BTS: Using Color Gels to Turn Daytime Into Nighttime

You’re sitting in your studio at 1 p.m. and the model has just arrived. You think, “Perfect, let’s do some moonlit portraiture.”

Daniel Norton for Adorama has figured out an interesting way to make his New York City studio look as if it were nighttime through the windows. The benefit to using this technique is that he’s no longer restricted by the clock and what the actual time of day it is; he can control all pieces of lighting within the frame. 

The shoot begins with first adjusting the camera’s white balance to tungsten, or a cooler Kelvin temperature if setting it manually, followed by getting the non-flashed exposure right for the windows. Norton then moves into how CTO and CTB gels on his strobes will play a key part in creating the illusion of nighttime. Check out the full behind-the-scenes video above to learn how everything comes together to make the final image believable.

What are some of your own tricks you use with gels or white balance temperature? Are there other types of scenes you can fake with lights and gels in the studio? Let us know in the comments below.

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1 Comment

Jon Kellett's picture

I've long been a fan of CTO filters when shooting indoors with flash.

I also managed to ruin a lot of CTB filter many years ago when the only light I had with me was a nasty 2400W halogen and I had daylight film loaded.

Gels rock, though I didn't realise how cheap they were through B&H. The last gels I brought were from Panavision 15 years ago and cost about 4 times what B&H are charging.