DIY: Gel Holder for Flash


No longer a newbie, moving up!
Feb 21, 2010
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New Orleans, LA
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I saw a thread earlier today where someone made a foil flash dome for their flash and thought I'd fill you in on my newest venture in gels. I received my gels yesterday and couldn't wait to play with them, but had no way to hold them. I saw some DIY's where they used a cardboard box and measured it out to the width of the flash head, but I had another idea (and a mini cereal box lol). Anyways, here it goes. (It's a tad bit ghetto, but I kind of like the look of a cereal box, so pick a 'cool'/favorite so it won't bother you while using it.)

1. Materials: Scissors, Mini Cereal Box, Tape or Glue, Gels (box cutter if you have one)


2. Remove/Cut the top flaps off of the box, both top and bottom. You can see in the picture above that it's already been removed.

3. Fold the box down until it is flat and cut across with your desired width. I test fitted the box onto the flash first, to see how much I'd need to cut off. **SAVE the unused portion of the box, just in case you mess up later on**

4. Once you have your desired box width cut, you'll need to cut the box down so it sits snug onto your flash. The best way I found was to place your cut piece onto the flash and eye up how much you'd need to cut off to snug it up. While holding it open (it'll be a square, not flat), cut an end off (NOT the top, the smaller sides, but cutting across the top to remove the side). On mine, I went a few mm in, just enough to where the side had small flaps.

5. You are going to overlap that flap from the newly cut side into the box. Again, test fit to make sure it's snug before gluing or taping. As you can see below, I taped the flap from the inside, and also on outside.


6. Cut slits into both sides (this is where the gel will slide into). This is where a box cutter comes into play, if you have one. BE CAREFUL TO NOT CUT YOUR FINGER OFF. I'M NOT LIABLE :p lol, but seriously, don't cut a digit off.


7. Carefully slide gel into the slits .... and enjoy.


8. Slide onto camera


Test shots: Same exact flash power and bounced exactly the same. No editing has been done to these shots.

No Gel:


**This is a test version, I'll probably make another one and make it a bit cleaner now that I know what to do and how i want to do it.**
That's pretty neat. I use an elastic band, but my gels are a bit larger.

I made a DIY reflector out of an emergency blanket and a hula hoop though... :)
great job. As long as it works right?
Thank you for the inspiration oh great one...and the hula hoop idea is awesome as well...thanks goes out to all of you from this poor boy...
Thanks guys ... Figured some of you could use this. I look forward to playing with these gels though
I like it better than spending $30 - $40 on something made in china and sold retail haha.
Necessity is the mother of invention. :thumbup:

It will take a while to work your way through all those gel samples.

There will be a test on all the numbers, names and transmission percentages on Friday. Be sure and study.

I get a new Classical Edition sample pack every 3 years.
Man, I am eating this diy stuff up!!! So creative, and another good idea to think about trying! :D
Here's how I deal with them:

I've made "wallets" from clear plastic that comes from packaging of toys, etc. A little cutting, a little bending, a bit of hot glue and velcro, a little tape...


The cardboard flap at the bottom is acting as a flag - a little light was leaking out the bottom.




Another version - it looks wet, but that's dried hot glue acting as posts to hold it open for easy dropping in and taking out of the filters:

Where can you get those packs/stacks of gels!?!?! I keep finding big huge sheet and I don't feel like cutting rectangles out of 11x17's :x
Expanding on the DIY gel holder solution I came up with a few years ago, I thought I'd refine it just a bit today, and document it.

I started by making a blueprint/template to make it easier and more straightforward to make more, and to share it with others who might be interested:


This is saved at actual size, so if you want to make your own, you can save it, print it on regular 8.5" x 11" paper, and it's ready to use.

I slip the template under a flat piece of blister pack scavenged from the packaging from some recent purchase (usually I use discarded blister packaging, though I used PETG Thermoplast for this one):


Then I use a bit of scotch tape to hold the paper and plastic together, and use a fine marker to trace out where I'll cut and where I'll fold.

I place the whole thing on top of a cutting board, and cut it out with an Exacto knife. Any sharp knife or even scissors will work on blister packaging - just be careful, whatever you're using to cut with.

Then I score one of the fold lines so it'll fold where I want it to, then flip it over and score the other one to fold it back the opposite way. Depending on the type and thickness of the plastic, and how deep you scored the fold line, it might break instead of fold. If that happens, just scotch tape them back together, and you're still in business.

By the way, if you CAREFULLY use a warm (NOT scorching hot) iron with some paper or cloth between the iron and the plastic, you can flatten the bottom fold nicely, in case you want to do that. When I've done that, I found that I really didn't need the little Velcro tabs for closing it, as it stays pretty flat together without them. ;)

When they're both folded, I put some bits of velcro in the places shown, and it's ready to go.

With it open, I can easily drop filters in or take them out:


Then just close it up to make sure they stay flat against the face of the light:


A bit of velcro on top of the front of my open and gridded snoots allows me to easily use the Square Root Gel Holder to gel those as well.

Clear sailing from there on out. No more fussing with tape or velcro or other methods to attach them to the speedlights and snoots. :D
Nicely done! I may have to whip up a couple of those myself. Gaff tape does get to be a PIA.

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