I am a big fan of doing interesting lighting techniques and have been playing around with using gels to create colored background effects. While using small gels can work pretty good, I have been looking for something that works better, isn’t as fragile, and basically was designed for the purpose. What I found was the Lumiquest FX kit. The FX is a complete colored filter system designed specifically to create colored lighting effects.
The FX is a colored gel system that comes with five colored gels (blue, green, red, yellow, and amber) and a gel holder that attaches to your flash with velcro. The kit contains the holder, the five gels, a carrying case, and velcro pads. The FX is available at most camera shops or online for around $35.00.
The FX attaches via velco to your flash with the included velcro pads. If you are like me and use a variety of modifiers, putting some velcro pads on the flash really isn’t an option. Instead of sticking the velcro pads on, I use a Honl Photo Speed Strap and the FX attaches to the Speed Strap quite nicely.
To use, pick out a color you want and insert it into the FX holder, attach the holder to your flash and you are ready to go. Keep in mind you are going to lose about 1 stop of light when using the gels so adjust your flash accordingly.
Shown here is the FX attached to a Canon 580 EX II and fired at a black muslin wall so you can get a feel for how to use the system. At first you may think you want to aim the colored light at a white wall for the best reflection, but in fact, the opposite is true. A white wall or white seamless paper will reflect the light and just give you white instead of the color you want. Using a dark grey or black background such as seamless paper, black muslin, or black velvet will give you the best effect.
By adjusting the output of the flash you can control the brightness of the background and adjusting the position can create a gradient effect as you can see that the color goes from brighter “sweet spot” to darker edges.
“The Lumiquest FX is going to be one of my favorite gadgets to have around for those times you need something a little different.”
As you can see, a subtle color on background can make a huge difference on a portrait shoot. Let’s take a look at several product shot images taken with and without the FX system in place.
No Background Color
The results are exactly what I was looking for. The color is vibrant with a predictable fall-off allowing for easy adjustments so that you can get the exact effect you are looking for and for less than $40, it will work with virtually any flash brand.
Author: Kerry Garrison