteography
30th of July 2008 (Wed), 19:57
Ah, I think that makes sense. So it is a degree of dispersion, in a cone, from the light source.

Have you ever used a grid on a portable flash like a 430 or are they typically used on studio-style flash units?

The one I made (hey, I was bored!) is for my standard flash and it provides a significant reduction in both intensity and degree of dispersion (as can be seen by the samples above.)

TMR Design
30th of July 2008 (Wed), 20:21
I haven't made or used grids on portable flash units but the concept is the same and there's no reason not to do it if you need grids. A snoot is another alternative. I know Lumiquest makes a snoot for portable flash and you can of course DIY a snoot for practically nothing. It's a very common DIY.

Vetteography
30th of July 2008 (Wed), 20:26
I haven't made or used grids on portable flash units but the concept is the same and there's no reason not to do it if you need grids. A snoot is another alternative. I know Lumiquest makes a snoot for portable flash and you can of course DIY a snoot for practically nothing. It's a very common DIY.

I made the snoot, and stuck the grid in the end of it (removeable) just because I had never messed with either of those items before. That is why my light was so attenuated.

This is just my first foray into more advanced light modifiers. Up to now, it has been flash, bounce, diffuser and white cards. Now I want to experiment with other, less common and more creative modifiers.

SteveNC
30th of July 2008 (Wed), 20:33
Excuse the mess! These were taken in my second studio shoot ever, so I'm by no means and expert but these were achieved with the honeycomb grid mounted to a short light stand placed behind the subject, pointed towards the background:

http://www.andrawesphoto.com/eras/samples/6923samplepotn.jpg

http://www.andrawesphoto.com/eras/samples/studiopotn.jpg

Elinchrom D-Lite 4's with 8.25" Reflector and Honeycomb grid (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/320257-REG/Elinchrom_EL_26051_Reflector_and_Grid_Set.html) on the backlight (not sure which grid I used in these photos but it was either 8, 10, 20 or 30).

http://www.andrawesphoto.com/eras/sample2.jpg

SteveNC
30th of July 2008 (Wed), 20:34
Hi David,

Honeycomb grids are used to create directional light which gives you more control and greater isolation. I shot the images below using a 10°spot grid as the main light source.

^ Cool shot TMR Design! I need to experiment. You were the one who helped me make the great decision to get a set of grids that I've been using.:D

Vetteography
30th of July 2008 (Wed), 20:39
Excuse the mess! These were taken in my second studio shoot ever, so I'm by no means and expert but these were achieved with the honeycomb grid mounted to a short light stand placed behind the subject, pointed towards the background:

Elinchrom D-Lite 4's with 8.25" Reflector and Honeycomb grid (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/320257-REG/Elinchrom_EL_26051_Reflector_and_Grid_Set.html) on the backlight (not sure which grid I used in these photos but it was either 8, 10, 20 or 30).

http://www.andrawesphoto.com/eras/sample2.jpg

Thanks for the example... that is a neat backlighting effect. Like I said above, I hadn't considered using it that way, but it makes perfect sense (especially after seeing yours!)

ANGUS
30th of July 2008 (Wed), 20:45
Excuse the mess! These were taken in my second studio shoot ever, so I'm by no means and expert but these were achieved with the honeycomb grid mounted to a short light stand placed behind the subject, pointed towards the background:

http://www.andrawesphoto.com/eras/samples/studiopotn.jpg

Love the bag of oranges as a counter weight!

SteveNC
30th of July 2008 (Wed), 20:48
Haha, yeah I had 34 people coming that day and I totally forgot I needed some kind of counterweight and when I opened the fridge and saw that nice heavy bag of fruit I knew I was golden. The hairlight didn't really work out anyway since I didn't quite know what I was doing. I'll figure it out though!

TMR Design
30th of July 2008 (Wed), 20:51
^ Cool shot TMR Design! I need to experiment. You were the one who helped me make the great decision to get a set of grids that I've been using.:D

Glad to have helped. I absolutely love spot grids and keep finding more uses for them.

RichNY
30th of July 2008 (Wed), 20:55
Steve- Nice use of the Magic Arm there. Did you buy it for this purpose or was it just thrown into a creative use that day?

SteveNC
30th of July 2008 (Wed), 21:00
I actually got it the day before and I REALLY wanted to use it. I admit that it was overkill for simple headshots, but it actually worked well for making quick adjustments for short/tall folks. There was one person coming in every 10-15 minutes and I was by myself so it really was clutch! I haven't had a chance to play much with it, but I'm pretty sure that arm is my new favorite piece of gear.

sfaust
30th of July 2008 (Wed), 21:16
I also love grids, and use then often. I even have 22" grid for my beauty dish :)

Since you've had a good run down of how they work, etc, here are a couple examples that show various ways they can be used for creative effect.

30 degree grid in a single strobe. It was the only lighting used for this image.
http://farm1.static.flickr.com/68/221001627_15a8dedb29.jpg

22" grid on a beauty dish (30 degree??). It's not obvious since this image was cropped, but it creates a nice falloff and containment of light while still keeping the light somewhat specular.
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3116/2708962744_d2ab4cb588.jpg

Grid used on background, also with a couple gobos to change the shape to match the statute.
http://farm1.static.flickr.com/204/440475759_e5eb080f5b.jpg

I use them often for accent lights, such as here on the sides of Marty.
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2219/1819197868_9e28fb70d3.jpg

TMR Design
30th of July 2008 (Wed), 21:25
Really nice images Stephen.

Wonderful use of grids and I like the image shot with the beauty dish and grid.

crazyseany
30th of July 2008 (Wed), 22:36
on the alienbees site they have a diagram that shows how the spread of the different grids affect the light.

thanks for this post I was wondering how to use them in different ways and if they are worth getting. seems so.

sean

Vetteography
31st of July 2008 (Thu), 06:12
Great stuff, Stephen... nice examples!

Sounds like there are a lot of exciting possibilities.

sfaust
31st of July 2008 (Thu), 08:17
Thanks Robert and David.

Sounds like there are a lot of exciting possibilities.

Definitely lots of possibilities. A fun way to learn how to use them effectively is shoot with nothing but one light and a grid for a couple test shoots. You'll find a few nice ways to use them with excellent results. Then add another one with a grid and play some more. If you are used to using softboxes, it will open up new road with lots more choices and styles.

TMR Design
31st of July 2008 (Thu), 08:25
If you are used to using softboxes, it will open up new road with lots more choices and styles.

I couldn't agree more. If you're used to working with large modifiers with very soft and even light you'll discover a new world of possibilities with grids.

Similarly, if you use fabric grids on boxes you'll find the added control and directionality to be refreshing and will inspire new creative directions.

SteveNC
31st of July 2008 (Thu), 09:45
I really don't understand the concept of a beauty dish compared to a grid, much less a beauty dish with a grid attached. Is the primary purpose to produce a soft diffuse shadow that wraps around the subject?

TMR Design
31st of July 2008 (Thu), 09:59
I really don't understand the concept of a beauty dish compared to a grid, much less a beauty dish with a grid attached. Is the primary purpose to produce a soft diffuse shadow that wraps around the subject?

Hi Steve,

I don't think you are understand this so let me see if I can help.

Wrap refers to the characteristic of light that will wrap around three dimensional objects. The amount of light, quality of light, and position of the light source will determine where highlight and shadow fall and the edge transfer between them.

A grid creates directionality but does not make soft light un-soft (technical term there.:D )
Adding a grid to a beauty dish will give you greater directionality and isolation but will still produce soft light.

sfaust
31st of July 2008 (Thu), 10:44
I really don't understand the concept of a beauty dish compared to a grid, much less a beauty dish with a grid attached. Is the primary purpose to produce a soft diffuse shadow that wraps around the subject?

A grid and a beauty dish are really two separate things. The beauty dish is more like a soft box, while the grid is more like a snoot. So I'll compare the those, then talk about how they are used.

A softbox is a soft light source much like the light from a north facing window. A strobe with a standard reflector is a harder light source and more specular in nature, much like a bare light bulb. A beauty dish is somewhat in-between the two, as it is soft nature but with a bit more specular quality to it. You can think of it as a semi-soft soft box if you will.

A snoot is a light modifier that constricts the light to the shape and diameter of the shoot. A very small diameter snoot will create a very small spot of light, or footprint on a wall. A larger diameter snoot will create a larger footprint on the wall. A grid basically serves a similar purpose, but uses different honeycomb patterns to vary the diameter of the light. Rather than change the diameter of the snoot to vary the diameter of the light pattern, the honeycomb patterns limit the light through the honeycomb, and are measure in degrees. The grids are generally made in 10, 20, 30, and 40 degree patterns.

You can add both a snoot or grid to a softbox, beauty dish, and standard reflector. If you use a reflector with a grid, you will still get a more specular light source, and the grid will modify that specular light source creating a smaller footprint matching the selected degree pattern. But the source will still be specular in nature. It does tend to soften the light slightly, but that's a side effect and not its intended goal. If you put a grid on a softbox, it will still be a soft light source, but again be modified in a more restricted pattern with reduced light footprint.

The grids are used to limit the footprint of the light, so the photographer can 'throw' the light exactly where he wants it. A softbox will generally light a large area rather easily, but if you restrict that with a grid, it will light only the area that falls within the grids 'footprint'. Thus you still have a very soft light source, but it will only cover a very small area compared to the softbox without a grid.

I hope that helps explain the differences for you..

JakPot
31st of July 2008 (Thu), 17:52
just wanted to say thanks to Stephen & Robert for sharing in this thread. It's been very informative, and the visuals really help us to see what the modifiers are doing. so thanks guys!

Zansho
31st of July 2008 (Thu), 17:59
my spot grid use:

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3258/2654835718_f50a529687_b.jpg

Llike Robert, this was the only light source for this image.