How to attach lighting gels to studio & battery flash

I've worked lighting correction, effects and diffusion gels for most of my photography career - in the early days shooting video correcting tungsten lights to daylight entering through a window necessitated clipping a blue CTB gel to the barn doors of the hot lights - hot lights because if you touched any metal part your finger would blister, hence why we used to all have a pair of riggers gloves handy.

Simple, cheap and effective,  fixing lighting gels to barn doors with wooden clothes pegs

A few lighting gaffers used metal crocodile clips to clamp gels to a hot light and many nothing more sophisticated than the humble wooden clothes peg - wooden clothes peg don't transmit heat and if they get too hot only char - use plastic clothes pegs on a hot light and they melt! The wooden clothes peg has become the subject of myth - in the film industry they are know as C47s!

The same principles apply when attaching gels to modern studio & portable battery location flash with a reflector in place.

The 600w/s TTL Pixapro CITI600 battery location/studio flash with standard reflector

I keep a handful of wooden clothes pegs in my camera bags along with numerous other useful odds & ends not directly photography related!

The quick & scruffy way to attach lighting gels to flash reflectors, clip a couple of clothes pages direct to the reflector.

It's also possible to gel soft boxes and beauty dish modifiers using clothes pegs by clamping the gel to the soft box spars.

Another useful accessory is the Double or Multi-Clip. The name will vary according to where you buy or who manufacturers. 

Pair of Double Clips attached to your flash reflector make a easier solution for attaching gels to lights.

Here you can see a LEE Filters cosmetic gel (combined diffusion/colour) clamped to an Elinchrom Ranger Quadra standard reflector with a pair of Double Clips.

If you need to change gels frequently during sessions then I use a piece of clear acetate or polycarbonate sheet clamped between the Double Clips.

Gels are then attached to the clear sheet with clothes pegs! This is also useful with diffusion gels as it increases the distance from the flash tube giving a better diffusion effect. When using diffusion gels and textiles I use a scrim frame as it allows me to fine tune the distance between the diffusion & light source, as illustrated in the image below.

Click on image to view larger.

The Pixapro CITI600 portable battery flash is available from Essential Photo in Birmingham, England.

I work mainly with LEE Filters which are available from Acebil in UK and other retailers worldwide.

Elinchrom portable battery & studio flash is available from The Flash Centre - call Birmingham store and talk with Brian Collier or email Simon Burfoot and don't forget to mention this blog.

That's it for now and don't forget if you really enjoy lighting to visit and join The LIGHT Side - a place to learn, be mentored, nurtured and learn about lighting, lighting and photography, whatever your level or experience.


  1. So, the heat off a Hot Light transfers to the Barn Doors - not enough to melt the gel positioned on with wooden clothes pegs?

    1. The light with the barn doors in the LED update of the classic 1960s Red Head design so the 80w LED doesn't generate too much heat! With the original Red Head the 800w lamp would heat the barn doors to the point where you'd need leather gloves to handle them, yet the gels would hardly be touched as they were and are made from a heat resistant material. the only time I've experienced gels melting is when they've been positioned too close to a hot light without barn doors in place . . .


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