Photography Tips: How to Use Color Effect Gels

Telling a story doesn’t stop at your subject in photography; everything in an image gives the viewer context clues to build a narrative around. One of my favorite ways to facilitate interest and story in photography is incorporating color effect gels into the scene, but what are the best ways to use them and why?

Coming to you from Robert Hall is a quick breakdown on using color effect gels for your flash imagery. Hall gives us a couple great reasons to break down an image with adding color gels and introducing a story element we may unconsciously understand but need color to state. Most of us who have begun to experiment with color in our imagery sometimes need a boost to bring it into our regular sessions, and Hall shows us how to experiment with gels in a commercial context and “normal” portrait setting.

I love doing a mix of gelled rim and area lighting with a white light that renders the subject in normal skin tones. It helps to give a sense of ambience to a scene and to tell the viewer there is more interest than just the subject, while still re-directing our eye back to that subject of the image. Gels and their use can help you grab a completely different feeling in your imagery while being fairly easy and cheap to add to your technical kit.

If you currently use gels in your work, show us below or take a look at some gel options at B&H Photo! Did you think of any additional takeaways from Hall’s video?

JT Blenker's picture

JT Blenker, Cr. Photog., CPP is a Photographic Craftsman and Certified Professional Photographer who also teaches workshops throughout the USA focusing on landscape, nightscape, and portraiture. He is the Director of Communications at the Dallas PPA and is continuing his education currently in the pursuit of a Master Photographer degree.

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