I Like my Juice Orange but my Light White – Let’s Go CTO

I’m not sure if it’s an architectural standard for hotel conference areas but it seems most Marriott Hotels in the area use a very low color temperature lighting system.  It’s probably energy efficient but it makes it difficult to get a good color balance when the lights are so dim and particularly in some configurations where there is no stage lighting. The last conference I covered the lighting was registering below 2400K – out of range for manual settings in camera that bottom out at 2400-2500K.  I’ve been using CTO gels on my flashes and tried various sticky brands and velcro brands and several other options. I finally decided to try making some of my own from CTO gel sheets ( 1/4 and 1/2  CTO stock). I figured I could stack combinations to bring my lights into the proper color range.  The last conference worked best at a full CTO which I achieved by stacking 2 of my 1/2 CTO gel cutouts.

I like using a Lumiquest  Softbox diffuser. It has a cutout in the lower half to allow the infrared focus assist to pass.

Lumiquest Softbox

Gel materials are available at a local theatrical lighting supply house so I purchased several sheets of 1/4 CTO and 1/2 CTO gels. I laid out the pattern from the diffuser in it’s folded state then cut a number of pieces of each density.For use with other modifiers and diffusers I cut strips the wide of the flash which could easily be secured with a Velcro strap used for a variety of other attachments such as larger soft boxes and grids.

The gel strips can also be stacked and modifiers placed over the top. Using these options allows a range of control over color temperature so that all sources are matched.  The sample below was shot with 3 flash units color matched to ambient lighting.

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