Here’s an incredibly neat little hack for making your iPhone’s flash suck less, and it’s marred only by the photo used to illustrate it, which features some kind of Android “phone.”
If you ever wondered how you might use colored gels on your iPhone’s flash, read on. Or just look at the picture — it’s pretty self explanatory (once you get over the inexplicable purchase of an Android handset anyway).
Why gel your flash? Several reasons. There’s the creative option, which lets you turn somebody’s face green while leaving the background (where the LED lamp’s light doesn’t reach) neutral. And then there’s balance.
In the (horrible) picture you see a tiny plastic square, cut from a half CTO gel and affixed to a gap in a business card. That’s the entire hack, and although you could get fancy if you want to actually fix the filter in place, just holding it while you shoot is plenty good enough.
CTO stands for “color temperature orange,” and it is used to make normally bluish flashes match orangey indoor lighting. Modern cameras, with their adjustable white balance, take care of these differences right up until you put multiple light sources into your picture. Then all bets are off, with different-colored lighting all over the place.
The easiest way to balance things out is to gel the flash to match the ambient light. A “half CTO” is a half-strength (or “half-cut”) version of the gel. You can pick full cut, half-cut or less to balance any color of light.
This trick can also be used to put colored gels over the lens, but this will color the whole image, and gels aren’t as optically perfect as proper lens filters. Still, if you’re planning on sending the results up to Instagram anyway, then who cares about quality, right?