By learning the fundamentals, studio lighting can open up tons of creative opportunities. In this video, I’ll be going over some basic tips for creative studio portraits using colored gels and gobos.

Video: Creative Lighting Fundamentals With Colored Gels and Gobos

Today’s tutorial is a continuation of a previous video on studio lighting fundamentals, which you can find here. In that video, I went over how to work with multiple flashes to properly lift your shadows. This time around, I’ll be adding in colored gels and gobos to get creative with colors and lighting effects.

You’ll need the following gear:

  1. 2 Off-Camera Flashes. I’m using two Westcott FJ400 flashes.
  2. Your choice of camera and lens. I’m using the Canon EOS R5 with the RF 28-70mm f/2L.
  3. Colored gels of your choice.
  4. Optional: Light modifiers such as the Lindsay Adler Optical Spot.

Before we jump in, be sure to give our model, Jhesus, a follow on Instagram here!

Setting the Ambient Light

Left: 1/200 sec, f/2, ISO 3200 > Right: 1/200 sec, f/4, ISO 200

In Part 1, we went over how to set the ambient light for the flash. The concept is the same. Simply darken your exposure to nix any existing light.

Add In Your Fill Light

colored gels westcott

Just like last time, I set up my first light to lift the shadows. However, this time, I want to add in a bit of color. To do this, simply add a colored gel over your flash and bounce the light off of the ceiling.

colored gels before after gel

Note that gels will slightly reduce your light output, so be sure to adjust your exposure or light settings accordingly.

Dial In Your Main Light

Next, we’ll be adding in our main light. I placed the FJ400 with the optical spot at camera left just out of the shot.

Get Creative With Gobos

colored gels gobos
GOBOS are “Go Between Objects”

Now that we have all of our lights and colored gels in place, let’s throw in some gobos for some creative light patterns!

colored gels final images
Edited with VF Presets > Pure Pack


I hope you enjoyed this article/video! Be sure to give these tips a try and experiment with colored gels and gobos for great creative results! To learn the full power of flash photography, check out the Flash Photography Training System on SLR Lounge Premium. You can also visit Visual Flow for an entire library of Lightroom presets and retouching tools for all of your editing needs!

Don’t miss our next episode of Mastering Your Craft on Adorama’s YouTube channel next week! If you want to catch up on all the episodes, make sure you check out our playlist!