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

Step Three

theatrical gels small flash tutorial

Erik Valind

The key to rich, saturated color is the exposure—underexposure, to be precise. By underexposing the sky on a bright day or, in this case, our background light, we’ll come away with the bold colors that we want. Even though a white background may seem the perfect blank canvas to add color to, it can quickly get blown out and desaturated. To better hold the rich colors of our gels, the secret is to shoot on a gray background. White is too light and, on the opposite end, black soaks up too much light; so gray seems to be the happy medium. Look at what a difference the gray background makes in this next photo.

theatrical gels for small flash

Erik Valind

No camera or flash settings were changed. We just swapped out the white background with gray, and a ton more color stayed as a result. Now, with one roll of paper and some gels, you have access to the entire rainbow for possible background colors; that’s some serious versatility.

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