Lighting gels: how to use an orange CTO gel to neutralise orange backgrounds

    | Night | Photography Tips | 09/02/2014 00:01am

    Orange backgrounds can be a casualty of using flash at night. In this quick guide we’ll show you how lighting gels like an orange CTO gel can help neutralise the colour in your backgrounds.

    Lighting gels: how to use an orange CTO gel to neutralise orange backgrounds

    Pop-up or hotshoe flash is a necessary evil when taking pictures of people after dark. But one of the reasons that simple flash images don’t look great is that the colour of flash is so different from the ambient lighting.

    Shoot indoors at a party or out on the high street, and the background will look unnaturally orange, due to the predominantly tungsten bulb lighting that surrounds you.

    For more pleasing flash portraits, fit an orange filter to your flash – this gel is known as CTO (or Colour Temperature Orange). With this gel in place you then turn the white balance to its Incandescent setting, and use the flash as usual.

    How to use CTO lighting gels

    How to use CTO lighting gels: step 1

    01  Get gelled up!
    Coloured gels are available in rolls from pro dealers and stage lighting specialists. Companies such as Rosco, Honl and Rogue make kits of pre-cut gels for photographers. You can also buy them cheaply on eBay.


    How to use CTO lighting gels: step 2

    02  Stick on an orange 

    You put the orange-coloured CTO gel over the diffuser panel on the flash head. You can use masking tape or a rubber band to hold in place if taking lots of shots, but holding it over the flash is easier for one-off shots.


    How to use CTO lighting gels: step 3

    03 Set white balance
    Adding the gel corrects the colour temperature of your flash from daylight to tungsten. Make sure your SLR doesn’t give you completely orange pictures by adjusting White Balance to the Incandescent setting.


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    Posted on Sunday, February 9th, 2014 at 12:01 am under Night, Photography Tips.

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