Gel-ig­nite

NPhoto - - Nikon Skills -

1 Keep it sim­ple

You don’t need any­thing fancy to start with, just a fairly plain wall. We don’t have a plain wall in the stu­dio, so we’re go­ing to put up a sim­ple pa­per roll back­drop. If you don’t have the room for a pa­per roll back­drop, buy a big sheet of pa­per from your lo­cal sta­tionery shop.

2 Add some colour

Flash gels are pho­to­graph­i­cally bal­anced for ac­cu­rate white bal­ance. How­ever, you can buy some coloured ac­etate for a frac­tion of the price. This works for vi­brant colours like red, green and any colour you don’t need ac­cu­rate WB for, but for ac­cu­rate WB go with flash gels.

3 See both sides

Put the flash­guns on light stands and place one cam­era left and one cam­era right of your sub­ject. The idea is to pro­duce a por­trait lit with two sep­a­rate colours, which blend to­gether over the model’s face, so each flash needs to be fit­ted with a dif­fer­ent-coloured gel.

4 Dare to bare

To start with, use the flashes bare (with­out dif­fu­sion). By keep­ing things sim­ple you can slowly build your por­trait and see how the light and colour in­ter­act. This is a step most am­a­teurs over­look, which re­sults in a frus­trated pho­tog­ra­pher and model. Set the flashes to ¼ power.

5 Con­trol the light

Take a test shot at your lens’s widest aper­ture, 1/200 sec shut­ter speed and ISO200. Try not to clip ei­ther side of the his­togram. If you need to in­crease the ex­po­sure of your photo, boost your ISO. If you reach ISO800 and it’s still too un­der­ex­posed, turn up the flash power.

6 Soften it up

Now is the time to dif­fuse the light. Put an um­brella on ei­ther or both flash­guns to spread the light. The in­ten­sity of the light will re­duce be­cause it’s being spread out more, so in­crease the flash­gun power un­til you get good ex­po­sures as per the pre­vi­ous step.

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