How to Use Honeycomb Grids for Portrait Photography

You may not think that speedlights are the most versatile when it comes to shooting portraits. There isn’t a lot that you can do with them, right? Wait until you see photographer Jeff Rojas create this dramatic hard-lit portrait using nothing more than two speedlights with two Rogue 3-in-1 Flash Grids:

The trick is in using the honeycomb grids. Grids create a narrow beam of light that stops it from spilling everywhere. Grids are ideal for dramatic lighting setups when you need a contrasty photo. Rojas used Rogue 3-in-1 honeycomb grids to highlight the facial features of the model as well as create a slim background light for separating the model from the background.

Lighting Setup

The key light with the 45° honeycomb grid not only illuminates the model’s face but also accentuates his facial features. Since this is a slightly larger grid, there’s also some amount of light fall-off below the neck.

portrait lighting

Key Light

The background light, also with a 45° honeycomb grid, is about five feet from the background. It creates a nice vignetting on the background:

backlight for portrait

Background Light

About Grids

Both of the grids are 45°. Now, if you are wondering which grid to use for your specific shooting requirements, remember this: the smaller the degree, the narrower the resulting beam of light and thus resulting light spill. And vice-versa: the bigger the degree, the wider the beam of light and light spill. Here’s a comparative image of grid values and the resulting beam of light that they produce:

Honeycomb grids and light spill

Grids and Light Spill

And finally, here’s the resulting image:

Dramatic lighting setup using grids

Final Image

Speedlights are more versatile than many photographers think. Combine them with modifiers, like grids, and there’s no end to their creative potential.

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One response to “How to Use Honeycomb Grids for Portrait Photography”

  1. Hi Rajib,

    Do you ever use this set up on out door and sunny locations, or do you feel the grids take too much of the speedlights power?

    Thanks for the tutorial!

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