Lighting Setup: Pastel Coloured Gentle and Gobos


Ever since I began to make use of coloured lighting, I’ve at all times battled with the problems that many people face when combining a number of colours and when you’ve shot with coloured gels up to now, I’m positive you’re conversant in what I imply. Photographs involving a number of coloured lights can generally look messy or show muddy colours that look virtually blocky with clipped shade information. However why does this occur? Why do our coloured lights typically look a large number?

The explanation for that is really pretty easy and on this lighting setup I’ll present you find out how to combine even delicate pastel colours in the identical shot, while nonetheless sustaining a crisp look.

White Gentle Vs coloured Gentle

The overwhelming majority of us begin flash pictures with easy white gentle. We arrange a shot the place now we have our key gentle, fill gentle, possibly even a hair gentle after which we shortly get to work capturing. For probably the most half, virtually anyone can get away with lighting like this and the outcomes will typically produce a satisfactory portrait with even the sloppiest of lighting placements.

A fundamental white gentle setup that creates a satisfactory portrait.

Add coloured gels to this and the entire thing immediately turns into a large number.

To be clear, I’m undoubtedly not recommending the white-light setup above and there are various causes for that, however for probably the most half, it nonetheless produces a usable portrait. However issues actually begin to crumble after we add coloured gels, as now the tone and form of the topic is completely misplaced in a large number of muddy and busy colours. However why?

The primary cause for that is that white lighting is extraordinarily straightforward and forgiving to make use of. You may overlap and mix a number of white lights on the topic with little to no challenge. You get away with lighting like this as a result of all of the lights are the identical shade as you merely can’t inform the place one gentle ends and one other begins.

Add totally different colours to these lights and now the entire thing turns right into a Jackson Pollock. All of these lights now combine collectively on high of each other and this in the end leads to the clipping of colours and the ugly, muddy shade mixes we’re all too conversant in after we first begin capturing with coloured gels.

Handsome gelled lighting is about conserving these colours and in the end the lights separated. So long as you clearly gentle separate areas of a topic with particular person lights, the lights don’t combine and the colours don’t combine. This at all times leads to the best-looking colours as they’re left clear and extremely saturated.

This separation of sunshine is pretty straightforward to do with very controllable onerous lights, however what about if you wish to produce some softer, pastel washes of shade?

Holding the lights and particular person colours separated on the topic will at all times consequence within the best-looking colours.

The Lighting Setup

We’re all visible individuals right here, so let’s first have a look at the setup after which I’ll clarify all of it intimately beneath.


TL;DR/ADHD/Artist Setup Rationalization

  • Arrange your synthetic trellis in entrance of your topic

  • Place your optical snoot to shine by way of it, casting shadows onto your mannequin

  • Add a really comfortable gentle with assistance from a V-flat to camera-right to clean comfortable shade throughout the topic

  • Accent that first shade with one other pastel shade positioned to camera-left and behind the mannequin

What You Will Want

3 lights – These may be any lights you want, however I’m utilizing all LEDs right here. I’ll cowl these in a second, however speedlights and strobes may also work simply as properly when you’ve got them.

Modifiers – This may increasingly rely upon the kind of lights you’re utilizing, for instance, my comfortable blue gentle to camera-left is a big Rotolight Titan X1 LED panel. It’s a comfortable gentle by design of its measurement, however when you’re utilizing a strobe or speedlight right here, I like to recommend utilizing a softbox to melt the sunshine. Different modifiers are my DIY V-flats, however you could possibly additionally use a white sheet as a substitute. Lastly, I’m utilizing a really onerous gentle within the type of an optical snoot.

Optical Snoot – You’ve probably heard me praising the optical snoot modifier for a lot of, a few years now, so I gained’t go over them but once more, however when you nonetheless don’t have one (I extremely advocate you do), you could possibly attempt to substitute this for an additional onerous gentle supply. In case you’re utilizing strobes, strive a grid/honeycomb, an open dish, and when you’re utilizing a speedlight, I’d use a Gentle Blaster or a simply hold the beam pretty targeted.

V-Flats – I not too long ago made these foldable DIY V-flats myself very cheaply. I put out a full construct information on v-flats not too way back, so when you missed it, make sure to examine that out. I’ll present the hyperlinks beneath.

Synthetic Rose Trellis – Almost all of my lighting setup guides have a wild-card, and right here is that this weeks one. In case you’re undecided what that is, it’s merely a collapsable trellis that holds faux leaves and roses. It’s this that I shine my hard-light by way of to solid shadows onto my topic.

Digicam Settings

  • Digicam – Nikon D850
  • Lens – 105mm f2
  • Shutter Velocity – 1/sixtieth
  • Aperture – f2.8
  • ISO – 160
  • Kelvin – 4500K
  • Focal Size – 105mm

The Outcomes…

Breaking it Down

Now that the right-side of our brains has been momentarily sated, it’s time to dig into the main points of the setup and perceive precisely what’s going to make this look work and the way we’re in a position to combine and layer delicate pastel colours like this, with out the shot turning into the chroma-catastrophe we defined earlier.

The DIY Gobo – Synthetic Rose Trellis

For these undecided what I’m speaking about, a gobo (or go-between), is one thing that’s positioned between the sunshine and the topic that can in flip solid shadows. You are able to do this with virtually something and inserting vegetation, glassware and even knickers (it’s an extended story) over or in entrance of the sunshine will solid shadows, however ordinarily, I’d use a purpose-built gobo that goes within the optical snoot. The aim-built gobos are little laser-cut metallic discs that enable the sunshine to move by way of them and produce shadows, however this time round, I opted for one thing greater within the kind of a giant faux trellis of roses.

I noticed this in a kind of low cost superstores and I picked it up for under £20. Me recognizing this within the retailer was what gave me the entire concept for this setup and I really constructed the lighting across the faux trellis as I instantly knew it might be excellent to shine gentle by way of and I knew it might solid some fairly cool trying shadows.

These synthetic trellis’ are extra frequent than you suppose and I simply had a glance on-line and you may get them in a bunch of these low cost superstores in addition to in backyard centres, though they’re somewhat pricier there. We’re not apprehensive about high quality for this challenge as we’re solely utilizing it to solid shadows, so the cheaper the higher. Plus, these faux ones concertina right down to solely a couple of foot huge too, that means they’re very straightforward to retailer between shoots.

The Key Gentle – Optical Snoot

As I discussed above, I like my optical snoot and I’d simply put it up there in my high 5 must-have modifiers for positive. The explanation for that is because of it offering one thing very distinctive that different modifiers can’t and don’t do, and that’s focusing the sunshine into a really onerous beam. This difficult-light just isn’t solely extremely straightforward to manage, however it will possibly create sharp edges of sunshine to solid particular patterns through gobos on topics and backgrounds. Or on this case, we merely place a full-size gobo in entrance of our gentle and the optical snoot produces a tough sufficient gentle that it simply casts shadows onto our topic. In case you’re all for studying extra, take a look at the total overview of my optical snoot right here.

The Key Gentle – The Godox SZ100R

As I discussed on the high, these photos have been all captured utilizing LED lights. The LED head that the optical snoot was connected to, was the brand new Godox SZ150R. As lots of you recognize, I’ve been impressed with the standard of sunshine from my new Rotolight panels, however as stunning as that gentle is, I can’t focus it into a tough beam and that is the place the superb SZ150R is available in. The brand new Godox LED head can settle for all S-fit (Bowens) modifiers which opens up tons of inventive potentialities when you think about what number of S-fit lighting modifiers there are.

The SZ150R additionally has the power to provide any of its obtainable tens of millions of colours on the contact of a button and though I’m solely utilizing white gentle on this setup, having all these colours immediately obtainable is actually a really useful characteristic.

The Fill Lights – Rotolight Titan X1 & AEOS 2

I’ve been utilizing these new Rotolight panels for the final couple of months and I’ve to confess I’ve been very impressed with them. The explanation for that is their capability to provide super-clean and even-looking lighting in tight areas like residence studios and areas. For me, I would like clear and even trying colours on my topics and with a fast fall-off of sunshine to keep away from any undesirable gentle bouncing round a small house and these do that completely. Strobes and softboxes are likely to wrestle with this as a result of inherent hot-spots at all times current on softboxes, and that is particularly noticeable when used near the topic in tight capturing conditions.

Crucial facet of me utilizing these lights on this setup, is how comfortable the sunshine must be. The Titan X1 is a giant panel that inherently produces soft-light and though the AEOS 2 (the spherical one) is a good measurement too, I wished to make its gentle even softer by bouncing it into that huge white V-flat. In case you don’t have giant LED panels, then simply make sure to substitute them for one thing equally comfortable. Place a medium softbox as a substitute of the Titan after which merely hearth your strobe or speedlight into the V-flat to closely soften that gentle.

DIY Foldable V-Flats

Making some DIY foldable V-flats just isn’t as difficult as you may suppose. Try my article on how I made mine DIY Foldable V-Flats

I not too long ago made these foldable V-flats and shared the method. In case you’re , then I’ll share the hyperlink right here as I extremely advocate you make some your self or at the very least get one thing comparable. The explanation for this is because of how comfortable we have to make the sunshine on this setup and I’ll clarify why that’s so essential beneath. Firing your gentle into a big white V-flat like this leads to that gentle being extremely comfortable and it’s precisely that softness that we generally want in our photographs. Have a look at these V-flats as a basic lighting modifier of your lighting package identical to a magnificence dish or softbox. Failing this, bouncing gentle in opposition to a big white cotton sheet can be a very good substitute.

Bringing all of it collectively

I’ve spoken about all the person elements, however now let me clarify the way it all comes collectively, find out how to shoot this your self and what to search for when doing so.

I discussed initially the way it’s straightforward for a number of coloured lights to show into a large number as overlapping colours grow to be muddy and might even result in clipped tones and ugly color-banding points, particularly when the colours being produced by hard-lights lead to saturated tones. On this setup, I wished to create a softer, pastel shade wash and I did this with a comfortable blue from behind and a fragile pink from the entrance. The trick right here is to position your topic between the 2 lights, that means, the physique is at all times casting shadows for the opposite gentle to fill in.

For instance; the blue soft-light behind is powerful on the surface left fringe of the mannequin, nevertheless it’s casting delicate shadows on the correct of the mannequin. The pink gentle to the correct is now filling in these shadows and is concurrently casting a slight shadow on the left of the mannequin that the blue is filling in.

Check out what every of the lights is doing individually within the photos beneath to see precisely what I imply.

Lastly after all, we see the white gentle from the onerous, optical snoot overpowering the softer colours beneath to deliver all of it collectively and that leads to that additional degree of visible curiosity we see within the closing shot.

Factors to remember…

Hopefully all the diagrams, BTS, breakdowns and explanations is sufficient to make sure you can recreate this your self, however earlier than you rush outdoors to attempt to discover a chook to poo on you for good luck (sure, it’s bizarre being British), right here’s a few pointers which may prevent from needing to depend on faecal-rain alone!

  • Attempt to place your faux-trellis in such a means that there’s sufficient gentle on the mannequin’s face. I needed to push apart and pin again a couple of faux roses in order that the spot of sunshine over the mannequin’s face was bigger than in every single place else.

  • I didn’t converse in regards to the background selection above, nevertheless it’s nonetheless an essential choice to make. I went for a pair of low cost white curtains because the folds and texture not solely look higher behind than a flat white wall, however these curtain folds will catch the totally different colours from the lights on both aspect superbly too.

  • With that background in thoughts and having to shoot in a small house, I wished to ensure the realm behind the mannequin was out of focus. An extended lens like a 105mm and even an 85mm at a shallow depth of area is an effective way to do that.

  • One closing component that wants consideration, is your shade decisions. As you’ll be able to inform from the pictures above, when utilizing very comfortable gentle like this, it’s virtually not possible to maintain the lights fully separated so thought must be given to the colours you utilize as sure coloured lights actually don’t combine properly. I’ve already written intensive articles about this matter up to now on my web site, however I used the comfortable pink and blue right here as I knew they’d combine to provide a muted, lavender purple which might subtly distinction the pink and blue within the foreground for additional separation. In case you’re undecided, both dig into the archives of my -Method Tuesdays- or just experiment with shade combos on the day. Give a couple of totally different colours a attempt to see what works.

Good luck guys and when you give this one a strive, please let me understand how you get on. Plus, if ever need some suggestions in your photographs, make sure to submit them in my -Share-a-Shoot- each Monday on my Fb Web page.

In case you have any questions on something then pop them within the feedback beneath. Take pleasure in and keep inventive!

  • Mannequin: Jordan Ebbitt

  • Crown: Carbickova Crowns

Concerning the Creator

Jake Hicks is an editorial and style photographer who makes a speciality of conserving the ability within the digicam, not simply on the display. For extra of his work and tutorials, take a look at his web site. Don’t overlook to love his Fb web page and observe him on Instagram, too. On Jake’s Fb web page, you may as well tune in for a dwell stream each different Tuesday evening. You can even join the Jake Hicks Pictures e-newsletter to obtain Jake’s free Prime Ten Studio Lighting Suggestions and Strategies PDF and make sure to obtain his free 50-page studio lighting ebook. This text was additionally printed right here and shared with permission.