Small Flash: Using Theatrical Gels for Small Flash with Bold Results

[tps_header]As photographers, we have a whole crayon box full of color at our fingertips, yet most days we only paint with white. Included in just about every small flash out there is a little pack of gels from the manufacturer. These corrective gels come in handy because our flashes only produce a white light on their own, but sometimes we need to augment this color to balance our flash with the rest of the scene. We’ve covered some creative applications of this in previous articles, but what if we aren’t striving for perfect color balance? What if we want to explode the color palette and create something bold and bright? This is where theatrical gels for small flash come into play. Let’s explore the color wheel and go over some techniques that will guarantee you get the best color possible.[/tps_header]

Step One

theatrical gels small flash tutorial

Erik Valind

We’ll start by building our shot as we normally would. We’ve placed our model in front of a white seamless background. She’s being lit by a single Nikon Speedlight in a Westcott Apollo Orb softbox. This isn’t a bad shot right off the bat, but it’s lacking that extra pop we’re looking for. Let’s see what adding some color to the scene does. Now, before running out and buying rolls of seamless paper in every imaginable color, there’s a simpler and more cost-efficient way to switch up the background: multicolored gels!
Note: For all of the photos in this article, I used the Rogue Flash Gel Kit. There are a bunch of gel manufacturers out there, but I really dig these because they come labeled, precut to fit a small flash, and organized—something my gels never were before.

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