A few months back, I wrote an article on how to use everyday objects for outstanding backdrops. This post can be considered a part two of that post, as it shows a simple technique to using a piece of cardboard to create the illusion of space.
As I normally do when I seek inspiration, I was browsing flickr and 500px. I found a photo of a gobo’d background using only one light. I liked the idea. So I went to my studio and started playing with it. While it did not had a need for this specific look at the time, I wanted to make sure I have this tool in my toolbox. (I also use the Light Blaster for a similar effect, but then I need a second light as it throws a very hard beem). It’s a very simple technique and very easy do. Here is a quick tutorial on how it is done.
What you will need:
- A Cutter / utility knife
- An Illustration Board
- One Speedlight or Flash
Using your cutter cut different shapes in the illustration board. Play around with sizes and patterns. Repetitive patterns do well and so does simple bars. I had some scratch illustration board left so I just used it.
For the setup, I used a bare studio strobe mounted with barn doors as I assumed I’ll have lots of small spill corrections to make. You could also use a speedlight for this setup or use a reflector dish for a more detailed shadow. I used a white seamless paper for the background.
I had a voice activated lightstand (Jay) to hold the illustration board for me. There are two factors you cna play around with here:
- The distance of the illustration board from the light, and
- the distance of the studio strobe from the subject.
Getting differnt variations on thos you can control the definition of the shadow and the spill of the light.
Here is a sample photo
And some more using similar settings:
This is how it looks like to any innocent bystander:
I also tried only using the modeling light of the studio strobe – it works quite well if you bump the iso (and this is something I could not do with the light blaster)
Finally, a head shot of the model, with the gobo not that close to her face to soften the shadows.
BONUS: If you are a mommy or a daddy, getting the boards ready is a great way to keep the kids busy when you are having coffee. Just dont complain if all your gobos end up like dinosours or spaceships or barbies.