Gobo Crazy – It’s all about the shadows.

It’s certainly true that this wasn’t my first foray into the world of gobo lighting. My first, many years back, was a scary affair that almost resulted in a studio fire and did inflict several minor burns to my fingers. That gobo projector was a particularly cheap and nasty affair that should have come with a health warning!

So far, this experiment has been a far more successful affair although it does still require a degree of care when it comes to health and safety.

When a returning client arrived for a one-to-one workshop recently and presented the gobo projector in the hope of giving it a go I was a little sceptical at first but, always willing to oblige, I agreed to give it a try. On seeing the gadget I could tell immediately that this was a far better product than my original death trap. Even more impressive was the large collection of metal gobos that it came with. A good solid Bowens S mount snapped easily onto my flash units. The focussing ring was solid but nice and easy to find and operate even in low light and the gobo holder slotted into the unit easily.

True, it does get stupidly hot! With the gobo in place in its holder and some chunky glass to focus the light, this means that the light levels projected are somewhat diminished. This means that the modelling light needs to be cranked up to the max to see the effect and the flash also turned up to eleven to get a meaningful effect on your intended subject. Once setup and and in position, I opted to turn the modelling light off to keep the temperature down. Don’t think you’ll get anything approaching f8 with a 250w flash unit – more like f4 if you’re lucky. The light levels being as they are, there is a comprise to be had when it comes to how far away you can put your light. This in turn restricts how big your projection can be but for most boudoir or modelling work it’s perfectly suitable.

On the whole I found the effect to be both pleasing, realistic and believable, particularly when it came to using the Venetian blind and lattice effect gobos.

It does of course take some practice to create realistic effects. Not for me is the idea of projecting a fake window onto a roll of background paper – I’ve seen it done a million times and it still makes me chuckle. Careful positioning and focussing though, can transform a small studio set into a believable window light environment.

Suffice to say I definitely enjoyed the challenge and result in equal measure so much so that I ordered myself the same product mid shoot and it arrived in time for my next workshop with a different client the very next day.

For now at least it may just be my favourite new toy.