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Studio Lighting Basics

Lesson 13 of 14

Shoot: Glamour Portrait with Color Gels

Tony Corbell

Studio Lighting Basics

Tony Corbell

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Lesson Info

13. Shoot: Glamour Portrait with Color Gels

Lesson Info

Shoot: Glamour Portrait with Color Gels

I'm shooting at eleven eleven and a third thirteen fourteen I'm assuming that fourteen if I want to follow me on this and this is going to confuse people, we're going to get a lot of questions about this, but see if this makes sense if I want a color gel to look like the colored jail actually looks in reality when you hold it up to a light, then I need the background value with the gel in place to read the same thing reflective that I'm shooting at with the incident let that soak in for just a second. What that means is I've got this one degree spot at the background and that light's got a fire off and give me a fourteen and that will give me the true value of that blue gel would write that way. I'm guaranteed always getting the true color the gel if I use a reflective reading off of the background because in this case, the background and the picture don't care how much light hits the background. All he cares about is how much lights coming off of the background because if that bait gr...

eat background wasn't there, if that was a white background that appeared black is going to require a whole lot less light to give me the f fourteen, then the middle great and if that great were gone and it's a black background it's gonna require a whole lot more light to give me a fourteen through that blue gel does that make sense? The only way I could know that value is reflective reading because it isn't gonna help that's just give me real value in this is gonna give me a reality meter that's not gonna help me. I need to know how much is coming off of the background. Then I could get the exact same color blue on a white background or a blue background. I mean, white or gray or black market the same color, right? Thanks. So what power you have? Okay, so then, here's what? I contain what you're going to do, you're going to bring that guy toward me quite a bit. Yep. And you're doing it. You got it aimed right about the right spot, so I'm gonna take it. I'm gonna take a spot reading a flash spot reading right over her shoulder and let me check the value flesh it? Yep. Got it right here, right, there's your shoulder right there. I got sixteen to I got plenty of light, so let's, just power that down. One, two, three, four pop tents and that's good, but they're probably here we go, here we go, here we go good, come up to ten emma rounds with a joke about a guy that goes to psych actress and the character says what's the problem, he says, I had a nice I don't feel the same. I don't feel right lately. Some days I feel like a tp some days I feel like a wigwam, and the doctor said that you're too tense. Uh hey, sorry. Kanna, I'm sorry. You're going to get calls on that. I'm sorry. Okay. Let's, fire this often. See what we got. Nobody moves, nobody moves and nobody gets hurt. We got ourselves some stinking blue going on here. Here we go. Turn him just a little in a little sparkle in your eyes there. Good, good, good. Great. You guys see that blue this's, the true color, the blue jail watch this. This is going to blow your way think we got blue serious blue and I don't have to take I didn't have to bracket or guess the exposure. That is the true color of that jail. Because why? Because I gotta meet her that's all. If you don't own a meter, you cannot do this without guessing and guessing and shooting and guessing and shooting and guessing and shooting and guessing I don't have time for guessing I got a meter makes sense I can tell you this that value of blue looks it's best when it's minus one so let's go minus one where my limit four point three so I'm gonna take that guy down three point three and seven that flashes blinking right there that's doing on auto dump got now it's ready? I don't have to dump it helen from just saying just saying here we go this is gonna look good this is good bringing him back up there you just do whatever you want there just be comfortable oh, I just need you comfortable oh that's good you're as writing that's it great perfect oh that's a that's a beautiful thing right there I'm telling you that's a beautiful thing like this minus one blue have you come in work on that just a bit bring your head back a little bit right there yeah good one more of those good good good great. Now let's talk about the color you got another color in your hands, right? Let's not put red up there fred that's good red gretel match up. We were no match for the lipstick. Now here's the thing that you have to think about when you're trying to figure out the densities of these gels pay attention to the fact that these primary colors these things were dark I mean these things still a couple of stops sometimes three stops alight the yellow nothing hardly the green the light green where that one went very little maybe a half stop two thirds of a stop but the primary blue and the primary red stop a lot of density so you've gotta have a strobe with some home to get through if you're at a high eso if you're shooting wide open that's different but if you're shooting at eleven f sixteen of twenty two you gotta have a lot of power in your stroke toe power your way through makes sense you got to raise it high and say I have a question I have a question oh sure you have a question um can you explain why that light is coming? The colored light is coming back at you at fourteen of sixteen and that's how you're getting that vibrant color obviously you're not getting flare hayes from that why coming straight at the lens but it's at the exact perfect exposure it's only going it's only going to give me flare in my lens if I go plus two three stops over whatever I'm trying to read right now right now it's just give me just the edge of my true exposure that I need it's not it's not become a secondary light source yet right okay at all but the vibrancy of the color works on ly because there's no light hitting the background before I begin if you've got lights and your stoop this guy's if you're in a small small home studio and you're using an umbrella for lighting, this will never work don't even try it I can tell you you're sending light everywhere but in this room with a medium gray background and with a large source that I've got turned pretty far away from there I can make the fall off a pier in the back so that the background does read black then I can introduce the color then I get true color returned grade's grids are great thanks for thanks john grids are really helpful while I think I think I keeps me straight the only reason the only reason they bring me back because I looked good what's because job teamwork, teamwork, it's teamwork but I think that these things I think really that this is the this is bit of the knowledge right here of the fall ofthe goingto black first is really, really important I think it's the crux of how this all works with color. Yes, a couple folks are asking just if you could actually maybe just turn around and show how you attach the gel tio you're just using tape for you spin that around toward the camera, not me move this out of the way and that was here to block any the light from hitting her spilling yeah that her but I just made a roll of tape at the bottom put it on their tape this down at the top and what if you were putting it over a grave and you say the same thing exactly here's here's what you have to there's a caution area though here yes don't you can wrap a gel over a flash tube but do not let it touch your modeling lamp and especially if the money lamp is turned on wait don't have to see we know it's red anything that comes through that reflector is going to be ready because there is no white light coming out of there right so I don't even have to know I only have to look so the modern light has turned off that guarantees that uh if you if you let your jells go over the modeling lamp then all of your color gels are gonna look amber because that's the color of fire so that's the color of the flame this one maybe this one may have touched yeah I've done that before you could see there's a white spot in the middle where dr melton jails before but you can see these jails or crumbled up in their beat up in a wrinkled up there not optical gels that I would ever use on the limbs I'm just using over a light source I just need to change the color value of a light so okay did we measure that one yet? I didn't want to go back. Yes. Oh, so, justo, illustrate this again without even me saying anything, john, just grab this as a global to make sure that the red doesn't slip out one corner of that head and hit our girl on the shoulder. We could do one without it. Yeah, I think we're okay. Uh, just angle I think we're probably going it probably going to come get her, but sometimes if you're not careful right on this very closest side here toward the subject that right there sometimes well, pucker open and it'll pick up a little speculator that actually can actually be bright enough to flare your lens, that weird little guy. So I'm not worried so much about it hitting her as I am sometimes hitting that lens, so always try to make sure those little holes are covered up pretty well. So we'll measure we'll see how bright it is so we know our exposure on her hasn't changed, so I don't have to read me to her, but I'm going to measure the background. You ready? Okay, so here we go. So right there, it's given me f eight and a half, so the red stopping more than the blue did so you know, I took it down because I went to a minus one on the blue did not know that I don't think so it's a minus one red I don't like the minus one red bream I should go ahead and go back up one full stop and I would put me at the f fourteen again you guys get it ready pretty fun and the fun part is when you're in control and you know what's gonna happen without any without any guesswork or any test I know what's gonna happen here and that part I think is is for me that is the that's the part that the creative guy gets to enjoy a little bit is that you walk onto a set and you don't get fooled you know there are director can throw anything at it and you got it because you've done this before you've tested this before, you know instinctively what's gonna work in what's not gonna work you know, uh a white wall that will work but I gotta make it go black somehow first so you put her old white paper in a closet with no light it's gonna go black that's what you have to do when that white background is behind her you've got to make it go black and you can't do it the small, small small small space saturday okay, so you want backup plus one it's so now we know we're going to get the full one to one red and the red I think frankly looks better at about a plus two stops we can't go plus two camera we don't have much travel were yet right now four point three yeah you can't well that's ok, we'll leave it a four three let me she won and then we'll go up a bit and then we're gonna talk a little bit about lends perspective and then ready we're going to do something different back up just a fraction okay, look, you're looking mighty good can you bring your shoulders to make a tiny bit that's right that's what yet? And bring your hitter and they're good, good, good and you guys see that fire ofthe men is this look good? This is this is a killer red ready set go what's this oh that's good red guys it's there's no guess work when you have a meter I don't understand how people it's like it's like jamie's l one time said you know everybody always says it's so unusual that you have your camera every place you go and he says I find it in incredible that you guys never have your cameras with you he says, how can you take a picture of you and your camera with you I find it incredible how people don't use their meter on every picture they take I don't know I have you can do that and yet people do it and they buy houses and cars every day and get lots of great work and do great work and there's some of most people I respect more than anybody I have a lot of respect for a lot of people out there that don't use the meter but I just couldn't do it but this all of this is the result of known exactly what I'm going to do because this thing told me so okay I'm gonna zoom in just a little bit tighter ugo let's go ahead and turn straight onto the camera for me yeah and do this point let's just let one foot cross over the other foot yeah yeah yeah that's it and bring your head around just a little that's it looks good great and I'm just gonna come in a little tighter that's great here we go here we go good stay there same thing let's do it again little little different expression good good good that's nice you do one more of those good power that higher that all the way up to six there are five six three yeah yeah there we go that's great that's great oh you look good good good just relax his throw one hip out a little there you go there you go. Good, great perfect you hear the difference in the pop wait'll you see this red bring your head around just a little that's too much come back all right there pop what's this one bam when the way the color the way the color wavelength works the way the way color reacts yes it does make sense blue is the shortest wavelength from the color spectrum red is the longest so when I'm using a red jail and a blue gel in particular as I make a one stop changing my blue jail I see a pretty quick change when I'm on my red gel and I make a change I've got to change like stop stop and a half or two stops before I start seeing any change because red aiken go plus five plus six plus seven stops and still see very little change in my reds but after I get plus one or plus two or plus three red starts turning into the most exquisite magenta you've ever seen it's really pretty so yes sir just furious with the history graham would look like on that with all that history ram yeah okay well I can tell you this that red er in the world of black and white if this were a black and white image right there that red would be eighteen percent grade eighteen percent grade okay the color red falls right in line with the same density value of an eighteen percent great value so that's, why? When I'm shooting in the park or whatever and I got a spot meter with me. If my client is wearing a red sweater, I can spot mate or the red sweater and getting exposure reading or the green grass in the park is also is also the same basic value has has great. So, tony, just to make sure people are understanding this is from a lucy hofstetter. Lucy, you know there's a way. All right, could you tony, could you explain again if the color of the background so that black, white or gray is influencing the color of the gel? You know what? The s o as long as the value of the background is neutral meaning white, grey or black, the color of the jail is going to be the true color of the jail. So that's not influencing me. If you think you want red redder than it really gets right there, then do this onto a red piece of paper, then the red wolf truly not the plaque right out of your teeth, you get some fire, but you get some electric colors. When you're mixing the jail color with the same color of the of the background, then that is kind of a fun thing where it gets tricky, as people think oh, well then give me a blue background I'll put a red gel on it well you're about to get a blah picture of nothingness that doesn't work but as long as I'm neutral to begin with then it works turn it horizontal so I can see gray above it that's a good idea what's this what's the what's the different value here okay my dear there you go like that good, good good thanks, igor great now so what you're going to see is a pastel color of red as opposed to a true deep rich red right where the white is because I didn't make the white go black I'm not seeing it on the big monitor there you go right? But I'm just saying, uh I didn't make the white go black before we began I made the great good black but it didn't make the white go black and I'm not going to be able to in this room with all this ambience can be can be done. Yes, I just could you touch based on color casting and the way you're controlling it? Is it because she's so far away from the background that she's not getting the color cast red on her skin? I guess my question thank you there is long I've got her this far away nothing's gonna bounce into her shadows and turn any color at all no problem if she were back way up in there and I might have an issue which which you wouldn't do it, you wouldn't do an extraction in this scenario but you do have to be cognizant of the fact that shadows or the were the color influence begins so like if I'm photographing so think so think about this uh if I'm out in the park and photograph and megan and her husband and this beautiful green park and were out shooting and shooting and shooting and there's this beautiful green trees and green grass early and I'm shooting I'm shooting that green on the ground I'll guarantee is bouncing right into the shadows and it is and I'll never see it in the highlights, but all of my shadows we're going green, so for that reason, anytime I do an outdoor portrait session in a park there's a white sheet in my trunk and I just spread it on the ground right in front of him, all that does is in the gate the green bounce into the shadows I'm not using for reflector I'm using it for a black front absorb or keeping the green from bouncing up makes sense I see great photographers that missed that little step a lot and I think maybe a six if they're not there you look at the highlights so much they forget to look at the shadows and video people too I've seen video obviously just forget to look at shadows gotta look shadows occasionally make sure that that the colors clean they're so okay the red value goes a long way of color I mean you can you can make red you can change and see subtle changes in red like up to ten eleven twelve thirteen stops very subtle changes blue you got about five or six because the blue is the shortest of the color wavelength red bean longest okay uh let's let her sit for just a moment let me grab this stool keep her away from that too far maybe I'll come back a little bit maybe about right in there um why don't you take the gel off and we're gonna put uh we're just going to put that on the ground behind her really low maybe one of the local stand second and well and we're going to tip it down so I really want a great nation this time you just get comfortable whatever however you however you're comfortable do that so let's do a couple of things this time uh I think I want to do this I'm gonna back you up a little bit further I just changed my mind on on how to get there okay okay so we're gonna get this thing set up and we're gonna fire off a shot we're going to get a set and then I'm going to show you how we then start adding more people to this thing we're going to start adding some people to this mix and making sure that everybody is lip well and they were getting good exposure on everything so see there john he's the smart dad he goes and gets the sandbag before you put the light on there I put the light on there and I leave to go get the sandbag the light falls over and breaks he's just so calm and quiet about saving my butt it's just great this is great and what's really fun is when you start mixing colors so think about this the distance that that head wass the for the red and the blue and it was pretty even corner to corner because the distance was pretty far with ahead to the background distance if I put that gel right on the flash tube itself and get rid of the reflector head and then I move that life right next to the paper like right there I get this incredible burst of color that fall straight to black it's cool so then you start mixing your burst I gotta read burst up here and an orange burst on there or a blue burst down there and I got purple right in the center where they touch that's pretty fun once you start going down that path then you just start playing and the ideas that you come up with will be more than I can come up with because you know there's more of you but but it's fun and you do you do experiment a lot and you play a lot okay um let me get a good exposure on this real quick you wanted that for me to get it back here helen chrome just announced the relationship with psychotic and phonetics there's going to be a line of meters coming and please don't flood me with questions because I don't have the answers yet but there is a a technology alliance that was just formed with ellen chrome and see connick and foe ticks so that in the future there's going to be a modules in the sitcom meters to fire your foe tex lights hand your own crime lights not just the pocket wizards so kind of a nice thing to have it'll be light specific as opposed to pocket wizard specific not bad. Okay, here we go. Who? Eight point one eight point one let's take a picture and see what it looks like shall we? What do you think? Oh, this is good. You look great. Well, you know your modeling everything no he's a good one. No fair moving hope hate, hate sorry, eight oh, vito done like, will you just listen anybody okay, let's, try and see what happens who bam that's gonna work let's, do one more, but let's, try one with try to get your eyes open on this one. Hey, john, took that head down, just a tiny bit lower, ours it down. As far as it'll go, I think it'll go a little more and power power that baby down about a stop and a third stop in two thirds. There you go on. There, you go, ready? Not ready yet, okay, pretty cool. Have leads itself off and then tells you, when it's done. I love that part. Here we go, your eyes at me. Perfect, perfect, perfect. I love that. I like that a lot. Don't mention I like that. Look at this. I'm kind of liking that.

Class Description

Lighting equipment doesn’t come cheap, so it is crucial you get your money’s worth. Learn how to make the most of your investments in Studio Lighting Basics with Tony Corbell.

Tony is a celebrated photographer, educator, and author. In this class, he’ll help you get more out of basic studio gear. 

You’ll learn:

  • How to use off-camera speedlights
  • The basics of studio lights including; mono lights and pack lights 
  • Combining studio lighting with natural light
  • The properties of light 
  • How to position lights for varied results and styles
You’ll learn practical ways to work with strobes and light shaping tools and get tips on creating the exact look you’re aiming for. Tony will also help you overcome any hesitations you have about purchasing and setting up your own lighting equipment.

If you want to get more looks out of your existing gear or want to know which gear you should invest in, don’t miss Studio Lighting Basics with Tony Corbell.


Catherine Stevens

Excellent class. Tony does a great job of highlighting different ways to work with light without being prescriptive. He's also a great speaker - very clear and easy to listen to. I would love it if this class came with a gear list and some basic guidance on the different lights as a starting point - I think the class does assume a certain amount of pre-existing lighting knowledge. Still worth every cent though!


I love watching Tony Corbell. He is such a wealth of knowledge. He is one of the Great Masters. Tony is an excellent teacher and he both freely and honestly shares his immense experience. It is truly a delight listen and watch to Tony teach.