Fun with gels

Tonight, I had some fun trying various new gels.

For those of you new to photography: a gel is a coloured material that you put in front of a flash to change the coour. You typically use these for background colours.

Usually I use a slight correction gel (1/2 CTO, 1/4 CTB, etc) to perhaps warm a background up a bit or to give a corporate shot that slight blue tint in the background. But tonight I thought I’d play with some great new colours.

My system for the test shots below was:

  • A key light to camera left, in a softbox on a Bowens 400 Ws monolight
  • A fill light to camera left, into an umbrella, using an Opus 250 Ws monolight
  • A Hair light, also into an Opus light, and snooted
  • A background light: a Canon 430 X flash with the various gels. I used the excellent Honl system: the speedstrap on the flash, plus gels conveniently Velcro’d on.

So for these gels I used some basic colours and the new Honl “Autumn” and “Hollywood” gel sets. Great colours. Here we go, and look how each gives you a very different shot:

[1] The new “Autumn” kit:

Egg Yolk Yellow:



Dark Salmon:

Medium Blue-Green:

[2] The new “Hollywood”-kit:

Follies Pink

Steel Green:

Rose Purple:

Smokey Pink:

Pale Lavender:

And for comparison, some basic primary colours: Red, Green, Blue and Yellow:

And finally, what it looked like with no background light, white background light, and “heavy frost” background light:

Note: When you play with gels, do not forget to set your white balance to “F;ash”, so your canera does not try to adjust the colour away.

Now to see these colours side by side, check them on one page:

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