What Is a Gobo and How to Use It for Photography Lighting


Gobo photography is a method of lighting which involves placing a light source behind an object which will become the main light source for the photo.

Gobos are also called ‘plugs’ or ‘curtains’ and are made of translucent material such as Perspex or acetate. When used in photography, they can be lit by a lamp or an external flashgun.

The term ‘gobo’ is a portmanteau word and comes from the German word ‘Gobosch,’ which means ‘curtains.’ It is used in photography to describe the effect created by a light source behind the subject. The ‘gobo’ is sometimes made to look like the curtains which would have been used on stage to perform magic tricks.

To achieve this effect, the light source, such as a flashgun or a portable lamp, is placed behind the subject. In some cases, an additional light source is used above or below the subject. The main light and background light sources are chosen so that there is a balance between the two and neither light dominates. For example, if the light is placed low on the subject, it should also be placed high on the background.

Gobo photography is an excellent tool for photographing things which cannot be properly lit by normal lighting methods, such as a scene in a dark church or a close up of a spider.

How to use the gobo

Gobo lighting can be used to create a soft focus effect which blurs the edges of objects, and to make subjects look larger than they are. This can be useful for creating the illusion of an ‘elderly’ portrait. It can also be used to soften harsh shadows, make shadows disappear or even create a sense of depth.

In order to use gobo lighting effectively, you need to experiment with different angles, distances, and positioning of the lights. It can be tricky and is something which takes practice.

Gobo lighting is usually done using flashguns, but a variety of lamps can also be used. If using a lamp, you will have to choose one which can be easily attached to a tripod. An alternative method is to use a flashgun with a diffuser attachment.

There are many types of gobos available and the choice of material will depend on the type of light you are using. Some materials can be expensive, but the quality of the product will always vary from company to company and with the size of the material. The size of the gobo will also affect the final look.

When using a flashgun, the most important factor to consider is the power of the flashgun. The light intensity of the flashgun must be strong enough to ensure there is no white light. If the flashgun is set to a low setting, it can be difficult to control the light level.