Gels, are thin, transparent, colored sheets of plastic that can be used to adjust the color of light output, and correct color in an image. In this way gels can be used to add a dramatic look to a scene for an artistic effect. In the following video, we show you these two techniques so you can take your images from ordinary to extraordinary.


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Technique 1: Lighting For Corrective Effect

By default, the color temp of your flash is most likely 5500K (Kelvin). If you are shooting outside and you walk indoors into a dimly lit reception hall or ballroom, the lights are generally around 3600k or Tungsten, which looks more orange.  So, when lighting your subjects with flash, your subjects look “cooler” or more blue, but the background retains a more orange look. When you try to fix it in post, your background looks very muddy – brown and oversaturated.

To fix this, you ‘gel’ for corrective purposes by taking your CTO gel (Color Temperature Orange) and place it over your flash or inside the gel holder, as doing so will change the color temperature of your light to orange. Then drop the in-camera white balance to 3600K which will be very close to the Tungsten color temperature of the light in the ballroom.

For the first scene, we are using the Profoto OCF Beauty Dish (which we tested in this article) with the Profoto B2 and an orange CTO in one of the gel holders. Remember when lighting to set your camera exposure first to how you want the ambient light to look in the scene, and then adjust the flash power accordingly.

Camera Settings: 1/200th, f/1.4, ISO800, 3600K

Gear Used:

The Profoto B2 with OCF Beauty Dish was held at a 45-degree angle on camera left at about 20-30% power. The before image on the left is without the CTO gel and the one on the right is gelled. Both images are SOOC (straight out of camera).


Technique 2: Gelling For Creative Effect

In the second scene, we show you how to gel for creative effect and tell you about a bonus lighting technique from our Lighting 101 and 201 courses.

First, we begin by setting the in-camera exposure to how we want our ambient light to look, just as before. We drop the white balance to 3600K and set the shutter speed to 1/50th, aperture to f/1.4, and ISO at1600.

Gear Used:

We set up the Profoto B2 and use the CTO gel inside a grid, and the grid will help control light spill on our models. We are using a modeling light to determine where and how that light is going to fall and we use it to glance the light off the models’ hair but t’s primarily hitting into a reflector we are holding on the other side. This pushes the light into the models’ faces and we get a two light look with only one strobe.

The before image shows what the scene looks like set in-camera without flash, and the one on the right is our end result.


To see more from the Ordinary to Extraordinary Series, check out the following articles and videos: