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Old 2nd of December 2007 (Sun)   #1
Curtis N
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Default Using gels to create colored backgrounds

Since I do most of my portrait shoots on location, I wanted a way to create different background colors with minimal gear and expense. I read a little about using gels to create colored backgrounds so I gave it a try today.

Anyone with any suggestions or tips is welcome to chime in.

I started with "thunder grey" seamless paper which is a very dark grey. Using a dark background allows blasting it with plenty of gelled light to overcome the spill from the main & fill lights. If you use a white or light grey background, it will just be blown out when you add any significant amount of light to it.

I mounted a 580EX II Speedlite behind the subject about waist high, four feet in front of the background, and aimed it at the gray seamless, angling it up to her head height.

I used gels from the Roscolux swatchbook that you can get for next to nothing. These swatchbooks have hundreds of gels to choose from. I picked the darkest gels in their respective colors to create the most saturated light possible. The gels nest under the tab for the wide panel on the 580EX II and will stay in place as long as they don't get bumped. Those with other brands of flash unit may need to find alternative mounting methods. Note: I would not recommend sandwiching the gel between the lens and the flip-down wide panel on the flash. The gels get quite hot and I would not want to risk damaging the flash from the heat buildup.



For today's shots I adjusted the power in order to meter the background more-or-less equal to my camera aperture. I was able to get into the f/9 - f/11 range with the 580EX II at 1/2 power.

Here's the Midnight Grey backdrop with no background light.


This is with the background light but no gel.


Gelled flash - #2002 "Storaro Orange"


#2005 "Storaro Cyan"


#39 "Skelton Exotic Sangria"
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Old 2nd of December 2007 (Sun)   #2
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Default Re: Using gels to create colored backgrounds

looks good. here's an old thread on using them
http://photography-on-the.net/forum/...&highlight=EDU
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Old 3rd of December 2007 (Mon)   #3
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Default Re: Using gels to create colored backgrounds

Very handy, I am getting a Lastolite HiLite and these would be great when not using high key..
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Old 3rd of December 2007 (Mon)   #4
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Default Re: Using gels to create colored backgrounds

Nice light Curtis .. and I thought you only talked about flashes
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Old 3rd of December 2007 (Mon)   #5
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Default Re: Using gels to create colored backgrounds

Quote:
Originally Posted by mmahoney View Post
Nice light Curtis .. and I thought you only talked about flashes
He talks about flashes and sticking stuff to 'em. But that's about it.

I got the same swatch book a few days ago, mainly for the tungsten gel. I'll definitely be playing with other colors though.
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Old 3rd of December 2007 (Mon)   #6
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Default Re: Using gels to create colored backgrounds

Very nice!! It looks great against the grey seamless. I use black and it works well too.
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Old 3rd of December 2007 (Mon)   #7
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Default Re: Using gels to create colored backgrounds

You might want to use some black tape over the small hole in the gel. That white light coming through can contaminate your gelled color a bit.
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Old 3rd of December 2007 (Mon)   #8
Curtis N
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Default Re: Using gels to create colored backgrounds

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Originally Posted by Gatorboy View Post
You might want to use some black tape over the small hole in the gel.
The gel gets hot. The tape would melt, or at least the adhesive on the tape would.

Once, in my younger days, I put two small strips of vinyl electrical tape on a flash to reduce its output. The flash was being used behind the subject as a background light. While the rising smoke did create a somewhat cool effect, the flash unit will never be the same.

That little hole represents a small enough portion of the total area that its effect is negligible.
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Old 7th of December 2007 (Fri)   #9
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Default Re: Using gels to create colored backgrounds

I was actually going to ask about this tonight. I plan a getting the Roscolux swatchbook but bh is quoting up to 14 days. In meantime, I went michael's and tried to find some "gel type" material. No luck. I did get some real thin colored paper that I'm going to try. Anyone know where to get gels locally? i've tried a couple of camera shops and they don't stock it.

Curtis,

how are you attaching the swatches to the flash?
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Old 7th of December 2007 (Fri)   #10
Curtis N
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Default Re: Using gels to create colored backgrounds

Quote:
Originally Posted by azpix View Post
how are you attaching the swatches to the flash?
For the gels I use "out in the field", I use velcro on the ends. Just adhesive-backed velcro tape about 3/4" wide. I stick it to about 1/4" of each end of the gel and cover the rest of the adhesive with tape. There's a picture in this thread.

Side note: All my flash units have a strip of Velcro wrapped around the head. It's great for Lumiquest flash modifiers, home-made bounce cards, gels, flags or anything else I want to stick to the flash. I put the loop side on the flash and the hook side goes on everything else.

But for coloring the background there's too many possible colors to go the velcro route with all of them. I found that as long as the flash was angled upwards I could just set the gel on the flash lens and stick it under the little pull tab on the wide panel of the 580EX II. It'll stay there as long as you don't bump it too hard.
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Old 8th of December 2007 (Sat)   #11
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Default Re: Using gels to create colored backgrounds

Anyone needing the Roscolux swatchbook that curtis mentions can get them here.

Might be faster than BH and there is no shipping charge.

EDIT: they are not faster than B & H.
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Last edited by azpix : 1st of January 2008 (Tue) at 12:17.
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Old 8th of December 2007 (Sat)   #12
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Default Re: Using gels to create colored backgrounds

Quote:
Originally Posted by azpix View Post
Anyone needing the Roscolux swatchbook that curtis mentions can get them here.

Might be faster than BH and there is no shipping charge.
Yay! I just signed up for one! Thanks!
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Old 8th of December 2007 (Sat)   #13
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Default Re: Using gels to create colored backgrounds

Quote:
Originally Posted by azpix View Post
Anyone needing the Roscolux swatchbook that curtis mentions can get them here.

Might be faster than BH and there is no shipping charge.

Great info, thanks,,,,

BTW, Curtis, all the info you provide, how may hours are in your day,,,,,seems like more than 24 LOL
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Old 8th of December 2007 (Sat)   #14
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Default Re: Using gels to create colored backgrounds

I don't think you can find a better value for a penny out there.
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Old 8th of December 2007 (Sat)   #15
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Default Re: Using gels to create colored backgrounds

I actually ave been getting the Vivitar filter kits since 90% of te time I use a Vivtar 285 strobe and it will normanlly be a bG light. Now I have three of the I will pick up a fourt and that will give me four 285 to work with the Quantary QTB-9500a that had switchable bases that decide how it will work. I have three of them 1for ETTL use I have the brack/cable setup for it and I just got a Canon Off Camera Cord 2 for my Stroboframe Pro L Bracket be I gotit I would use it as a remote with the remote base and trigger it with one of several remote devices depending on which other flash was being used. My biggest grip is that the auto on it is fair limited but the good thing sis when I use the Stofen and need a direct light it has one built in so it has to strobes in one and the second is switchable.

I going out on a limb and say you watch the video at the top of this forumn and saw how he took the Thunder Grey bg and make it several colors by rcposure and gels. So you how it works. SO I think you are on your way to perfecting it Curtis.
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