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Lighting 301

Lesson 18 of 26

Three Favorite Gels for Ambient Light Manipulation

Pye Jirsa, SLR Lounge

Lighting 301

Pye Jirsa, SLR Lounge

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Lesson Info

18. Three Favorite Gels for Ambient Light Manipulation
Pye uses concepts covered in the previous lesson to create four images, three of which feature his favorite gels to use for manipulating ambient light color (the fourth image does not use a gel to provide a baseline image for comparison). Post-production instruction is included in this lesson.


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Lesson Info

Three Favorite Gels for Ambient Light Manipulation

Okay, let's take that reference video and this go around. We're gonna create four final images For three of those images. We're gonna be using one of three of our favorite jell modifiers for ambient light manipulation. Now, just as a summary, that's going to be a CTO or color temperature orange, which we like using in both the half and full stop variance. It's going to be the CTB, or color temperature blue gel, which we typically would use in the half stop variant. But if you want more of a strong effect, you can use a full stop that's also going to include the CTG, or color temperature green gel, which we also prefer in a half stop varying as well, although again you can use a full. If you want more of that effect, we're gonna be comparing it against our baseline image, which is going to be just a flash without any gel. We're even going to take the final images that you see here through post so you can see the final look of all four of these images and how those gels leave the scene m...

anipulated in color tone. Let's jump in to close off memory lane. And to show you guys are three favorite color temperatures. When it comes to manipulating that main light and the overall environment, we're gonna shoot this favorite spot. This is Disney Concert Hall. We actually did a shot like this before this go around. The reason why I want to do it is because we can see tons of beautiful reflections from the sky in addition to the sky itself. So by showing you this technique, we can really see how that wall and the sky itself is going to shift in color as we modify the light source. So let's get started. I'm gonna go ahead and start with my composition and what I want to shoot. Mhm. All right, guys, go ahead and come back towards me. Come, come, come. Step this way. A little bit more. This way. A little bit more right there. That's your guy. This little spot right there. So let me go ahead and just dial in an ambient exposure. So we're going to start first with just what this actually looks like. And what I'd like to do first is just start with a neutral white ballads. So we're at 5500. Kelvin, we're gonna start with just bare on the mag box So you guys can see what's exactly happening with the light. And because they're placed over a darker area, the background. I think this would be a great opportunity as well, too. Adding a little back light. Okay, let's see this. Okay, so now from their guys, if you actually leaned into the camera a little bit. There you go. But then looked at each other there, and it's going to be offered. But, Gina, you're gonna kind of arch against his hand. And he you're gonna kind of straighten and lean into her a little bit right there. So I'm gonna grab that ambient light exposure. Guys, look at each other right there. And he leaned her back a little bit. Lean into her a little bit more right there. Soft smiles toward each other. Gina. Chin down a little bit. There it is. Yes. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect. Okay, there's our annual exposure. Let's go ahead and dial in the background. Now. Guys, look at each other again. Now. We don't have people in the shop. There you go. Chin down a little bit. Gina, right? Their eyes up towards him. Perfect. That's it. Okay, Now, let's go ahead and dial in that ambient light, so we're gonna expose this pretty dark. I'm gonna leave this right around 1 100. Sorry. 102nd, F 28 and ISO 100. Okay, let's get another quick shot. Lean back a little bit. Chin down, Gina. There you go. He cleaning to her a little bit. Tip her back was a little more right there. Right there. Right there. Hold that, guys. Perfect. So that's the annual exposure. Now, let's go ahead and set up the light. Now, you guys are gonna stay. Exactly. Could put Don't move your feet at all from this because we're gonna do that exact same thing which we get identical shots. This is honestly, the last time we'll probably have you guys holding. So still between shots. Mm. Because we're gonna compare three different looks of this image. Take that off for now. Mhm. So you're gonna hold this guy? Okay. I want you to angle it up and back and feather it so it kind of just gives a kiss of light on to them. There you go. And then what's the power setting on that? Can you power it up? 10. And you're on What? 5555 Okay, test shot. That's it. Side note. I think that's my favorite expression I've ever captured. So I'm pulling that down to six. So a six is gonna be remembered. 200 watt seconds down to 1. 25. That's nine. Down to 60. Down to 30. Down around 15 to 20 watt. Seconds of power. So on a regular flash, that's less than half power. Maybe quarter power to half power ish, and you're good to go. Now, go ahead and get into that pose, guys. There you go. Right there. Right there. Hold that quick little note here. Just pay attention to how Karen is basically leaning the light back and feathering the light. So we get more light on the couple and we don't get a lot of light spilling on the ground. Great technique again for preventing the ground from really brightening up and getting the light exactly where you need it. Gina, chin down a little bit. Lean to my side a little more like lean into me. There you go. Gina, turn your chin towards me a little bit. But look towards Heath. There it is. Right there. Hold that, guys. You guys are a little close for comfort. So, Gina, lean back a little bit, actually. Look down towards that hand and place the hand on his chest there. I love that. Lean her back. A little more teeth right there. And now look towards him. Awesome. Got it. Okay, now, that's your spot, guys. That's your sweet spot. So what we're gonna do is go ahead and add now our CTO. So the three favorites is the half CTB? Yeah, and the half green. Okay, so hold this as well as our standard CTO. All the other ones, in my opinion, give us like a look. That's just a little bit too much. And I like to keep things kind of a little bit more on the on the realistic side. Mhm. Okay, right. So let's start with the CTO. Mhm. Mhm. Mhm. Okay, now, because that's gonna be so warm, we're gonna go ahead and dial that back in our Kelvin this go around, we're gonna take it down to Tungsten, which is 3200 Kelvin Alright, guys, you already go ahead and get that lean look toward each other. There it is. Smile, Gina. Chin down a little bit. Bring the chin back to me A little bit. Eyes towards him. There you go. Right there, guys. Beautiful. Hold that. Let's see it. Okay, now we lost a little bit of light power, so we need to power that up just a bit. So let's take it up to one stop up. There we go. One more time, guys. I love that laugh. That's perfect. Okay, Now let's go ahead and switch that to a CTB now with the C T. V. We have to warm up because we're cooling everything down now on them. So we're gonna warm everything up in camera. Okay? Don't crack it. Pulling it up. Mhm. I love how easy this is to put in and out. Cool. Yeah. Mhm. All right, guys, get in That same position imposed. Okay, so what we're gonna do now, I'm gonna compensate just a little bit for the sunlight, because it is getting a bit darker. Um, we're just gonna lower the shutter speed a little. Now, what I'm gonna do is go ahead and take my white balance and this go around, we're gonna dial it up and I mean way, way, way, way up. Gina, look down to the hand on that one, too. Right there. Right there. Right there. Perfect. Now look at each other right there. Perfect. Great. Okay, Now, let's go ahead and go to the green. Mhm again. If you want more of a shift, you can use the full. Just keep in mind that each one of these is going to give a pretty surreal look to the shots. And I usually like to get a few shots so it doesn't look like we're just doing one image. So let's go ahead and switch this out. Mhm. Okay, Now this go around, we have to add lots and lots of magenta. Right? Because what we're doing is basically putting a lot of green tones right under your skin. And to compensate, we're gonna add magenta tones into the image. So what I'm gonna do first is I'm gonna try a white balance. Let's just see if I take this same shot right there. Okay, so we see that the light on them is quite green, right? So the power is about right? I might bring it down by, like, half a Stop. Mhm. Okay, let's see this. Okay, so power is good, but the light temperature is not two things need to happen. I need to bring the white balance down. So let's get this down to around maybe 6000, Kelvin. Okay, that's looking quite a bit more neutral. And now I need to go ahead and shift over to reds and agendas. We're gonna shift quite a bit. Yeah, I love it. One more time with the pulling the dress. That's it. That's it. I love that. So, in summary, basically, what's gonna be happening with this is when you go green, you are shifting either by a half stop or a full stop. You're shifting the background towards Magenta. Right? So that's how you got to correct their skin tones by shifting towards magenta. When you go blue, you're warming up the background because you've got to compensate for the cold temperature on their skin tones. When you go orange, you're cooling off the background because you have to cool down the image to compensate for their warm skin tones. So hopefully that makes sense in terms of these three of our favorite kind of ways to shift the background. Let's go ahead and move on. The bus is right behind you. Now let's dive in a post and we have four exercise files will be working through. Make sure that you have those. They consist of the unveiled flash, the C T o the C T B as well as the C T G. Okay, so let's go and start from the top With that standard shot, all I'm gonna do is just bring my exposure up a bit. I'm looking for skin tones right now, so might even go a little bit higher. I'm gonna warm my temperature and even give it a little bit more magenta as some around here is nice and kind of fitting of my taste and style. I'm gonna go ahead and raise shadows a bit while deepening the blacks just a little bit without losing too much of the hair. Let's add in a little bit of contrast, a little bit of clarity. And of course I'm gonna pull in my radio filter over them. Okay? That radio filter plays in really nicely to the compositional shadows that we have in the scene. So it kind of pulls everything in and does a really nice job with that. I was Just check and make sure we're happy in general. And I think in general looks pretty good. I might make a couple other tweaks to this. Um, in just a moment after we have all the images done, I'll press J and let's go to the next shot. So this is the CTO shot. I'm going to start this by actually pressing previous. So what will this do? It's going to sink our previous settings from that last image over to this one. The only thing is, we use a color temperature orange gel. So how do we left everything The same then this is the shot we would have had with an orange couple because we added an orange gel. This is why that in camera, white balance was dropped. So if we go back to as shot, it was dropped to 33 50 Kelvin and all I'm going to do from there is just warm it up a little. So maybe somewhere around here and I might add a little bit of tint because it looks like the gel had a little bit of green in it. Sometimes CEOs can have a little bit of kind of like they call them like a chrome orange, or they have a little bit of greens kind of built into it as well. So oftentimes I'm adding a little bit of magenta is back. Not a lot. Okay, right about here is good for me. And what I'm gonna do now is just compare that last image to this one. Make sure that color, temperature and and skin tone wise I'm good. I like it. Now let's go The next shot. Let's take the exact same thing that we just did. And let's apply to this one. Okay, So if we were to use that same blue color temperature Well, our subjects are super blue. If we were to use daylight, white balance or let's say that cloudy kind of color temperature, then the color is still too blue on the subject. Why? Because we added a blue light to the subject. So to compensate for that, we're gonna be adding a lot more warmth to this image. So what I'm gonna do first is Let's go ahead and just cool or sorry. Just bring the exposure down a little bit because they're a little bit hot. So let's go ahead and pull the highlights. Just a little. Pull the whites a little bit and let's now get to the right white balance. That's going to be for this particular image somewhere around 10,000. Kelvin. So you saw in the last video that just blew had us going up to, like, 50,000. It was so incredibly blue in this shot a half CTB. Well, we're gonna be warming it up by four or five, maybe 6 7000. But it's not going to be, you know, 50,000 temperature. The other thing I might do is just pull the exposure down a little bit more. And for this shot, I'm most likely going to end up removing that radio filter. Um, just because I want the background exposure to be relatively similar, So let's remove that. And now let's just take a look between these different shots, and I'm okay with that right now. Let's add in. Let's take a look at our blacks and our contrast and everything, and I might add just a little bit more contrast. Reduced clarity just a little bit and adding a bit of tint and a little more temperature. Okay, so here we have flashed. Nojel flashed with CTO, flashed with CTB. Okay, so now let's go into that final. And what I'm gonna do it again in this one is I'm gonna go ahead and take the shot from the very beginning. Let's take our settings there. And now let's pace that over this while also removing the radio filter. Okay, So if I bring the overall exposure down just a bit, what do we see in our couple? You see a very green light. So to compensate for that, I'm gonna try a little trick here. I'm just gonna grab my white balanced tool by pressing w my click on the hair. The hair is fairly neutral, and it's has that green light on it. So when I compensate for it, indeed, shifts to Magenta. So what we're gonna do from here now, I'm gonna bring the exposure down just a little bit more. Let's bring the highlights a little bit down. Let's bring the white point a little bit down, and now let's bring the shadows a bit up and the blacks a little bit up kind of compensate. This is a little bit less ambient light is kind of coming into the shot. And now I'd still need more tent. So let's keep going up until I see some of those pinks appearing on their skin tone, like, right around here, plus 50. Now, I'm gonna go ahead and add in my temperature to right around 6000, Kelvin, and let's do this. Just so we have a comparable background kind of brightness, I'm going to put a radio filter over them, but I'm going to invert it. And instead of sorry, we don't need to invert it. We just need to add exposure. So instead of dodging, we're gonna go ahead and just add exposure to the image that we have something comparable between the shots. And there we go. So now you can see the effect that this has from unshelled cto ctb with that warmth and cdg with those magenta tones in the sky. Now, Okay, this is how we would compensate. I'm gonna go ahead and select all four of these will bring them up in a survey view so you guys can see the final result. I'm hoping now that after these two videos on gels, we've really hammered these points home, and now you can go into any scene and visualize how that ambulance going to shift based on the color of that main light that you're adding to your subjects. All you got to remember is, how am I going to compensate for that jelled main light? That's the way the background is going to end up shifting. Let's go on to the next video.

Class Description


  • Master multiple off-camera flash setups for dramatic portraits.
  • Control light with flash modifiers such as softboxes, grids, and gels.
  • Master creative techniques like creating silhouettes anywhere, pin lighting. your subjects, backlighting rain, creating starbursts with diffraction, and much more.
  • Use various tools in Adobe Lightroom Classic to enhance the images created using the lighting techniques taught in this course.


This workshop is all about using multi-point lighting setups to consistently make any location look great and help you capture dramatic, creative portraits that will wow your clients every time.

Building on the skills learned in Flash Photography Crash Course, Lighting 101 and Lighting 201, we’re going to explore a variety of multi-point lighting techniques and look at different ways to further refine the way we light a scene. We’ll start with light stacking to create depth in our portraits before introducing rim lighting, backlighting, and other creative effects and applications. Then, we’ll incorporate motion into our environmental portraits via shutter drag and show you how to create composite images that would otherwise be impossible to capture. 

We’re going to demonstrate these techniques using a variety of highly portable lighting gear and modifiers. You’ll also find “power translations” with each lesson so that you can know the exact power settings used and recreate the same light using any flash or modifier that you already own. Follow along and see how we crafted all of the images featured in this course, from shoot to post, and learn how to fully realize your vision and bring it to life with your camera. 

The next class in this series is Lighting 401, where Pye teaches photographers how to create every natural light effect with flash, including golden hour, soft window light, and direct sun.


  • Photographers with a basic understanding of flash photography who want to elevate their lighting skills
  • Those looking to boost their creativity when shooting on-location
  • Any photographer who wants to stand out from the competition


Adobe Lightroom Classic 2019


Jackie Stewart

Lighting 301 is excellent! I learned so many new techniques throughout the class. Pye Jirsa is brilliant at explaining new lighting techniques in such an easy to understand way and his mastery of Lightroom is amazing!!! Loved the class and can't wait til implement the things I learned!!!!


I love the Lighting (101-201-301) courses; I have finally understood the concept of lighting and how it works. I have been referring to my notes and go back to all the courses with ease. One of the best courses I have done for myself and my biz; I am so impressed with my work and the lighting I can create.


Pye is a great presenter and is able to make understanding light easy. Now to practice and master the concepts taught. Thank you.