Colored Paper Isn’t Just For Kids

When thinking of colored paper, most people may remember back to a time when they used it for making collages when they were a kid; and although it may be used as such, it can also be a handy tool  for a photographer.

"Green With Control"

Before I had gels for my camera strobes, I was trying to think of a way to color the full frame of my image without the use of photoshop. Blue recycling bags didn’t do the trick because they were both too oily and thin to provide a solid enough filter for the light. Therefore, I decided to try some colored paper that my mom had left around after teaching class. While quite opaque compared to normal gels, it wasn’t sturdy enough to be attached to my strobes while providing an even spread of light similar to that of a rectangular softbox. Here are the results.

"Boiling Red"

These pictures were taken about a year ago, but I decided to talk about this technique now because I’m currently entering several competitions involving primary colors and it drew me back to the images you see here.

In the red image, “Boiling Red”, the color paper was placed behind a bottle of hand santizer with the flash placed a bit further beyond that.  It created a nice even red effect across the whole image with the central area lit bright orange as if it were a flame (this being where the flash was primary focused). As for the green image, “Green With Control”, the paper and flash are placed camera right with the flash placed about two inches or so away from the paper in order to avoid creating any hot spots as in the previous image.

Although I haven’t tried yet, both of these images could possibly be done with gels that are fairly inexpensive, going for around $10 at B&H. But if you do not have any available or want an interesting and even cheaper way of coloring your photos, colored paper is another way to go.

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