How to color match strobes to any lighting condition

I’ve worked out a process I wanted to share for color correcting my strobes that results in a lot less post-process color correction time (like none). This works well whether you’re shooting a wedding in a windowless hotel ballroom and need a little fill light, or when doing portraits under florescent lights.

I bought a sample pack of roscolux gels and removed all the gels that converted Kelvin and Magenta-green correction. I then taped two of the same gels together and trimmed them to fit inside my Canon 600 ex-rt gel holder.


Using my Sekonic c-500 meter, I took a reading of the gels’ temperature by strobing the gel through the flash at the color meter. This gave me the gel’s temperature reading, which I then recorded directly on the gel with a sharpie.


When on location for a shoot, I read the color temperature of the ambient light in an indoor location. This will give me two readings: a temperature reading in kelvin and a tint reading in magenta.

Next, I take the gel filter pack I created and stack the gels in my 600 EX-RT gel clip to numerically match both readings from the C-500.


The last step is to color balance the camera to match the color of the gels. This is done by shooting a grey card with a flash and white balancing the camera off the grey card. Just to be safe, I will also shoot a color checker passport to create a profile in Lightroom to ensure accuracy. See examples below.




Here are a few more examples below.



Leave a comment



  1. Pingback: How to Color Match Strobes to Any Lighting Situation - The Phoblographer

  2. Jeff February 3, 2014 at 8:16 am

    By the time you go through that, I would rather correct the color balance in post, takes 30 seconds.

    • iancatalyst February 3, 2014 at 9:21 am

      I used to correct light temperature from two different light sources in post too. Now, I get it right in camera in about 3 mins – saves a lot of time especially when i’m editing 1000+ images from an event.

  3. Jeanne McRight February 3, 2014 at 11:20 am

    Thank you Ian, this is a valuable timesaver – it works!

  4. Steve February 6, 2014 at 1:25 am

    I just wish there were some options that weren’t quite as pricey as the C-500. As a location photographer I’d probably get plenty of use out of it but that’s a good chunk of change for a meter.

  5. Pingback: How to Color Match Strobes to Any Lighting Condition

  6. Thomas March 8, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    can we just use colorchecker passport?

  7. Bryon M March 29, 2014 at 10:30 am

    Expensive solution for a very simple problem that is easily addressed in LR or Aperture. As an event photographer, it would be useless to me. I tend to work in environments with several different ambient lighting situations and am constantly running from one to the next. My default is a 1/4 CTO and then one click of the WB tool in Aperture and copy/paste settings to the series. Seems a lot better than explaining to a client that I missed an important shot because I had to check the color temperature and change color gels to save myself two mins in post.

    • iancatalyst March 29, 2014 at 2:09 pm

      Not so easily addressed in Lightroom. If your flash is pushing out a different color temp than the overhead ambient it’s going to mix on the person, unless your overpowering the ambient, which can leave a dark background that is a different color temp. I always setup early and check my color before the shoot. That’s important. When you dial it correctly in camera there’s virtually no time needed to correct things in post.

  8. Roberto Farren February 24, 2015 at 11:23 am

    Hi Ian,

    Great post, very useful. I think the comments above regarding quick fix in post are from people who either don’t need a perfect color balance between ambient and strobe or are unaware of the impacts of working with light originating from two sources of different temperatures! This is really a nice work around and I like the tip on blacking out the 600 filter holder edges as well!



  9. Daniel E May 5, 2015 at 12:43 pm

    Hi Ian,

    Do you use the auto white balance on your Canon 600 EX-RT? that one that detects the type of gel you put and corrects based on that? if not, do you set the meter’s white balance on the speedlight? I’m thinking on getting one but I’m really not familiar with the 600 EX-RT

    Thanks in advance!


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