Recently I picked up an 8 pack of these Neewer color gels from Amazon. I wanted them to use with my Flashpoint XPLOR strobes, I have the barn door and gel kit that goes with the strobes, but I wanted to expand my color options. Normally when I am lighting a background I use two strobes pointed at it for even coverage, so ideally I’d have matching gels available for each unit. The Neewer gels are 12×12″ and they are intended to be cut to size. Now, they’re not expensive gels, but rather than buy two sets and throw a lot of spare gel away, I determined to make two square (approx 8×8″ I didn’t measure, I don’t like to measure) gels out of one 12″ square gel, and it worked out pretty well!
Here’s what you’re going to need:
Your gels, a nice pair of scissors, a box cutter or other blade, and some scotch tape. You will also need the correct sized gel to use as a template.
Note! The gels ship with a protective plastic layer on both sides. I didn’t realize this before I started cutting mine, so don’t be like me. It’s much easier to get the plastic off before you start cutting than afterward.
Using the correctly sized gel as a template, cut out one square from the 12″ gel (make sure you use a good cutting surface and not like, your lap or a small child or something obv.)
Once you’ve cut out the original square, you’re going to have some rectangular pieces. Put those together and use scotch tape to join the ends, making another square.
Trim that square to size as well, again using the original gel as a template. When you’re finished cutting/taping you will have two squares, and then two spare odd sized pieces.
Once the gels are in place the scotch tape seam is in no way visible in your image, and you have two gels for the price of one!*
I actually think the smaller sizes may work well to gel some of my speedlights, but I need to mess around with that before I can prove the concept. These are much more firm than the gels I normally use on my speedlights. But I am keeping the smaller pieces, since you never know how/when they will come in handy.
Here are some photos of dramatic Pooh, gelled.
For clarity, here’s what that setup looks like, black v-flat in the back, gelled strobe pointed at the v-flat, barn doors blocking spill and white softbox for main light.
The blue gel from the Adorama kit is first, the blue gel from the Neewer set is after. The Neewer is a bit lighter in color and more turquoise-y.
So anyway now I feel extremely crafty and accomplished, having saved… $12. OK. Whatever! I didn’t waste gel! Hope this helps you and gives you some ideas about creatively slicing up your own materials.
*Now, before everyone starts crabbing about the tape melting, I know, I know, Scotch tape is not exactly heat proof. But given the distance between the gel and my light once it’s in the holder, the fact that these strobes have LED modeling lights, and the fact that I do not plan to shoot hundreds of gelled photos in a row so the lights really heat up, this is not a strong concern for me. Your mileage may vary, do what you feel. Don’t @ me.
Susan Bennet is photographer and videographer living and working in St. Louis, Mo. She likes black cats, period dramas and shooting people (not like that.) You can check out her work at oohstloustudios.com and get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org