A set of color gels are incredibly useful to have around any studio whether you are a still photographer or a filmmaker. They aren’t even that expensive. You can pick up a set of 24 Lee gel filters online for under $40. Definitely worth the investment, BUT if you get caught without a set or just like the challenge and sense of accomplishment of a DIY project, you are going to want to take a peek at this short video from film maker, Ryan Connolly, as he shows us how we can replicate the look of a color gel using nothing more than a light source and a bath towel.
For all the photographers reading this, I just want to point out that while the video is aimed at filmmaking, that is not to say this technique cannot be used in a portrait studio as well. Or, any kind of photography studio for that matter. We all just need to keep our minds open to innovation and see if we can fine tune this little trick into giving you the exact lighting we’re looking for.
Now, here’s what Connolly is up to, it’s actually very simple!
Here’s a close up of how the lighting setup from above looks on the subject…
And another look, this time using a yellow towel and a green shirt…
This trick is very simple. Rather than adding a gel filter to the front of your light source to add color to an image, you are simply reflecting or bouncing light off of a colored object (in this case a shirt and a towel) onto the subject. Having a continuous lighting source would be helpful while getting setup, but if you don’t have access to one, just snap a few test shots with your lights either on a higher/lower power setting, or try moving the lights and towels closer or farther from your subject. Or, maybe even both of those things. The key is to experiment with different settings until you’ve narrowed in on what looks best.
One thing to look out for, however, is how different colors and fabrics will bounce the light in different ways. Some colors will produce a much brighter light, in which case you may need to power your lights down a couple stops for, which means you should always check the intensity of the each time you change the fabric out for a different color.
Lastly, if you think you’d be using this setup often, it may be worth marking the floor with some gaffers tape on the sweet spots so you know where to setup your light stands next time.
[ via CreativeLive ]