Over the days leading up to the 25th of December I’d like to give something to everyone who stops by my blog. These tips cover camera settings, flash, lighting, software and gear. I’ll be providing a pair of tips each day until 25th December.

#39 – Adding coloured gel to your flash

Coloured gel

Custom white balance with coloured lights on your subject

custom white balance with gelled flash

At one of my Speedlite flash workshops the topic of adding colour to the flash came up… I duly added a sheet of coloured filter gel to the flash. This gave a “challenging colour” on the subject.

Time for custom white balance – go check out this post too. I took a shot with the grey side of the Lastolite Xpobalance filling most of the frame. Then I used the in-camera custom white balance to read the image and determine a suitable colour adjustment. This was applied to neutralise the effect of the coloured gel. Since there were additional light sources in the frame, their colours were also shifted significantly as you can see below.

custom white balance with gelled flash

Not all coloured filters can be fully corrected. Many years ago I used a primary red filter on my flash, and even with  the custom white balance the camera was not able to add enough cyan to the image to overcome all the red coloured light.

#40 – Exposure simulation with Live View

live view exposure simulation

Entry-level EOS cameras ensure that when Live View is used, the display is easy to see, regardless of the exposure settings at the time. However when you half-press the shutter the brightness of the LCD may change, as the camera switches to show a preview of the image with the current exposure settings. This is easily seen in manual mode, if the chosen exposure settings are very different to the ambient light.

Moving up the range of cameras, you’ll be able to choose whether the LCD shows the simulated exposure all the time, not at all, or only when the depth of field preview button is pressed. So which is the best option?

If you tend to shoot mainly in available light and use manual exposure, it does help to enable exposure simulation.

If you shoot in the studio, where the light is only briefly illuminating the subject, disabling exposure simulation is a good idea or you’ll mostly see a dark LCD screen. This is particularly important for mirrorless cameras.

The option that I choose for my DSLRs, is to simulate exposure when the depth of field preview button is pressed. This ensures it’s always easy to see the subject for framing, but I can easily see the expected exposure by pressing the depth of field button. The EOS 80D and more advanced models have the choice of settings.


Here’s a few more festive fifty tips

Festive fifty – day #23
Festive fifty – day #22
Festive fifty – day #2
Festive fifty – day #24

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