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How I Shot This With Color Gels

How I Shot This With Color Gels

Color gels are a lot of fun to work with and when done well can add a certain oomph to your photo. It can also be intimidating and hard to get just right. And when I say just right, even that itself is very subjective. Some people prefer it to be subtle while others want the color to dominate in the image. There are also photographers who only use it for color balancing.

Colors in an image can help tell a story or establish the mood. Adding in a gel allows you to craft the precise mood you want to bring across in your images.
Personally, I don't use color gels very often but when I do, I like it pretty strong. It's really up to personal taste, as for me, I seem to be really drawn to either red or blue.

I shot this set awhile back as a test to play around with color gels. 

Equipment List

Lighting Setup

For this shoot, my main light was a silver umbrella. Right in front of the model, I place a light that was gelled blue pointed down to hit a reflector place on the floor. This was to reflect back up on the model to fill the shadows without being too harsh. Behind her on the right, I placed a light gelled red for rim light. I also had one more light gelled red for background light.

Behind the scenes: 


After doing some skin editing, I used Pratik's newest color grading tool, the Infinite Color Panel to tone my images.

(original, round 1, round 2)

This add-on tool is really helpful in coming up with color combinations that I would not have thought of. It was also really easy to use and helped me push the image even further.


Color gels can give your work a whole new life and you should try it if you haven't! Let me know what you think! 

Photographer: Shavonne Wong
Model: Steele Tate/ Ave Management 
Makeup: Michelle
Hair: Kenneth Choi

Shavonne Wong's picture

Shavonne Wong is an award-winning fashion/ celebrity/ advertising photographer based in Singapore.

She has worked with Vogue Global Network, Glamour South Africa, Female Malaysia, Cosmopolitan HK, Lancôme, Sephora and is a returning guest photographer for Asia's Next Top Model. She is also an X-Photographer for Fujifilm.

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Love this. Thanks for sharing

Glad you like it!

I like using gels, but I'm not a fan of that oily skin look. Gels on the background, especially if it's a boring environment, looks great to me though.

My problem with gelled skin is that I can't tell if it's supposedly beauty lighting or just special effects for its own sake.

The asian girl with the gel rim light looks great though.

Gelled backgrounds are especially useful when coloured backdrops are limited! As for gelled skin, I'm happy as long as it improves the image for me.

I was thinking the same thing the oily skin look throws me off personally. . The Asian girl the lighting looks amazing!

I've got an article the featured images from that set more! (:

really loved the window shots!

Just loaded a few shots to my portfolio. Let me know your thoughts on my color Gel work.

Blue gelled skin looks kinda dead without oil. Muchly prefer the version with oil.

Hehe you have some beautifully gelled images in your portfolio!
I think I just generally like the dewy skin look haha

🙏🙏🙏 Gels are my life right now. So much fun to play with and models love it!

Interesting, but I'm not keen on the specular highlights on the skin...

When you shoot your version, just make sure your makeup artist keeps the skin matte then! (:

I think the bounce off the floor reflector is a great idea- it keeps the color more subtle... Thanks for sharing!

I actually saw another photographer doing it and thought it was a great idea too!
Also I was too lazy to set up another modifier so this was the fast/easy solution haha

Love the colors and unlike most commenters, I like the dewy skin. I would say that the highlights need to be retouched a little more when you're going to do this though. The transition from specular highlight to the rest of the highlights and midtones needs to be smoothed out a bit more. Especially noticeable in the first shot in this series. Overall love your work and was obsessed with the last shoot you did with this model. I even put it in my inspiration folder. Keep up the good work!

Hey Shavonne, a few more questions. How many stops did you set your lights to? And what aperture and ISO did you shoot these photos with? When i try to gel my background, it comes out so hot and too bright.