Need help getting gel color to show up on background

Discussion in 'Lighting Equipment' started by christal|1, Oct 1, 2014.

  1. I am trying to get a blue gel to register color on a white background. Sounds simple enough, but I tried everything tonight.....unsuccessfully. I'm using a gel over a speed light (just using the small sample size gels). I tried different angles, different color gels, stacking gels, different intensity of light, near and far. It makes no difference. Can someone help? I need it for some head shot I'll be doing. At least I thought I'd provide it as an option to the people who asked me to do this. They may prefer the white background they've always used, but I need to learn how to do this anyway. Thanks if you can help!
     
  2. I'm guessing the flash is on your camera. If so, it is only illuminating the foreground. The background is being lit buy ambient light. What you need is a second flash, gelled, aimed just at the background.
     
  3. White is not easy to gel and I don't recommend gelling white background as it will mostly look pastel and not have any rich deep color. The easiest background color to gel is Gray. Depending on the color of gel will determine how much power you will need and a speed light is not the best tool in this case. Take your einstien and try lighting the background with more power.
     
  4. The easiest background color to gel is Gray.​
    I agree. For the most pure blue color, an even darker background is needed, along with an even more powerful blue light source. (If you'd like, I can explain how it works.)
    If you want to get some sense of the effect, start with a normal exposure setting on the white background, under flash. Then add the blue gel to see the effect (it will be a very pale bluish color). Next, to mimic the effect of a moderate gray, roughly like a gray card, close down the lens aperture by 2 f-stops. Simultaneously increase the (blue-gelled) flash power by 2 f-stops equivalent (4X the watt-seconds). You should get a fairly powerful blue color on the formerly "white" BG.
    To see the effect of a nearly black paper background (reflectance ~5%), close down the lens by 4 f-stops, and increase the (blue-gelled) flash power by 4 f-stops (16X the watt-seconds); this will be nearly the maximum blue saturation you'll be able to get.
     
  5. Crystal, the more light falling on the bg besides your bg light, the more watered down will be the color from the gel. Pushing more light through the gel from it's flash is like adding water to a bucket of paint, the color becomes diluted. In my small studio, it is the reason I used egg crates on my octas/softboxes to control spill on the bg where there was no light but my modeling lights and one of the reasons I like Tim Ludwig's approach to using on nose fill rather than on camera fill. Best analysis of bg lighting I've seen is from Dean Collins and if it is not on line free, you can rent his dvd's individually or as a group. They are from the late 90's but the physics of light hasn't changed. He actually charts the different colors. The shade is a function of the difference between the subject incident aperture and the reflective reading of the bg. The chart is created by setting subject incident aperture at f/8 then shooting the bg up 3 stops and down 3 stops reflective one at a time. Place the shots in line on a chart for each of your gels. Pick the shade you want and the relationship to the middle shade is the number of stops up or down for the aperture you are shooting your subject. There has to be no spill on the bg or it will dilute the color. It can be done on any neutral colored bg, white, gray or black. Collins says when his client picked the shade and asked if he had that color background, he would say yes, but it costs extra. The chart is a great way to coordinate hair, eye, clothing color to the bg. Looked for mine, but after a cross country move, having trouble finding it. If I find it later will post the example.
     
  6. Christal,
    You are dealing with a lot of science and physics to get this done correctly. It's not hard, but there are principles that you must understand in order to quickly and easily do this with your subjects.
    The best information I've run across was taught by the late Dean Collins who developed the theory and practice of Chroma-Zones which essentially teaches how to routinely and accurately produce any level of color tone you wish on any color background. Using that, I've been able to turn a white background black and a black background white (and all grays in between) while having the subject at a maintained perfect exposure. The only difference between that and the colors is the addition of the gel of choice and proper exposure and or background light power settings.
    The initial thing is that you light the back ground seperately from the subject with the background light being gelled. After that, it is a mater of comparative measurement of the subject brightness and the background brightness to achieve the saturations that you want.
    I've got all of Dean's printed info on this if you wish to see what he wrote about the system.
     
  7. Nick, Michael, Bill, Bob and Tim.....
    Thank you gentleman. I guess I should have given you a bit more information. There is no flash on my camera. I'm using the speed light covered with a gel with a small diffuser umbrella, placed behind the subject pointing up at the backdrop. I started with a big octobox as my key light in front with 2 strip boxes in back pointed at a 45 degree angle on the backdrop. This was my idea on how to avoid shadows, but I actually had way too much light. So, thinking that there was too much light falling on the background, I turned off the 2 strip lights to see what would happen, using only the octobox and speed light. I saw a bare hint of color on the backdrop, but it just looked dirty.....not really like a color.
    Michael....do you have experience with gray backgrounds? If so....what color of gray do you like? I like gray better than white, but the job I'm doing requires white. But I may buy some gray seamless paper as well......unless I can figure out the system these gentlemen are proposing and adjust the background color with it. I'll see how it goes. Thanks!
    Bill, I understand about closing the aperture by 2-4 stops and then increasing the flash with gel by the same amount. Where are you proposing placing the flash....and would you suggest using the speed light or one of my moonlights for this? Just wondering how this would affect the lighting on the subject. Sorry, I guess I need more explanation.
    Bob, I guess my question for you is the same question I asked Bill. Are you saying to use my key light with a grid over it (is that the same as an egg crate that you mentioned?) and then only have the one light with the gel in the background? No other background light so as not to dilute the color? I did buy the grids for all of my soft boxes. I can put those on and start experimenting.
    There is something fundamental I'm not understanding. If you stop down enough to get the undiluted color to the background, what happens to the lighting on the subject? And if I use they system you are suggesting, do you think I still need to use an Alien Bee or stronger light than my speed light, or will the speed light with diffuser create enough of a spread of color on the background?
    Tim, did you take a class with Dean Collins? I looked him up online and his series of DVDs sells for $179. At this point I probably don't have time to delve into that in time for this gig. I do have a day job! :) I did watch a couple of Youtube videos he has online, but they didn't talk about this. At any rate, it sounds like his DVDs would be a good investment and provide a good background in studio (and other) lighting. I would be interested in seeing what he wrote on the system, but how would you share that?
    I went to the Rocky Mountain School of Photography over the summer for 3 months. I learned so much, but honestly lighting was the weak link. We didn't get enough time with it. But I came away from the school understanding enough about photography and editing that I feel like I can read 'almost' anything and understand it now. So I can continue my education on my own. And really.....it's a life-long learning process anyway, I think. So I really appreciate the Dean Collins suggestion. I had never heard of him before.
    Thank you all for your suggestions. And one more thing. If you were to buy a gray backdrop, what color would you recommend? I wouldn't want too dark of gray.....if I wanted dark, I'd probably go with black. But there are so many shades of gray seamless paper.....just wondering if you have any experience with them or favorite shades.
     
  8. There are only like 3 or 4 dark grays the other 10 are all light grays. I would get one of the dark grays like charcoal from Savage Universal company. You can use black if you like but the dark gray will be more flexible. I don't understand why white is required for your job if you are going to gel it to a color? We talked about butterfly lighting with your octabank over the lens. This is not the best when you are trying to gel a background especially white. Your main light will contaminate the background and prevent your gelled color from being effective. You would have to have at least 10 to 15 feet behind the subject to set up the background to prevent your main light from lighting the background. You will also want your main light as close to the subject to allow a fast light falloff from the subject to background.
    You should use your strip lights to light the background not your speed light. You can gel those as well. Your 45 degree position onto the background is correct for that lighting as you will get more even light. Aim your octabox at a 45 degree angle down onto the subjects face and use a fill card or reflector to bounce the light back up into the face. Just don't place the octabank right ontop of your subject keep it back enough until you see the catch light in the top of the eyes. You don't want to create too much texture on the face.
     
  9. Michael, I was told they wanted white. But since I don't like white and I've seen some sophisticated corporate head shots done with a blue background, I wanted to offer that as a choice to them. If I can get a good result, then maybe they'll like it. :)
    Okay, I understand your comments. I have space constraints in my garage where I'm experimenting with my lighting situation for now. So I'll try to the extent possible to implement your suggestions. Thanks! But I don't have gels for the strip lights, and I probably won't be buying those. :-( I've gone WAY over my budget so far and I'm just going to make do with what I have for now, even if it means I can't get the blue to work. But I really want to try to get it to work.
     
  10. ok so if they want a white background then you do not need to gel it. You may not even need to light it if you keep the background just behind your subject. Blue is very nice but again a dark blue which translates to dark gray which is why i said dark gray if very flexible. To keep it simple do not gel which ever background you decide on just move it at different distances while you test shoot to see how light or dark you can make the background just with the fall off of your main light. From there if you are not satisfied slowly add flash onto the background again testing at different power settings to see how light or dark you want to go.
     
  11. Christal, All I can say is that if lighting was the weak link, you were cheated. Lighting is everything(!!!!!) in learning photographic technique. Everything else is completely subordinate. That is nuts!
    I was very privileged to attend two of Dean's seminars. While I had been in business as a portrait photographer for several years and had won numerous awards in portrait competitions; in the first half hour of the first of his seminars, I realized I knew almost nothing about the theory of light and how it can be applied to any photographic situation. It was almost a religious conversion in the revelation of what could be made to happen. Ever since, I have referred to it as understanding how to make light behave.
    Dean produced a wonderful series of instructional materials under the name of Fine Light. There is one particular folder in one of the folios which deals with Chromazones. The theory of how it works can be stated fairly simply. Those can still be found on ebay once in awhile.
    Knowing that brightness has an effect on both subject and background. All you have to do the control those relative values is to establish you exposure for the subject, then using a flash meter, create the brightness that you want on the background. If you want it to match the subject, adjust the power until the meter reads the same. If you want it darker, the power needs to be less and you can calculate it by steps as one, two, or three stops less exposure for those brightness ranges. If you want it brighter, power up more so that you see an exposure of one, two, or three stops brighter than the subject.
    There is one powerful caveat....you must meter the subject with an incident meter, and the background with a reflective meter (same meter, just using the different options). The reason is the incident gives you the exact brightness falling on the subject. The reflective meter on the background is the only way to accurately determine the brightness of the light reflecting back off of the background. This is irrelevant as to whether you use gelled or un-gelled lights.
    Two more things, because white is so reflective, this works best if you have the subject many feet out from the background so that you have no spill light falling on the white and diluting the color as you've already discovered. Black, while it takes a bit more power, give graphically better results with this technique and allows a natural fall off that creates a very nice vignetting effect.
    Just to prove this to myself (back in film days), and to predict exactly the color tones I would get with gelled background lights, I used 120 transparency film and did brightness levels from almost zero to full on with red, yellow, green, blue, and no filter on both white and black paper backgrounds. The results with the gels produced a range from near black, to a very faint pastel on each color with the intensity graduating through the range of power. Recording all of these power settings in terms of stops (not f number, but rather + or- stops relative to the subject brightness) for each color allowed me to have perfect repetition of the tones when I needed to match a clothing color or for an art director to chose a background tone for a commercial shoot.
    That is Chromazones..... very much light Ansel Adams Zone System of completely predictable tonality as youi want it for a scene.
    When I did the same series with no filter, whether on black or white paper, the results were visually identical (although the power setting varied between the two backgrounds. White went from a pure bleached white (even on the back) to a pure black as though there was no exposure on the film (even on the white.
    Brightness is completely relative from subject to background depending on how you control the comparative power so that you achieve your target balances. Once again......making life behave!!!
     
  12. Christal, All I can say is that if lighting was the weak link, you were cheated. Lighting is everything(!!!!!) in learning photographic technique. Everything else is completely subordinate. That is nuts!
    I was very privileged to attend two of Dean's seminars. While I had been in business as a portrait photographer for several years and had won numerous awards in portrait competitions; in the first half hour of the first of his seminars, I realized I knew almost nothing about the theory of light and how it can be applied to any photographic situation. It was almost a religious conversion in the revelation of what could be made to happen. Ever since, I have referred to it as understanding how to make light behave.
    Dean produced a wonderful series of instructional materials under the name of Fine Light. There is one particular folder in one of the folios which deals with Chromazones. The theory of how it works can be stated fairly simply. Those can still be found on ebay once in awhile.
    Knowing that brightness has an effect on both subject and background. All you have to do the control those relative values is to establish you exposure for the subject, then using a flash meter, create the brightness that you want on the background. If you want it to match the subject, adjust the power until the meter reads the same. If you want it darker, the power needs to be less and you can calculate it by steps as one, two, or three stops less exposure for those brightness ranges. If you want it brighter, power up more so that you see an exposure of one, two, or three stops brighter than the subject.
    There is one powerful caveat....you must meter the subject with an incident meter, and the background with a reflective meter (same meter, just using the different options). The reason is the incident gives you the exact brightness falling on the subject. The reflective meter on the background is the only way to accurately determine the brightness of the light reflecting back off of the background. This is irrelevant as to whether you use gelled or un-gelled lights.
    Two more things, because white is so reflective, this works best if you have the subject many feet out from the background so that you have no spill light falling on the white and diluting the color as you've already discovered. Black, while it takes a bit more power, give graphically better results with this technique and allows a natural fall off that creates a very nice vignetting effect.
    Just to prove this to myself (back in film days), and to predict exactly the color tones I would get with gelled background lights, I used 120 transparency film and did brightness levels from almost zero to full on with red, yellow, green, blue, and no filter on both white and black paper backgrounds. The results with the gels produced a range from near black, to a very faint pastel on each color with the intensity graduating through the range of power. Recording all of these power settings in terms of stops (not f number, but rather + or- stops relative to the subject brightness) for each color allowed me to have perfect repetition of the tones when I needed to match a clothing color or for an art director to chose a background tone for a commercial shoot.
    That is Chromazones..... very much light Ansel Adams Zone System of completely predictable tonality as youi want it for a scene.
    When I did the same series with no filter, whether on black or white paper, the results were visually identical (although the power setting varied between the two backgrounds. White went from a pure bleached white (even on the back) to a pure black as though there was no exposure on the film (even on the white.
    Brightness is completely relative from subject to background depending on how you control the comparative power so that you achieve your target balances. Once again......making light behave!!!
     
  13. Uh, maybe I missed something here.
    If you want a blue background behind a head shot why not use a blue background and light it for any drop-off or vignetting effect?
    - Marc
     
  14. Michael,
    Okay, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to keep it simple like you suggest. I’m going to shoot the gig with a white background, but I still intend to learn how to use gels properly. It’s just that I read in my flash manual that continuous shooting could cause the flash to overheat. Since all of the head shots need to be consistent, if anything were to happen to the flash and I couldn’t continue using the gel, then I would be sunk. Better just to use the gels for other projects down the road.
     
  15. Tim,
    Thanks for the additional information, but I need to clarify one thing. You are SO right about the lighting being the most important thing. At school they drilled that into us every way imaginable. I didn’t mean to malign the RMSP. To the contrary, it was an incredible program. I never heard a single student say a negative thing about the program, and that’s a testament in and of itself.
    When I said lighting was the weak link, I was referring specifically to flash. We learned TTL and spent a little time on it, then went in to the studio and learned how to use their power packs and Pocket Wizards. I found all of that equipment easy to use. We also got to experiment with all kinds of softboxes, beauty dish, grids, snoots, ring flash, and much more. But the only way to really learn that stuff is to practice. And now that I’m home in limited space with all different equipment (mostly Paul Buff), there is a learning curve for me. And I never really did anything with gels while at school because I didn’t like the look (then). Some people used them, but I didn’t.
    So I will spend the year learning more about lighting and experimenting with effects I like, different backgrounds, etc. I’m really intrigued by Dean’s seminars, and I’ll definitely check them out. I totally understand what you mean about knowing ‘almost nothing about the theory of light and how it can be applied to any photographic situation’. For me, I never could have imagined how much I would learn in the 3 months I was at school. Yet the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know. :) The possibilities really excite me!
    So I’m going to go out and experiment now with the gels. I need more room in my house!!!! (we just down-sized)
     
  16. Marc, the OP is using a white BG, but was hoping to simply insert a blue gel and get a blue-toned background.
    To those who understand the principles, this obviously this won't work because adding blue light to a white BG cannot make the existing red and green components disappear, but the OP is working her way through these ideas - at least that is how I see it. So to me, it is a learning experience. It is as if someone is adding 2 plus 2 and getting the wrong number - is it better to just say the answer is 4, or to explain how the addition works? Personally, my main interest is in explaining things, so the person advances in their understanding.
     
  17. Marc,
    Yes, that would be ideal. But I don't want to buy a blue background right now.....many reasons. I'm just getting a photography business started. I'll be taking early retirement later this year, and I want to transition into photography. I don't know yet exactly what direction I want to go. We've just down-sized to a small house, and I don't have room for a studio here. I need to find a space to rent or share with someone. So I can't accumulate a bunch of equipment right now. Eventually I'll acquire a few more backdrops, but I really prefer natural lighting anyway and will try to get out of the studio whenever possible. And maybe the simplest reason of all is that I've already spent a boat-load of money. I have some good equipment, so I know I can make good quality images with the equipment I have for now. But no.....you weren't 'missing anything'. ;-)
     
  18. Bill, I understand about closing the aperture by 2-4 stops and then increasing the flash with gel by the same amount. Where are you proposing placing the flash....and would you suggest using the speed light or one of my moonlights for this? Just wondering how this would affect the lighting on the subject. Sorry, I guess I need more explanation.​
    Hi, what I was suggesting was strictly a learning exercise. The sole purpose was to show the effect of darker background paper without actually having it (all you have is white paper). Sorry that it seems so complicated, but I think I spelled out all the details. If you want to learn, I think it's worth going through the exercise (maybe not, though).
    You should set things up like you are actually shooting someone, but you don't really need a subject sitting in. Here's an example setup: white BG hanging somewhere, subject about 5 ft in front of BG, with main light about 5 ft from subject.
    Now, because you want a softbox for the subject, use your monolight as the main light. This leaves only your hot-shoe flash for the BG. You could set up the hot-shoe flash behind the subject, pointing at the BG (or anywhere else that works). Next, in order to do the 4-stop adjustment test I suggested, the baseline hot-shoe flash needs to be 4 f-stops down from full power; in other words, at 1/16 power. At the same time, the camera lens needs the ability to stop down 4 f-stops, so you should start with a fairly wide aperture. f/2.8 or f/4 is probably a good starting point for this test.
    To reiterate: Main light on subject from about 5 feet away. Hot-shoe flash behind subject, pointed at white BG, which is about 5 feet behind the subject. Hot-shoe flash power setting = 1/16 (or lower), and lens aperture set to about f/4 (or wider).
    To start with, test shoot the background using only the hot-shoe flash. Try to get exposure into roughly the upper 1/3 of the histogram. If the image is too dark, increase the camera's ISO speed. If the image is too bright, either use a lower ISO speed OR use a lower power setting on the flash (as a last resort, close down the lens aperture a bit). Once the camera exposure is in the ballpark, you will be ready to set the main light.
    Now you need a subject, but anything will work - a beach ball, a doll, or even yourself. Keep the camera exposure the same, and adjust the main light power level until you get a ballpark ok subject exposure (this is not at all critical, as you're going to be ignoring the subject; this is strictly to get some main light "spill" onto the white BG. At this point, check the BG exposure, using both the main AND background light (BG will now be brighter, due to the main light). If BG is clipping white (touching right side of histogram), reduce the hot-shoe flash power (avoid changing camera settings, as this will require readjusting the main light).
    Finally, you are ready for the testing I first suggested. First, shoot a baseline test, with a subject if you desire. Next, put the blue gel on the hot-shoe flash, and shoot another baseline test. These are the only two that will have a proper subject exposure, and they will show the difference between a white vs blue-gelled white BG. I expect the bluish BG color to be very weak.
    Next sequence, which will mimic a gray background which is very slightly lighter than an 18% gray card. Close down the lens aperture by 2 f-stops (from f/4 down to f/8, for example). At the same time, boost the hot-shoe flash (background light) power by 2 f-stops (from 1/16 up to 1/4 power, for example). (This cancels out the effect of closing down the lens aperture.) The background now behaves as though it were a 20-22% reflective gray card (but disregard the subject, as it is now two stops too dark). I expect the background to now have a nice bluish tone to it.
    The final sequence is to mimic a nearly black background, with about 5% reflectance (this is very similar to the darkest patch on a 24-step Macbeth ColorChecker card). Close down the lens a further 2 f-stops, so it is now 4 stops down from the baseline (from original f/4 down to f/16, for example). Cancel out the effect on the BG light by increasing hot-shoe flash power by 2 f-stops, from 1/16 power all the way to full-power, for example. Ignore the subject, as it is now 4 stops underexposed. But I expect the background to now have a very strong blue color - this should be very nearly as saturated as practical.
    The ONLY thing this test does is to give you a good idea of how darker backgrounds will react to a gelled BG light, without actually HAVING those backgrounds. (If you have a craft-supply store nearby, it might be easier to just walk over and get a couple pieces of posterboard to experiment with.) Sorry that the procedure is so complicated, but I think I spelled out every detail you would need to know.
     
  19. Bill, you are so generous to explain the process to me in minute detail. I actually didn't end up trying any of this tonight because I was having trouble syncing my lights and getting them to trigger. I've been reading the manuals and trying to figure it out. One of the reasons I got Paul Buff lights is because of their excellent customer service, so it looks like I may need to give them a call tomorrow. Ugh!!! I wish I were more technically-minded. I understand all of the workings of the camera and everything related to photography except for the electronic stuff, which befuddles me!
    I think it's definitely worth going through the exercise. :) I promise you I will try this, but it may be awhile because at this point I've decided to just take the easy way out and use the white background like they've used in the past. So I'm going to spend my time trying different lighting configurations and making sure I understand the Cyber Commander that I'm using to trigger everything. It's sure a lot more complicated than the Pocket Wizards!
    This has been a great thread and I've learned a lot from you all. Even if I didn't understand everything, now I at least know what I don't know. :)
     
  20. Sorry, I still don't get it.
    A blue backdrop for a head shot is cheaper than gels.
    While it is great to learn what you can and cannot do with lights, there is something to be said for the K.I.S.S.. method.
    If something simple … simply works … use it.
    BTW, same for the use of the "complicated" Cyber Commander when a dumb trigger would be just as effective … and teach you more about controlling the light than struggling to learn how control the trigger.
    But, different strokes for different folks I guess.
    - Marc
     
  21. I'm with Marc. A small roll of 53" blue seamless paper is $25 at B&H. It stores on a roll with a 5" square footprint when it's standing on end. I don't see how the cost or the storage of something like this can be a problem in any way. Doesn't make sense.
    As far as gelling a color onto white paper, if the camera exposure records the paper as white, game over. Once it's white that can't be changed. The way you can add a color to a white background with gels is by moving the white paper away from any lights so that it darkens relative to the camera exposure. The darker the white paper, the purer and more saturated the color will be when it's gelled.
     
  22. Brooks, exactly, I donated my 53"blue roll to PPA as well as some 9' white and thunder gray rolls before relocating to Tampa. I shot some in my garage that was completely blacked out and used egg crates or grid on octas/softboxes/beauty dish to keep light off the bg. Also, rather than fill light on camera axis that tended to reach the bg in my 18' long space, used on nose fill and liked it so much kept it on a rolling stand so constant adjustment could be easily done with one hand. If you find a color you use frequently, the pop out savage 5x7s are convenient and leaned against a wall take no room. Great in small rooms.
     
  23. Marc.....I agree about the simple thing, and I may have made things more complicated for myself than necessary......all part of my learning curve. But the reason I bought the Commander is this: I also bought the simple trigger, which I've put on my camera. But the Cyber Commander is needed for me to be able to control the lights without needing to get to the back of the moonlights. I have the Einstein on a boom and I can't reach it myself. Frankly, I would have preferred to get a Pocket Wizard, but I read some stuff about incompatibility, and I thought if I had trouble with it I couldn't get tech help as easily from Paul Buff, which is where I bought my lights. So yeah, I'm sure there are a million ways I could have done things differently. :)
    Brooks and Bill.....the other main reason I don't want to buy the blue background is that I don't think I would use it that much myself. I just wanted to offer it as an option for the job I'm getting ready to shoot. They have said they prefer white, so in the end that's probably what we're going to go with anyway. So I don't want to buy something that I won't have much use for in the future. If I were to buy more backdrops at this point, I'd prefer to buy gray or black. Just wondering if the 5x7 size works for 2 people? I wonder how big of a group you've been able to shoot with that size?
     
  24. If I were to buy more backdrops at this point, I'd prefer to buy gray or black. Just wondering if the 5x7 size works for 2 people? I wonder how big of a group you've been able to shoot with that size?​
    Hi, it's hard to say how well something like this works, since people might work so differently. When I first became a full-time shooter in a high-volume traveling operation, I used a 6x8 foot painted canvas background (it gets rolled up on an aluminum tube, to which it is attached). With this, I could do small family groups, perhaps up to 5 people fairly easily (you have to arrange them carefully, sitting on stools or blocks, heads all close together). This was on film, so shooting off the BG was strictly not allowed. As a wild guess, I'd say you might do similar on a 5x7 foot background today, if you don't mind some time in Photoshop cloning in the missing background parts.
    If you want to see how a 5x7 size would work without buying one, you could just take an old sheet, fold it down to 5x7, and tape or pin it that way. Then hang it on your wall and bring in some volunteers. The color(s) and pattern are such a personal thing, like clothing fashions, that I wouldn't recommend anything specific. Public taste in backgrounds definitely changes over time, but a gray (or gray pattern) probably has more overall utility than black or white (unless you specialize in passport or ID photos). You might get some ideas where the future background trends are going from the pictorials in fashion magazines.
     
  25. Nobody seems to have asked the obvious question yet:
    What white balance are you using Christal?
    If the camera's on Auto White Balance, then there's your problem right there.
    Switch to flash or daylight WB and everything should fall into place.
    If the WB isn't the issue, then it's likely that the BG light is being overpowered by the key. In which case you need to skirt or flag off the frontal light, or separate the BG more from the subject or both.
    You also need a pretty deep filter to give a strong blue. A CT gel ain't gonna be deep enough. And with the deep gel you'll need a fair amount of flash power to push light through it. The gel will probably make a loud pop at every flash due to sudden heat expansion. That's normal.
     
  26. Bill, excellent suggestions! In fact, my husband suggested that I buy a king-sized sheet as a backdrop to cover the seamless paper roll I have. I'll have to go shopping in the sheet department and see what I can find. :) Then of course, I can also experiment with different sizes.
     
  27. Rodeo.....well, it wasn't obvious to me. ;-) I am using auto white balance....almost always do unless I'm in a room full of fluorescent lights. So I'll play with daylight and flash and see what difference it makes.
    I've already discovered that I had too much of the key light shining on the background, so I moved the subject farther forward, and this helped a lot. I've finally got a blue background that will work, but as I said earlier I've decided to use the white background because that's really what the organization said they preferred, and I'm trying to keep this shoot as easy as possible. I really do want to start playing with gels though, so this process of everyone helping me has been immensely helpful.
    Sorry.....what do you mean by a 'CT' gel......is that a brand? I'm actually stacking 2 gels together, which I think helps.
    Thanks for your suggestion!
     
  28. CT = Colour Temperature. The "gels" usually provided in basic kits are ones for colour correction from artificial light to daylight and vice-versa. Hence you get amber (or straw), blue and maybe magenta and green for fluorescent lights. They're fairly pale and unsaturated colours. To get a strong colour you need theatrical gels.
    This page on Lee filters site gives you the lowdown on CT filters: http://www.leefilters.com/lighting/technical-list.html
     
  29. Rodeo.....that's a great site! Thanks! I actually bought Lee filters, after originally just purchasing the little swatch books. It's really nice to know their intended purpose, and I'm looking forward to 'playing' with them soon. Thanks for all of your help on this thread!
     

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