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How You Shot It – Creative Gelled Portrait by Christophe Lambin

By Pye Jirsa on September 25th 2012

SLR Lounge’s Thoughts

Lighting, and more importantly, creative lighting, is one of my favorite areas of photography. Which is why when we saw this post in the Constructive Critique section of the SLR Lounge Forum, I absolutely was in love with this shot!

Christophe did a great job in almost every aspect relating to this portrait. The gelled lighting is unique and catches the viewer’s attention without being distracting; the expression on the girls face is cute and playful; and the overall lighting and expression fits perfectly with the concept of jamming out to your favorite music.

For these reasons, I wanted to share this image with you all in this “How You Shot It” post. The only recommendation I had for Christophe is to flag (using a GOBO) his rear flash, which is creating the blue edge light, just a bit better to prevent that light from spilling onto the girls face to the left of her right hand. There is also a fly-away hair crossing her left eye, but that can easily be fixed with a bit of Photoshop.

So fabulous job Christophe, hope the rest of you enjoy!

Background and Vision

This shot was the result of my daughter and me just playing around with new gear. As an amateur photographer, I wanted to get into using multiple off-camera speedlights and using gels to create interesting colour effects.

So, I set up my gear, let her try out different ideas and see what we could come up with.

How You Shot It

Camera: Canon 7D at f/5.6, ISO 200.


We went through different setups and ultimately arrived at this shot. Using my headphones, she put on a ‘Cool DJ’ pose and we coloured the background deep blue to match the mood.

I used a speedlight camera right with a full CTB Gel, aimed at the light grey wall behind her, colouring the wall blue. I flagged the flash to reduce the light spilling on her. As this was my first attempt with this type of lighting, my biggest challenge was to get an even lighting on the background.

I placed a second speedlight camera left in a Westcott Apollo 28″ softbox, close to the subject at a 45º angle, as a soft key light.

How You Processed It

Not a lot of work was required in post-processing. I took the image into Lightroom and used the Standard Color (Portrait) preset in the SLR Lounge Preset System, as well as the Preset System’s adjustment brushes to brighten the eyes slightly as well as enhance the irises.

I tweaked the white balance a little to get the best balance between skin tones and the blue background.

Finally, as there was a bit too much spill on her shoulder and face, I used the adjustment brush to mask those areas and shift the temperature.

Final Image


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Q&A Discussions

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  1. Ed Rhodes


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  2. Mike_anywhere

    Would also be interesting to know if the speedlights were used in ETTL or manual mode??

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    • Christophe

      All manual. I never use TTL. I prefer the control that manual mode gives.

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    • Mike_anywhere

       Thought as much but thought I would throw the question out there. Do you remember what the flash power settings were??

      Love the shot btw  :-)

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    • Christophe

      Thanks. :-). For the flashes, I don’t really remember, as I experimented a lot. If I were to guess: key light was probably at 1/2 and background light at 1/8. Wanted to keep the background light low to keep a darker blue colour.

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    • Mike_anywhere

       Appreciate the quick replies :-))

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  3. ric

    her eyes are dilated… you didn’t give her LSD to get this shot, did you?

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    • Anonymous

      They are probably dilated because he is using flash. Hence it was much darker in the room prior to the flash firing.

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  4. Juan Carlos Ayala


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