Having recently been introduced to gels I thought it was something I needed to explore further and so, with the help of India Booker and Andy Harris, it was back to the studio to see what improvements, if any, we could make to our earlier attempts with gels.
Let’s get one thing clear from the start, I am by no means an expert when it comes to using gels, in fact, the very opposite, I am very much a novice. I have some ideas based on my previous experiences using gels and it is those ideas that I have taken back into the studio to work on and develop. Add to that some internet research on the subject and that is pretty much the total extent of my knowledge.
I am pleased with the progress we have made so far and the shoots we have done to date have given me some idea of the way I want to progress.
For me the gels are going to be bold. I’m not going to use them as a subtle enhancement of an image, the image will be about the gels. They will be obvious and in a way it will be body painting with light. It does seem that gels are more effective at colouring skin than clothing. In the recent shoot with India she wore a bikini for the majority of the shoot and the colours from the gels stood out well on her skin, whereas initially we did some shots with India wearing a shirt and the colours did not seem to be as distinct. It may be that some good effects can be achieved on clothing depending on what clothing it is. I don’t know, this is one for the future.
Something else I came across during my research was the colour wheel which seems to exist in many forms, all with slight variations. The basic principle however remains the same in all versions and I have found it useful in understanding how to combine colours, usually by contrasting “warm” and “cold”. There’s always going to be an element of personal taste but in general it does seems that combining opposite colours on the wheel does work best.
For me editing has also been important. A certain amount of smoothing of the images blends the colours and gives a look similar to that of body painting effect.
It has all been very much a learning curve and I am sure that what works today will most likely change a great deal with further shoots. For me it’s all part of the enjoyment, learning, developing and hopefully improving your photography. I like to think that my best photograph is one that I haven’t taken yet and the quest to find it continues.
So that’s it so far. I’m pretty sure that gels are not going to work for everyone, you’re either going to love them or hate them. What I would say though is that if you are going to give them a go, have fun, enjoy the experience, be bold and see where it leads you. That’s certainly what I’m going to do.