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What Gels Can I Use on My Studio Lighting to Get Unique Photography Effects?

Posted by Jacob Hawthorne on

What Gels Can I Use on My Studio Lighting to Get Unique Photography Effects?

If you want your photos to stand out, adding color may be the best way to do it. There are various gels you can put over your studio lighting to get unique tones. Here are some ways you can experiment to get the look you are going for.

A Bit About Gels

Gels can be bought at lighting equipment stores or you can make your own at home out of cellophane. You can use them alone or combine them with other gels. You can cut patterns into them to create interesting effects.

One thing to note is, you won’t want to use your gels with overly hot lights. They can cause the gels to melt.

One Color Gel

One color gel is the simplest gel set up. Make sure to use a vibrant color so your photo doesn’t fall flat. This technique is ideal for providing backlighting. You can play with distance, shutter speed and processing to see how far you can get the light to spread.

Double Colored Gel

For this technique, you will need two lights, each with a different gel in front of them. Make sure the color division hits your subject in the right place, ideally in the center of the nose.

Tri-Color Gel

You can go as intense as you want with a tri-color gel effect, but you may consider adding white as one of your colors. This will soften the look of your photo, so it doesn’t appear over-exaggerated. But if you prefer colors, it may be best to put the lightest color in the center and the two darker ones on either side.

The traditional way to go with a tri-color gel is to put the lighter color gels in front of your subject while using the darker ones to illuminate the sides. However, you can also put the side lights behind the model to create a softer look. Or, if you want intensity, place the lights directly at your subject’s sides.

Rim Lights

Similar to the tri-color gel effect, this involves using a white light to illuminate the center of the subject and putting darker lights on the side. It will add drama to the photo. The best colors to use for this technique are purples, blues, reds, and greens. Oranges and lighter colors tend to get lost.

Background Gel Lights

Gel lights will look dramatic when they light the background of your photo. To get this effect, take two colored gel lights and put them against your back wall. They will make your subject stand out from the background.

Adding gels to your studio lighting can take your photos to the next level. Now that you are familiar with some techniques, you can find which work best for you. Which will you be integrating in your photo shoots?

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