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Keeping Tabs on Gels – DIY Quick Swap Color Correction

By Justin Heyes on January 22nd 2015

As photographers, we love DIY projects and any tip and trick what will help pinch those pennies. Instead of buying a name brand beauty dish, we’ll make them out of salad bowls, or use shower curtains for diffusion panels.

One of the most famous (and oldest) tricks in the book is to cut the gels out of a swatch book and tape/Velcro them to your flash, but we might have been doing it wrong all these years. Photographer Raul M. Leal demonstrates a way to attach the swatches to your flash without leaving a sticky residue.


[REWIND:Lighting With Grids | What They Do And How To Use Them]

Using his Canon 580 EXII head as a template, Leal cuts the color correcting gel to fit. He leaves a small tab on the top and with the help of a straight edge (a ruler) bends the tab to a 90 degree angle. The tab is then inserted in the slot that holds the bounce card.


I have tried using his method and it works pretty well for a fast DIY color change. The gels seem to adhere to the flash head with a static charge. At 1.25 x 3.25″, the small Rosco Cinegel packs won’t have enough surface area to cover larger flash heads; instead opt for the 3 x 6” Swatchbook. I don’t know how this trick will fare during a busy event like a wedding, but it should save you enough in gaffer tape to be able to get a MagMod.


Leal offers the template for the 580EX here. Feel free to download and modify it to fit to your preferred speedlight.

[Via Lighting Mods]

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Justin Heyes wants to live in a world where we have near misses and absolute hits; great love and small disasters. Starting his career as a gaffer, he has done work for QVC and The Rachel Ray Show, but quickly fell in love with photography. When he’s not building arcade machines, you can find him at local flea markets or attending car shows.

Explore his photographic endeavors here.

Website: Justin Heyes
Instagram: @jheyesphoto

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Jason Boa

    Very cool idea

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  2. Lighat Lighat

    my best friend’s mom makes $73 hourly on the internet . She has been fired from work for ten months but last month her payment was $20333 just working on the internet for a few hours. you can try here……………………………..W­W­W.J­O­B­S­Y­E­L­P.C­O­M

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  3. Basit Zargar

    Nice idea

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  4. Matthew Saville

    This is the type of gel that Nikon has always provided with its flashes- perfectly sized, with a tab to go into the diffuser slot. I haven’t been able to get them to stay put in extremely active situations, though, so I just velcro everything. :-)

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    • Kurk Rouse

      I use a thick rubber band or wristband to keep gels in place, but I like the Velcro idea.

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    • Matthew Saville

      Yeah Kurk, velcro is my favorite method, after all these years. Just a small square, otherwise it gets a bit crazy.

      I also love me some craft foam snoots! Best $0.99 I’ve ever spent for portrait / wedding photography…

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  5. David Hall

    Much appreciated.

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  6. Lissette Garcia

    Great tip! Thanks.

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  7. Brandon Dewey

    good idea

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