Control Flare from Sun, Rim Lights with a Shoot-Thru Gobo

Just a quickie today on the whys and whens of using a single, small shoot-thru shade to completely control contrast-killing glare when shooting into backlight.

Most of the time, interesting light involves (at least in part) light that is coming from the back of the frame.

Whether you are shooting into the sun or working with rim lights it is a good idea to flag the backlight to control glare. But rather than putting a big flag on a stand (on each side) near the subject, you can get even better control shooting through a hole in an opaque material.

Above is a snapshot of what I use. It's made out of black Coroplast that was leftover from making DIY grids. A-clamp it to a stand and you are good to go.

(The snapshot above is for illustrative purposes. The light is behind me here, just to get detail on the shade. These shades are normally used for shooting into the light.)

The aspect ratio of the hole is pretty important if you want all around protection. This one is for use with my Nikons, so it is ~2:3.

I'll generally use it when I am locked down on a tripod and shooting near directly into the light (or blasting my subject with just-out-of-frame rim light). By varying the distance between the shade and the camera, I can cover any lens in my bag.

These work better than your lens shade because they can be positioned to exactly cover your optical frame. Most lens shades are compromises of one form or another — especially for zooms.

They are dirt cheap, work great and allow you to blast backlight (or the sun) from anywhere — including just out of the frame — and keep all of your contrast.


New to Strobist? Start here | Or jump right to Lighting 101
Got a question? Hit me on Twitter: @Strobist
Have a passport? Join me in Hanoi: X-Peditions Location Workshops