Personal View site logo
Make sure to join PV on Telegram or Facebook! Perfect to keep up with community on your smartphone.
Lighting Gels 101
  • I've never used gels...

  • 13 Replies sorted by
  • Like the tip about the roll bag. All mine are in tubes which makes them difficult to carry.

    I reckon you can get away with very few as an initial collection. My must haves are some white diffusion, some spun (softens a spotlight), some 1/2 CTB, and some deep blues / reds / greens for effects. And black Cinefoil, which has about a million uses, although not a gel but you usually buy it from the same suppliers.
  • Free gels! Did you know, LEE and others have swatches of gels usually for free? You can compare the different filters before you buy.
  • Thanks @Mark_the_Harp. Great idea. But no more free swatchbook :( about using gels on LED lights.

    There are Lee Filters and Rosco brands. sells Lee Filters Standard Swatch Book at $2.50 or free if purchased any other item. carries tons of Rosco gels. There are Rosco Cinegel and Roscolux. I guess Rosco Cinegel is for video. Rosco Cinegel Swatchbook for $2.00. Prolly I will buy the Rosco swatchbook from bhphotovideo.

    It seems using gels on ext flashes is popular option, too.
  • Cool - nice resources. I have only played around with LED lights and found cameras don't always like them even though they look OK to the eye. But that new bi-colour LED looks like it might be kinder to skin tones. I know there's a lot of discussion on one of the stage lighting forums I visit, that RGB LED lights don't always work with video. Partly it's the weird colour spectrum, and partly that you get unnervingly strange shadows with them because they're a collection of Red, Green and Blue point sources.

    However I am tempted to get some RGB (or just blue) wall washer strips as I love blue as a background light, and a backlight in slight magenta can look nice together with tungsten spots / scrims.

    I discovered this after looking at BBC footage of late-night sessions and below was my attempt (2 years ago, shot with Canon XHA1) to replicate the look. This was before I had the Lee filters so this is a few thicknesses of very thin blue over some CFL worklights, plus a dimmed spotlight on the hands from a Dedolight. Once I white balanced to this (yellowish) dim light it threw the background even bluer. Blue almost always looks blurred anyway, and I like the very strong colour look.

    This was shot 2 years ago - it's easier with "real" gels and I've since tuned the harp.

    What particularly grabs me about this type of lighting is the way even SD resolution looks good, and HD looks pretty smooth considering the XHA1 isn't known for its low light performance.

  • PS the swatch books are quite fun to use with high-power LED flashlights - my 3W one makes a great mini-spotlight for emphasising little accents, or as a catchlight in a performer's eye. Because of the shape of the flashlight, I clamp it in a mic holder, gelled with CTO, a bit of diffusion and some Cinefoil.

    Great for people like me who are cheap but demanding. A variety of little LED lights are really useful even if you have a lighting kit.
  • "Cheap but demanding". Nice.
  • I have tons of these swatches left over from my theatre and tv days. And yes black cinefoil aka 'black wrap' is awesome.
  • @stonebat That's my demographic!

    Having just paid about £50k (GBP) to an architect for a failed building design, I'm being very cheap and very demanding in all directions right now!!

    @last_SHIFT Those swatches are amazing. I keep finding them at the bottom of various drawers in the house. Along with the usual gels, regardless of brand they always have sections with strange silver perforated things and other mysterious bits of material that only the initiated know about. Probably covered in Lighting 601 or whatever. If 601 is a higher level course. Maybe the correct term is Lighting 102, or (if digital), Lighting 110?
  • Nice video. I hope that gel roll comes in a larger size for larger applications. :-)

    I use this all the time. And attached is my current list of gels I use besides the usual stuff you find on the truck like 250,251, light grid, CTO and CTB

    My Colour List1374002469754.pdf
  • Diffusion -I use opal a lot. Hampshire is nice for a slight effect. Grid cloth is great for heavier needs. 250/251 are standards. Color temp - I always keep 1/4s and 1/2s of them. I don't know why, but I stay away from full ctb or cto. Minus green is a must if you are using less expensive LEDs. 1/4 usually does the trick.

    I also like straw, pale gold, the steel blues, chocolate, along with some cosmetics - salmon and peach etc...

  • CTB and CTO are for corrections: Tungsten to Daylight and vice versa

  • When I started building my own lighting kit, my rule was that I wanted to make sure I owned any gels that I had heard mentioned enough times on a set that I had come to know what they were. 215, 216. Opal, CTB, CTO, etc. Later I added whatever gel I had desperately wished I'd had from my most recent shoot. At the moment I have a few tubes I work with: diffusion, CTBs (in various strengths), CTOs, +/- Greens, Cosmetics, and Party Colors. With gels, you're going to end up using the same few all the time, but when you have just the right weird gel when you need it, it's so great.

    Sometimes I buy gels hoping I'll have the chance to use them someday because they're so cool. Most of these are still unused.

    Diffusion is the only one I know that's worth buying on big rolls. A really big piece of diffusion is great and often you'll just hang the roll from a C-stand arm and then roll it back up at the end of the setup.