How to Add Color to Your Shadows With Gels

Looking to add some color to your shadows? There are a few different methods to achieve this, but what if you could do it all in-camera? Well, you can. Jay P. Morgan from The Slanted Lens covers four different ways to add some color into your shadows with gels.

In Morgan’s examples, he wanted to make sure to keep some rich and dark shadows instead of going with a high-key look, but the effect can still be done in that type of lighting scenario as well. Using Rosco gels, Morgan showed four different set ups to use the gel to target the shadow areas and add a bit of color.

The first two methods are fairly simple setups, and you just need one light source. It doesn't have to be a strobe. In the first example, the gel is tapped to a white foam core and used as a fill card. The second method switches out the foam core and utilizes a mirror instead. If you have a 5-in-1 reflector, you could use that instead with the white side and the silver side, respectively. In the next two methods, which are more common, the gel is attached to a strobe as a fill light with and without a softbox for two additional looks.

In this video, Morgan shows us how he adds color to shadows in portraits, but that doesn't mean this is the only type of photography to benefit from these techniques. Get creative and try it for yourself. Which of the above technique is your favorite? How do you add color to your shadows?

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2 Comments

I've always thought there was more flexibility to add them in post but, thinking about it now, I think there's a lot to be said about doing it in camera. Maybe try it both ways...

Justin Berrington's picture

strobist.blogspot.com has a new 301 series where he is covering all things gel. He goes over a similar technique from Gregory Heisler where he muddies the shadows using a blue and green gel.