Mixing Colored Gels with Photoshop's Photo Filters - Part 1

Placing colored gels over flashes can add interest to many types of images. In January 2012, I took a series of images of Tiffany using gels taped onto a Nikon SB800 flash placed behind her, but pointed towards the wall. I exposed a short series of images using blue, green and red gels. The main light was a single gridded strip light, which illuminated Tiffany from the side so as to not blow out the colored light behind her. Post-processing these images with the Photo Filters in Photoshop yielded some interesting results, which I will share here.

First, let us examine an image as shot, with no adjustments whatsoever. The side light from the strip softbox is very unflattering:

The side light makes the skin look bad, but the shadows are interesting and the blue light is not contaminated.

The side light makes the skin look bad, but the shadows are interesting and the blue light is not contaminated.

In Lightroom let us apply the "boudoir white balance" I spoke of on my post January 15, 2014 by setting the Temp to 5135 and the Tint to 34. We will also straighten the image, add a bit of Clarity (20) and Vibrance (20) and lighten the Shadows just a bit:

The image after a few minor adjustments in Lightroom.

The image after a few minor adjustments in Lightroom.

Once in Photoshop, the eyes will be lightened, the skin smoothed, and a vignette will be added:

The basic glamour retouching has been completed.

The basic glamour retouching has been completed.

Now we will add the Cooling (80) Photo Filter set at 100% Density. I did not want all of Tiffany's skin to be bluish, so on the Cooling (80) layer mask, I painted over the skin of her upper body with a large, soft Brush set at 20% opacity. This revealed some of the original retouched image below:

Part of Tiffany's skin has a slightly warmer look than the rest.

Part of Tiffany's skin has a slightly warmer look than the rest.

Just for fun, I created a black and white layer in Nik's Silver Efex Pro 2, using the default settings:

The plain back and white version.

The plain back and white version.

Finally, black and white layer's opacity was reduced to 85%. This yielded the interesting "semi black and white" look which was mentioned in blog posts on December 13, 2013 and January 26, 2014:

This version is my favorite.

This version is my favorite.

More interesting variations will be shown in the next few blog posts.