I recently got my hands on some of Jake Hicks’s gels from Amersham Studios that are made by Lee Filters and hand picked by Jake Hicks for their placement and ability to work together based on his preference and experience.
Now that I’ve had them in my possession I can honestly say 2 things:
Man are they handy,
Creativity opens up.
First things first, what do the gels look / feel like? How are they packaged, shipped and branded etc?
I suggest having this colour wheel on your phone at all times:
The packs sent to me were the Definitive Colour, Utility, and the Pastel pack. Here’s a shot of the CTO and CTB:
So, why are they handy?
With the options available to you with these gels all of a sudden you’re looking at the ability to “fix” a lot of colour things you’d probably find yourself doing in post. A fine example of this is the idea of having a cool blue background while having a normal looking subject.
Unless you’re in a situation where the background is that blue (unlikely in most cases) you’re essentially “up a perpetually moving landscape, bobbing along with no means to control yourself”. Here’s an example of how you can use a few CTO gels to “overcook” your subject, then by dialling your white balance to compensate you can bring your subject back to a more “normal” temperature and force your background to a cooler tone.
What’s happening here is pretty simple, you take a normal “cool” white balance on your camera and the images should come out like this:
Add a CTO gelled flash into it and you’ll get this:
You can see that the skin looks relatively normal by eye (considering how blue the rest of the scene is).
Finish it up with a proper composition and boom:
Another example of them being handy is matching the current lighting situation you’re dealing with. I can honestly tell you right now that I NEVER thought I’d be stood 1700m high in Austria with a German man, lighting the side of a mountain with 6000 Watts (6x1000W shots) of battery powered flash and using a CTO gel to match the light pollution, in the middle of a thunderstorm.
But we did.
If we wouldn’t have gelled the light the grass at the front would have been really white / neutral looking and not suited the scene at all!
And this is how Jake uses them:
So right there you can see not only the practical uses for owning some gels but also how it can open en entirely new world of creativity for you. I’ve just recently started using them to enhance my SOOC shots with regards to practicals.
Here’s a pair of shots where I used a CTO to flash in the warm fire glow of the lantern / candles.
Creative, practical, opens your options for fixing issues on set / location and built like a tank. these gels withstood wrapping, taping, folding, 6000W of light blasted through them (6x1000W flashes with a frequency of one flash every 4 seconds or so).
How could I NOT recommend these? If you’re after something else to open up your world of creativity or perhaps just to fix practical colour issues, you should seriously invest in some gels. Why these ones?
The colour harmonies have been picked out for you, they are rugged, durable, packaged nicely, shipped quickly etc. Well worth the investment in my opinion. And by rugged I mean I’ve taped and folded this around my bulbs firing full power etc and no melting, no tears, nothing, they just does what they’re supposed to with no fuss.
Hope to see you guys having some more fun in your photography sessions!