PHOTOGRAPHING WITH GOBOS : Using Gobos Indoors and Outdoors | Warren Marshall | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

PHOTOGRAPHING WITH GOBOS : Using Gobos Indoors and Outdoors

teacher avatar Warren Marshall, Passionate Photographer

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

7 Lessons (22m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Using gobos Lighting RRR

    • 3. About our shoot

    • 4. Live shoot with flat gobos

    • 5. Live shoot with 3D gobos

    • 6. Live shoot with human gobo

    • 7. Project and conclusion

  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels
  • Beg/Int level
  • Int/Adv level

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

Skillshare student Robbie Urquart said:   "This is a great course about how to use gobos! The techniques were explained very clearly and delivered in a way that is easy to understand. Excellent use of real world examples." 

What is a gobo?  (also called a flag, dingle, cookie).

It is an object that “goes between” our light source and our subject to cast a shadow on our image.

Gobo – “go’s between”.



We can use gobos indoors or outdoors using sunlight or artificial light.

Gobos work equally well on still life, portraits or even landscapes and street photographs.

Gobo’s can take the form of solid objects, cut outs, or natural things in the environment.

Gobos can be used to “upscale” our lighting in an image to create something unique.

They can be used to accentuate the subject or add to the story of our image.

They can be a lot of fun to work with and very simple to use.


In this class you will learn how to create and use gobos, what lighting to use and where to place them for best effect.

I will show you the technique of using various gobos in a studio shoot with a model.

I will also show you many examples of my use of gobos to give you some ideas of your own.



What lighting to use.

The definition or sharpness of the shadow cast by our gobo will vary depending on the size of our light source.

If we are using sunlight outdoors our shadow will be quite sharp and well defined.

On a cloudy day the shadow may not even be visible.

Hard light from a small light source such as the sun tends to give us better results with gobos.


Indoors we can use led or continuous lighting from a small source but flash will be much brighter. You could try shooting with your flash on your camera but moving it away from your camera will give you more options.

You will also notice a difference in the shadow by moving your light source further or closer to the gobo.


Outdoors at light we can use street lighting, car headlights or any other small light source.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Warren Marshall

Passionate Photographer


Hello, I'm Warren Marshall.

I am owner and head photographer at “Imagine Studios “ in Newcastle, Australia.

I am also owner and principal of “Newcastle Photography College”.


I have been a photographer for the past 40 years and a full-time professional photographer for the past 26 years.

I am passionate about image making. I also have a thirst for learning new techniques and love experimenting with my photography.

Our studio specialises in people photography from Weddings, Portraits, Headshots, Glamour, Lifestyle, etc.



In my time I have photographed many celebrities, politicians and entertainers but it is the average people that I enjoy working with the most.

See full profile

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • Exceeded!
  • Yes
  • Somewhat
  • Not really
Reviews Archive

In October 2018, we updated our review system to improve the way we collect feedback. Below are the reviews written before that update.

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Introduction : Kid, I welcome to our class on using goalpost. What is it, Gobo, he may ask, that's a very good question. Gobo is anything, any sort of solid object that is placed between the light and your subject. It goes between the light and your subject, hence the name Gobo. A Gobo is used to throw shadows onto your subject or onto your scene. It control various different shadows depending on the object that you place between the light and the subject. Go bows can give your image that little bit of extra spark, that little bit of extra impact. When people look at it, they think, Well that's something different to what I'm used to. Looking at. The Gobo that you use can relate to your subject, can help to tell the story of your subject. Or it can be just something there that adds interest and helps to define your subject a little bit more. Now what she uses a Gobo is pretty much up to you. You can probably find 15 or 20 different things in your household today that you could use as a Gobo. You can use things like bird cages. You could use lamps. You could use leaves from a tree. There's a number of different natural things or things that you would find around the house that you could use for your elbow. Or you can create your own. You can take a bit of cardboard or a bit of foam core and just cut out some slots, cut out some holes, various different random shapes. Put that between your subject and your light source and they go, you've got a Gobo. Go bows can be a lot of fun to work with. It takes a little bit of skill as you're going to learn in this class. But with a little bit of skill and a little bit of determination, you can get some amazing results. I'm going to teach you in this class how to use your Gobo, where to place it, what sort of things can work with a Gobo image? You're going to see a video of me shooting in the studio. We'd go bows with a model so that you can see the various different effects that we can get. And you'll also see lots of examples where I've used go Bose, both natural and artificial in the studio and outdoors for a range of different effects there available pretty much anyway, you just have to keep your eye out and be able to use them when the time comes. So sit back, have a look at this class and learn all about using Go bows in your photography. 2. Using gobos Lighting RRR: The definition of the shadow on your subject from your Gobo will vary depending on the size of your light source. If you have a very small light source such as the Sun, then it's going to cast very distinct shadow. It's very sharp shadows which can work really well with outdoor subjects. Shooting someone or something against a white wall. Using those shadows in the foreground of your landscape. Using it to frame a product shot or something like that. When you shooting outdoors in bright sunlight, the Sun is an amazing small light source that can work really well to produce those shadows. When we're working indoors, we need to restrict the size of our light source. We tend to use speed lights or smaller light sources when we're using Gerber's. Because we want to get that definition in the shadow. If we used a large light source, then the shadow is going to be very diffused. It may not even be visible on the subject. You can understand this principle by thinking about going to the beach on a bright sunny day. On a bright sunny day, you can see your shadow. It's very distinct on the ground. It's very sharp. When you go to the same beach on a cloudy day, Your shadow is still there, but it's much more diffused. It's softer edges and you often can't see it because of that larger light source that spread over the whole sky, that softens a light dam. So using your elbow is the same principle. Smaller light sources gonna throw those distinct shadows. Now, the distance between your Gobo and your light can make a difference. The further back your light is from the Gobo, the smaller the light source tends to be. So the sharper your shadows will be. So very that distance between your light and you go, and you go and your subject just to experiment to see what sort of differences you can get. You could use the same Gobo and get a number of different results simply by changing that distance between the light to go out and just subject. Even though we're using verbose to produce the shadow on our subject, we still need to be careful of how our lot is hitting our subject, particularly when you're shooting portraits, but also when you're shooting other types of subjects, we still need those basic principles of lighting. We still need to make sure that a lot is coming down on a subject. Not so that it's too high. If I'm shooting portraits, I don't want to get dark eyes in the shot, so I need to keep my light source relatively low, but I still wanted to be coming down on my subject. So that gives me natural pleasing light on my subject. Generally, when we're using oboes, we only use the one light source. There's not a lot of different light sources in the image. So the single light source is going to work quite well. We just need to think about how that light is hitting our subject because we can turn our subject around various different ways to get a different sort of light fall on your subject. So think about all of those things. Try experiment with a few different techniques. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. The more mistakes you make, the quickie alone. 3. About our shoot : In the next video, you'll see a shoot that we did in the studio with Cassidy and model. We used go bows and a number of different ways to throw light onto her in various different situations. You'll see all of that in the video. We experimented a little bit with the light source that we use, but we mostly use Flash. Flash enabled us to get those sharper shadows onto our subject. We shot Cassidy mostly against a white wall, which emphasized the shadows on the subject. Because we have a studio that's got a lot of white surfaces. We had to be careful to try and contain that line. So I'll use a snippet to concentrate that light into a narrow beam so he wouldn't get so much bounce off the ceilings, on the walls or the carpet. Actually used to push on snoop for most of the shots. Some of the images we used a potato Chris packet, achieved packet over the top of our flesh to help contain it. If you've got a smallest studio and you can't get your life back so far. You could just use some black type and type over the front of your speed lights so that you reduce the surface area of the, the light coming onto your Gobo. We have a bit of room in the studio so we could afford to get our light back 345 meters from our subject and from a Gobo. So it allows us to be a bit more flexible. But if you want to reduce the size of that light source, you can do that just with some black masking type. Another issue that we had in the studio because we were shooting with Flash. It was very hard for us to predetermine where the shadow was falling on our subject because they are flesh doesn't have a modelling light. It doesn't have a constant light to allow us to do that. I did type a small torch or flashlight to the top of my spade light just to give me a bit of an indication about where that shadow was falling. But obviously it's not going to be exact because the torch is just above the position of my speed light. So I had to compensate for that a little bit. And then we just took a shot and adjusted the Gobo up or down to get our light on our subject of why we wanted to. Because I'm shooting portraits, I need to make sure that Cassidy is our eyes are visible in the shot. So we just mucked around a little bit with that. Once we headed in the right spot, it worked out fine. One way that you can do it if you are shooting people, is that you can ask your subject or your model to move around and to Lake and see the flash, the front of the flash right through the hole in the Gobo. And that means that that light is going to be straight on her eyes. So if you can do that, that helps. But it's still ultimately up to the photographer to position that light the way you want it and to position it in a way that's going to enhance your subject. So have a look at this video. I'm sure you'll see some good ideas that you can play with. Some of the go bows were used, were just cutouts that we cut out some foam core or some cardboard and placed in front of the light. Others more solid objects that we used to throw a shadow onto that background and onto capacity. Towards the end, we just used a small piece of Lacey fabric up-close to Cassidy is face so that we could throw a bit of a shadow onto the side of her face just to give us some more creative looks using this Gobo principle. So you can get in close and do this stuff. You could do this with macro photography, you could do it with still lifes. It's beautiful to use was still lives because you can control that lights so much more fully. Landscapes can work really well as well. If you just got to do a bit of research, think about the situation. Be there at the right time of day to capture the shots that you want. We're lucky in the studio that it's a bit more controllable and we can do this stuff anytime of day. So have a look at the video and see what you think and see what you can learn about using Go bows in your photography. 4. Live shoot with flat gobos : We're in the studio tonight come shooting with oboes of told you all of that go bows and the previous classes, we're going to have a practical shoot. Now we've got our model, Cassidy, and we're going to be using various different go bows to shake the light on her. We're going to use a couple of different backgrounds. We're shooting with Flash obviously because we're in the studio. We can do this technique outdoors with sunlight, or we can do it indoors with flash or any other available light. Now a couple of things that we need to think about, as I've mentioned in previous classes, is that our light source needs to be small. We need hard light when we're using these Gerber's, generally speaking, because we want to make those go bows fairly precise. The edges, sharp edges on that guy by when it projects the shadow onto L subject. So I'm using a bear speed light here. But I'm also using a grid. I'm going to put this grid on the front of the speed light, just so that it's going to reduce the spread of light because we've gotta watch studio here. We've got what walls, what ceiling, light colored carpet. If we don't do that, then that light bounces around quite a bit and it degrades the quality of the shadows. So I'm gonna try and keep their shares as dark as possible. So I've got that greed on the front of my speed light to do that. The other thing I've got is a torch that's typed to the top of my flash, just to give me a bit of an indication of how my shadows falling on my model and Ama background. Now it's not going to give me the exact idea of the position of the Gobo because she can see the torch is apply than the flesh. But it's gonna give me close and it's gonna give me an idea of where things are going to be when we start shooting will just adjust the position of our Gobo and a model by the shots that we take will have a look at our screen and just adjust it as we go. But the torches there just as a ballpark indicator to show us what we're going to get. Okay, we'll get going and you'll see some of the effects as we go through. Okay, so we've got a simple guideline to start with. Who just got a black card here, the flash is locking half of this card. We've got a line, diagonal line down there in front of Cassidy. So we'll just take the shot and you'll see what it looks like. Okay, Cassidy, he would get all. That's great. So you can see that we've got half bright, half DAC. We control that light and we've got that diagonal line down here. Now what we're gonna do is just move Cassidy across a little bit across to her, right? That's it. Yeah. And we can change the position of where that light is. Heng. That's good. Just keep those feet there. Yeah. Great. Okay. Here we go. Terrific. And there we just changed the way they go, bows hitting the wall and hitting Cassidy just by changing her position. Now we're gonna change up to a different Gobo and we'll try some other stuff. So we changed that go to a different shape. Now we've got a black cod, would just little cutouts in it that we've done just triangular caveats, random shapes. And we position Cassidy against the wall again. We know that Cassidy is face will be lit up if she can see the flash through one of those holes. So she can see the flesh through there, that light coming straight through that hole and lighting her face. The rest of the Gobo, we just want to be random around that area. So take a shot and we'll see how that looks. Okay. You go. Okay. Yeah, that looks great. We'll do just moving a bit closer and do another shot. I know if I zoom in, Cassidy hasn't changed her position. So as shorts kind look just as good. Yeah. Terrific. Okay. So as you can see, we can place any sort of shape in front of this light, in front of this flash. If our light source is hard enough, if it's small enough, we're gonna get those shapes. We can vary how hard or how soft the edges of our shadow, ah, by moving out l Gobo, closer or further away from Cassidy. So we'll try that a little bit later on. But for now we're going to change go bows and do a different shape. Ok, so we've got a different guy by now. We've just got to diagonal slots. We can again take the shot. We can vary how dark the shadows are or how bright the highlights are, simply by allowing more light to spill around the room if we want to. Now we've got a, a window shape cut out of this black card here is fine core. If I position Cassidy in in one of the window openings and I'll take a shot from here. You'll see that we don't get the full effect of the window. So we're going to move this Gobo closer to Cassidy so that the caveats will and the shadows will get a little bit smaller. And we'll be able to get the full benefit of this caveat on Cassidy. Now we've moved this Gabo closer so that the patent is reduced in size. And you'll see the results that we get. Cassidy just looking straight at me. Okay. That's great. All right. I've got to remember to keep shoes in the shot. Okay, that looks good. But we might reposition this a little bit because I think we can do a little bit better. That's good. We can see the window shape on Cassidy. We can see her face. There is a shadow going through her neck there, but I don't think it's a major problem. What we could do with this window caveat is to move it into various different directions. We can put it over to the side so it's coming back towards Cassie on an angle so that it looks a little bit more realistic as if that light is coming from the side, the sunlight coming through that window. So very versatile technique, this one, we can get a number of different effects with the one caveat. 5. Live shoot with 3D gobos : So now we've changed our flat cell foam core into a palm leaf. We've got a palm leaf from the garden. We've just positioned it on a light stand and we're going to use a palm leaf as ego to bounce that shadow onto the background. So you'll see what we get from this. Okay, Cassidy. Shooting. Yeah, that looks great. More. Okay. Great. Maybe we defeat together this tunnel. Cross your feet over. Yeah, that's it. Okay. Okay. Okay. Yeah. That was terrific. Looks like a tropical island brick wall. Okay. We changed it again. Now, Rob, what we're going to do now is just use some of these artificial leaves just to throw that the shadow of the leaf onto the wall. And we're going to try and position. Cassidy is face just between these leaves. Alright, that's great. The leaves are a little bit hard to distinguish because they're they're fairway away from Cassidy. So what we're going to do is move the leaves in closer to her. Because the further away the Gobo is from our light source, the sharper the shadow is going to be. You can see the shapes of those leaves are a little bit more precise. Now. See it. Okay, great. Now we'll drop it down a little bit now just to change the pattern of the light so it stand a little bit lower. And you can see how the positioning needs to be fairly precise with something like this, we want to try and get Cassidy face lit and the leaves around the outside over if we can't. Okay, so that's good. We're going to change to a different Gobo. Now what we've got is an imitation bird cage, just decorative bird cage here. We've hung it in the light path, just the same as we would any other Gobo. And it's projected an image of it onto the wall because Cassidy is fully lit now, it's a different style of shot, but it just throws that shadow onto the background and give the shot that little bit more interest. Okay. More. Yeah. We just moved the bird cage in a little bit closer to Cassidy so that it's a little bit sharper and it's a little bit smaller. It's not going to dominate the shot so much. He would go. Right. Now, are going to use a range of different shapes. We've got some venetian blinds we're going to use, which is sort of the traditional film NWA sort of thing to do. And we'll see what else we can find to give us that shadow effect is a multitude of different shapes and textures we can use when we do this technique. 6. Live shoot with human gobo : So I'm gonna try something a little bit different here. We're gonna have a real live Gobo. I'm going to stand in front of the flash. So we'll project my shadow onto the background next to Cassidy. So I'm going to be the Gobo haemoglobin over gaba. All right, so I'm going to use myself, Tama on my camera to find my flash. And I'm going to stand here in this shadow and look really menacing next to Cassidy IK. She's not gonna get scared because I'm really not very menacing. But we'll set the self Tana, and we'll see how we go. Okay, here we go. So if Thomas said, OK, I need to get a bit scary here. Profile of my face. Whoa, that looks really scary. I did a good job there. I could get a job as a Gobo. It's another thing I've been put on my resume. Alright. Now, we're going to as a last shot, we're going to have i a piece of fabric, net fabric up-close to Cassidy space. So we can just project a little bit of a patent on the side of her face. This more of a close-up shot. So we're gonna move the fabric in fairly close, but we're still going to have our flash further back because we still want that very small lot source. Now the last thing we're going to do in this session is to use just a very fine net fabric here. We've got a very close to Cassidy is face. We've got our light source further back. We've got it about four meters away because you want to keep that light sources small as you possibly can. That we throw the pattern of this this vial or this net onto capacities face. Okay. Just to check that my little because he here. Okay. Lovely. That's good. Yeah. Terrific MOOC. Okay. Can you stepping closer to it because I'm going to include the fabric in the shot. So that finishes off air should with Cassidy, you've seen a number of different ways that we can use go bows in their shots. And I'll see you in the conclusion. 7. Project and conclusion : Your project for this class is to shoot some shots. We go bows. You're probably doing that already. If you've taken shots using shadows from trees or from various different things outdoors, using the bright sunlight. You've probably already got some Gabo shots that you haven't even realized. There are a number of different ways you can shoot outdoors using that sunlight. You could actually just position your subject in the shade of the tree so that sunlight's coming through the leaves. There are various different ways that you can do it. You will see in the video we just did, I use myself as a Gobo, simply the throw of menacing shadow onto that background. Just a little bit of fun. But, you know, we have a bit of fun when we're in the studio. If you're doing this sort of stuff at night or if you're doing it inside using an artificial light source, try to use this smaller light sources. You can light sources going to throw those distinct shadows. So give it a go, see what you come up with and post some images in the project section. I'll get back to you with feedback, help you with any questions that you might have, but you need to get in and try it. Otherwise, these things just don't happen. Thanks for watching this video. Hopefully you've learned a bit about using Go bows and your photography. And you can upscale your work to a new level. Keep an eye out for other classes, will be uploading some more soon.