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3200 K – The Sports Illustrated Look

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We all like to shoot during stunning sunsets.  Unfortunately the sunsets don’t always turn out to be the way we want them to be.  The good news is that, if you desire, there are color gels and we can make the shot more dramatic by using the Sports Illustrated Look technique.

For this technique you are going to need at least one flash and a CTO Orange gel…also a camera (or a mental camera if you can’t afford a real one….)

From the title of the post, you probably figured out that you have to set the custom white balance for your camera to 3200 K.  If you can’t find it or it is too much of a hassle for you (you’re lucky this time, rockstar), just use the “Tungsten” white balance setting on your camera.  Even if you’re a few Kelvins off, you can still fix it in post-production as long as you were smart and shooting in RAW.

Take a test shot and you are going to see that the sky is really blue but your athlete looks like an alien.  You can easily fix this by placing an Orange (CTO) gel on your flash(es).  The CTO gel will counter balance the cool white balance setting on your camera and make your athlete look….”normal”.

Keep in mind that only the things lit by your flash are going to look “normal” and everything else will be really blue.  That’s why we recommend using this technique at sunset because you can take advantage of the already blue sky and keep the clutter dark.

This technique is a lot of fun to experiment with, and you will be stoked with the results.  It’s often referred to as the Sports Illustrated look.  Like all great things, use it, but don’t abuse it.

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