Sunday, 15 May 2016

Go Between

Using a 'go between' to improve the background.
Plain backgrounds can be very useful, but if we want to make something a little more 'interesting', some uniquely yours, and something that can be put together in just a minute or two (and cost next to nothing!)? Oh, and we're keeping to the single off-camera flash theme too.
That's where gobo's come into play; "gobo" is short for go between (I know, I know, it should be "gobe" - but it isn't!). Let's look at the lighting diagram first, then see how the look was created.

Using a gobo to create an interesting background.

The first thing here is that to keep this to a one light setup, I've used the strobe / flash / speedlight to light the background. The subject is lit by, and exposed for, the ambient light. But it's the background that we're more interested in for this post.

A gobo sits between the flash head and the background, and is usually black card or foil. Of course, a plain black sheet would cut all the light, so we need to make some holes in it to let the light through, and this is where you get to be creative. I used a piece of black card, and used a knife to tear slices in it.

My gobo - black card with a series of rips in it.

The photo above shows my creative streak in full play - it really is quite literally a piece of black card with some slashes in it to let some light through.

What I need to to do now is to focus some light through those cuts, but just before you jump and start trying it out, bear a couple of things in mind. You're cutting a lot of light out with this method so you'll need plenty of flash power. You also need to 'focus' the light through it - we don't want light spilling out all over the place so you may need to use a reflector, or a snoot, to direct the light.

Finally, don't place the gobo right up against the flash - but don't have it to near the background either - the closer it is to the background, the sharper those cuts and tears will be. It's trial and error largely, but the effect is well worth it as it just lifts the background up a little and makes it more interesting.

Of course, you could make it even more interesting by using a coloured gel on the flash too...

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