An spectacular example of gobo lighting by Jack Semelsberger.

Huntington Photographers Learn About Gobo Lighting

December 23, 2022

Huntington High School photography students learned all about gobo lighting during a recent lesson. The term is short for “go between optics” and the teenagers in the class quickly went about striving to master the concept.

“A gobo is something that goes before or between your light source and your subject,” Pamela Piffard, the art teacher who leads the high school’s photography program, told her students. “It’s a stencil or device that creates patterns using light. People have used it since the early days of theatre. But it also has found its way as one of the most creative tools in photography. Photographers often use gobos to recreate window scenes even when there aren’t any in the room.

Ms. Piffard went on to explain how to set up a gobo photo shoot and provided examples of the lighting that results and its effect on the photos themselves.

Students also learned about related “shadow photography.” The teenagers ate it all up. Many of them are already advanced, if not downright gifted.

The teacher issued her students a three part “photo challenge” that involved a pair of photo shoots.

“Part No. 1 is to take and submit at least 15 photos using a gobo in class to create patterns of shadow and light on your subject,” Ms. Piffard said. “Photo shoot No. 2 is to take and submit at least 15 photos using a gobo at home to create patterns of shadow and light on your subject. Part No. 2 is to photograph your set-ups. I want to see how you produced your images. Part No. 3 requires you to import your images and edit your four favorites in Photoshop. Provide two images from each photo shoot.”

Did the Huntington students learn their lesson well? Review a sampling of their photos and decide for yourself.