Creative Light Masking-Drama

August 23, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Creative Light Masking- Drama

Creative light masking and shaping typically involves molding light to allow it to fall where you wish, and prevent it from spilling into unwanted areas of an image. There are dozens of light modifiers that soften and redirect light but creating drama typically needs a little more planning than off the shelf modifier. 

Suppose you wish to create an image similar to above, with just highlighting a portion of your subject. This image appears a little mysterious, dramatic, and even relates a little to some of the images that you may see in movies. Of course you may be able to create such an image in post production, but what does it take to create it in camera. Now, you can purchase a dedicated device such as The Wellmaking device , but there are other options that many studio photographers already have immediately available to them.

Here are a few things that may be helpful:

  • A studio strobe 
    • A constant light could be used, if you have a means of a tight focus
  • A snoot with a grid
    • You may be able to achieve a similar effect with high end lighting, zoom reflectors, and small grids, but this option is much more expensive and complex.
  • A dark background
    • Ideally black or grey
  • A cut out mask/gobo. OK, so you may ask where do I get these? The easiest and most creative way is to make a mask out of sturdy construction paper, or you could order a set Design Gobo's.  If you make your own, you can custom fit it onto your snoot. You can certain make any cut out shape that you wish.

Now you are set to shoot:

  1. Set up your snoot on your studio strobe and turn on your modeling light positioned about 2 feet from your subject, then insert your gobo while  positioning light until you get a reasonably crisp image. If you are using a snoot with a grid, cut the gobo to fit directly into your grid housing.
  2. Set your camera to manual, with an ISO of 1250 to start, F 2.0, and a shutter speed as fast as possible (1/60 sec or better) depending on your lens.  You may need to mount your camera on a tripod. Adjust ISO as necessary.


In post production, adjust highlights and shadows according to your personal preference.  Of course, if you plan on using creative light masking on a regular basis you may choose to purchase one of the commercial units with a focusing lens from companies such as Godox, Newer, or Wellmaking.  







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