The Honl Flash Modifier System

More and more, I leave my studio lights at home – strobes are a hassle to carry – and I shoot with speedlights modified with the Honl Photo flash modifier system:

This system, which consists of the Honl speedstrap, grid, gels and snoot, makes small speedlights practical for studio-like shooting without the hassle. As a photojournalist and on-location general shooter, I use it all the time.

The shots below, taken in a few minutes of my friend Storey the other day, illustrate some of the effects.

My camera, a Canon 1Ds MkIII, had a 580EXII flash on it to drive the second (key) flash; the key flash was a 430EX, handheld. The 580EX did no work other than drive the key light; all the work was done by the key light, i.e. the 430EX, combined with ambient light. To achieve this, the camera was fired in manual mode at 400 ISO and the speedlights were using E-TTL.

Picture 1 : straight flash aimed at the subject.


Picture 2: using the grid. More focused light on the subject. The kind of “Euro” effect I used to achieve in Photoshop. Now I do it in camera – leading to efficiency gains. Don’t you love this kind of “light falloff outside the subject” effect?


Picture 3: now using the snoot (and -1 stop FEC). Now we are really lighting just the subject. Drama, baby! (Of course normally I use the snoot not for this but to add hair light).


And finally just for fun, picture 4: grid combined with a red effect gel. And setting the white balance right now means the background turns green even without a green flash or green ambient light. Magic!


This is all very easy. Honl is now available at Henry’s. If you come on one of my courses I would be delighted to show you these products – they are entirely solid. Get yourself some speedstraps and snoots, grids and gels (both correcting and effect), and do pro work with a few speedlights and preserve your back.

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