Tuesday, January 27, 2015


This is week 52 for my Goboist.com blog.  So it's fitting that I share a snippet from one of my on-location training videos to illustrate how I create three-dimensional lighting using ONLY a gobo (black flag) to shape pure natural light.

The problem I most often encounter with natural light outdoors is that there's simply too much light! It's bouncing all over the place, creating multiple sources, making the light on my subjects flat. My goal is to create dramatic lighting especially when I do portraits of individuals. 

The video below is excerpted from one of the training videos, available to my students, from my teaching site http://www.LightAtTheEdge.com, where we do one-on-one virtual apprenticeships and small group collaborative studies.  In this video of Jasmine it starts with where I placed her, where I had her look, and then how I controlled the excess natural light.  Click on the video to see my process…

In the world of cinematography, we called this technique (using a black flag or Gobo to subtract light) NEGATIVE FILL and it works fine for individuals, but if photographing a group or something larger I use a large Natural Gobo on my locations.  I look for rows of trees or large bushes; down town I'll use buildings. In a home setting I may use a porch--just as long as I have some open sky opposite these GOBOs.

I think the reason so few still photographers use this technique is that they're too busy copying each others bad habits--like using flash and/or reflectors outside even when there's perfectly good natural light in evidence!  So, open your mind-and-eyes to all the great natural light out there.

Don't just be a strobist---be a portrait artist!

'Til next week….

Author:  Jerry W Venz, PPA Certified Master Craftsman
Training site:  http://www.LightAtTheEdge.com

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