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Honl Rocks….

Jun 20

In Lighting, Seminars & Workshops, Travels at 3:56pm

I tell ya, these new Honl attachments for small flashes are pretty cool……

That’s Briana again, with my class at the Maine Media Workshops, posing at the window screen in a room at the Windjammer Hotel, a truly four star property that usually houses the YoFo’s, the young photog groups that come up to MMW every summer and jam into this establishment with the usual aplomb, verve and hormonal overload generally associated with their age group. If the newly spruced up walls of the old Windjammer could talk, oh my, we’d have one sweaty screenplay indeed.

We had a great week with my class. We rocked a bit at Firefly…….

And we did a session at the Lincoln Street Schoolhouse in Rockland, and then finished up the week at the Windjammer. I like using the location as it is a good place to show how to throw a light from a distance (like the parking lot) through a window to create different feels and moods. Hard light, soft light, warm light? You can produce it all with one source (an Elinchrom Ranger and a long throw reflector). Gels and a bed sheet can take you from soft, neutral, cloudy days to hard slashing sunset light. Lastolite skylite panels come ideally sized for this, at 3×3, 3×6 and 6×6. Frame up the diffusion material and drop ’em in front of the window, and you got the room lit. Lessee….

Above is Ranger, half cut of CTO, average camera exposure, light source about 40′ away, no diffusion….

Drop the exposure about a stop and half, you get more warmth. Close the curtain, and you get the concerned young man checking the parking lot shot.

Shift the positions of your models, draw over curtains in indiscriminate fashion, and you have a a bit of a soap opera drama, or bits and pieces of light you can drop your drummer, bassist, and rhythm/lead vocals dude into for the garage band CD cover of the hot new group, Disaffected Young People.

Hmm…here I have digressed again. I started off discussing the nifty new thingamabobbers springing from the mind of shooter David Honl. They are pretty cool. David Hobby had an early version of the honeycomb grid over in Dubai, and naturally I began to lust for it. As soon as I got back, ordered a couple speed straps (essential to pop on the attachments) and a barn door, snoot, and a grid. They’ve been rattling around in my bag till the Windjammer screen deal, as seen in the pic up top. But first I tried to light the screen with just a gelled, raw SB800 zoomed out to 105, with no dome diffuser on it. Then I had the bright idea to light the room blue. Inventive, as always, that Joe. Bet no one ever thought of that one before.

Okay, got some blue going in background, but not a lot. Hmmm…Blue is is camera right, and camera left, in the room, bouncing off the opposing walls. So why no blue behind Briana?

Went vertical. Got nothing now. Smart move on my part.

We put in workshopper Jim Messerschmidt, and got the blue back….

Must be his aura. He’s a terrific NY Post photog. Trust me, anybody who pounds the streets of New York City as tabloid shooter knows the blues…..

Hmm….still not working. Then, in the time honored, “coulda hadda V-8” moments we are all visited with as photogs, I thought, well, Mr. Brain Surgeon, maybe you’re not getting your blue cause you’re filling the room with unchecked, non-directional warm, yellow light! Why don’t you use one of those Honl things you just spent money on!

The honeycomb grid banged the foreground and sharpened it, in a no spill, no frill way. The group B blue fired, and group C went away, cause when you grid a light, one of the corollary effects is to have your remotes potentially not see it. I was too lazy to fix it, and besides, me and the class had the lobster Friday night dinner coming up in about an hour, as I recall, and we had some serious, post Workshop, Maine coast drinking to do…, untrue to form, I actually left well enough alone.

Done. Check out the Honl stuff, seriously. Fits well into a camera bag pouch, and has no weight. You can see below, for years I used the very inelegant solution of gaffering a circular spot grid meant for a big strobe on top of my small flashes. Pain in the ass, though it worked. Went through alot of dough on gaffer tape, though.

Only downside to the Honl stuff is I wish I had thought of it myself……

Outta North Country. Just finished a hard but wonderful week of commercial shooting in Boston. Just a great group of folks to work for, really like family. We just shoot like crazy and knock back pix all week, and have fun doing it. Blessed with working for one of the all time great art directors for this ongoing series. More on these pix in future blogs. Shot over 200 gigs in 3 days….that’s over 10,000 frames, which is why I use a D3 and not, say, a D80. That D3 shutter is made of tough stuff.

In Logan Airport now…..heading for France. Great week in Maine, though, as I look back. Terrific class. Always relaxed and enjoyable up in Rockport. I could almost live there, save the winters. Maine in February! Yikes! Do people just stay indoors for a couple months? I guess that could work, but then again, as was famously said in one of my all time favorite sports movies, Slapshot, you can only drink so much and screw so much. More tk……

Ken says:

on June 20, 2008 at 5:52 pm

Nice report from on the “honi” stuff. I guess the learning never stops.

Kind regards
Ken from KY

Richard Cave says:

on June 20, 2008 at 6:28 pm

I have made my own grids and spots with varied results, I have been looking for something like the honl grid for a while.

Cheers for sharing


Phil says:

on June 20, 2008 at 7:50 pm

Thanks for posting this. I saw them written about somewhere else and have been drooling over them.

Love “The Moment It Clicks” BTW!

Pat Farrington says:

on June 20, 2008 at 9:23 pm


Were you using the 1/4″ or 1/8″ grid?

mungkey says:

on June 21, 2008 at 12:33 am

Great one joe. I kinda like the lighting on the – concerned young man checking the parking lot shot. And oh boy you do take a lot of shots. 200Gigs in 3 days! Im jsut still a hobbyist and I have a d80, and I cannot imagine shooting that much.

Ally B. says:

on June 21, 2008 at 3:54 pm

Young (15) photogapher here (:
I watched your Google video from one of David Hobby’s blogs and thought I’d take a look here. Your classes sound like a ton of fun and interesting. I think I like your diagrams on napkins best, lol.
-Ally B.

Dan says:

on June 22, 2008 at 3:51 pm

Joe, were these the 1/4 or 1/8 grids?

Also, you talked about dropping the exposure on the window shot to warm the image… does this mean a smaller aperture (flash exp.) or shutter speed (ambient light)? Or am I missing something?

Nermal says:

on June 23, 2008 at 11:34 am

I have trouble sifting through 500 pics from a week’s vacation… I’m forever getting grief from the family for withholding pictures that I haven’t sifted through.

Joe, how do you get through 10000 maniacs –er, pictures in a reasonable amount of time? Even at a couple of seconds per frame you’re looking at a day’s work just to throw out the obviously bad ones, never mind separating the great from the merely good. How do you keep up?

Steven says:

on June 24, 2008 at 1:30 pm

Funny you should mention the Honl stuff. I just found it myself and bought everything. Cheap, good looking, great quality. I was thinking of you watching your videos using gels and gaffer tape thinking, why doesn’t Joe use the Honl filters that velcro on.

So there you go.

David Apeji says:

on June 25, 2008 at 3:56 am

Hey Joe, If you consistently shoot at the rate, your D3 will only last you 3 months before you need a shutter replacement!

David Honl says:

on June 25, 2008 at 12:05 pm

Thanks Joe, this is the highest compliment one could receive!


on July 2, 2008 at 7:23 pm

hello Mr joe you are one of my favorite photographers I congratulate him for his work and I work at some point do his job as theirs is a fantasy for me.

excuse my English

Vancouver photographer says:

on April 8, 2009 at 11:27 pm

Just wanted to say that I’ve been looking for a solution like Honl for a while. Before the Honl snoot, it was cardboard wrapped around a 580EX II. When you’re doing wedding photography for high end clients, this doesn’t look too professional, so the Honl kit is ideal for wedding photographers!

Deb says:

on July 6, 2009 at 9:53 pm

Just got the Honl 1/4 speedgrid and loving it! Which one were you using – the 1/4 or 1/8?

BTW – You have really inspired me – I have moved my studio out into the field 😀 Thanks!

Clint says:

on November 10, 2009 at 10:31 am

Do you know if Honl can make a 22″ by 22″ speed grid for a flourescent light I am using?

Darrin says:

on November 4, 2010 at 6:09 pm

Looking forward to seeing you in Calgary Joe!

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