I’ve been experimenting with colouring my Speedlites with strongly coloured gels and then using either in-camera custom white balance or white balance adjustments in post production to introduce more extreme colour casts in the background of my pictures.

When white is not white

Lastolite Expo Balance with the camera set to daylight white balance

Lastolite Expo Balance with the camera set to daylight white balance

Corrected white balance in Lightroom

Corrected white balance in Lightroom

The theory is simple; if you add a filter to the flash, then shoot a white balance card you can overcome the effect of the coloured flash by adding lots of complimentary colour. This means that the flash subject is correctly balanced, but the background gets a strong and intentional colour cast.

Custom white balance

I did set a custom white balance from the picture of the Xpo Balance. However since the target was actually used the wrong way round the white balance wasn’t as good as it should have been. Lauren-Christina looked a little greener on the back of the camera than I hoped. However in Lightroom I clicked on the grey panel to set the white balance.

As you can see from the white balance corrected shot on the left below the ambient light in the background behind the model is very strongly green / cyan toned. Oxford sunshine is not normally that green 🙂

Model Lauren-Christina photographed in Oxford for a fashion portfolio shoot

Model Lauren-Christina photographed in Oxford for a fashion portfolio shoot

Green is not a colour that normally works for lighting beautiful models like Lauren-Christina. So I did push this picture a little more in Lightroom to lighten the effect and even out the skin tone. It’s a combination of reducing the highlight and white sliders, with an increase in the shadows then applying a tone curve too.

Split tone added in Lightroom

Split toning settings in Lightroom

Split toning settings in Lightroom

 

I preferred how the picture looked when I added some split toning in Lightroom too…

It seems that Lauren-Christina has been the subject of several of my split toning tests lately.

Model Lauren-Christina photographed in Oxford for a fashion portfolio shoot

For these pictures I used a “primary red” filter gel from Lee Filters to shift the colour of the flash.

Even though I shoot almost exclusively in RAW I find that getting the white balance good in the camera is a real help.

 

 

 

 

About the author

Full-time photo tutor and photographer. I love to share my knowledge and skills to make photos, videos and teach others. I write books and articles for photo magazines and I always have at least one Speedlite flash in my camera bag