Why and How to Use Grids in Your Photography

Want to add a dramatic mood to your photos using one simple light modifier? There are an almost unlimited number of ways to use external lights on a set and Jay P. Morgan from The Slanted Lens gets close to using them all in this neo noir photoshoot. From a car’s headlights to fabricated street lights, you can be sure to learn a lot about using light creatively from this video. The focus for this particular clip is on grids:

What is a Grid?

A grid is a honeycomb metal insert that goes in front of your reflector. Grids help a photographer control the quality of light and the area of coverage on a set.

Choosing Your Grid

Grids come in a variety of sizes which are measured in degrees. The size of the grid affects your light source significantly. A 10° grid has a much narrower area of coverage and there is little light spill into the shadows. A 40° grid has larger spill into the shadows and the transition is smoother.

ten degree grid

twenty degree grid

thirty degree grid

forty degree grid

As you can see, as the number of degrees increases, the light coverage increases and changes the coverage in the shadows. This is because as the holes in the grid get bigger the light bounces off the reflector into the shadows.

The Shoot

This photo shoot uses an elaborate light set up including two different lights with grids. The first is a key light for the woman’s face that has a 10° grid and is handheld. It’s held this way because with only 10° the area of coverage is narrow and will need to be adjusted and readjusted as the model moves, even slightly.

key light with grid

The second light with a grid is a rim light that’s being used to illuminate the man’s face and the edges of the woman’s hair. This is a 20° grid so the area of coverage is slightly larger but still quite narrow.

two grids used

The results are stunning and are clearly well planned and executed. Find a studio and get those grids out. They can be a great way to create a mood in your photos and add a pleasing transition to your light sources.

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One response to “Why and How to Use Grids in Your Photography”

  1. abhay palan says:

    Thanks for your tutorial. .
    it’s very useful. ..!
    Abhay palan.

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