Periodically, I see things on the web that leave me stunned. Many involve other people’s stupidity. Some involve equally striking acts of creativity. Some of the best, to me, are those showing simple and elegant ways to modernize small but important photographic tools.
If you do a lot of work with electronic flash, you often end up in a situation with different types of light in the backgrounds of your images. The classic example is photographing someone, with flash, inside a house. The room behind the subject is often filled with Tungsten light and usually comes out a strong orange. But, if you wanted the electronic flash light on the subject and the background light to both be clean and with no color shift, you usually ended up using colored gels over your flash AND colored filters over your lens.
Ideally, the two would be complementary, meaning that the orange filter you put over your flash would, in essence, put out an orange light which is the same as the ambient orange in the background AND be the opposite of the blue filter you would put over your lens. In this situation, the blue and the orange (assuming they are truly complementary colors) canceled each other out and the resulting light in the foreground and background appeared the same, with no color shift.
With digital, you no longer need to use filters over the lens, rather you just change the white balance setting. Those pesky gels over the flash are still needed and recently they have become ever harder to get.
Since I started in photography, you were always be able to get a free “sampler” pack with selected gels from a company called Rosco, which specializes, according to their site in “Equipment, software and products for theatre, film, television and architectural environments.” Budget constraints in the corporate world being what they are, Rosco has stopped giving out the sample packs at trade shows and conventions.
Those of us who use these gels with our electronic flash units were quietly hoarding our old Rosco “sampler” packs and especially the few gels we used the most (those for working with tungsten room light and for working with fluorescent lights.)
So, what recently left me stunned, was a series of web-sites with incredibly simple and elegant solution to this problem of how to get (or make) those gels. See more by searching for “Do It Yourself Flash Gel Kit”