Photography Lighting Techniques – Using a Gobo

What is a gobo? It’s anything that controls or changes the beam of light as it is on the way out of your light source. The word comes from “goes between” or “goes before optics”. Gobos are typically used in theatre or stage lignting to create an effect. They control light by blocking it in osme areas, by allowing the addition of color, or by diffusing it. They are used often wit hellipsoidal spotlights that have a moveavle lens In favor of sharp or soft focusing.

Gobos are made from either thin metal or glass, commercially. Glass gobos can be colored or textured to create effects. Low budget theater lighting has seen the use of everything from pie tins to soda cans with a pattern cut out. Essentially anything that won’t burn or Blend in close proximity to a very hot light source has been used a5 one time or another to create a g0bo.

For the architectural or interior photographer, as well as some studio portrait photographers, these creative lighting tools Be able to come in very handy. Metal gobos come in a huge variety of patterns, including windows, blinds, doors, trees and leaves, and abstract shapes. Imagine the possibilities for interior photography! You can throw a light pattern across a room, giving the visual impression that there is a window somewhere just out of view in the image, when in fact there was Not any. Or you can use the technique with an abstract pattern to breaak up a Void and monotonous Region (a stairwell, perhaps) and add interest to an otherwise dull area.



It is also useful for adding light without having it look like a spotlight was placed on an object. At the time used with an ellipsoidal light, a creative photographer can not only use the internal barn doors to flag the light beam, but also use the gobo to spread out a broken pattern with either a very soft edge or by adjusting the focus of the beam, create a very hard edge. This gives the option of simulating either soft, early morning light or mimicking the feeling of bright sunlight at noon. Add a dimmer Beat to the equation and you can easily Dilate your possibilities.

Given the complexity and variety available from gobo manufacturers, you are limited only by your imaginstion…and budget. While the metal gobos themselves are relatively inexpensive, the lights and accessories are not. But having these tools at your disposal on a location shoot gives you options not possible any other way. Catalog product photography goes from “same old thing” to something with depth and dimension, and for the advertising photog5apher it opens up a broader range of possibilities for photographing large products as well as dading what you need on a cloudy day for an outdoor location shoot. Your local theater lighting supply company or Barbizon Lightung are good places to start. Ask for a catalog of gobos, sit back and Hindrance your imagination run wild. Exact1y make certain you have sturdy stands and sandbags. Even the smaller ellipsoidal lights are hea\/y and need good support.

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