The lighting modifiers and light choices we have as photographers can seem overwhelming at times. Should I use a strobe or speed light? Should I use a softbox or umbrella? It just never ends. This is especially true if you’re fairly new to off camera lighting and have not yet decided what your go-to lighting tools are. With that said, one of the cheapest and simplest tools you can use to change the look of your image or even give them a more unique look are gels. Gels are fairly inexpensive, come in a range of colors and can be easily cut down to size or modified to fit over your speedlights, strobes, and continuous lights.
In the Adorama sponsored video below, one of the masters of light, Joe McNally, walks us through using a gel to mimic to look of a movie theater projector to help set the mood for a portrait.
Joe’s lighting set up has four lights involved, but honestly, it’s not all that complicated. He is using a main light camera left of his subject in a large softbox. He then uses three speedlights, two of them in the back corners of the room to create rim lights on his subject and help illuminate the seats. His fourth and final light is a speedlight gelled with a blue gel, and in the back of the room, behind his subject to make it look like a theater projector. As Joes states in the video, when we look at a theater projector they always tend to appear blue in color, hence why he gelled the flash blue.
While this is a basic technique, I truly believe using gels on your lights is important to learn and to remember. All too often I see photographers just using straight flash, which is daylight balanced, in situations where, if they gelled their flash, it would set the mood and environment of their images so much better. Give gels a try next time you’re looking to change up the mood of your images or just want to experiment with something new.
Via: Adorama Youtube Page
Images captured via screen grab.