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Demo: GOBOs

Lesson 26 from: How to Take Amazing Photos with your DSLR

Julia Kelleher

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Lesson Info

26. Demo: GOBOs

Lesson Info

Demo: GOBOs

- [Julia] Okay, let's use a gobo. Woo-hoo, it's dramatic, isn't it? Okay? Well, isn't that interesting? Look at her face, how that changes. Dramatic. Hatchet lighting, we call it. When the entire side of the face is dark and this is...but her hair is shadowing this side but it's a line right down the middle, it's called hatchet lighting. Split lighting is the proper term but I like to call it hatchet because it sounds better. But if I just we're getting better. See that? But sometimes this look is really kick-booty cool. I try to use good words because children could be watching. Okay, seriously, I've had that problem happen, moms will watch with their kids, you can't say words that are...okay. So I have this split lighting effect on her face which we'll shoot because I want to show you what it looks like, okay? And this can be really cool in certain situations. Clearly, Evelyn is a gorgeous woman and the last thing I want to do is give her some dramatic hatchet light situati...

on. But on character people or actors or really people in high power or authority or position, this is a cool look. I'm sure you've seen photographers do it on the cover of Time magazine and stuff like that, it's a very neat look. And then combine that with a dark background... We're a little bit light here but a little kiss of light on the back over here and all of a sudden, you've got a dramatic portrait, okay? Now, the only issue is...hang on one second, that catchlight is right at the corner of your eye and it's driving me crazy. So, Sara, would you help me? I'm going to have you just hold that there so it won't fall over onto our subject and then I'm going to move things out of the way. And this, guys, is a classic example of the light being in the right position as a critical thing. Just shifting the light slightly this way and then shoving this that way, now all of a sudden we've got the catchlight in a better position, okay? So the catchlight was literally back here on her eye, now it's right on the upper corner of her eye, shining through the bulb of her eye and creating a counter catchlight on the other side, okay? Matter of fact, I'm going to shoot this so that they can see it. This is going to be really weird because I'm just going to shoot your eye, so try to still look straight at me. Okay. So you can see the catchlight coming in here and there's this soft counter catchlight coming in over here... Some monitors you can see it, some you can't. That's the holy grail of catchlights. Now, this is a little bit low, I might want to pop it up just a little higher so that counter catchlight moves over just a touch but then in post, you can use the Dodge Tool to accentuate that counter catchlight and it makes the eyes just pop, okay? So before, the catchlight was back here in the white of her eye which isn't that flattering, so even with this hatchet light condition, I want to make sure I put a catchlight in a proper place in her eye and that was all about light placement, okay? So if I move this light up a little bit, it's going to put the catchlight higher in her eye and the counter catchlight lower because the counter catchlight travels straight through from the catchlight, light travels in a straight line, and the reason this happens is because the surface of the eye is curved so the light goes through one side and out the other. That's what's happening with the catch light and the counter catchlight. So, really powerful images of eyes, you'll see both the catchlight and the counter catchlight, okay? And that's cool, it makes the eyes just...parents freak out when they see that, but it's all about light position, okay? So let's go ahead and pull this back. See how a smaller light source impacts the shadow so much? It's crazy and we saw that when I turned off this light and now I'm physically using a gobo to show the impact, but if you have a big window and you want to create dramatic lighting, this is the way to do it. Woo-hoo, see it's not so dramatic? Now, we push it in and create more so that brings the shadows in on the left side of her face, the camera right side, do you see that? Okay, so I probably don't...should I shoot this so you guys can see it? Okay. Now, the cool thing is, too, do you see that little kiss of light under her left eye? Go ahead and move your nose to the right just a touch. Nope, too much, back the other way, other way, keep going, keep going, keep going, stop right there. A little bit more. Not too much, back, and no smile, that's good. No smile, no smile. I say to my son, "No smiling," he's, "Ah," big old smile. Close your eyes for me. One, two, three. Perfect. Okay, so now we have a...this is what we call Rembrandt lighting where we have a short light situation, her nose could have been a little bit turned but then you get this little patch or a loop of lighting, it's loop lighting, it's just a lighting pattern. You'll see this a lot in great painters' work is that opposite of the cheek, that kiss of light, but you have to be really careful that you don't...just go ahead and turn that way. You can see that around her cheek and her lip line, we're starting to create another hotspot right there and if you accentuate right here...let me shoot this. I have the loop but I also have this kiss of light over here on the left side of her cheek and it's starting to not be flattering anymore, okay? See how that's kind of awkward right there, it accentuates the part of her that she doesn't want accentuated. Put your face in the same position. If we move backwards and highlight the rest of her cheek, now all of a sudden it's not quite as intense and we light more this in here simply by moving the light back. Does that make sense? So, the gobo back. You're awesome, thank you. Lighting position will make or break an image. There are times when I'm literally... You're awesome, you can sit down and actually enjoy the class, you're done working for me. I am done with this, you can take this out. Thanks, Al. There are times when I'm literally shifting the light inches to get the right position, okay? And even now, what's bothering me is it's too low, I want to raise it up because this is white sweater and it's bouncing all that light off of her and taking it away from her face in the shot. Look at the shot, her right arm is very...squint your eyes, her right arm is the brightest part of the image. But if I go like this, raise that light up. Might even be too much there. Okay? Oh, yeah, pretty. Now what I've done is raised the catchlight in her eye and the fall-off is occurring on her sweater. Now, granted, it's at her shoulder so it's still going to be hot over her shoulder but you'll see a fall-off occur. And especially if I gobo it again, over here you'll see that even more. Let me take this shot, I just want you to see the change in catchlight position. Okay, chin up just a touch for me. Perfect, good girl. Oh, battery. So, see how the position of the light changed the look of the image? Dramatic. Okay? Now let's change the position of the light and use a reflector. Perfect. Sorry, Adam. - [Adam] It's all good. - I'm a total pain in the booty, aren't I? Now, shooting this at the moment, you can see there's a shadow beneath her chin, okay? Totally different position of the light. There's also a shadow beneath her nose. Remember, to find the light, we see the shadows. So I'll go ahead and shoot this. Catchlights are at the top of the eye, the light is hitting the background, so overall it's a lighter scene, okay? You can see the catchlight's in the top of her eyes, we've got a nice nose shadow, we've got a nice chin shadow, a nice lip shadow, it's your classic butterfly lighting, okay? Now, let's make it even more interesting, I need a silver reflector. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Okay, who wants to help now? Jill, you can help. Okay, now all you're going to do is hold're coughing, (inaudible), like that. I have dramatically softened the shadows beneath her chin, so just compare this image to the one I'm about to take. And close your eyes, sweetie, no smile, perfect. One, two, three. Watch the shadows, watch the shadows. No more shadow there, okay? So her chin's a little high, I want to drop her chin down, perfect, forward and down. Oh, move it to your neck but not too much, perfect, good girl. One, two, three, perfect. Okay, so what you'll notice is the shadow was a lot less and then the catchlight of the reflector is in the bottom of her eye, okay? Remember the Trump story I told you yesterday? This is what happened with Trump. Now the problem is, is he has really overset brows, his brows come over...they hood his eyes, so this light, the upper light, the catchlight could not get into his eyes. What happened is the photographer had the light too high because if you look at that shot, there's a beautiful shot right underneath his nose and his chin, it's just soft, and what you're seeing is the counter catchlight underneath his eye coming didn't see the main light, you saw the counter catchlight, okay? So if I drop this light lower, you'll see the counter...chin up just a little bit, perfect. The catchlight in the top of her eye gets a little bit bigger, not much but enough to be dangerous, right? Okay. The catchlight gets just a touch bigger but with...see that? And with Joe holding the reflector underneath there, it bounces that light back in, you can still see there is a nose shadow, it's just much, much softer because it's been filled in, light has been added to the scene. This is your clamshell lighting effect, okay? Very popular high-fashion commercial look, it's beautiful, it's still, it's directional because we have soft shadows but it's a very low contrast and it's very intense because now all of a sudden, the eyes just pop right at you because you're bouncing the light in with a reflector, you can see the reflector at the bottom of her eyes and you can still see the catchlight from the main light above, okay? A cool look, I love this textile lighting, it's really pretty. Just be careful you don't get flat. How you get flat is by lowering this light so much that it's right in her face and the nose does not cast a shadow down on the upper part of the lip, okay? Where it's so flat that you're filling so much shadow in here to the chin that there's no definition, okay? So just be careful of that, you always want to see shadows that mold the face, but look how her long face and how the shadows on her cheek line, it just elongates her face and is a very feminine look, okay? Grab it on either side, pull one towards you and push the other one away from you, so I'm going to pull my right hand towards me and I'm going to push my left hand away. Yay! I know it's simple, it's the little things, right? It's the little things. But it's really embarrassing when you're with a client out in the middle of a field somewhere with the wind blowing and this huge reflector and you can't close it. Oh, it's terrible. Okay, yes, I would love to take questions. - [Kenna] All right, Julia. Well, I just want to start off by reminding people, again, are we using the light right here to simulate the sun? Right now we're just learning about the reflectors because we're not outdoors or not in a natural environment and then in the next segment we're going to get into some more lighting setups. - Good question, good question. And sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt. Were you finished? - Yup. - Okay. In the sun, what would be a great thing to do is to take that diffusion panel and put that overhead here as your softbox and then bounce in light below with a reflector. Now, will this take assistance? You betcha it well, it'll take some helpers unless you can figure out how to rig stuff and there are stands out there, there's some cool reflectors that actually are shaped like half-moons kind of thing, they sit on their own stand that you can put under as a clamshell bounce which are really cool but then you'll have to have somebody help you and hold this overhead. And unfortunately, that's just the nature of the beast, is until they figure out how to fly drones with diffusers over the top of them, you're going to have some trouble not holding that up your plate. Wouldn't that be cool, though? I should totally trademark that, I might actually make some money. No, I'm kidding. But anyway, yeah, you're going to need some help, unfortunately. But in the shade, you can do this very nicely in the shade by just finding some directional light, you could gobo over the back of her with something like a tree or a building. If you have a porch, say, for example, you've got a wraparound porch around the house, you stand the subject facing out of the porch and then bring the reflector in beneath them like that and that will create a very similar effect, very similar effect. The catchlights will look a little different because obviously you're dealing with open sky versus a square box but it'll still be a gorgeous, gorgeous look. - Go ahead. - [Woman 1] So this is awesome but I'm thinking about my little-bitty apartment with not a lot of great light, how do we use some of these techniques indoors and then what would you recommend if you're just starting out, what to get? - I would definitely recommend, first of all, wandering around your house and seeing if you have any windows that are high up. You know how sometimes in master bedrooms they'll have a window above the bed kind of thing? That's a great window for this kind of situation. You could also use a, for example, if you have a big, tall window, right? Gobo the bottom of it with a nice big V-flat, okay? Put your subject stand in front of the window...a window, it's not that high, but if you have a nice, tall window, gobo the bottom of it so that the bottom is not hitting your client so it's not flat light on your client, it's coming from overhead and then bring in a bounce reflector beneath that and shoot them like that, that would probably work, you'd have to play around with it, depends on the window, depends on what's outside the window, what time of day it is. And did I say size of the window? I did. All those factors are going to come into play but that would be a nice beautiful way to simulate the look, okay? As far as what to get...also a bathroom window, your house has bathroom windows that are high but sometimes those might be a little small so you'll have to play around with it and just see what you have in your house. Now, I get it, sometimes there are houses that just don't have good light, it's as simple as that and I think that's a photographer's nemesis unfortunately and you're not going to find perfect situations in any home. What you can do is try to influence it, like I said, with these modifiers, goboing windows that are too large, adding reflection on windows that are too small, understanding that a small light source is going to create a more dramatic look which could be awesome in some cases. If you're trying to go for this kind of look with a large light source, you're going to need a large light source, if you need that look...there's no ifs, ands, or buts about it and sometimes houses or places or apartments don't offer it. If that's the case, for me, if I have a budget, I'm going to buy a light, a nice big light, a big modifier on it that I can...that's why these big modifiers... I bought my four-by-six box in 2007 and I'm still using it to this day. It is a long-term investment, these things never go bad and a softbox is a fantastic investment and a light, okay? If you're just starting out on a budget, I would be working depends on the budget, really, but I would start with modifiers, I would start with five-in-one reflectors. They have some reflectors that stand on their own so you don't need...I have one of those, the one you saw on my keynote, the reflector that stands by itself and that's in my studio, it's awesome. It's made by Aurora Reflectors, Tallyn's Photographic sells it and I think it's 200 bucks and it's a little expensive because it stands on its own and you don't have to...but you can's on a ball head so you can move it around however you want and it has a white side and a silver side, you can get gold for it, you can get mixed. So definitely get yourself a couple of reflectors in a couple different sizes. One really big, one that you can take outside with you, it's not like a sail in the wind, kite-flying, trust me, I've been there, done that, got that T-shirt. Buy one that's like that size there that you can take on the move and then take one that stands on its...try to get one that stands on its own. V-flats are great because they're so cheap. You saw how that white V-flat did a very similar effervescent, beautiful look with Belinda just with a large piece of foam core and a little gaffer tape down the middle, that costs you 10 bucks to make, it's easy-peasy lemon squeezy. So that kind of thing I want you to get, same with that...and that same V-flat can be used as a gobo, just because it's white doesn't mean it can't block light, right? So something like that would be a great addition to your modifier arsenal. And then when you have the budget, getting continuous light like this for around, I would say, 500 bucks, you could invest in a really, really nice light with a good modifier on it that will last you years and years and years. And when you think about what you invested in your camera and your lenses, the light is what makes the image. The next time you want to upgrade your body, don't do that, get a killer light, okay? Now, unfortunately, these are really hard to transport but there are some...some of these video lights nowadays that they have out here are so portable and do amazing things, you can actually change the color temperature of the light as you want, just cool stuff. So, go to some of these trade shows, these conventions and trade shows where they have lots of vendors there, check stuff out, see what would be most versatile for what you want to do. And that's just the thing, this is one of those hobbies that can get expensive in a hurry. Holy cow, it can get expensive in a hurry, so doing things like a homemade diffusion panel with a ripstop fabric you get from JOANN's is the way to go for a lot of things because there's no point in buying expensive gear, especially if you're just going to take it outside and trash it. So does that answer your question? Okay. Yes? - [Woman 2] Can you give us an example of when you're outside and shooting under a tree using the tree as a gobo, how do you conquer the speckled light that's coming from between the leaves? - Oh, that's a nightmare, yes. I would not shoot under that tree. It's a very good question. Excuse me, yes, that is a huge problem. Try to use a diffusion panel if you really need to shoot under that tree and the smart-ass response is for me to say, "Go find another tree," because honestly, that's probably what I would do because I just want to make my life as easy as possible. That speckled light on people is a nightmare, don't shoot under it if you can help it but if you're forced to, use one of those diffusion panels overhead to block off those little, speckled leaf things coming through and the problem is they move in the wind which makes it even harder sometimes. So first choice is to find another location, second choice if you're stuck, use a diffusion panel. So, yeah, I've been there, done that, got that T-shirt. Oh, a lot of Photoshop later. Oh. - So a question had come in about the angle of modifier, so maybe you can just clarify. "Regarding the angle of modifier and the subject, how should the modifier be applied to spread the light evenly?" - Okay, good question. I wish I could pull a camera over here to be a subject because... but I don't think I can and I don't want to make things complicated on the boys. But what you'll see is... you'll see when you pop a reflector into someone, you'll see it actually reflect, especially if you're using a continuous light source or a natural light source. What the subject sees is like, "Oh, it's bright," because it's at just the right angle where it bounces and they can see it, you know what I'm saying? With a kicker, what I do is I literally take the reflector...I can use this silver one here, I'm going to get it. I will place my standing reflector over here. If you help me? Thank you, dear. Normally, I have one that stands by itself. I will stand over here light's in the wrong place, but I will literally fuss with the client and make sure that I can see that hotspot on the reflector because the minute I see that hotspot, I know it's doing its job, okay? If it's not doing its job, I'll come back here and I'll be like, "Okay, let's move in a little bit," and fuss back here and then, "Oh, fuss with your hair. Okay, it's good. It's good. We're good," okay? So I'll sneak a look kind of thing. If you come around and you see opposite of where you want it to hit, if I want it to hit her shoulder and the back there, opposite where I want it to hit, if I see that flare...and that's what I was hoping for, so maybe the camera can see this if I do it on this side because the light is... So come on over here, sweetie. So maybe hold it up like that. Perfect. So I'll come to the opposite, "Oh, yeah, I see the flare," I can see if her shoulder was right here, I can see the flare, that shiny spot in the reflector, do you see that, Sam? Sam's trying. See how it's hot right there and shiny? That's what you're looking for opposite the place you want it to bounce, remember light bounces in a straight line, okay? Now let's shift the reflector...hold it, as you were doing, hold it just like that. Now if I'm opposite, I don't see the hotspot. It's not hitting in the right place, so if you pull your right arm back, right arm back a little bit more and then tilt the bottom to...there we go, now I can see it. See that? Now I know it's really working. But remember, the place for you to look at that is opposite of where you want it to hit. Does that help? Okay. You're awesome, thank you so much, appreciate it. More, Kenna? Any others? - We have more from folks at home. - That was a great question, by the way. - Yeah, great. Somebody else had asked about the blinding light outside as well for clients so that was... - Oh, sometimes that's too much. - So it's perfect with...yeah. - Yeah, and be careful because with silver modifiers or gold ones, if you put direct sun on that in someone's eyes, it could be very blinding. So in that case, I would suggest using a white bounce card of some kind because then it's not's a softer reflection for you, too, but it's also not as hard on your clients, so just make sure you balance that with what you're trying to achieve in the image. - The inverse-square law, which is a scary word but we know what the concept was, are modifiers affected by the same law? - Yes, they are affected by the same law, the impact of it...the impact of a reflector falls off just as much as any other light source because that's essentially what it is, is a light source bouncing. - So, hard to use one reflector for a group of people outside. - Oh, yeah. And that's the thing, that's what's hard. If you try to do this with a huge group of people, the person on the far side of the reflector is going to get the most benefit from it versus the person on the other side, so when you get massively huge groups like 30, 40 people in a group, it's so intimidating to shoot. Honestly, I take them outside and let a cloudy day do the work or a sunset do the work. If I'm on the inside, I will take two strobes with me and pretty much blast them with light so everybody's evenly lit. It's almost impossible unless you're doing composite work to get everybody lit perfectly with short light. And that's what a lot of these big-name Vogue and Vanity Fair photographers will do, is they'll do these neat full spreads, you see those full spreads and everybody is lit perfectly and they're's on a ladder and one's going like this and they've all got this perfect short light to them? Well, that's because they photograph them separately and then stitch them in, okay? So just keep that in mind, that not all final images are created equal by how they were made. - All right, great, we've got more. - More. - Okay, so can you talk again...this is for Sean, about the size of the reflector if you don't have one? He's asking do you recommend a large, 36-inch? Is there any use for some of the smaller ones when you're just starting as well? - Yeah, that's a really good question because I know everybody wants to get smaller because it's cheaper but that's not always the best choice. A mid-size reflector is going to be pretty versatile but sometimes you will need a larger one. Again, if I was going to do a group, I might end up trying to do an overhead with a bunch of good V-flats on either side to try to bounce as much light as possible, if those V-flats are tiny, then it's not going to have any impact on the size. If I'm only doing one person, I can take a teeny-tiny little reflector under their head and if I'm just doing a clean headshot, that'll work great, but if I want to zoom back and get their whole body without that reflector being in the shot, if that reflector is tiny and small and I pull it away, it's not going to do much good and then I've lost my wider shot. So I think it just all depends on the look you're trying to achieve. Budget, of course, is a concern, but by getting a mid-size reflector, you're at least going to give yourself a starting tool that's a good, versatile tool. - Great, thank you. - I always say, "Buy once." I've invested in a lot of equipment over the years that's literally gone in the trash and I've spent hundreds of dollars on it, realizing that I bought cheap to save a buck and ended up wanting something better later. So my opinion is, there's so many ways to create beautiful images, you don't need to have the latest and greatest equipment to do that, you need what you can afford. So if you're going to end up buying the cheapest possible thing just to have it, it may be best to wait until you can afford to get the better version of it. It's just like you know how when you take up a sport and you buy the cheapest equipment there is for that sport and then you end up falling in love with the sport and that equipment you quickly outgrow and it's no fun because it's really hard and then you try somebody's custom board...I love to wakesurf, so when you find someone's custom board and you're riding their board and you're like, "Oh my God, this is so awesome!" You don't want to go back to your old junky board, okay? Because it's cheap and you have to upgrade, okay? I just don't like to see people get in that position. So buy as expensive as you can afford at the time, don't buy it if it's not going to change your...if it's not going to achieve the goal that you want and if it's not going to help grow your skill level. Does that make sense? Don't buy just to buy, I guess is what I'm saying, but also try to buy only once. So if you know you're going to want a softbox and a nice beautiful constant light at some point, try to get the best you can afford because you won't regret that, it'll last a long time, it's an investment. My continuous lights, I've had them for six years now with my softbox...and my softboxes I've had for eight or nine years and I just recently about a year and a half ago... Okay, you got to consider I've been professionally shooting for money for almost 11 years and it was only in the last year and a half that I upgraded my strobes to Profoto D1 Airs, which are some of the top-of-the-line strobes in the industry, okay? It took me nine years to do that. I shot Alien B400s, which are very good quality but more inexpensive on a lower-end line lights for years and they did fine, they were fantastic. But now that my eye is trained, I'm more professional, upgrading to Profoto light, it was like, "Yes, my work is getting better. Woo-hoo, I just see it now," but had I bought those lights in the past, I wouldn't see it. But at the same time, had I bought those lights in the past, I would have had equipment that would last years and years and years, so it's a balance. You got to got to, obviously, to your...and some people have unlimited budgets, and they can just buy the best right out of the gate. All the power to them, most of us aren't that way.

Ratings and Reviews


Julia is an amazing teacher!!!! Funny, go with the flow, honest, and obviously so gifted at what she does. That came through and also inspired those feelings in me as a novice photographer. I left her class feeling excited to play with my camera and appreciate that she encouraged me to use what I have now and get good before spending tons of money on fancier stuff. I also love that she showed how everyday materials from Home Depot can make for great images. I particularly appreciated the 2nd day on product photography, social media images and the short demos in PhotoShop. Please do a full class on just this Julia/Creative Live!!!!!

Brandon Couch

So first off I've been doing photography for a little bit now and only shot in manual 20% of the time and was okay with it. Since coming to this class and seeing how manual mode isn't scary, it is everything you need and want in the life of photography, I now will not use anything else. The team at Creative Live is amazing and Julia's love for other starting and even professional photographers is amazing. She would sit and talk to us together and individually and really loves those who love photography. I would recommend this class and any other one of Julia's classes here on CreativeLive. I can't wait to come back. Was AMAZING!!! LIFE CHANGING!!!

a Creativelive Student

What an awesome class! I am not a beginner and am currently making a living as a photographer and was interested in this class because #1 Julia is such a great teacher with such talent and #2 I was expecting to take away some valuable information to pass along to my little after school beinning photo club. I am happy to report Julia did not disappoint:-) What actually happened was that I learned so many things that I probably should have known being a seasoned professional that I lost track of my original intention of why I was there. I couldn't wait to pull out my camera and try all of the new things that I had just learned. The color balancing and the little dot showing when your camera (Nikon) was manually focused alone was worth the price. I enjoyed every minute of this course. Thanks Julia! Anyone would benefit from this course....

Student Work