Jul 02, 2013

How to Use Gobos to Make Your Photos More Interesting

How to use Gobos To Shape Light

What is a gobo, you ask? A gobo can be anything, as long as it’s placed in between a light source and your subject. This casts unique looking shadows on your subject. You can use pretty much anything that’s not a completely solid object – in this case we experimented with a large houseplant, a room divider, and a ladder. Even if you don’t own strobes, you can still make use of gobos when shooting outside. In fact, you may have used them before without knowing it. Even a tree branch casting a shadow from the sun on your subject’s face is a gobo!

Controlling Your Shadows

There are two major factors to take into account when using a gobo. The first is the distance between your light source and your gobo. As the distance between your gobo and light source increases, the shadows will get harsher. It’s usually best to have a decent amount of distance between your light source and gobo in order for it to be effective.

The second factor is the distance between your subject and your gobo. This one is the opposite – shadows will ger harsher as the distance between your gobo and subject decreases. So for maximum effect from your gobo, have your light source as far away as possible and your model as close as possible to the gobo.

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user image You
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  • user image

    How do you get those great dark colors? Which Phlearn Pro should I buy to learn how?

    • user image

      I think those darks are really what is making this picture…gobos aside. I think the toning of the picture is what is most impressive about it…nice work.

    • user image

      By the way Aaron, I have bought three Phlearn Pro tuts so far, and they are incredible. Sometimes I learn the most from those comments that you throw in sort of offhand that cause things to just click. You are like a zen master, where even ordinary things you say cause enlightenment.

      For example, I just had someone comment on a photo of mine saying the subject looked ‘cut out” from the background. Well in your your Fashion Pro tutorial you actually say that at one point and it clicked into place what was wrong with my photo. Then you explained how to fix it.

      This kind of thing, where I learn tons of stuff from having the opportunity to see inside your head for a couple of hours, is the real value for me.

      So don’t go changin’! Your free thinking, conversational style is what causes these tidbits of knowledge to spring forth and multiply into our heads!

  • user image

    My Gobo pic. The shadow was cased by another flower next to the subject flower. It was a boring pic until I looked at it in black and white and saw the shadow pattern pop. Still might be boring but I dig the shadows.

  • user image
    Ashley Erin Brehmer

    Hey guys, I changed my twitter handle! I’m no longer MERCEDESBREHMS, but you can follow me at @ashleybrehmer