How to Incorporate Gels

Do you know gels (for hot lights and strobes) are nearly impossible to find in this valley?  I checked every camera store in Utah Valley looking for some gels to shoot with.

No one had them.

You know what they told me? “Gels are a speciality item, and we don’t usually carry them.  You can get a similar effect in Photoshop.”

OK, I know I don’t have a neon sign on my forehead that says, “I Speak Photoshop” but man, I need one.

OF COURSE you can  simulate a “gel” effect on your image in Photoshop.

BUT . . .

If there is one thing I have learned in school, it is to shoot perfectly, and use Photoshop as a tool to enhance, not as a crutch, to do the job you should have done during capture.

Fortunately, I was able to track down some gels at a photo super store in SLC and had David pick them up on his way home from work.

This image was my first attempt using gels:

This is straight out of the camera.  No Photoshop here folks.

This diagram shows how I lit the first image: I used two white shoot through umbrellas with tungsten hot lights, and on the back I used another hot light with the gel wrapped around it with a white diffusion panel in front of it which acted as a diffuser and a white seamless backdrop for my glass.

I liked it, but I thought the composition needed a bit more, so I added our wedding rings and decreased the saturation on this image when I edited it in RAW.

I thought I’d try out the blue gel as well.  The reflection shows up nicely on the glass.

And here is the same shot with the red gel.

This diagram shows how I photographed the above images with the rings.  The big difference is bare bulbs on my subject.

If you are interested in trying this at home, check out my set up shot to see how it all came together:

Gosh, gels are fun and I can feel the creative potential just welling up inside of me. 🙂

3 thoughts on “How to Incorporate Gels”

  1. The red picture at the top is my favorite! Those gels are amazing!

    Hey, what do you know about point and shoots? Our camera died a miserable death, and we’re in the market for a new one, but I’m REALLy clueless about how to shop for one. We’ve had two – one we really liked (but they don’t make them anymore) and the other we didn’t like so much. Basically I need something that has good color, doesn’t have a long lag time between pushing the button and taking the picture, and doesn’t eat up batteries. I’m easy, really! 🙂

  2. I think you can really tell that these aren’t Photoshopped. It’s too bad that people rely so heavily on technology, rather than good, old fashionedness.

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