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What Does a Honeycomb Grid do?

One of the most common questions beginner photographers have is – “What does a honeycomb grid do in photography?

When I purchased my first softbox back in 2012, it came with a net like thing like that could be attached to it, like shown in the image below:

softbox with honyecomb grid

That net like thing is called a honeycomb grid (because it looks like a…**drum-roll**…honeycomb)

Sometimes it’s also called only “grid“.

So what does a grid do?

A grid is used to control the direction of light coming from the softbox or any other modifier.

Let’s take the example of a softbox.

A softbox without a honeycomb grid can scatter light because the light doesn’t necessarily come out in the shape of the softbox. It expands like shown in the image below:

softbox without a honeycomb grid

Whereas a softbox with a honeycomb grid will result in directional lighting, like shown in the image below:

softbox with a honeycomb grid

This allows the photographer to precisely hit the light only where it’s required and avoid unnecessary light spill.

Let’s understand this with the help of a real life example.

Sometimes I am required to do studio photography in very small spaces like shown in the image below:

shooting using a softbox with a grid

Here I am shooting one of my clients in a space which is roughly 300 sq feet.

You can see how close the subject is to the backdrop.

If I don’t use a grid, then the light coming from the softbox will hit the backdrop also.

I can minimize that by using a honeycomb grid on the softbox because that will make sure the light is mainly focused on my subject and not going anywhere else.

Even in such a small space, I was able to get low-key photographs like the one below:

Because I used a honeycomb grid, the light did not hit the black backdrop behind the subject.

If I hadn’t used a grid, the light spill on the backdrop would have resulted in increasing its exposure and I would have ended up with a grey color because of the extra illumination.

Here is another image that will demonstrate this very well:

The shot on the left has been taken with only the modifier (a beauty dish in this example). And the shot on the right has been taken with a honeycomb grid mounted on the beauty dish.

The use of grids is not only popular in photography but they are extensively used in videography too especially in creating dark and moody scenes where only the subject needs to be mainly lit.

Finally, let’s look at a video from my Studio Photography course, where I show you the usage of a honeycomb grid by taking an actual low-key shot right in front of your eyes:

So I hope now you know what a grid does in phtoography.

If you want to learn the art of studio photography, then do check out my Studio Photography course which is one of the highest rated courses on Udemy. It teaches you how to set up a budget home-based studio and do studio photography using minimal gear.

About the Author

portrait photographer for portfolio shoot in pune

Hi there, I'm Kush Sharma, the founder of Creative Pad Media, an organization dedicated to simplifying photography and videography education.

We have over 40 online courses that cover various genres in photography & videography, catering to both beginners as well as professionals. These courses are available via Udemy.com. Our courses have been downloaded in over 170 countries.

I hope to see you inside a course very soon!

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