Use This Simple Technique To Create The Illusion Of Different Spaces Using Only One Light

Sep 28, 2014

Laya Gerlock

Laya Gerlock is a Portrait and Product photographer based in the Philippines. His passion is teaching and sharing his knowledge in Photograpy and has been doing this for 6 years.

Use This Simple Technique To Create The Illusion Of Different Spaces Using Only One Light

Sep 28, 2014

Laya Gerlock

Laya Gerlock is a Portrait and Product photographer based in the Philippines. His passion is teaching and sharing his knowledge in Photograpy and has been doing this for 6 years.

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gobo-part-2-12

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

How To:

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.

gobo part 2 SETUP (1)

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.

gobo part 2 SETUP (4)

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

gobo part 2 (15)
studio strobe was at its lowest power 1/16, and I was shooting at ISO 200, 1/160, f3.5

And some more using similar settings:

gobo part 2 (11)

gobo part 2 (16)

gobo part 2 (6)

gobo part 2 (9)

 

This is how it looks like to any innocent bystander:

 

The Setup
The Setup

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)

gobo part 2 (17)

gobo part 2 (2)

gobo part 2 (12)

Finally, a head shot of the model, with the gobo not that close to her face to soften the shadows.

gobo part 2 (18)

gobo part 2 SETUP (2)Same setup but on a grey background.

gobo part 2 (19)

gobo part 2 (1)

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.

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Laya Gerlock

Laya Gerlock

Laya Gerlock is a Portrait and Product photographer based in the Philippines. His passion is teaching and sharing his knowledge in Photograpy and has been doing this for 6 years.

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16 responses to “Use This Simple Technique To Create The Illusion Of Different Spaces Using Only One Light”

  1. Christopher Yule Avatar
    Christopher Yule

    Always enjoy his articles

    1. LSG Avatar
      LSG

      Thanks for the support :)

  2. David Alain Avatar
    David Alain

    Kévin

  3. Elvio Junior Avatar
    Elvio Junior

    :) !

  4. Amaryllis Avatar
    Amaryllis

    “Just dont complain if all your gobos end up like dinosaurs or spaceships or barbies.”

    Best part of the article XD But it was really nice overall, too! I have several pieces of cardboard left from when I was studying graphic design, guess I could use these the next time I try making a homemade photoshoot :)

    1. LSG Avatar
      LSG

      cheers! thanks for the comment

    2. Frank Nazario Avatar
      Frank Nazario

      the funny thing is that if you go to a studio most probably you will find the same “home studio gobos” in a shelf… those are tools and they are used everywhere even in hollywood.

  5. Kenny Avatar
    Kenny

    Try using different shapes, patterns & colors of glass containers, with or without liquids, for a dynamic shadow background – btw, these sort of techniques have been around for decades…

    1. LSG Avatar
      LSG

      yes it has, but sharing is caring :)

  6. Volker Avatar
    Volker

    Re: Keeping kids busy with a box cutter while having a coffee break: You’re kidding, aren’t you? ;-) I’d rather design the gobos with Inkscape (using B/W patterns just as you suggested) and then print them on overhead foils. Just make sure, your laser printer can produce deep blacks and you’re good to go. Without witnessing kids, that tried to cut off their fingers – and failed. At least sort of.

  7. Andrew Mikhaylov Avatar
    Andrew Mikhaylov

    Cool tip man, thanks! Only one thing I would improve to make the shadow behind the model more soften and with nice transitions is put a diffusion gel on the light source.

  8. John C Avatar
    John C

    Only got to skim this, but so simple, yet so effective. Will have to read more in depth later (on break at my ‘real’ job) and expreriment. Great article as usual

  9. happywanderer Avatar
    happywanderer

    Good job! Thanks for sharing! :)

  10. Robin Lund Avatar
    Robin Lund

    Hello. Out of curiosity I wonder if this site has been permitted to use one of these images?: http://www.akam.no/artikler/slik-kan-du-gi-bildene-dine-spennende-skygger-med-kun-ett-lys/163911

    1. udi tirosh Avatar
      udi tirosh

      we are usually ok with a blog taking one image and using it to refer back here. this is how the blogosphere works :)

      thanks for taking the time to share this.

  11. Steve Avatar
    Steve

    Your articles are always the best