January 2022

Getting Creative With Lighting | Ashley Boring


Using an optical spot is a fun and quick way to add a creative element to your photography. An optical spot is a light modifier that projects light through a lens to create a defined hard light. You can then add gobos between the lens and the light source to create very precise shapes. Gobos are small metal discs that have cutout patterns. These small cutouts allow you to control the shape of the light source. You can adjust the sharpness of the shape by focusing or

defocusing the lens. This lets you add very precise lighting to achieve portraits with a unique and creative look. For this shoot, my main light was a FJ400 strobe with the Westcott Optical Spot attached. Since I knew the optical spot would be a very hard and focused light source, I knew I would need to add in a second light source to fill in anything not lit from the optical spot. I brought in a second FJ400 modified by a Westcott 53” Deep Umbrella with white interior. I wanted

this to evenly fill in all the shadows, so I added an additional diffusion cover to the umbrella to make it an extra soft light source. I then added a blue gel to the front of my fill light to give the photo an overall blue tone. Since the light from the optical spot is brighter than the fill light, the blue tone of the photo shows up less where the optical spot is lighting. Before shooting, I tested a few different gobo shapes for the optical spot until I found the one I liked the best. I selected a small circle gobo. I could have used a more intricate gobo, but I wanted to keep the image clean and simple. I went with the circle and chose to focus it on the eye to emphasize the model’s makeup. A tip when using an optical spot is to make sure you use your modeling lamp. Since the light from the spot is so controlled, it can be hard to tell what the light is looking like unless you are using your modeling lamp. This helps you ensure that the light is hitting the right spot on your subject and that it is as focused or unfocused as you want. When using the spot to light a portion of your model’s face, it might be handy to have an assistant move the spot as your model moves. This way you can ensure the light is placed correctly and your model can freely move to give you a variety of poses.

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