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How to get colored light without using gels, part one

Lately, I feel like gels have become all the rage in the photography world and I am loving it. I was recently teaching at my son’s school, as I am the teacher for their school’s photography club. I was showing some images for colored lights when a student turned to me and said, “But how do I get a colored light look if I don’t have any gels?” I couldn’t come up with an answer and I was slightly bugged, so I went home and started doing some experimenting and came up with two ideas — a posterboard and a projector!

Let me first show you how I use the posterboard. You want to tape your posterboard onto a wall or clamp it to a light stand. I like to use a boom stand and some trusty clamps. Then I have my subject sit on a stool relatively close to my posterboard, and I ask my friend to shine a flashlight onto the poster.

There are two different options for this. First, hold a flashlight a ways away from the subject and have them illuminate not only the paper but the edge of their back and shoulder. This makes the color of the poster a lot softer on the subject and helps add a bit of separation between them and the backdrop by highlighting their check and shoulder very nicely. However, doing this makes the color of the poster just barely noticeable on the subject.

The second lighting option is to hold a Lume Cube as close to the posterboard as you can get. This lighting setup really saturates the subject with the poster color and the surrounds. It just creates this beautiful moody feeling.

Quick Note: What is a Lume Cube you might ask? Check out my friend and fellow author, Levi Sim’s, first look video of the new Lume Cube Air to get all the details. They really are some fantastic powerful lights that are so compact and versatile.

As for the camera settings, use the same settings for both setups. I shot these with my Lumix GX8, used my 42.5mm lens which has the same field of view as an 85mm lens. ISO 800, f/1.7 at 1/40s for my shutter. I was handholding my camera the whole time but if your camera won’t allow you to do that and you notice your image is blurry or out of focus, just place your camera on a tripod.

Since I had conquered the colored light thing without using gels I thought I would try and put a little spin on it and make it a bit more of a beauty image since that’s what I like to shoot. A while ago I shared a video on here about how I make D.I.Y snoots for my speedlights. I took that snoot, added a barndoor effect to the end and had my friend hold a second Lume Cube light in it. Then pointed it directly at my subject’s eyes. It was magic! Give it try yourself and see what I mean. It’s super easy and a lot of fun.

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