Tips & Tricks: Single Flash Solutions, Part 2: Cool Light vs. Warm Light

Our Tips & Tricks series aims to give beginners, amateurs and professionals alike more ways to approach different aspects of photography and videography. For each installment, we’ve enlisted the expertise of our MPEX staff (or friends of the store) and have received their feedback on method and equipment.

(This is a continuation of Tips & Tricks: Single Flash Solutions, Part 1: Hard Light vs. Soft Light.)

While Kevin and I were out testing LumoPro‘s latest flash, I also wanted to see what we could do to create mood with cool light and warm light.

Cool light generally portrays a more distanced, dramatic look, while warm light creates a more inviting atmosphere, a “warmer” mood. Kevin and I wanted to create two photos: one with a cool background, and one with a warmer background.

However, we didn’t want me to be in color. Instead, we wanted me to stand out as the subject. Check out these two photos:

GOROFF (1 of 4)

GOROFF (2 of 4)

The effects here are exactly what we were going for, especially in the “cooler” photo. We used Rogue gels to achieve these effects in camera, but maybe not in the way you’re thinking.

For the cooler photo, instead of using a cool gel, we used a warm gel. This way, Kevin adjusted the white balance on his Fuji X100S to consider the warm flash that was hitting my face as “white” by cooling everything else in the image, thus causing the rest of the background to become blue.

We did the opposite with the warmer photo: fitting the flash with a blue gel, asking the camera to consider the blue on my face “white,” thus warming up the environment around me. (The effect was not as pronounced as we would have liked, as I don’t pop out as much, but that’s also probably because my skin tone better matches the “warm” color of the environment.)

Remember: this was achieved with one flash and some tricky thinking. What can you accomplish with one flash?

Midwest Photo

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