Using Gels in Portraits with Erik Valind and FlashBender 2

We've shown how to create a 3-point lighting set up before, but how about one with a twist: color in the shadows! Here's a classic set up with a main light, fill light, and hair light, but the unique look of this image comes in when gels are added to some of the lights. 

The first step is creating the main light. For this image, the main light is a speedlight with a Rogue FlashBender 2 XL Pro Lighting System attached, shaped with the Strip Grid. Using the XL Pro as a strip grid allows us to create a soft light on the subject while giving the light direction. The grid cells prevent the light falling off in other parts of the face. By giving the light direction, we are able to illuminate the mask of the face, giving contoured lines on the cheek bones and forehead, making a three-dimensional look to the subject's face.

Our second light will be the fill light. The purpose of the fill light is to fill in shadows created by the main light. While the main light gives dimension to the face, that dimension comes at a cost: shadows. Shadows are necessarily bad, but dramatic shadows will create heavy contrast, which we can modify in camera with the fill light. We want a soft fill, so for this flash we'll add another Rogue FlashBender 2 XL Pro Lighting System with the Softbox Diffuser attached.We'll add Rogue Flash Gels from the Combo Filter Kit to the fill light to create a unique twist. By adding a blue-green gel we can fill in those shadows with a different color, creating a two-tone split without any kind of post process modification.

Finally we're going to add one more light for two purposes. The last light will be a speedlight for a hair light. Using a Rogue FlashBender 2 Large Reflector rolled up as a snoot, this light will not only separate our subject from the background, but also highlight her beautiful blonde hair. By using a another gel from our Rogue Flash Gels: Combo Filter Kit, we're going to make it a yellow to bring out that blonde and balance out the blue-green of the fill light.

Using only three lights, portable modifiers like the Rogue FlashBender 2s, and some Rogue Gels, we've created an incredibly unique fashion editorial portrait with color and drama. This setup is great for a portable studio, home studio, or experiment and try this technique outdoors!

Lighting Setup:

Final Images:


Erik Valind
Erik Valind


Erik Valind is a freelance photographer, born and raised on the Florida beaches, now living in New York City. Specializing in commercial lifestyle photography and environmental portraiture - airy and energetic imagery defines the style and vision of this top pro photographer. Inspired by the form, activity and diversity of people, Erik has lent his expertise to shape the public image of numerous personas and national brands.

2 Responses


August 03, 2015

These are really beautiful, thanks for sharing!! I can’t wait to try it.


July 21, 2015

Bonjour, je suis en France et j’utilise votre materiel ( 2 x Flashbenders 2xl pro and Grid ) . je suis très satisfait

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