Nikon Learn & Explore

Mixing Different Color Gels for a Unique Background

Behind the scenes at portrait lighting workshops with Speedlight flash master David X. Tejada

David Tejada photo of a model with a red and blue gelled background

© David Tejada

D850, AF-S NIKKOR 200mm f/2G ED VR II, 1/250 second, f/2, ISO 64, manual exposure.

The Portrait Workshop Series

If you're visiting for the first time, we're presenting here a dozen photos taken at portrait photography workshops by the noted commercial photographer and Nikon Creative Lighting System expert David X. Tejada.

To get the most from his tips, techniques and comments, be sure to take a few moments to check out our notes on flash, metering and the CLS before viewing the photos.

Just Bright Enough

"This is a fun one," David says. "The main light is an SB-900 in a 9x13 LumiQuest LTp softbox on a boom above and in front of her. Behind her was an SB-5000 with two gels, a blue and a red, draped and taped over the flash head."

A key to the effect was to fire the gelled SB-5000 through a plastic, pebble-textured translucent panel, the kind you see in ceiling grids covering fluorescent lights—you know, the ones you stare at when you're lying back in the dentist's chair.

David used a shallow depth of field to be sure the panel, which was about two feet behind the model, was out of focus, and he set the SB-5000 for 1/32nd power. "The eye goes to the brightest thing in the frame, so I didn't want the gelled flash to overpower the photo.

And if it were too bright, the light would have wrapped around her head and flared into the lens."  

There was also a table in front of the model on which was a 30-inch Lastolite TriGrip reflector with a Softsilver surface to kick some of the main light's illumination up toward her face. 

David Tejada photo of a Speedlight with red and blue gels taped on

© David Tejada