Lighting "gels" are tinted acetate sheets that photographers and filmmakers beam white light through to produce coloured lighting effects. Professional lighting gels are available for purchase at any photography equipment retail store, but, if you are working on a budget, you can make your own professional-quality lighting gels with easy-to-find supplies.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- USB storage device
- 8 x 10-inch acetate sheets
Determine the colour value for the lighting gels. The Cloford.com website offers a detailed list of colours and their hexadecimal (Hex) numbers, which are used by computers to help determine the main colour shade, as well as their Red, Green and Blue (RGB) values, which are used to determine the amount of each colour used to create a final colour. Both the Hex notation and the RGB values are used by computers to determine the exact shade you request.
Download samples of the colours as a .jpg file onto a USB storage device. A USB storage device, also known as a Universal Serial Bus, connects directly to a computer through the USB port and downloads information directly onto its memory chip. In essence, a USB is a condensed portable hard drive. To find colour samples, type the RGB value of the colour into an image search engine, such as Google Image. Right-click the image and select, "Save As" and then select your USB storage device. The colour sample is then saved to the device.
Purchase 8 x 10-inch acetate sheets from an office supply store. These sheets are transparent, and are commonly used for projectors. The number of sheets needed is determined by the number of lighting gels you require for the photo shoot.
Visit your local printing shop, such as Kinkos. Tell the clerk you need to make copies of the colours located on the USB storage device onto the acetate paper. The cost of a colour copy may vary; however, most printing services do not charge more than 60p per print.
Allow the acetate sheets to completely dry, which may take up to five minutes. Attach the sheets to a light, and you have perfectly coloured lighting gels.
Tips and warnings
- You can purchase coloured acetate sheets if you do not wish to have the colours printed onto them.
- Never place newly printed sheets into a box until they are completely dry. The colours can rub off on each other, ruining their colour values.
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