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Using Gels In Commercial Photography To Create Something Different

YIKES - Neither Image Has Been Through Lightroom Or Photoshop

Gel and No Gel

Images Were Shot Minutes Apart With Same Background And Same Single Light Source - The One On the Left Has A Purple Gel Added

Neither of the images above have been through Lightroom or Photoshop because I wanted you to get a pretty solid comparison without a bunch of post production editing. I did minor tweaking in a free online program, but I didn't have my wife, who does my editing, work her usual magic on the images above.

I got my first exposure to color gels around 1983-85 when I assisted an editorial photographer. He used gels on a regular basis. That was back in the FILM days. Although he did have a polaroid back on a 35mm camera for testing, he didn't shoot too many test shots. He really knew his stuff when it came to using color gels.

For the images above, the difference is really one single purple color gel. The images were shot minutes apart with one single studio light source. Notice how the background color is different in the image on the left with the gel used, but amazingly, it's the same background as the image on the right with no gel used. Just looking at the two images above and knowing the only difference is a single gel should be enough motivation for you to try something different with your photography.

Rosco is a popular maker of photography gels in case you want to do some research online or find gels/filters locally. They make the small gels for a standard hotshoe mount flash and they make larger gels like the one that I used above on my studio strobe. I got the kit that I pulled this gel from at my local camera store: Southeastern Camera in Raleigh.

The gel kit that I bought came with a large variety of color options. Rosco actually refers to it as a filter kit which can be found via this link on their website. They are 12 x 12 in size.

Whether you are using a hotshoe mount flash, studio strobes or both, you may want to pick up a pack of color gels to explore some new options with your photography.

This post was NOT an in depth lesson on using color gels and trying to find the right gel for the right lighting situation. That can get pretty intense depending on how deep you want to go. You may want to check out YouTube for some videos that will help you get further educated about using gels in photography. This post is just to get you thinking about the possibilities and having you take the next step to entering the photography gel world by actually owning a few gels to use for your work.

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David Williams

Short Bio About The Author: I'm David Williams a professional commercial photographer focusing on corporate and business clients with some personal branding, lifestyle photography in the mix. My love for photography began in late 1981 while still in High School. I started making money with his camera in 1982. Brenda, my wife, and I started working together in photography in 1988 shortly after we met. Brenda and I married in 1989 and have two adult daughters. Please be sure to get a quote for services if needed. Call or Text: 919.723.8453. Please reach out to connect with me on LinkedIn.