How I Got the Shot – Giancarlo Pawelec Uses Colored Gels and Fog to Turn Up a Fashion Shoot

Posted by: on Nov 07, 2017

How I Got the Shot – Giancarlo Pawelec Uses Colored Gels and Fog to Turn Up a Fashion Shoot
Bio: Toronto-based photographer Giancarlo Pawelec specializes in portrait, fashion, beauty, and commercial work, and has a signature style that blends and edgy feel with vibrant colours.


 Since my early days in photography, I have always loved playing with coloured gels or anything that adds a punch of visual appeal – be it in the form of vibrancy or texture. For this creative project, I wanted to showcase a beautiful model (Sarha) in a metallic-anime-athletic style while also demonstrating that one can achieve many looks with essentially the same setup.  

Logistics and Gear

The location for this shoot was my beautiful downtown Toronto hard loft studio, Studio 311. Due to the workflow involving gelled strobes, the studio had to be completely blacked out utilizing the studio’s blackout curtains, gaff taping any exposed parts, and closing out the set with black v-flats. The gear used for this shoot includes a Canon 1Dx mated with a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens and the Broncolor RFS 2.2C Transceiver. The camera is then tethered to my MacBook Pro running CaptureOne Pro 10 software with the TetherPro cable and JerkStopper. Lighting was a set of 3 Broncolor Siros 800S strobes that includes a Broncolor Octabox 75 (blue gel) on a Manfrotto Super Boom as key, a Broncolor Softbox 60×60 (blue gel) as fill,  and a Broncolor L40 Reflector (red gel) for the background.

Setup and Lighting

 The overall setup is fairly simple utilizing three (3) Broncolor Siros 800S strobes that are gelled in a contrasting blue and red. For the background, I placed three (3) black V-flats opened and flush against the studio wall. The studio was also completely blacked-out with curtains so as to avoid any light-spill from the windows. The two main strobes facing the model are fitted with a Broncolor Octabox 75 (blue gel – key light top) and a Broncolor Softbox 60×60 (blue gel – fill light bottom). The background strobe is fitted with an L40 reflector and a red gel. For added effect, I utilized a fog machine placed near the rear strobe and discharged through a tube – for ideal placement, as fog is hard to control.

Shooting Tethered

 When shooting either in studio or on-location, you can never be too sure of what’s going to happen! Shooting tethered (from the camera straight into the computer) allows you to see the build-up of your lighting setup (starting with the key light to the fill, accent lights, etc) in a systematic and controlled way. If that isn’t enough reason, the most obvious is the ability to see your captured frames on a larger display (be it your laptop or monitor), instead of the tiny screen on the back of your camera. Truth be told, everything looks great on a 2.5” screen, but maybe not as much once you see it in larger form. The key to a successful photo shoot is always the minute details that are often overlooked. Instead of spending 1hr in post-production cleaning something up, one could just look at the display your tethering into and save yourself that headache in real-time. Lastly, there truly is nothing more impressive for on-site clients than seeing the progression of a shot – from a wacky test shot to the finished hero shot.


Thanks to tethering, there wasn’t much post-processing needed with the shots other than the usual of removing blemishes, stray hairs, and some minor dodging/burning. I was able to build up the shot and adjust my strobes on the fly, while also giving feedback to the model and my hair/makeup artist based on the real-time shots popping up on screen.

The Team

Like with any creative project, none of this would have been possible without the collaboration of a great team. Each person adds to the overall experience of the shoot and rings true the saying, “Teamwork makes the dream work!” To download this guide and 14 more How I Got the Shot guides, download version 3 of the How I Got the Shot Guide. Each educational article features a different image, behind-the-scenes video, as well as a detailed breakdown of how the shot was made.