02 Mar At Least Do This: Use a Warming Gel on Your Key Light
Abstract: Warming your flash will greatly improve skin tones. Which warming gel you use depends on your subject, the lighting environment, your camera’s color palette and personal preference.
I still remember the day I was introduced to warming gels. It was nearly 30 years ago. I was assisting photographer Chris Usher in 1988 on a shoot in Washington for Businessweek. As he was setting up his light he asked me to hand him his gels, absentmindedly muttering, “Always gotta warm the key light…”
For Chris, warming his key light was already a given. But for me it was a brand new thing, and an “aha” moment. Yet another confirmation that we existed in different universes. But things were starting to make sense now: why his photos looked different than mine; why his light seemed to have more character and realism.
The gel he was using that day was a Rosco 08, one of the more commonly used warming gels, and included in the Strobist Rosco flash pack. So being a good student I proceeded to use an R08 on every portrait I made for the next ten years.
While the Rosco 08 definitely offset the cold, clammy look of bare electronic flash, it was a blunt solution to a complex situation. So let’s back up a bit, and start you off with a more sophisticated approach right from the start.
Here’s Blaise, your typical caucasian, in a quick lighting test from a two-day lighting bootcamp I taught last month
At Least Do This: Use a Warming Gel on Your Key Light posted on Strobist.com on .