How dog toys and toilet paper can improve your portrait photography

Dec 3, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

How dog toys and toilet paper can improve your portrait photography

Dec 3, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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chew_toy_gobo

Coming up with new and interesting ways to improve your portraits in the studio can sometimes be challenging. You feel like you’re just going through the motions session after session. Photographer, Joe Edelman, recently posted a video about the Light Blaster and how it can help you get more creative in the studio, to project shapes and even entire scenes onto your backdrop or subject.

In Joe’s newest video, he takes things a little more three dimensional. As well as providing tips on how to make and use cardboard or foamcore gobos, Joe also shows how we can use household objects to add unique interest to the background. Dog chew toys, a toddler’s toy wheelbarrow, house plants, and even toilet paper. Nothing is off limits.

YouTube video

Joe starts by using regular DIY gobos made from foamcore to explain the principles of using gobos. That is to say, that there aren’t any, really. There’s no rules, no definite guidelines, you just have to experiment and see what you like. But Joe does offer some pointers to get you started and explains a little about how light works when using them.

gobo_light

When you move the light further away from something, the smaller the light source becomes relative to the subject. So, the shadows get more defined. As you move the light close, the larger it becomes, so the shadows become more diffused and spread. Using three dimensional objects instead of flat cardboard cutouts can make things a little more unpredictable, but light still works the same way.

Gels can also offer a great deal of creative options, and when used in combination with gobos provide some fantastic unique looks.

gobo_gels

In the above image, Joe uses a blue gel aimed at the background on camera left, an orange gel on a light shooting through a gobo on camera right, and a third yellow gel over the gobo itself. This offers some great colour transitions where the differently coloured lights meet. The shape of the gobo breaks up the pattern, making the background more dynamic than the smooth gradient of bare gelled lights.

Gels can also be used with three dimensional objects, too, allowing you to create interest, or provide a compliment to your subject’s clothing that helps them to stand out and focus the viewer’s attention.

chew_toy_gobo

house_plant

What objects have you used between your lights and your background or subject to get a unique look? Which is your favourite? Do you prefer to use every day objects? Or do you cut out of foamcore or cardboard as needed? Let us know in the comments.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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4 responses to “How dog toys and toilet paper can improve your portrait photography”

  1. 9for1srq Avatar
    9for1srq

    so cool

    1. Troublemann Avatar
      Troublemann

      GoBo was created using the following Photoshop Plugin: Tiffen Dfx 3.0.6