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How to Use Gels and Hard Light in the Studio

Mixing gels and hard light, when done properly, can result in some truly memorable images. In this video, watch as you are walked through the setup, the shoot, and the results.

For far too long, I didn't experiment with gels. I was interested in artificial lighting early one and I experimented by using LED torches and lamps around my house before I even bought my first flash. However, I didn't really know what I'd use gels for. It was until a few years later, when I was trying to setup my first organized shoots, that I had looks in my mind that could not be achieved without gels. I ordered some — they're very cheap — and was blown away by how dramatically they can change an image instantly.

I have used gels for both soft and hard lighting for varying effects. For example, I have used orange gels with soft lighting to simulate golden hour on indoor shoots. Alternatively, I've used red and blue gels with hard lighting to give a punchy, stylized and less natural look. Introducing color into a shoot can be transformative, particularly if the location you're shooting in is a little plain, such as a studio or white backdrop.

How do you use gels in your work? Share your experiences in the comment section below.

Robert K Baggs's picture

Robert K Baggs is a professional portrait and commercial photographer, educator, and consultant from England. Robert has a First-Class degree in Philosophy and a Master's by Research. In 2015 Robert's work on plagiarism in photography was published as part of several universities' photography degree syllabuses.

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