Using Gels... Post your examples

Discussion in 'Lighting Equipment' started by tom_menegatos, Jul 17, 2003.

  1. One of the simplest and cheapest ways to make your photos different is to gel your lights. I've seen some great examples of using complementary colors on the main and fill lights on the subject. Sometimes a warm color on the key light with blue on the fill or accent lights. I have some more examples I hope to dig up.
    The ones I have here use gels on the background light. Rather than keep a dozen different rolls of seemless around I usually just gel a white or gray background. Sometimes lighting the whole background or just a section of it for accent. It works great with black backgrounds as well to change an otherwise plain background into something more dramatic.
    The first shot was with a purple filter on a grey background aimed to light the whole frame, the second was with an orange on the same grey background aimed at producing just a hot spot around the model. Both were shot on Astia. The third used the same orange filter (looks kinda red in the scan) on a black background shot using Portra 160nc. All of them had the light behind the subject, which hides the hot spot and creates a uniform round glow. The third was pointed slightly up and to the right to create a longer shape.
    Please add your own examples and descriptions of how you acheived the effect. I first started playing with gels after seeing the incredible photography on Scott Smith's site. I wanted to show some examples of gels on the subject but hopefully someone beats me to it so I don't have to look that hard :)
  2. Here's a few examples using color gels on the background in still-life photography. None of these shots are new. The fishing reel was shot in the early eighties, the drink photo is from the early nineties and the Post office image is from the early nineties as well. The shot for the UPS was done on 8x10 E6 film and the other two on 4x5 E6 film. When I built my commercial advertising studio in 1981 I painted one of the shooting walls a flat dark grey. Another shooting wall was painted with a textured grey using various shades of grey. The reason I painted the walls a dark grey is that a white wall would be too easily affected by spill light from the main subject lighting. It would require more distance from the subject to the wall to light the wall seperately. That's not a problem if you're looking for a smooth glow but if you want painted texture on the wall to be in some degree of focus you can't be too far from the wall. I didn't use black paint because it's not necessary if you can light the wall seperately and black would be a waste of flash power. Another reason to use a wall instead of paper is the incredible smoothness of the wall unlike paper which can show roll marks or creases. I a;so found that judging a gel color on Polaroid is sometimes tough because of the inherent higher contrast of color polaroid materials. When a glow looks the right density and color on the polaroid, it will bloom and actually create a larger transition glow from dark to light. This is because transparency holds detail in the shadows and highlights better than the polaroid so you can see farther ie: more color in the dark areas and more detail, less brightness in the highlights than is indicated on the polaroid. And some color gels are simply so saturated that they are out of gamut on film and especially on a digital capture. For example a brown gel glow records grey on polaroid and brown on film but with less saturation.
  3. Hey Tom,

    For the third image, what type of black material was the backdrop? I have a big roll of black velvet that I use for black backgrounds in my studio. I'm wondering how much power is needed to change the color from black to that of the gel. How many stops did you use as compared to the main subject light? Thanks.
  4. It was black seamless paper. I believe it was one stop greater than the key light. Black velvet tends to absorb more light so you might want to experiment a bit to see what works with that.
  5. I like the background colors, and would like to duplicate your effects. In the portrait of the couple, what was the distance of your background light from the background and from the subjects? Did you use strobes or smaller flash units? Thanks for the information.
  6. I'm also interested in reproducing this effect. The gray background question is it a middle
    gray (18% just like a gray card)?

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