Reno-based food photographer, Shea Evans had a predicament. Having just come from a shoot, Shea had experienced some color temperature mixing issues when working with different light sources. As someone who enjoys photographic problem solving, Shea wanted to see if he could use different combinations of photo gels to solve the issue.
Shea began experimenting — testing the effects of various gels and playing with the white balance in post production. It didn’t take long before he started seeing some interesting results.
This attempt to solve a technical problem quickly transformed into a personal project for Shea. He hadn’t seen this kind of image in the past, so he decided it was worth trying to create more of these “technicolor” pictures. Although he was interested in the images for artistic reasons, Shea also surmised this style might be interesting to a potential client down the road. With that in mind, Shea went to town: shooting, tweaking, and re-shooting.
Charmed by the effects I was seeing, I sort of went off the rails with “correcting” color issues and starting embracing the “creation” of color issues.
As often occurs in photography, Shea’s pictures were the result of a “happy accident.” But Shea was not satisfied with letting this spontaneous discovery remain an accident; he worked hard, perfecting his technique, eventually creating a substantial library of images. One could say the resulting pictures evoke the experience of viewing three-dimensional pictures without the benefit of 3D glasses or seeing offset printed images that aren’t quite lined up correctly — the kind of phenomenon sometimes found in newspapers.
Although fairly technical to produce, Shea’s images can be explained in terms of light, shadow, and color.
The biggest challenge was controlling how the different colored gels interacted with each other. This was further complicated by the fact that this interaction was dependent on the power settings on Shea’s lights.
But the real brain twister is that while a shadow is created by the “opposing” light, the color of that shadow is determined by the gel on the other light AND by the interaction of that gel with the gel on the first light. So, if you use one set of gels on an object, you’ll get two colors, and if you switch out one gel, you’ll then get two new colors even though you only changed one gel.
Needless to say, this process required many meticulous adjustments to not only the objects themselves to change how they appeared in-camera, but to the shape and density of the shadows the objects created.
I’ve found that this style of picture has a much finer line between error and success than my previous work.
Using trial and error, Shea made those tiny adjustments until he got the pictures dialed-in to where he wanted them.
Although the work was tedious at times, Shea enjoyed getting to explore something new with his photography.
Most of my work is “food beauty” and “natural setting,” so it was really fun to get to explore the “unnatural” setting of this style.
Shea has received a lot of positive criticism for this series mixed with a few “I don’t get it” raised eyebrows. Some people he’s shown it to don’t understand it in relation to his previous work. But Shea fully intends to continue with this technique — as he puts it:
If you’re trying to please everyone, it’s actually harder to find your niche.
See more of Shea at sheaevans.com