Today on The Slanted Lens we are looking at how we can use Rosco gels to add color to the shadows in our shots. This is easiest to do when you have a hard light ratio, so for today’s shoot we are using a 1:4 light ratio. Let’s check it out!
Gels are a great way to add color to your stills without editing in photoshop. I previously posted a lesson on how to use gels, but today I want to focus more on using gels to add color specifically to the shadows in any given shot.
Four Ways to Use Gels
I use four different approaches to add color to shadows, and each has a slightly different effect on a subject.
The first way we can add color using gels is to apply the gel to a piece of white foam core and then position the foam core as a fill card. This bounces the color of the gel into the shadows on your subject’s face and gives the effect of a colored fill light.
Second, you can apply a piece of gel to a mirror. You use the exact same setup and positioning as you did with the foam core, but because the mirror is such a strong light source it should give you a much harder color than the foam core. It will reflect the light straight into the subject’s face while adding color.
The third way to use these gels is the one that most people think of! That is, you apply a piece of gel directly to the strobe that you are working with. This light could be used as either a rim light or hair light, depending on how you position it.
Last, but by no means least, you can take a softbox and place the gel inside it. You can then position the softbox either above or below the camera and use it as a fill light. This last technique can actually produce some really interesting stills. You have to make sure, though, that you dial the light back enough that the color doesn’t overpower the subject’s face or create too much of a color issue with skin tone.
When Would You Use These Techniques?
Often you will see fashion photographs taken with the light positioned above or below the camera, like I mentioned in technique four. This method looks a little more gritty and a little more high fashion.
Portraiture often uses technique 3 with the gel placed directly on the strobe because it does a great job of highlighting a subject’s cheekbones and adds a little more depth and dimension to a shot.
You can use the first technique with the foam core for just about anything. It is an incredibly convenient setup and gives a great look to your shots because it just uses the light that is there and adds just a hint of color to it.
Let me know which of these looks you liked best and how you are using these gels in your own work!
Keep those cameras rollin’ and keep on clickin’!
– Jay P.