Sculpting with Gel in the Studio!

Gels, i.e. intense colors, are quite a popular place to explore nowadays in photography. I’m going down. That is fun. A playground of the photographer’s imagination, written in bold and splashy colours. Example here, explosion there. I did a gel band in Vegas recently, working with the insanely talented Will Styles. Gifted and physically superior, he became part of the creative human architecture in the studio as I spooned color into his physique.

Running pictures from this session last week on our Instagram, and came up with a few questions about light control, number of lights, etc. So here we go.

The lighting plan is important, but the magic lies in deviating from the plan. It’s really like stirring a bucket of paint with different shades and seeing what happens.

First, these are all Profoto lamps. Series A and B lamps. Do not use LEDs or any type of bicolor stabilized light source, although in a studio, with full control (i.e. access to darkness), a stabilized light may work fine. But with flash, shots like the one above where Will is moving vertically, I have more confidence in the sharpness.

Lattice! Grilles, both cloth for softboxes, and magnetic grids for Profoto A10 and A2 lamps are important. Like the Profoto grid set, which will appear to be a regular magnum reflector.

Lots of lights! You want the grid to control where the colors go, and not let the light ramble around the set, as you would if you were using a large softbox, which creates beautiful but meandering photons. The gel and grid have to be hit, sometimes really hard, and in a certain spot. It can speak to many light sources, such as the nine light settings below.

Adapt! Many of the lights are moved during this set, some sometimes held by the hand. Lighting for certain areas can logically keep other areas off, that’s fine, until, you know, it’s not. Then the crew has to go in fast and play with grid light, hopefully something from a smaller source, to liven up parts of the photo. The maneuvers get really full when you get another beautiful body in there, like Alexis Acevedo, a phenomenal dancer/athlete/bodybuilder.

More on this amazing duo in a future blog. Meanwhile, thanks to the crew. Las Vegas-based photographer Brian Friedman was amazing on set, as well as photographer Kelly Fogel. Both are amazing photographers and really great to work with – thank you so much. In the not too distant future, video shoots will be arriving via the arts of MD Welch, based in Reno. And can’t say enough about the professionalism and atmosphere of the F11 Rentals studio in Las Vegas. Excellent and fully equipped studio to work in. Super staff.

And gears. They were all shot with the Nikon Z 9, and really give the new 85mm f/1.2 a workout here. Phenomenally sharp at 1.2, super fast and accurate AF response.

This is indeed a colorful world.

More thx….

Post Sculpting with Gel in the Studio! first appeared on Joe McNally Photography.

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