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DIY Lighting Mods with Foamies and Velcro

I’ve previously noted that if you’re into amateur studio photography then foamies are your friend. Now, even more stuff to do with foamies…

For all of these mods, I used several types of black and white foamies, some with sticky backs and some with out. These are readily available in craft shops and for only a few dollars a pack. I typically buy the 9″ x 12″ sheets.

You’ll also want to get the Scotch velcro tape. You can get it in 1″ wide rolls with each package containing a roll of the hook and a roll of the catch.

Now, onto the mods…

The Speed Strap

Now, admittedly, these are pretty cheaply bought, but since I had all the material I needed, I made my own. It’s actually quite simple:

1. Measure your flash circumference and then add a couple of inches for elbow room. Mine is about 11¾” with the extra room.

2. Measure out and cut a strip of foamie that’s 1″ wide and about 1″ less than your previous measurement long. If you have a slicer or guillotine, it’s a lot easier, but a straight edge and Xacto knife is also good. Resort to scissors if you must, but don’t run with them. Anyways, the foamies compress and they end up providing excellent non-slip traction on your flash head, hence the reason we’re using them here.

3. Measure out and cut a strip of velcro tape, hook side, that matches the flash circumference you measured in step 1.

4. Remove the sticky back off the velcro and attach it to the foamie strip from step 2 with one end lining up evenly. This will leave just over an inch of the velcro hanging on the other end.

5. Now, using the catch portion of the velcro tape, attach just over an inch to the sticky back of the dangling hook velcro.

Done! You now have a speed strap. What’s it good for? Well, for attaching the remaining goodies, that I’m about to describe, to your flash. Anyways, here’s the outcome:

The Snoot Revisted

The last time I did a snoot, as shown in the article linked above, I was very happy with the outcome. The only thing I didn’t really like was that the second, white, foamie made it too stiff. However, it still works, but I wanted some snoots that worked with my new speed strap. Have a look at the sample images following the steps before you start cutting, it may make my instructions a little easier to follow.

1. Cut a white, non-sticky, foamie so that it is 12″ x 5″ in size.

2. Cut a strip of the hook velcro to about a 4″ length, precision isn’t that critical. Remove the backing and attach to one end of foamie, tight to the top, thus leaving about an inch at the bottom.

3. Cut three strips of the catch velcro to about a 5″ length. Flip over the foamie and attach all three, side-by-side, to the end opposite the hook velcro.

4. Cut a fourth strip of about 2″ and then cut down the middle, length-wise giving you two 2″ x 0.5″ strips. Cut one of those in half to get two 1″ x 0.5″ strips.

5. Flip the foamie back over so that the hook velcro side is showing. Attach the longer of the above strips at the bottom and center. Then attach the two smaller strips at the far ends.

Here’s a sample, but note that I used black foamies. Writing this article gave me an epiphany that I should have used white for the snoots, it doesn’t matter what the exterior colour is as long as the interior is white. Oh well, as a result, I had an extra step that involved Avery labels.

Now, you can repeat the above instructions, but add 3″ to the 4″ and 5″ lengths to get an 8″ snoot. That matches you up nicely with Honl snoot options. By the way, reflective foamies are also available in silver and gold, amongst other colours. Ah, the possibilities!

The Barn Door

Sometimes you don’t need, or want, the light tightening effect of the snoot, you just need to keep the flash from causing flair in your image. For that, you need the foamie barn door… This is very simple:

1. Cut a couple of 9″ x 5″ black, non-sticky, foamies and a couple of 9″ x 5″ white, sticky foamies. This gives you a couple of “doors” to work with and, it’s so easy, you can make more… You can also make them narrower or shorter, experiment to fit your needs.

2. Pair up each black with a white and stick them together, trim as you need.

3. Attach a 1″ strip of catch velcro on one end of each “door” and you’re done.

Note, I used the two sheets of each just make it a little more rigid. Here’s a shot of one on the flash:

The Bounce Card

Very similar to the barn door above, the bounce card is really easy to make:

1. Cut a non-sticky black foamie to about 6.5″ x 9″.

2. Cut a white, sticky, foamie to about 4.5″ x 8″ and attach to the black foamie, centered horizontally and flush to one end.

3. Cut a 2″ strip of the catch velcro, then split that length wise. Cut one the pieces of that in half.

4. Attach the 2″ x 0.5″ strip at the bottom (on the black foamie) centered horizontally and flush to the end.

5. Attach the 1″ x 0.5″ strips to the far sides at the bottom. It’s going to look very similar to the snoot.

Here’s a shot of it on my flash:

That’s my foamie round-up. I have a few more ideas in mind, but I haven’t entirely squared the ‘how’ in my head yet. By the way, the some total cost of the above, not counting time, was about $20 worth of stuff. You can buy all of these, ready made, but I assure you that you’ll pay a great deal more. Besides, it was fun.

9 Responses

  1. Having shot video for over twenty years i am now reinventing my self as a photographer. I am going to incorporate your ideas to enhance my photography.
    Thanks, I love velcro
    eRick

  2. Great idea, i love diy and will give this a try. I made myself something similar but i used black plastic sheets and sticky silver foil. I would not recommend you put the hooks of the velcro on the flash, it will stick to the inside of your photo bag if you do.

    • It hasn’t posed a problem for me, but it’s not really an issue, just reverse the velcro instructions to get the same effect. However, that means even more items with the hook portion of the velcro in your bag… :)

  3. I found a large sheet of rubber shelf liner at WalMart for $3 or so. By cutting a 2″ wide and 10″ long piece and wrapping it around the flash and holding it in place with a rubber band you have created a non slip surface that can be left in place forever or quickly and easily removed with no residue. One shelf liner will render hundreds of these.

  4. I know you’ve heard this before, but these are brilliant. Simple, functional, cheap. Excellent design; excellent instructions. And they work, perfectly.

    I have no problem with the hook side on my flash; I use a Domke F2 bag. Velcro doesn’t stick to canvas. And, I think that the hook side would probably scratch up the foam after a while if you stored these flat against each other. For that matter, taking the speed strap off the flash before putting it in bag would work just as well for Sprengstoff, too.

    Andrew
    http://andrewsharpe.com

  5. John, our mutual friend Mohammad pointed me to your site… nice reading. I had to comment because I have almost the identical DIY mods for my Sigma 530 DG super flash as well (I think that’s the same flash I recognize in your shots above?!). The only problem I find with the foamies is trouble using them outdoors in any wind… where I take a very large majority of my shots. I found, however, that gluing an additional strip of 2cm-wide foam along the back edges as ribs helps a lot. Regards! Stu

    • Yep, that’s the same flash. Good flash, though the user interface is terrible. I haven’t used my stuff outside, but that’s a useful piece of advice, thanks! I generally use them in a studio setting.

 
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