black straws snoot – the construction and first use

constructing the black straw snoots was much more time consuming than i had anticipated. i ran into many obstacles. my first obstacle was the lack of proper tools. but before i get too far ahead of myself, perhaps i should explain just what a black straws snoot really is.

simply put, it is an attachment added to a flash that will make your flash output a tighter beam of light. this accessory for your flash can be used to create a spotlight effect. this is good for creating dramatic lighting. after i play with it a little more, i’ll show some examples.

now, apparently, there are snoots that are commercially available that you can buy. i don’t know about you, but, for me, making your own snoot is just cool.

so, anyway, it’s an accessory for photographer’s flashes. ok, great. i thought i had the tools that i needed, and i thought that i could do without a ruler, but you really, really need a ruler. i tried to do it with a tape measure, but it was just too hard. so i went out to longs and bought a 79 cent ruler. worth. every. penny. at least! i had some cardstock lying around and used that instead of the cereal box cardboard. looking back on it, i think the cereal box cardboard may be better suited for this, but i don’t eat cereal.

i actually made the colored version of the black straws snoot which basically allows for a color filter to be installed in the snoot. i built the snoots for my canon 550EX. i built 2 snoots, a 2cm length straw and a 5cm length straw. the 2cm snoot needed about 12 black straws. the 5cm length straw required (shockingly) about 30 straws. i hear that you can get black straws from panera bread or boston market. i haven’t tried boston market, but the panera bread that i went to had plenty. they are individually wrapped straws. let me say that again. individually wrapped! talk about such a waste of resources.

the measurements for my 550EX were a little different from the directions on the lighting mods web site. mine were 1cm, 4.5cm, 7.4cm, 4.5cm, 7.4cm x (6cm and 9cm) to fit the 550EX. it fits quite snugly.

i used a hot glue gun, ruler, straws, black duct tape, and cardstock paper. the black duct tape is optional, but it sure does give the snoot a little bit more credibility and it ups the coolness factor. many people use gaffers tape, but i kind of like the shine of the black duct tape.

the next, tedious step, is to cut the straw to the right length. let me tell you, trying to cut 2cm pieces of straw is a lot harder than you would think. so you cut a bunch of 2cm straws and then you are ready to glue.

let me talk a little bit about glue. glue is something that i don’t use very often. in fact, the last time that i used glue was a long time ago when i first moved into the house and i was changing the shower head. the shower head had an attachment that you glued to the wall. that was months ago. before that, i don’t recall when i used glue. it’s been that long.

so when it came to putting this snoot together, i bought some glue. actually, i bought two types of glue. elmer’s glue, which is very slow drying and i found to be a little too cumbersome for this task. i needed a glue that was quicker to harder, but still easy to work with that would not melt the straws. some solvent based glues might just melt away at the straws.

i decided to try using a hot glue gun. i’ve never really used a hot glue gun before, but i figured it couldn’t be that hard to use. boy was i wrong. it is actually quite hard to use. i was making a mess, burning myself, and gluing myself to the snoot. after a while, i started to get used to it and it was all good.

the snoot was made and it was time to try it out:
the first image is without the snoot.

this next image is with the snoot. see the nice spotlight effect and the falloff? the flash was about a yard away from the subject at about 1/128th power. pretty nifty, eh?

now pointing the light in different directions and at different angles ought to give a rather pleasing effect. i’m going to try it out later tonight after i charge up my flash batteries which all died so i had to stop taking pictures. ahhh, the power to manipulate light. i feel so powerful.

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