Using gels and adjusting your camera’s white balance are a great way to inject some pop into your pics.
This is a quick 2 light portrait in Jakarta around 5.30pm. However, I wanted to recreate a moody night shot of my subject sitting on the vespa surrounded by harsh street lighting. So to achieve this, I simply played with my camera shutter speed, white balance and gels.
The main light is a Canon 580 EX II set high and to camera left. This creates a street lamp feel with light beaming down. However, if I set my white balance to 5,500k (As it was still daylight), the light would have been a dirty white as below.
So I dialled down my camera’s white balance to 3,100k. A lower colour temperature (Kelvin) cools things down and turns white light blue. It also gives a deeper black to shaded areas (See below).
I set a 2nd Canon 580 EX II on the ground to camera right but placed a full CTO gel on it to warm up the light and give a nice orange glow. Finally, I tweaked the 2 lights until I was happy with the balance.
The directional but contrasty lighting set against the corrugated shutters really give the final image a moody street feel.
Exif: 1/200th, f5.6, iso 200, 3,100k shot using Canon 5d mk2, 24-70mm f2.8L II lens, 2 x Canon 580 EXII speelights + CTO gel
Playing with your camera’s white balance, shutter speed and colour gels really add creative lighting opportunities that can turn an ordinary image into something much more fun!
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