Enhance your Food Photography through GOBOs

March 5, 2021 Lighting

Creative use of GOBOs


Before we go into how GOBOs can be used to make your photo stand out, let’s talk about what a GOBO is. A GOBO which stands for “go-between-object” is a light modifier that is between your light source and subject. It can be man-made such as shapes cut out of a styrofoam board or window blinds or natural such as leaves, plants, flowers etc. It can be used to block the light, diffuse it or colour it and could be used to create interesting shadows on your food, product, surface or background. The light and shadow play with GOBOs would often give your photo a unique look and can be used to portray the mood that you want in your shot.


For the shot of the Classic Martini (above) and Absolut Mistletoe (below right), I made a GOBO by simply cutting leaf shapes out of a styrofoam board and clipping it to a background stand. You could see the GOBO effect reflected on the glass and background for the Classic Martini shot which makes it more unique and interesting. I used bare flashes at maximum power with a mirror to bounce light into my hero drink. As I shoot in a small room, the flashes are powerful enough to create an all white background. I also placed my camera a distance away and the background and table were set apart so that I could capture the horizon just where the glass ends on the hero drink.


However for the Orange Blossom Cocktail, I utilised 3 fake palm leaves as GOBOs to create their shadows on the background. This time I wanted softer light thus I used my 60cm square Godox softbox to light the hero drink and a bare flash to create the GOBO effect on the background. I clipped 2 of the fake palm leaves with A clamps and the last one I poked it through a hole on the background stand and twisted the wire of the leaf so it would not fall off.


All drinks were made using water or a mixture of water and food colouring. For the Absolut Mistletoe, I used real ice rather than using a mixture of glycerin and water but you can easily skip the ice and use glycerin-water mixture instead. For the Classic Martini and Absolut Mistletoe, I wanted a bright white look whereas for the Orange Blossom Cocktail, I chose a warm edit to reflect the sunny mood and vibes given off by the palm leaves and drink.


Ever since I discovered GOBOs I have been trying to incorporate it into my work and I find that it is widely used whether in food, product or even portrait photography so I highly recommend you give it a shot and create some unique captures for your portfolio.

Absolut Mistletoe | Joyce Leong Photography

Absolut Mistletoe


Camera Settings: Canon 6D MK II and Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM 

ISO 100, f/6.3 1/200s

Flash power 1/1 

BTS Absolut Mistletoe | Joyce Leong Photography

BTS of Absolut Mistletoe

Orange Blossom Cocktail | Joyce Leong Photography

Orange Blossom Cocktail


Camera Settings: Canon  6D MK II and Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM ISO100 f6.3 1/180s 

Flash Power 1/1

BTS Orange Blossom Cocktail | Joyce Leong Photographer

BTS of Orange Blossom Cocktail

Grilled Cheese Sandwich | Joyce Leong Photography

Grilled Cheese Sandwich


Camera Settings: Canon 6D MK II and Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM ISO100 f5.6 1/180s Flash Power 1/4

BTS Grilled Cheese Sandwich I Joyce Leong Photography

BTS of Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Mac and Cheese | Joyce Leong Photographer

Mac and Cheese


Camera Settings: Canon 6D MK II and Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM ISO100 f5.6 1/180s Flash Power 1/1 and Aputure MC LED Full Power

BTS Mac and Cheese | Joyce Leong Photography

BTS of Mac and Cheese

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