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Trying to understand the green and magenta gels
Old 05-05-2009, 06:31 AM   #1 (permalink)
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I have been wanting to do a lot more work outdoors and I am interested in the gel process that Rolando uses, but I am a little bit lost on something.

I have done some color darkroom work years back and I understand the lighting the model with the green gel and then shooting through the magenta filter to remove that green and make the sky and everything else not illuminated by the green light more magenta.

What I don't understand is this quote:
"Here, Rolando placed a #4430 green gel over the flash and white balanced his camera to the exact opposite, a Rosco #4730 magenta gel."

Putting the green gel over the flash is going to illuminate the model with green light. But I thought if I set my white balance for magenta, then when the camera corrects the image it is going to remove magenta from the image to make it white rather than removing the green? It seems to me that you would just take a picture of a white card using the green gel flash for your white balance. Then when the camera corrects for the green cast it will remove green from the entire image shifting the portions not hit by the green flash away from green. Am I missing something basic?
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Re: Trying to understand the green and magenta gels
Old 05-05-2009, 11:39 AM   #2 (permalink)
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What will happen in the camera when you bring the green back to white is it is putting magenta to the whole image in an effort to "correct" the image. What this does is give you subject which was exposed to the green light a proper "normal" color balance and a magenta cast to the background.
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Re: Trying to understand the green and magenta gels
Old 05-05-2009, 11:58 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Hello Steve,

Thanks for the response.

You are actually saying the same thing as I was, only I said removes the green, which basically shifts it toward magenta.

The thing I don't understand is the quote from the book where it says that he puts a green filter over the flash he is using on the model, but then uses a magenta white balance. In my understanding, using a magenta base for your white balance when using a green main light is just going to make your entire picture greener and turn your model into an Orion slave girl. Maybe it is just an error in the book.
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Re: Trying to understand the green and magenta gels
Old 05-23-2009, 12:01 AM   #4 (permalink)
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There is no error, green is a cooler(temp wise) color than magenta. By warming your cameras to (magenta) aprox 6000 kelvins white balance it offsets the green cast too appear normal on the subject. I think the confusion is that he is not adjusting for a magenta cast but setting the actual camera to the magenta color temp.

Hope this helps
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Re: Trying to understand the green and magenta gels
Old 05-23-2009, 11:45 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Actually the green combined with the magenta gel is from the old film days. The best way to do this, and we practice this in the Virgin Islands workshops, is with digital. First, you place your green gel over your flash, then do a custom white-balance with your camera. Very easy with Canon as you just select the image. Make sure you custom white-balance the way your camera says. With Canon I have the model hold up a white towel.

By using custom white-balance, the camera corrects to the opposite (magenta) and you get a magenta sky as the flash makes the model green, but not the sky. So basically everything that doesn't get hit by green flash, turns the opposite.

Every photographer should know six colors, red, green, blue and their exact opposites, cyan, magenta and yellow. Another technique is to use a 3/4 CTO (Rosco #3411 gel) then place it over your flash and set your white-balance manually anywhere between 3200 to 4100K, depends on your model's skin tone. This is the same as shooting through an 80A filter in film cameras. Thus, the CTO makes flash tungsten, the flash then illuminates everyone with tungsten temp light, thus what doesn't get hit by flash turns blue.

The trick to all this is overpowering the sun with flash and using your shutter-speed to control the saturation of the background color, hence if your settings are 1/200 shutter at F/16, then you make sure the flash lights your subject with F/16 output. Then to lighten the sky you drop the shutter where you like, the shutter-speed for your subject is the duration of the flash.

I hope that helps, all the best, rg sends!
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Re: Trying to understand the green and magenta gels
Old 05-24-2009, 01:53 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Rolando said it perfectly ... I tried it and it works! Thanks Ro.

If you plan to do this color gel trick often, here's a trick I use ....
Cover your flash with the gel, then have someone hold something white in front of the camera and white balance your camera ... then if the images look good, take a marker and write the white balance Kelvin temperature number onto the gel so you can quickly find the right white balance the next time you use that gel. Since I might use several gel colors during a creative shoot, this can speed up your time when shooting.
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