Foamies and Photography

Foamies are basically craft paper made of foam, about 2 mm thick, that is easily cut and shaped as you need them. So, now that you know what they are, why should you care about them in photography?

Well, for the do-it-yourselfer, you should care a lot. Gear is expensive and, while it's nice to have some of it, not a lot of us can justify the costs for a hobby. Many of us, in fact, would rather spend the cash on lenses or camera upgrades. So, one of the ways to cut your costs is to make it yourself and foamies are a great resource for that.

For example, I've made a snoot out of foamies and velcro tape. A snoot, by the way, is a device fitted over the flash that is used to constrain the light to a more narrow beam. In my case, I used two foamies, a black one and a white one with a sticky back.

1. Using a measuring tape, I measured the circumfrance of my flash head, added a little bit for flexibility and then cut black foamie to fit. On one edge, I put the hook part of the velcro, on the other the catch part, done so that the foamie can wrap.

2. Next, I peeled the backing off the white sticky foamie and fitted it onto the black piece for the inside. Then I just trimmed the edges.

3. Finally, I added some of the catch velcro to the far end of the snoot for attaching gels (I made a gel holder using some plastic packaging, worked rather well).

This is the result (pardon my lack of editing and white balance):

That's not too bad considering a snoot will normally cost more than $40 CDN in the store and this cost about $5 (with lots left over). In addition, with foamies, I can make a number of snoots in various sizes and in various colours for the interior to colour the light. I can also use it as a bounce card.

You'll notice from the above shots that the background is seamless. That too is a result of foamies, a roll to be exact. I was very happy to discover that they make rolls of this stuff about 5 feet long and 3.5 feet wide, nicely fitting onto my macro table. The texture is very good for a backdrop and, at $9.99 for the roll, I'm not too worried if something spills on it. Besides, I discovered that a little rubbing alcohol on a J-cloth cleans it up nicely. I have a couple of rolls of the white and a roll of the black. Other colours are available, but my local art store never seems to have them.

I doubt you'll see professional photographers running around with rolls of foamies or a foamie snoot, but I'm not a pro and, if you're looking to me for advice, you probably aren't either. Net effect, why pay hundreds for what you can get for less than $30?

So, add foamies to your collection of DIY tricks, you won't regret it.


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