Photo Tips #2 - Use a Gobo


se a what??!? A gobo ('go - bow').

Essentially this is introducing an obstruction into the shot close to the lense to add depth, it'll help frame the image and possibly add context to what's being seen too.

It's easy to do, but you can sometimes look funny to any bystanders as you do it - I'm sure you'll find out what I mean one day.

To get this to work, you're going to need to focus on your subject and then introduce something close up in front of the lens so that it blurs out. The subject is still the focus here else you're not using a gobo, you're changing your subject.

It can be something handheld or something which is natural in the scene - think grasses or a thin material - anything which is partially transparent or has gaps in its shape which allows you to see through it.

I use this technique all the time in my portrait and commercial work, but it can add another dynamic to all sorts of photo genres too... landscapes, sports, product photography too. You just need to find the right gobo that works with the subject.

An easy one to start with is using natural foliage when taking outdoor portraits. Get a fern or small branch and place it in front of your lens so the shape can be vaguely identified but isn't sharp. the closer the better in some cases. Then, ensuring you're still focussing on your subject, click away! Job done.

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Portrait image of Lake District photographer, Al Topping Photos & Film