Lighting 102: CTO Assignment | Discussion

Report from June 3rd, in which you were asked to use a CTO filter to do something other than correct for incandescent light. The CTO is maybe the most useful CC filter in the whole pack, as several readers demonstrate in their photos, after the jump.

Greg Cee shot on tungsten white balance and gelled his flash with a CTO -- but went with an additional 1/2 CTO (full CTO plus a 1/2 CTO) gel on the thin sliver of light coming from camera right.

This is important, as it puts the light past normal and into a warm color, which is nice when you are making it try to stand out against the blue you have gotten by shooting on incandescent WB.

Fill was from an umbrella, no gel, and pointing up to feather the light off of the bottom of the frame.

Takeaway: If you are trying to do that cool-light shift thing, with a CTO on your light, go past full CTO to either (2) CTO or (1.5) CTO to get that warm-on-cool light that usually looks better than white on cool.

What's the one day a year when you can cover your kid in spaghetti and not catch trouble?

Father's Day, of course. Especially your very first Father's Day, which is when Brad Herman chose to reproduce a photo he had seen done long ago, this time using his kid as the model.

Brad used a palette of warm-to-neutral light: Full CTO on the spaghetti monster, half CTO shooting through the tree in the background, and a no-CTO rim.

That last one is assuming he was on incandescent WB, but looking at it now I am not totally sure. Reason is, the full CTO front flash looks pretty warm for a straight CTO in tungsten WB mode. And the rim light does not look quite full CTB.

I am guessing he either walked the WB around a little in between, or shifted the color a little bit in post. Maybe Brad will clue us in via the photo's caption.

Either way, this is the kind of photo that will make someone pick up the phone and call someone at a kid's modeling agency. Or social services. We trust the bath followed shortly thereafter.

Also going for the 1+1/2 CTO thing on tungsten WB was jgentsch, which allowed him not only to deepen the sky's blue tone, but to contrast it nicely with warm light (even after the WB conversion) on the flowers and window.

Thanks much for the setup shot, too. Those are always helpful for people to see. Although there is a bit of a setup shot in the original photo, in the camera left window...

Shutter-Think skipped the incandescent WB shift and decided to go warm and warmer in his photograph of a woman practicing yoga.

He went the other way, balancing to shade. The half blue gel on the main light brought it back closer to daylight.

But it caught a lot of warm bounce fill and warmed up from a backlight gelled full CTO, made even warmer by the camera's shade WB setting.

Remember, with the combination of full and partial CTOs and CTBs, you have quite a range of options to dial your photo warmer or cooler. And you can do it for the whole photo, or vary the shift with each light.

And finally, this self portrait by nikonbhoy works all around the warm/cool scale, using a full CTO front light, a blue backlight, and daylight ambient fill.

It was shot on tungsten WB, which shifted everything toward blue.

As a group, these photos do a great job of showing some of the different looks that are possible using a couple of sheets of orange-ish acetate, once you realize that stuff is far more useful than just correcting for tungsten light.

Really nice work, guys. You can see the original assignment here, and all of the entries here.

UPDATE: From the comments, a little confusion as to which Rosco filters are what, WRT CTO's, CTB's, etc. Also from the comments, a heads-up about an excellent Rosco publication containing such info. (Check out page nine.)

NEXT: Lighting 102: 7.0 -- Time-Based Variables


New to Strobist? Start here | Or jump right to Lighting 101
Got a question? Hit me on Twitter: @Strobist
Grab your passport: Strobist Destination Workshops