I recently obtained a Rosco swatch book with about a million different speedlight-sized gels. However, the gels are hard to use while still attached. Before I break them apart, I want to make sure I can keep them organized. How do you store/carry your flash gels so that

  • You can distinguish between them,
  • They don't get (too) crumpled, and
  • They don't disappear out of your bag?

Edit: I like all the answers; too bad I can only accept one.

  • 3
    I keep mine crumpled up at the bottom of my camera bag, I somehow doubt that's the answer you're looking for!
    – Matt Grum
    Jan 6 '11 at 13:40

What I do is clip off the plastic brad that holds the book together, throw away the get colors/types that I will never use (about 90% of 'em) and simply thread a 'carabiner style' key chain ring such as this one through the holes of the remaining gels and their paper backings (so I can keep track of which gel variation is which). Makes pulling the gel I want out of the pack much easier, and makes it relatively quick and painless for me to put them back into the stack when I'm done with them. Toss the whole thing in the side pocket of my lighting bag and I'm good to go.

Over time I've migrated the useful gels from several swatch books into the stack so I have a number of each of the gels I use for the times when I need to gel up a number of strobes.

  • $20 for a 5-pack of carabiners? Those better be pretty awesome carabiners.
    – Evan Krall
    Jan 6 '11 at 20:00
  • I was going with the 'Picture is Worth 1000 Words' adage. Think of it as an 'visual example' of the sort of key ring I was talking about, not an explicit endorsement of that particular product. :-) YMMV, but I'm sure you can find something similar in your local home improvement store... Jan 6 '11 at 20:26

I went ahead and bought the Strobist Collection gel set from rosco, which doesn't have the holes and comes in a small plastic case.

Another great idea is to go with the solution found here, which is to laminate the gels with specs, which makes them durable enough to toss in your bag.

  • I like the lamination idea, but it would be tricky to fit them in my gel holder (FXtra).
    – Evan Krall
    Jan 7 '11 at 3:42

I just solved this problem for myself. Bought 2 "thinktank" CF card holders, gutted the seam in the middle and violá, gel carrying system. I've used this in the field numerous times and absolutely love it! Use a sharpie to label your gel pouch and you're good to go.

  • So then do you only carry 10 gels, one in each pocket, or do you have several per pocket?
    – Evan Krall
    Jan 7 '11 at 3:15
  • I carry twice the number of strobes per shoot. I have three strobes right now, so I have six gels of each flavor per pocket. This way if I need to double up I can. I also put velcro on each flash and each gel (about an hour of work one rainy night) so that I don't have to fuss with gaffer on the go (I always have gaffer, just got tired of the sticky buildup on strobe heads). This way I can just slap the gel(s) on and get to work. Jan 8 '11 at 6:35

I only use about three gels (CTO and 1/2 CTO mainly, occasional fluoro) which I keep - plus a spare of each - in an envelope, with velcro dots already attached; I have velcro felt on the sides of my flashgun. I don't have trouble telling which is which because I use so few.

  • 2
    I do the same, but I write the gel type on a white sticker next to the velcro at each end. That way I can find the one I need without having to take them out the envelope. It's also useful if I'm looking for an effect gel in a dark environment. Jan 6 '11 at 13:33

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