Do you gel your strobes/flashes even indoors?

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sirhawkeye64 Veteran Member • Posts: 6,575
Do you gel your strobes/flashes even indoors?

So I was reviewing some images that some of the people I shoot with, have posted on social media.  In particular, ones shot with flash and noticed that a lot of them, it's pretty obvious they were shot with flash because of the color balance of flash to the skin tones.

This had me wondering, as I don't do a lot of studio photography, but mostly on location where I do gel flashes in some situations, depending on the ambient lighting.

I know people will gel flashes on location (outdoors for example) to try to match ambient light (such as sunlight, especially around the golden hour) but I'm curious how many people gel flashes indoors as well, to try to match skin color, for example, and thus eliminate that "flash" look.

(I guess to me, it's a little distracting.)

Thoughts on this?

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Colin Creevey Regular Member • Posts: 389
Re: Do you gel your strobes/flashes even indoors?
1

Well if you are shooting studio you normally are not mixing ambient with your flash so no gel needed (unless it is for artistic effect).  That being said, say you are doing a shoot where there is ambient then you would want to balance them.  Probably a lot easier gelling your strobe than all ambient sources.  
Alternatively, use something like an LED source with adjustable temp

OP sirhawkeye64 Veteran Member • Posts: 6,575
Re: Do you gel your strobes/flashes even indoors?

Colin Creevey wrote:

Well if you are shooting studio you normally are not mixing ambient with your flash so no gel needed (unless it is for artistic effect). That being said, say you are doing a shoot where there is ambient then you would want to balance them. Probably a lot easier gelling your strobe than all ambient sources.
Alternatively, use something like an LED source with adjustable temp

OK I guess maybe that was a bad way of wording it.

What I really meant was geling to sort of match the skin color, so not to be racist or anything, but photographing a person perhaps with darker skin (either someone who is tan or African American for example, would you tend to use a yellow/orange gel so the flash doesn't appear so much like a flash shot (white light)?

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Krav Maga
Krav Maga Veteran Member • Posts: 3,642
Re: Do you gel your strobes/flashes even indoors?
2

sirhawkeye64 wrote:

So I was reviewing some images that some of the people I shoot with, have posted on social media. In particular, ones shot with flash and noticed that a lot of them, it's pretty obvious they were shot with flash because of the color balance of flash to the skin tones.

This had me wondering, as I don't do a lot of studio photography, but mostly on location where I do gel flashes in some situations, depending on the ambient lighting.

I know people will gel flashes on location (outdoors for example) to try to match ambient light (such as sunlight, especially around the golden hour) but I'm curious how many people gel flashes indoors as well, to try to match skin color, for example, and thus eliminate that "flash" look.

(I guess to me, it's a little distracting.)

Thoughts on this?

Assuming we're strictly talking about studio portraiture and you've set your camera up to completely kill the ambient, gelling is not the way I would go about it.

This is a situation in which a white balance card is typically used.

It doesn't matter what color the skin is. You would simply have the subject hold up a white balance card, take a photo of it (raw is best), and then use it to set the white balance for the photos using that particular lighting set up.

Personally, for the kind of shooting I do, I don't care to get accurate skin tones. I'm just after a consistent baseline from which to begin my post production.

There are so many ways to color grade a photo of a person that I'm not sure there is a way to determine an obvious use of flash in many instances.

For example.

Is this using flash or is it purely natural light?

Flash or natural?

Flash or natural?

Regards.

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CptAmerica
CptAmerica Senior Member • Posts: 1,799
Re: Do you gel your strobes/flashes even indoors?
2

sirhawkeye64 wrote:

Colin Creevey wrote:

Well if you are shooting studio you normally are not mixing ambient with your flash so no gel needed (unless it is for artistic effect). That being said, say you are doing a shoot where there is ambient then you would want to balance them. Probably a lot easier gelling your strobe than all ambient sources.
Alternatively, use something like an LED source with adjustable temp

OK I guess maybe that was a bad way of wording it.

What I really meant was geling to sort of match the skin color, so not to be racist or anything, but photographing a person perhaps with darker skin (either someone who is tan or African American for example, would you tend to use a yellow/orange gel so the flash doesn't appear so much like a flash shot (white light)?

FYI, pointing out or acknowledging somebody's race or skin tone isn't racist.

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CptAmerica
CptAmerica Senior Member • Posts: 1,799
Re: Do you gel your strobes/flashes even indoors?

Colin Creevey wrote:

. Probably a lot easier gelling your strobe than all ambient sources.

I lol'd

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KE_DP
KE_DP Veteran Member • Posts: 5,897
Re: Do you gel your strobes/flashes even indoors?
2

t's pretty obvious they were shot with flash because of the color balance of flash to the skin tones.

Then they did a poor job - or were deliberately looking for that effect.

This had me wondering, as I don't do a lot of studio photography, but mostly on location where I do gel flashes in some situations, depending on the ambient lighting.

I know people will gel flashes on location (outdoors for example) to try to match ambient light (such as sunlight, especially around the golden hour)

Or maybe trying to create a golden hour look when it's not a match? Or just going for some other artistic angle?

but I'm curious how many people gel flashes indoors as well, to try to match skin color, for example, and thus eliminate that "flash" look.

For me - just no. "To match skin color" sounds really strange to me. Accurate skin tones (regardless of what color or tone) are achieved by neutral (~5600k daylight balanced) light - not adding an odd color. The point of using a reference like color checker or WhiBal card is to reproduce accurate color. Otherwise - why bother? Just stick a matching color filter on everything in post. ha ha If you were taking a photo of a blue house would you add an extra blue filter on your camera? It's redundant.

That "flash look" is often the "deer in the headlights" over usage of flash - less likely to do with the temperature than the excessive power many people use. It becomes more apparent using HSS, but at the same time that look is a genre unto itself. It really depends on the goals of the photographer and/or subject.

Maybe you meant to say - gel indoor flash to match indoor ambient (same as outdoor ambient)? That makes sense.

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(unknown member) Forum Pro • Posts: 19,317
Re: Do you gel your strobes/flashes even indoors?

I should but im to lazy, shooting on a white backdrop in my well lit studio does create a blue tint to the images in some areas, all i do it take the image into acr and push the blue colour slider to the negative to remove any cast.

Don

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rumple
rumple Senior Member • Posts: 1,725
Re: Do you gel your strobes/flashes even indoors?
2

sirhawkeye64 wrote:

[...]

What I really meant was geling to sort of match the skin color,

No, never.  "warm sells" so I will generally run slightly warm in post compared to the accurate white balance, but I've never seen a need or any advantage to warming / cooling for specific skin tones.

I gel at events to partly match tungsten ambient; I want the background / ambient lights to look like an event (warm), so I don't put on a full CTO / CTS on flash, maybe half.  But never for skin tone.

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Klaus dk
Klaus dk Veteran Member • Posts: 7,985
Re: Do you gel your strobes/flashes even indoors?
1

Here's an update on how flash can be used creatively without looking like flash.

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KE_DP
KE_DP Veteran Member • Posts: 5,897
Re: Do you gel your strobes/flashes even indoors?
1

rumple wrote:

sirhawkeye64 wrote:

What I really meant was geling to sort of match the skin color,

No, never. "warm sells" so I will generally run slightly warm in post compared to the accurate white balance, but I've never seen a need or any advantage to warming / cooling for specific skin tones.

Exactly - it's a good approach to start with an accurate natural looking baseline skin tone, then use post to taste.  If you start out with something way off to begin with, the old adage - garbage in, garbage out - applies IMO.

This wasn't even mentioned but also important - Hopefully one will be using a set white balance - not Auto.  I pretty much leave mine on "daylight" full time - and batch adjust in post as needed using my color/WB reference.

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Suntan Veteran Member • Posts: 6,011
Re: Do you gel your strobes/flashes even indoors?

Like others have said, when I shoot indoors with studio lights, it is setup such that any ambient light in the room is not registering in the image. All lighting is being produced by strobes. That makes it easy to set WB and have it be uniform across the image.

That said, I do sometimes gel a light, but only to specifically add an intentional color-cast. Not because I am trying to deal with unintentional mixed lighting.

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