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Barndoors, Snoots & Grids

Barndoors, Snoots & Grids
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Barndoors, Snoots & Grids

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Photography Barndoors, Snoots & Grids for Focusing LED Lights

The Comprehensive Guide to Photography Barndoors, Snoots, and Grids


In the realm of photography, lighting is paramount. It can make or break an image. While natural light offers its own charm, studio lighting provides control, consistency, and the ability to craft a scene precisely as envisioned. Enter the world of Barndoors, Snoots, and Grids – the unsung heroes of studio lighting.

Chapter 1: The Magic of Barndoors

Barndoors: Adjustable flaps that attach to the front of studio lights. Their primary function? To control the spread and direction of light.

History: The concept of controlling light isn’t new. Ancient theaters used large panels to control stage lighting, a principle that modern-day barndoors employ.

Types: While the basic function remains consistent, barndoors come in various shapes and sizes, each offering a unique light-shaping capability.

Usage: From creating a narrow slit of light for dramatic portraits to broadening the spread for even product shots, barndoors are versatile. They’re especially useful in preventing lens flares in backlit scenarios.

Chapter 2: Spotlighting with Snoots

Snoots: Conical devices that channel light into a focused beam. Think of them as spotlights for your studio setup.

Design: Typically made of metal or hard plastic, snoots come in various lengths. The longer the snoot, the narrower the light beam.

Applications: Perfect for highlighting specific parts of a subject. For instance, illuminating just the rim of a product or creating a spotlight effect in portrait photography.

Creative Techniques: Combining colored gels with snoots can produce mesmerizing effects, especially in fashion photography.

Chapter 3: Precision with Grids

Grids: These are honeycomb-like structures that modify the spread of light. They offer a middle ground between barndoors and snoots.

Functionality: Grids control the spread of light without dramatically reducing its intensity. They’re perfect for when you want focused light without the extreme precision of a snoot.

Varieties: Grids come in different “degrees”, each dictating how wide or narrow the light spread will be.

In Practice: Ideal for portrait photography, grids can create a beautiful, soft fall-off, emphasizing the subject while gently fading the background.

Chapter 4: Combining Tools for Artistic Vision

While each tool has its unique strengths, combining them can lead to unparalleled results.

Barndoors with Snoots: Use a snoot for a focused beam and then employ barndoors to shape its direction, perfect for dramatic, moody shots.

Grids with Barndoors: While grids control the spread, barndoors can further refine the direction, giving a soft yet directed light.


Mastering the art of lighting requires understanding the tools at your disposal. Barndoors, Snoots, and Grids are more than just accessories; they’re instruments that, when used effectively, can transform an ordinary shot into a masterpiece. As with all tools, practice is key. So, set up your studio, experiment with different combinations, and watch as your photographs come to life in ways you’d never imagined.

What are Barndoors in photography?

Barndoors are adjustable flaps attached to the front of a light source in photography. They allow photographers to control the direction and spread of light, ensuring the desired effect on the subject. They are especially useful in studio settings where light control is crucial.

How does a Snoot benefit portrait photography?

A snoot is a tube-like device that focuses light into a tight beam. In portrait photography, snoots are beneficial for highlighting specific parts of a subject, such as the face, while leaving other parts in shadow. This creates a dramatic and focused effect, drawing attention to the illuminated area.

Why are Grids essential for studio photography?

Grids are attachments that modify the spread of light. In studio photography, grids prevent light spill and ensure that illumination is focused on a particular area. They come in various sizes, with each size determining the angle of light spread, allowing photographers to achieve desired lighting effects with precision.

Can Barndoors and Snoots be used together?

Yes, barndoors and snoots can be used together in photography. While a snoot focuses light into a tight beam, barndoors can further control the direction and spread of that light. Using them in tandem allows photographers to achieve highly specific lighting effects.