Lindsay Adler on high-impact gel lighting with Profoto D2's
I tend to photograph in extremes: either saturated, rich color or high-contrast black and white. My goal is to create high-impact, “scroll-stopping” images that pop off the screen. As a beauty and fashion photographer, I enjoy portraying women with a balance of strength and elegance. I invoke this through lighting, camera angle, styling and pose.
One way I infuse my work with eye-catching color is by using gel lighting. For this image, I was inspired by Hollywood movie posters, which frequently use complementary or primary colors to create tension and make the subject pop. It was created as part of an in-depth video and tutorial for educating photographers about effective ways to use color gels in the studio and on location.
Contrasting color schemes are often used for blockbuster movie posters; The aesthetic has become associated with superheroes. I wanted to imbue my subject with these larger-than-life qualities. I gelled my lights with colors of opposing temperatures: blue and yellow. I used three lights: a single main light and two rim lights. The main light was a beauty dish with a grid and a blue gel. I chose this modifier to create a flattering quality of light on the model’s skin and added a grid to ensure the background would appear darker. The two rim lights, equally spaced on either side of my subject, were 1’ x 4’ strip soft boxes with yellow gels. I chose strip soft boxes to create an even and soft rim on both sides of her body.
To add to the feeling of strength and power in this image, I shot my subject from a low angle. The earring adds another layer of visual interest to the composition, allowing the eye a point to rest upon, and further elevating the image’s stylistic strength.
As a rule of thumb, when using color, warmer colors come forward and cooler colors recede. In this image, for example, the rim light on her profile is warmer so the viewer’s eyes are drawn there first. While this setup worked when my subject was facing the camera, I found it to be more impactful with her in profile because of how strongly my eye was drawn to the warm rim lights.
My lighting style tends to be bold and crisp. I love using hard light, gels and careful placement of shadows. While my personal style is important to me, I also allow the concept of the shoot guide my creative decisions. I don’t just stick to one or two lighting setups; Instead, I vary the lighting based on the story I’m trying to tell, or the characteristics of the subject I want to highlight.
I’ve been using Profoto exclusively for years now—my gear is an extension of me and my creativity. It has become such an integrated part of my image creation that is never stands in the way. By knowing and trusting my gear, I’m able to allow my creativity to flow freely.
Tips & Tricks
ADDING COLORFUL DRAMA TO SHOOTS WITH GEL LIGHTING.
- CHOOSE YOUR COLORS carefully to better tell your story. Consult a color wheel and color theory to help!
- COOLER COLORS RECEDE TO THE BACK in a photograph while warmer colors attract more visual attention.
- USE MODELING LIGHTS in order to carefully place your rim lights. You only want to illuminate what you want to draw attention to. In this image, you can see how perfectly the rim light accentuates her profile.
- A BEAUTY DISH CREATES A QUALITY OF LIGHT that is soft but with more contrast. It can be a perfect choice for a modifier when you want to flatter the skin but still have a bit of drama on your subject.
- TO LEARN MORE ABOUT GELS, visit lindsayadler.photo/gels. I’ll show you how to control the use of color and light in your images-creating results that will jump off the screen!