To Gel Or Not To Gel Your Flash – That is Not the Question!
That’s right. The question isn’t whether to gel or not. If you use studio strobes or battery powered flashes at some point you are going to want to use a gel. The question is why. Don’t be scared.
The Drive Home © Zeke K
I said don’t be scared!
Five reasons why to gel your strobe:
- Balance strobe color to ambient light. In other words make your flash look the same as a lamp, etc. Very handy.
- Balance the ambient light to your strobe or the sun. Same idea here, only you are gelling the lamp, etc. Handy, but I don’t do this one very often – okay, never.
- Color your backgrounds. This is nice. You can turn a black, gray, or white background (wall, sheet, seamless paper) into any color of any shade with just a strobe and a collection of gels. If you don’t use this technique, I strongly recommend you give it a shot. If you already use it, why are you still reading this paragraph?
- Trippy color-ama. This is using gels to make light that has little to no basis in reality for an interesting effect. A great example is the work by Troy Paiva at Lost America. His image Coffin Door (below) taken in an airplane graveyard was lit with two flashes, one with a green gel, the other red.
- Simulate practicals. Practical lights are normal or exsisting lights. They are the key to creating motivated lighting for your images. They could be a lamp, window light, light from a TV, etc. In real life these lights all have different color temperatures. In the image The Drive Home (above) I’ve used red gels to simulate tail lights from another car and a blue gel for dashboard lights.
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The next time you’re thinking out a shot, think about if color matching, color contrasting, or color simulating would make your idea more effective. If the answer is yes – Gel!
Coffin Door © Lost America used with permission