Creating Impact with Color Gels

Lesson 5/11 - Different Between CTO & CTB Gels


Creating Impact with Color Gels


Lesson Info

Different Between CTO & CTB Gels

So studio strobes, they're generally around 5,500 kelvin. I say generally, because depending on the power settings that you have, and the strobes that you have, they could give or take a few hundred kelvins. And then with proper white balance, and everything lit by the strobes, the color will be consistent. So, where do gels come in place? I kinda talked about this already, but I said CTO and CTB gels, they're generally used to correct the color, so, if you're wondering what that stands for, like I said earlier, CTO stands for color tint orange, CTB stands for color tint blue, and they shift the temperature of your light. There's also a third gel that I love using. It's called CTS gel, and that's called color tint straw. It does the same job as the CTO gel, and it's just personal preference. CTO gives you more of magenta, the CTS kinda sways it more, a little bit greener. I tend to prefer CTS gels 'cause I shoot Canon a lot, and Canon's naturally have a little bit more magenta, in my o...

pinion, in the white balance. I know when you shoot Nikon, Nikon's tend to naturally have a little bit more green in the skin tones. So, I would probably prefer CTO's if I shot with a Nikon, or if I was using Nikons. But this one's temperature shifts that you get with CTO's, and just know that this is not an exact science, 'cause this is, what, Rosco color gels? And this is a color shift that you get with an a CTO 1/4 or 1/2. You're getting 600 of those in 1,700. If you use another brand of gels, the color shift temperature is slightly different. So just know that it's not an exact science for this, on there. But also, a thing to keep in mind too, as well, and why I use powerful lights, is 'cause I use gels a lot. And this is your light loss with gels. So, if you're shooting at 2,700-- so a full CTO of gel takes your 5,500 kelvin down to 2,900 kelvin, right? So if I want to shoot at 2,700, and still want it to look warm, I still have to add another gel on top of this. So you're already losing a full stop, plus whatever you add on top. So, you're losing a lot of light on that. So that's something to keep in mind when you're using gels, and modifying your light, on top of whatever modifier you have on your light too. So, if you have a 10-degree grid, that costs you a stop a light. If you put a full CTO on it, plus another 1/4 or 1/8, to make it extra warm, you're losing a lot of light. That's over two stops of light lost over there, so that's why I use a 1K light, and why I rarely use speed lights, especially that I like to be ISO 100, and pushing F/16, or like that, so... I didn't realize until I came in and actually saw them, I always wondered, when people talk about gels, what it is. And then I realize, oh, I did this years ago in my garage with colored cellophane, 'cause it just seemed like fun, and I didn't really understand what I was doing. So is there a difference between what I can do with colored cellophane, or the stuff they stuck in the flowers that my husband bought me, and I took it off and taped it to a light, and these? How much does that affect temperature and light loss? Yeah, so, the reason why I was specifically saying they need CTO or CTS gels is 'cause they're generally made so you could, like, they're neutral. When you go to the white, for example, in theory, give or a take a few hundred kelvin temperatures, if you use a 1/2 CTO and you set your white balance to 3,800 kelvin on your camera, that light, that's lighting that person, will be neutral. If you use a regular orange gel, you can have a slight tint in it, and it won't be a neutral white balance color on it. So that would be the difference on there. But it might be close enough to where you don't notice, or you don't care.

Class Description

Light is essential to creating cinematic images as well as color. In this class, join five time portrait photographer of the year Alexis Cuarezma as he breaks down his process for using color gels to make an image that grabs your attention. He will teach how he sets up his camera, creates a color scheme, and selects gels to get the desired image in camera. He'll go over simple color schemes that can be done with only two lights, as well as a full stylized image using multiple lights and color gels.



Alexis Cuarezma is hilarious, very talented, and a creatively energetic instructor and artist! If I hadn't been attending Photo Week, I wouldn't have chosen this course, but boy am I glad I was in it! Gels have been an enigma to me for years (in the way that studio strobes used to be), and I was surprised at how easy and useful they were when Cuarezma explained and demonstrated them. His creative process is a joy to watch and learn from. I highly recommend this course to ALL photographers!

Amy Vaughn

I don't do athletic images, but I think the lessons in this class can be applied to other genres too. It was a nice overview of how to use color temperature settings, gels and color theory to create mood and atmosphere.

Vitamin Dee

I really dig watching his approach to creating a mood. Even if you're not into sports photography, you'll learn how to use color to convey impact.